I have been living a lie. I've been in “business” since 2009 and in that time I've achieved a lot by my own standards. But I haven't built a business…
Now don't get me wrong; I do earn a living online and I spend a lot of time building my “business” but really all I've done is build myself a job. There is nothing wrong with that of course, if that is what you set out to do, but that is not the case for me…
I Have Spent Over 3 Years Building a Job
Rather Than Building a Business
Yes, I'm working for myself. Yes, its beautiful being able to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Yes, I have launched products that earn me money whilst I'm out partying, sleeping and studying (still at university for another year!). But the reality is that it all lives on a very fragile balance.
Last month my house was robbed. They took all my computer equipment, they essentially took my job away from me. Luckily I had the foresight to actually back up 99% of my business data and encrypt everything but all the hardware I use on a daily basis was gone. Insurance wouldn't cover it as someone I live with had left the house unlocked and like that I had nothing…
Around the same time my granddad passed away and I had to travel down to London. Without my “business” there was no quick way to make money, there was no backup in the bank account (silly I know and will not happen again!), and I had to borrow money from my family to get down and see them. Now I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like a successful business person to me and it's definitely not who I want to be.
“I Refuse To Be a Victim”
The truth is I have the skills to build a business, I won't go into figures but I earned more than enough to keep me happy last year; I went travelling abroad multiple times, and the month before things went downhill fast, I earned over double what I ever earned in full-time employment.
My clients build successful businesses with my help; one launched in multiple countries with a network of sites I built in one of the most exclusive markets I know of. I have created membership sites for others that now boast membership well into the thousands.
I really do love that I can help others build their business but at the start of every new project I work on it is back to the drawing board. At the end of the day I'm still just working a job. It's a job that I've created for myself as opposed to it being given to me but it's a job none the less… If you take me out of the equation for just a few weeks it all falls apart.
Job vs. Business: What's the difference?
I'll turn the definitions over to my friends at Wikipedia…
Job – A job is a regular activity performed in exchange for payment.
Business – A business (also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers.
The distinction here is subtle but important; a job is an exchange of activity for payment. Where as a business is an organisation engaged in the trade of goods and/or services.
A job will always require you to exchange some form of regular activity for payment, the minute that activity disappears, the payment goes with it. Whereas a business is an organisation, it's not something you do, but a collection of people and processes that work together to create and exchange value.
More importantly from a personal perspective, a business does not always require activity for payment! In our current age we are blessed with technology that can automate a whole ton of stuff that used to require a whole team of staff but we still manage to find ourselves trapped by the same routines.
How I Butchered a Business and Turned It Into a Job
My denial to this point is such that I even managed to take one of the most business like attributes, creation of products, and turn it into a job. Wondering how that works? I would work hours, weeks, and more into creating a product (we are talking software, info-products, and membership sites) and then promote it in the most short-sighted market places. Whilst the thrill of getting large chunks of money into your bank account in a short space of time is great, when it comes at the cost of sustainability you are sacrificing too much.
Of course we all know that it takes far more than a build it and they will come attitude to survive in business online or otherwise. You have to create massive value, promote like a mad man (not literally!) and then they will come…. BUT if you only ever promote and optimise for a marketplace of one hit wonders your products fate is set in stone from the outset.
Marketing Is a Process That Starts Well Before a
Product is Made and Continues To The Very End
Heck if anyone should know this is then it's me. I've read more books on the subject than I can count, studied the subject at a British university, helped my clients tweak their campaigns and launched several products myself but that is the problem… I “launched” my products. I put them out there, but I didn't tweak them even half as much as you should, any optimisation was for short-term benefit and long-term plans could wait until tomorrow… There were no other people working on promotions, developing new solutions, tweaking campaigns and customer research was nothing more than an occasional email when I got a spare moment.
I was a one man band playing from the wrong song sheet. When there was a dip the solution the solution was too often to “launch a new product” or “launch a new campaign” and not tweak, explore, and attempt to understand the reasoning.
The situation was very reactive and ended up in what can be classed as a job “regular activity in exchange for payment”. When you build an asset for a business you should leverage it to the full, create evergreen campaigns, you can even build in launches and short-term activities but only when you do it to the tune of a long-term strategy.
What is Your Online Business Strategy?
If you're building an online business and you haven't considered this then I can almost guarantee you are building a job too. A business isn't a product, it isn't a marketing tactic, and it isn't $1000 from promoting a product as an affiliate. A business is a mission, a guiding vision that you use to create value for your customer base.
Screw the work life balance for now, let's be honest here if you're in business because you want to do better for yourself you know that it takes work to get there! You understand there is no push button solution and you're willing to graft it out. But what if you're grafting it out in all the wrong places? What if you never graduate from the school of grafting? Best case scenario you make a half decent “job” for yourself, worst case you give up or go broke and find yourself stuck in some place you don't want to be.
What you really need to focus on is The Work Future Balance. It's a reality for those of us that weren't built into a silver spoon existence that you have to work to survive. That's fine we get it! If you have the internet access to read this right now and the ability to take any action at all then you really don't have it that bad. As long as you can accept that you won't always be able to work on your “dream project” every hour when starting out it's important to remember that you can't always be working to survive!
From Building a Job to Building a Business
If you really want to build a business but feel that you've fallen into the fake business trap, or are stuck in a job that you don't like then you really can't afford to wait. Habits build fast and and breaking them takes a commitment. If you have any time at all you need to be working on a plan of action for building your business the right way…
If you don't have the time log out of Facebook, sign out of Twitter, turn off the TV and make the time. When you truly care about building a successful business then you will find the time and there will be no excuses.
From here on in, I personally and publicly commit to taking continued action towards building long-term and sustainable business ventures. I would love to share my journey and experience with you through this blog. If you've been through a shift like this before or you feel like you probably need to make one then I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
Sedit qui timuit ne non succederet.
Tempus Edax Rerum.
Image Credit: One Man Band