It’s that time of year again where everyone is setting out to achieve some new goal.
Be it health and fitness or reorganizing their business aspirations. Noise will fill the twittersphere of blogging challenges (we’re doing in the Pro membership) and personal fitbits will be alerting us of our friend’s step count.
But here’s what I’m worried about, to some this is motivation and to others, this is depression.
These can be the dark times.
Entrepreneurs or small business owners that have been in the game month-after-month or 3 years in still struggling to make it. “Everyone is doing better shit than me.” or “Look at the money they are making! Why can’t I?”
The new social has amplified everyone else’s success while making yours seem insignificant.
My friend Pippin has one (two?) of the most popular WordPress products in the market. He recently published his earnings for 2014 — North of $700k.
My other friend, James Laws, has grown to 370k.
That’s over 1 Million in revenue across 3 plugins and 2 businesses. First off, I applaud them as founders and their ability to build products with great teams surrounding them.
Now what about me? 9 fucking grand.
That’s the tally on ConductorPlugin.com at year end. Launched in September with roughly 44% in revenue coming from a paid beta.
Am I worried? Nope and you shouldn’t be either.
What they don’t teach you
Here’s the thing about business — it’s fucking hard.
These are the lessons that podcasts and go-getting entrepreneur bloggers don’t teach you. Sure they’ll show you how to make a million dollars, but that doesn’t mean you can.
In a recent interview I listened to, the host asked his guest about how he negotiated deals. The response was, “it all comes down to experience.”
There’s no blueprint or gantt chart that is going to help you close more deals. You need to have confidence and you have to know what the hell you’re doing.
Then there’s one last ingredient: Time.
Pippin didn’t just start writing plugins yesterday and Jake Goldman, founder of 10up, didn’t just start developing WordPress sites last month.
Struggling through the dark times is the precursor for greatness.
Why we fail
We fail because we like to be comfortable.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my local coffee shop staring at some awesome looking pistachio muffins. I want one. I love them.
But! I want to lose weight. I want to become stronger and faster. NO MUFFIN!
Oh, but it would taste so good, right? Grilled with butter. Another coffee? DAMN IT!
It would be so much easier to indulge in this rich buttery muffin goodness. I would be comfortable eating one or twelve of them. It’s easier to eat it and satisfy my brain, than to fight the urge and go find some protein.
Failure is calling my name. In times of darkness, it’s easy to give in.
- You want to lose weight, but it’s easier to not diet and exercise.
- You want your business to grow, but it’s easier to not get out of your seat and make a sale.
- You want more product sales, but you’d rather spend time iterating.
- You want more, but you do less, because it’s comfortable.
How to fix your brain
First and foremost, I’m not a psychologist or some motivational speaker. However, these are the guidelines and experiences that have helped me with depression during my dark times.
Look WTF business we’re in!?!
There are people in worse professions than us. There are people that can’t afford to purchase a laptop to even begin to do what we do.
Do we really have it that bad?
While you worry about the Chris Lema’s of the world blogging about you, believe me, there could be worse things on your agenda.
Take solace in the fact that our craft does not put our life in harms way. We can build very comfortable lifestyles from behind a computer and a Twitter handle while others are not afforded this opportunity.
You’re clear to pivot
I have a metric-shit-ton of ideas.
I’m sure you do too. Often we’re consumed by the Zuckerberg syndrome of trying to invent something world changing. You might not even realize it, but you’re dwelling on too many details or features.
My tagline of “content first layout builder” for WordPress — yea, I get it — but does my customer? Am I over engineering my value prop?
People will begin to purchase from you and send work your way when they clearly understand what it is you’re capable of. Did you know that three years of blogging and podcasting here and people still don’t know I own a digital media agency?
If you’re in this situation, start to pivot.
That doesn’t mean you throw out your product. It means you change your messaging or talk to a new set of potential customers and then measure the success. Stay dynamic and agile or run the risk of becoming stale.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
If you want to start a business, look at what other successful businesses do first. There are very few — if any — unique ideas left in this world. We’re all “inspired” by someone else’s art, so why are we kidding ourselves?
Proven products and business models, are — well, proven. There’s nothing wrong with creating a similar product. Apple isn’t the only smartphone in town. Conductor isn’t the only layout builder for WordPress.
When you go to market, your customer will understand what it is and your specific value prop.
Again, don’t sweat all of the details. 80/20. Make it simple stupid. Yadda yadda.
Talk to someone
Here’s what we don’t do often enough, ask someone for help.
It’s embarrassing and just as challenging as running the business. It’s hard to admit struggle or potential defeat, but we’ve all been there and no one has a roadmap for this journey.
How can I help?
- If you’re on my newsletter, I always ask you to hit reply and ask me a question.
- I created a directory of WordPress mentors, perhaps someone can help?
- Invest a fraction of your client services income for a year’s access to people like you. Go Pro.
I’m sorry, you have to put in the work
Come clean with yourself and realize you have to put in the work. If you’re not, try harder or re-read the lessons above.
You might not be cutout for this ride and that’s okay. I often wonder how much more successful I could be if I stepped out of the world of client services and digital product.
Maybe you’re following someone else’s candor of success and you don’t even realize it.
Will I read about your greatness or your struggle?
It’s time to get on with our 2015 and for those of you living in the darkness — it’s not as bad as you think.
If you need help, reach out to me.
I believe that those of us who forge ahead will find the greatness we’re after.
I’m going to take the Conductor revenue we earned and thank our customers for each and every dollar that they’ve invested with us. It’s going right back into R&D for a better product as we march forward.
I’m making 2015 the greatest year ever. I have no choice, I’m getting married.
What about you?