I’m probably the last person you’d ever expect to be good at sales and marketing.
Growing up, I was shy and I studied a lot. I was a straight A student, captain of the math team and I took the SATs in the 4th grade so I could attend “nerd” camp.
Prior to quitting and going all in on my businesses, I was a hardware engineering director where I stared at a computer monitor all day long looking at squiggly green lines like the picture below.
In fact, I never believed that I could start a successful business because I was not good enough at sales and marketing nor did I have the personality for it.
Are you telling me that I have to actively promote and sell my products to customers? Yuck.
Are you telling me that I have to appease angry customers even though it’s not my fault? No thank you.
Overall, sales and marketing was a skill that I never thought I’d be good enough to learn.
Do you ever feel this way about starting your own business? Do you ever have limiting beliefs about whether you’ll be able to succeed?
Hopefully, this post will change your mindset.
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A Personal Story About Unrealistic Expectations
A while back, I decided that I was going to teach my daughter how to ride her bike all by herself without any training wheels on. And I was super excited about it.
Ever since I became a Dad, I had dreamed about this fairy tale moment where I would teach my daughter how to ride her bike for the very first time…And it was going to be magical.
I would hold her seat and handle bars, give her a gentle push and then watch her glide off into the sunset as she learned to balance herself on two wheels.
And at the end of her lesson, she would be so thankful for having her awesome father teach her how to ride her bike that she would continuously give me hugs and kisses all the way home.
Well I must have been smoking crack that day because that is not how it played out at all. In fact, it wasn’t even close.
Instead of giving her a gentle push and watching her ride off into the sunset, I gave her a push and she promptly toppled over onto her side.
Then I lifted her up, gave her another push and she fell over again. This happened repeatedly until the whining and the tears started coming out.
Daddy, I don’t want to learn how to ride a bike anymore. It’s too hard. I can’t do it Daddy, I’m not good enough!
Have you ever watched those commercials and movies where the Dad and the child are having so much fun learning how to ride a bike? It’s complete BS.
Where the heck are all the missing scenes where the kid is crying and melting down? Where are all the scenes where the kid just wants to quit?
I’m Not Good Enough! It’s Too Hard
I’m not bitter:) But what bothered me the most about the whole bike riding lesson was that my daughter kept repeating to herself that she wasn’t good at bike riding.
And she said it in such a way that she convinced herself that she would never ever be good enough at it either.
Overall, I felt really bad about the situation since it was partially my fault.
I made her get on a bike and expected her to learn how to ride in just a single afternoon. I pushed her a little too hard and had unrealistic expectations.
So we called it quits for the day and decided to put it off for a little while before trying again.
Taking Things Slow
The following weekend, I decided to try something different. Instead of just giving her a push and letting her go, I strapped on my roller blades and held onto her back as she rode. This way, I could support her in case she lost balance.
Also, she felt my presence behind her which gave her peace of mind that she wasn’t going to fall down. In a way, I acted like her training wheels.
Slowly but surely, I could sense that her balance was improving and she started having a little more fun.
Look Daddy, I’m going so fast! Wheeeeeee
That afternoon after we called it quits, my daughter was definitely enjoying it more and the best part was that she was itching to go riding again.
I’m Doing It Daddy!
Fast forward a few more weekends and my Hollywood dream finally came true.
I was holding onto my daughter’s shoulders on my rollerblades as she was biking. And once we picked up a little speed, I slowly let go of her back….
Low and behold, she started riding all by herself! And she was so happy at the end of the day that all she could talk about was riding her bike.
I also got my fair share of hugs and kisses. Overall, it was a great afternoon and one that I will never forget:)
Are You Really Not Good Enough Or Is It All Mental?
Now what’s funny about my daughter’s initial reaction to learning how to ride is that we as adults often behave the same way.
How many times have you told yourself that you couldn’t do something because you were not good enough?
How many times have you completely discounted or written yourself off because you didn’t know how to do something or tried something once but was bad at it?
For me, I used to write myself off all of the time especially when it came to marketing and sales.
As a Chinese American who decided to pursue engineering as a career, I was always brought up to be humble, logical, passive and never brag or embellish any facts. In general, this type of personality and behavior is not conducive to marketing and sales:).
In fact, I always told myself that I was horrible at marketing because the science of human behavior made absolutely no sense to me and selling anything felt extremely unnatural.
I hated talking about my accomplishments. I hated having to “promote” my products and website. I hated the entire selling process.
In fact, I kept telling myself that I was “not good enough” to such a degree that I started believing my words. After all, I had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t understand the fundamental principles of sales and marketing.
How To Get Past “Not Good Enough”
One of the biggest reasons I thought I was bad at marketing and sales was because I often expected instant results.
I would try something that I learned online, it wouldn’t work out the way I had planned and then I would give up.
For example when I first put up affiliate offers on my blog, I expected them to convert right away. But when I didn’t refer a single sale, I immediately got discouraged and started questioning my writing skills.
When my wife and I first launched our ecommerce store, we made zero sales because no one knew we existed. No one told us that we had to go out and generate our own traffic.
Same thing happened with my email newsletter signup form. When I first tried to launch my email list, no one was willing to sign up because my sales copy was atrocious.
But over time and with repeated failures, I started getting better at marketing myself. I started getting better at writing convincing sales copy. And with each experiment, I gained a better understanding of human psychology.
What most people don’t realize is that the human brain needs time for certain concepts to sink in and this process often takes a while for most people.
Anyway once I started seeing a tiny bit of traction and sales, I began having more fun.
And once I got a little better at marketing myself, I became hungry for more information. So I read books, blogs and watched videos, you name it. And slowly but surely, everything started to sink in.
Today, I have this weird conflicting mixture of Asian engineering blood and marketing blood all mixed inside of me.
And even though I sometimes have to fight off my cultural tendencies and resist my engineering inclinations, I honestly believe that I have half decent sales and marketing skills now:).
You Might Suck Now But…
When it comes to starting a business, creating websites, marketing your site or building an audience, know that you’re going to suck at it in the beginning.
You’re not going to be good enough to succeed.
But the longer you keep at it, the better you’ll become.
Often times, it’s just a matter of getting over that initial hump. And once you start seeing a little progress, you might even grow to enjoy it. After all, we as humans tend to gravitate towards activities that we are good at.
Even the greatest minds all started from square one. The key is to start now and stop making excuses. Don’t ever tell yourself that you are not good enough because you suck at it.
Anyone can learn and everyone sucks in the beginning.
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.