Musing 05: 10 years of business lessons in 33 points

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Musing 05: 10 years of business lessons in 33 points

New musings go out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00 AM PST. To subscribe, go here:

I’ve been in “business” in one way or another for over 10 years now. 

Mind you, the first few years were a shitshow…

With everything I touch turning into complete and utter failure… 

But those days were valuable too. 

Learning what to do is just as important as learning what not to do. 

With that said, I know you may just be getting into business or finding your footing after a few months of being in the field, so I thought I’d take this time to shed some light on some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the last decade…

Maybe you’ll be able to use these lessons to avoid making the same mistakes that set me back years? 

Or on the flipside:

Maybe you’ll be able to use the same lessons I learned/use to build a small fortune of your own? 

Either way is fine by me. 

Here are the lessons (in no particular order): 

1. The market makes you. The market breaks you. To screw over a customer is to only screw over yourself. Do right by the market and sleep easy. 

2. Build (or acquire) traffic before you create a product. It’s 1000x easier to find a group of people, figure out what they’re struggling with, create an offer that solves their pain, and sell it…

… than it is to create a product and then try to find somebody with the exact pain that suits your product. 

Most never make it out of the latter group. 

Focus on building distribution. Not products. 

3. Everybody wants to scale. But scale must be respected. It will either grow your business or it will expose your business. If you decide to scale despite not having your processes, systems, customer support intact (or your product is just shitty), then your business will be exposed at scale. And you’ll be left bearing the consequences. Don’t rush to scale. Get your ducks in order before pushing the ‘scale’ button. 

4. The worst business to create is the one where YOU are the product. Why? That’s not a business, it’s a job. What you sell should never be yourself, but a product, process, system, course, that can take customers from point A to point B WITHOUT you. 

5. Everything moves in cycles. Respect the cycle. 

When you’re balling out of control, don’t blow the money. 

Put it away. And remain diligent. 

I know too many stories of people who hit BIG Ws, blew all the money, and then entered a downturn and never recovered (they’re all working 9-to-5s now or still trying to make some shit work :-(). 

6. Business is all about taking customers from their before state to their after state and then building systems/processes that allow you to scale and impact MORE people without losing quality. Focus on that. Forget everything else. It’s just noise. 

7. If you wouldn’t sell it to your Mom, don’t sell it to your customers. 

8. In the beginning, nothing works. In the end, everything works. You must have the discipline and foresight to weather the early blows. Why? Business gets easier with time because you get better (of course if you’re not getting better than business isn’t getting easier!). 

9. When launching a new product/business, focus on two things:

1) Achieving product-to-market match.

2) Achieving message-to-market match. 

Sometimes the product matches the market, but the message doesn’t. 

Learn to diagnose where the problem lies. 

10. Don’t let your ego keep you from delegating. “Nobody can do x task as good as me, so I’m just going to do it myself” is the enemy of growth. When you catch yourself thinking this thought, you know what must be done.

11. Build your business like you’re planning to sell it from day one – even if you’re NOT. Why? It forces you to build a business, not a job for yourself. You start building systems, processes, SOPs, etc. 

12. You must get good at sales. It could be face-to-face/via phone or via print (copywriting). Doesn’t matter. But you must get GOOD. Otherwise you’re just going to struggle on the sidelines.

13. Less is more in marketing. One USP, one BIG IDEA, one BIG PROBLEM, one BIG PROMISE. 

14. Less is more in business. One offer, one traffic source, one funnel. Dial it all the way in. Don’t half ass a million and one things. Do one thing really well. People make tens of millions with ONE great funnel/offer, not a hundred half assed ones. 

15. Scale the unscalable to win. Send thank you cards, hop on calls with your customers, you get the point. Be and do more to become more. 

16. Fill your own tank before you work on your business. If you wake up with an empty tank and start working, you won’t be as effective as you could be. Wake up, sell yourself the first hour, get your mind/body/soul right, and then attack. 

17. You’re only as good as what you produced TODAY. 

18. To generate $10k+ days, you have to be okay generating $0 days. When you’re generating $0 days, you’re building something that won’t make money today, but tomorrow (hopefully). Most get conditioned to fall victim to the paycheck mentality so they’re always counting how much money they’re making today. To delay gratification is to delay money too. Most entrepreneurs forget that. And get stuck making hundreds of thousands instead of millions. If that’s what you want, great. If not, learn to delay gratification. Build something. Take short-term Ls for long-term Ws. 

19. One sales letter can change your whole life. 

20. 3 most important skills: 1) Awareness (to identify opportunities/holes in the market) 2) Creativity (to build products to fill holes) 3) Sales (to sell the product)

21. Build expertise in ONE skill. Go deep. Once you’re above average, pair it with a complementary skill to SKY-ROCKET your growth. Otherwise you may get pigeonholed. And suffer! 

Example:

Copywriting = overworked freelancer 🙁

Copywriting + Media Buying = e-commerce success

Copywriting + Sales = Agency success

22. Learn how to swim in case the bridges can burned. If you have a star team member, great! But what if he/she leaves? Plan for it. 

23. Recruiting should start when you don’t need to hire anybody. Always build up your roster in advance. The worst position to be in is needing to hire, but not having a healthy roster to choose from.

24. Build cash-flow businesses & funnel the money into high risk/high reward businesses (if you feel inclined). Starting out with building high risk/high reward businesses almost always ends in failure. 

25. Enjoy the process. If you don’t like the daily grind that comes with your business, maybe it isn’t for you? The daily grind/journey is what ultimately becomes your life. When choosing what business to start, pay attention to what daily grind comes with it. Are you okay with that daily grind? If so, proceed. If not, avoid. It’s not going to end well. 

26. Generate results and share your story to build a network of killers that help you generate more results. The world runs on “what can you do for me?” Networking when you have zero value is the biggest waste of time. THE BIGGEST. F all the universities who put on these BS networking events and tell you something different. Waste of time. 

27. Passion is overrated. Do what helps people and makes money FIRST.

28. Focus on getting good at building businesses, not getting good at working inside businesses. 

29. Don’t put business success on a pedestal. The reason the newbie struggles to make his first $1000 is because he has it on too high of a pedestal. Take it down. After all, it’s only those who don’t care/react when making $100k/day that make $100k/day. Lesson in there.

30. Be a cool 7. Don’t get too high. Don’t get too low. Pair business with spirituality to operate with a sense of calm + detachment. It’s the ULTIMATE addition to your toolbox. 

31. Don’t partner with people who have skills that you can just hire out. It’ll cost you more in the short-term, but save you so much money/headaches/bullshit in the long-term. 

32. When choosing people to work with, pick energy, integrity and attitude above all else. Everything else can be learned. Those things can’t. 

33. Just fucking start. 

It’s not as hard as you think it is.

It’s not as easy as the marketers make it out to be.

It just is. 

Respect the process and win. 

Cool? 

That’s all I got for you today.

If you enjoyed this email, drop me a reply with your favorite lesson! 🙂 

Your friend, 

/tej

PS. I’d love to help you some more:

  1. If you’re struggling with anything in particular right now, drop me a reply and let me know. I’m currently working on a monster blog post answering questions/helping readers bring calm to the chaos (and crush it in business). Maybe I can help you too?

If you’re ready to start acting on your biz dreams, fantastic!! Next step: Learn some high ROI skills. One of the most important skills to learn? Copywriting. I know. I know. “Everybody says that!” But it’s true. If you can’t sell, you won’t make any money. To learn how to sell in print, learn this 3-step “Copy-Conception” system whenever you’re ready. Students who’ve learned this wish they learned it sooner (and didn’t waste so much time reading copywriting books, going through principle based copy courses, handwriting sales letters, etc.) But I know you’ll only act when you’re ready. So whenever you’re ready, hit this link to become a copywriting PRO 🙂

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