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If I Knew Then What I Know Now

 

What is it that you wish someone had told you years ago? When you were starting your company, your blog, or merely thinking about creating something awesome?

The following is my list maybe it will save you some blunders. Of course, some things you just have to go through on your own and learn from your mistakes, but here’s my list in case it helps.

1. Have Your Business Model in Place

Do not begin doing business with just an idea and a website. Before you storm ahead into a new project, think through your business model.

For example, my first web project was Catpert. Cat related information was searched for a lot online, and it seemed to me then that if I made a website about cats, I would be successful. What I did not think of was that there was already a lot of information about cats on the internet and even many high quality websites about cats. For the site to generate me passive income from advertisements, I needed to be much more dedicated to it than I ever intended to be.

Before starting a new project ask yourself:

  • What kind of problem, that is not already solved, will it solve?
  • Where does the business’s money come from?
  • How long does it take before I can start cashing in?

If your business model is that your website will be very popular and everybody will want to buy advertisements there, think again. This will not happen. If your business model is advertisement, then you don’t have one. You will have to have mega huge numbers of visitors to start earning anything significant from advertisement. This will take a lot of time and resources.

2. Create Value

We have many information directory type businesses, whose benefit factor for the consumer is around zero. A young man, who participated in my course, told me that his catalogue is beneficial because it allows users to find things they are looking for really quickly.

A little test showed that Google will find the information a lot quicker. Google creates enormous value with its service. Why would you even create a directory. Google has already solved the problem of finding information.

Contribute most to creating value for the client in all your undertakings. If you always consider the client (not your earnings) to be the first priority and you will do all in your power to help the client to achieve its goals, then you will succeed and the money will follow.

Recently, a reader wrote to me and complained that he is not making any money through the internet. When I looked at his website it was all clear. If you create a page that only contains over hyped text for people to buy your product, you will not be able to make any money. In addition to the product being shady, the whole website experience did not offer any particular value.

3. It Is Not All About You

People are not interested in you. All the people in the world care more than anything about only one thing themselves. No one cares when your company was created, if you ate tiramisu at the office this morning or if your servers run on Linux.

All the services and texts on your website should be directed to the client and to solving his problem. It is not about you, it is about the people you serve.

4. The Money Is In Repeat Purchases

The hardest thing in the world is to make someone take out his wallet and give you money. To get to that point, you have to put in a lot of effort and hard work.

If you have created lots of value for one person, gained his trust, worked on building a relationship, earned his respect etc. –then it is pretty dumb to leave him alone and start looking for new clients to start over with from the beginning.

Do not deal with a business where you sell only once to a person. It is easiest to sell to a person who has bought from you before. Therefore you should constantly create and develop new products and services to sell to them more and more. Money is in repeat purchases.

5. Business Is Based On Human Relationships

Business is not based on beautiful offices, shiny business cards and fancy job titles. Business is based on relationships.

Relationships grow if you invest in your social network. Give and ask for favors but always think of ways you could be useful to people. One thing really successful people have in common is large social networks. Cultivate relationships, keep in touch with old acquaintances, be useful and be fun. No one wants to hang out with a grouch.

The best networking is spending amusing time together. For more on that, you should read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.

6. Don’t Be the Cheapest

Cheap is crap. It could be tempting to be the cheapest producer on the market, especially in the beginning. Even now you can run into web design companies that offer you an awesome website for $100. Yeah right. That is a lousy business plan.

It’s hard to survive with a narrow margin and there is always a guy who would do it for an even cheaper price. If not with the first, then at least by the third price war you will sink. People are willing to pay for quality and value – for you as an entrepreneur, it is easier to do business this way. It is also more inspiring to do something awesome then something that has to be toned down to cut costs. People appreciate expensive things more than cheap things.

7. Start Doing, Stop Looking For The Silver Bullet

I often meet people, who instead of building a business, are looking for the silver bullet. They buy information products, attend courses, and buy hundreds of books (which they do not usually even read).

There is no silver bullet. You cannot cut ahead. The idea of getting rich by doing nothing or very little is attractive and there are dozens of goons ready to take your money and tell you it is. But this idea will not really get you anywhere. You can work smartly but there is no substitute for work and creating authentic value. There is no magic button. We need more action. Overnight success is achieved after many years.

8. Live Below Your Means

Would you manage if tomorrow your earnings would drop by half? Living lavishly and over your limits is dumb. If you feel that you have to show someone how cool and expensive your car or clothes are, then you are deeply disturbed. Real value comes from within not from the things you own.
One is rich if he has the money to use when he really needs it.

Books that have researched the subject, The Millionaire Next Door and Rich Is a Religion, point out that often people who like to show their wealth usually are deeply in debt and can barely manage. And this stands in contrast with how truly rich (first generation) people act. Save something every month. It is easy to get trapped into spending. It is wise to create a safety net so you could come out from every recession with a smile.

9. Stop Selling Time

When I created my consultancy business, I found myself constantly working. I was living in Panama, which is a paradise on Earth and I was sitting in the office, working. Then an emergency bell rang. Stop selling time.

  • You cannot create time, everyone has the same amount of time.
  • To earn more you have to work more hours, and less time is left for yourself.
  • When you stop working, you stop making money.

Selling time cannot be scaled. You can only earn more by finding more workers, but with that comes huge costs and responsibility.

It is a lot more effective to do the job once and get paid for it many times. I sold my time for many years, until I realized that I will not get anywhere by offering a service. That kind of model will not let me live my life the way I want to. Instead of offering a service, offer a product.

If you are conducting a sales training, film at least one of them and sell it as a DVD. If you are giving advice as a gardener, write it down in an e-book or put your knowledge in an online course and sell it. If you organize your knowledge into educational products, you will do the work once but you can sell it endlessly and get paid many times. You can also create e-services which automate at least some of your services.

10. Wealth = Time

In conclusion we live our own lives and HOW we spend the time that we have is the most important thing. No one says on their death bed that they would have wanted to spend more time in the office. Time is the most valuable asset. Every fool can buy things, we all have credit cards. And how many laptops, cars and iPhones do we really need? For me the important thing is that I could take time off whenever I want to go out and play with my nephew; or to visit an old friend who lives on another continent or take my backpack and travel when I feel like it.

Experiences have great value. We may lose everything we have in life, but no one can take away what we have gone through or our memories.

We must strive towards more freedom and more free time. Today it is possible for everyone to consciously shape their lifestyle. One good way to make more time and freedom for yourself is to create your own internet business. Invest in your own knowledge.

What life lessons can you share?

By Peep

Peep Laja is the CEO of Traindom, a platform for building and selling online courses. You can follow him on Twitter at @peeplaja.