I am always amazed when people struggle – sometimes for months or even years – to make money when they are starting their online business.
Now understand, I'm not saying I was all that great. In fact … just the opposite.
When I look back at my first years in business, I am shocked how little I had going for me.
In fact, I had so little idea of how to run a business … that I had a bright neon red website. With yellow lettering. Really. If you were asleep before you came to my website, you weren't as soon as you landed on it.
Yet I was making money. Almost in spite of myself:
- I actually sold products.
- I actually had clients.
- I ran successful coaching groups.
And looking back, I am convinced there are three crucial reasons I was able to make money almost from day one:
Key #1: The Quality of Your Questions
The first key … and this sounds too simple, but bear with me … was I was fascinated with starting my own business.
And because of that … I figured stuff out. Instead of asking, "How do I get started?" I asked, "Hmmm … I wonder if I could do that?"
"I wonder if I could use that toy microphone that came with my iMac to record a little audio program. (Even though I had never done that before). I wonder if I could burn that to a CD? And I wonder if I could duplicate 40 of them and take them to the 2-day live event I am going to, and give them away for free, to publicize my first paid teleseminar?"
(Even though I had never done it before).
I didn't know how to do any of this. But because I didn't play helpless, because I said, "You know … I bet that would work!" And I was willing to back up that feeling with determined action … It did.
I didn't have a clue how to sell a live teleseminar. But the 11 people who paid to attend my very first one because of those CDs didn't know that.
Make sure you are asking questions that actually move you ahead. Instead of just giving you more data to work through.
Key #2: Screw the Prerequisites
The second thing (and this is one I see EVERYWHERE. Even with experienced business owners!) is I never thought I had to have one thing done before I could do something I really wanted to.
This usually takes the form of the statement:
I would love to move ahead in my business. But I really need to do ________ before I can do _________.
- I need to update my blog before I can launch my coaching program.
- I need to set up my Facebook Fan page before I can do my telesummit.
- I need to write an ebook before I book speaking gigs.
The problem is: This list never ends.
And there is always something new to learn before you can be successful. I see people get caught up for years in this "Cycle of Prerequisites."
A lot of folks blame marketers for "telling me I need something else before I can be successful." Stop blaming the marketers. That is what marketers do.
Start putting the responsibility where it belongs: In the mirror.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is believing you need:
- A signature talk
- A great product
- A cool website
- A killer opt-in freebie
- That new killer guru marketing course
Before you can make money. And don't get me wrong — all these things do help you make more money. But there is no rule that says you can't accept that speaking gig invite while you are developing your signature speech.
There is no rule that says you can't start building your list WHILE you are taking that guru list-building course.
You really can walk and chew gum at the same time. In fact, learning to do this is crucial to having a successful business.
Key #3: Focus on Specifics. Focus on Results.
As clueless as I was, I really did have something huge going for me. Make that several things:
- I was promoting something I was excited about.
- That I KNEW would make peoples' lives better (in my case, more profitable).
- And I knew specifically how it would make their lives better.
- That I could articulate this difference clearly, so that they would say, "Yep, I need that!"
- That I was willing to be insufferable if need be to get that message across.
Even if I had to do things I had never done it before. Even if it took me way out of my comfort zone.
I had no concise statement of what I do. No signature speech. No powerful brand. And a teeeeeny-weeenie list. But I made money.
Because what really sells is: KNOWING what you do improves the lives of others. Describing in specific, quantifiable verifiable terms how that shows up. In language your prospects understand at a gut level.
And "get" so clearly it was almost as if they had written it themselves.
Including specific, verifiable, quantifiable (not vague) payoffs. And getting in front of as many people that really want those results as you possibly can. And letting them know in as many ways as you can.
Even a bright red website.
Because the big take away is: You don't have to have all your ducks in a row before you make money. In fact trying to put your ducks in a row first is almost a guarantee of continued struggle.
A famous sports coach once said, "Luck is where opportunity meets preparation." Just be careful not to get your head so far into the preparation that you miss the opportunity when it bites you on the you-know-what.