This One Simple Tip Will Change The Way You Think About Starting a Business

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It’s human nature. Whenever you want to learn a new skill or achieve an important goal in your life, your first instinct is to look for the easiest way out and the quickest way to get there.

failUnfortunately, this mentality is embedded in our DNA and I’m not immune to it either. Sometimes I still find myself looking for the “get rich quick” solution even though I’m fully aware that change requires hard work and dedication.

For example when I was going for six pack abs, I spent a lot of time researching magical “muscle shakes” and “secret exercises” designed to burn fat.

When I first launched this blog, I thought that I could leverage social media, sign up for a few ad networks, slap some ads in the sidebar and instantly make passive income.

With our store, I thought that paying for a “directory submission service” would instantly bring traffic to our website.

But guess what? All of that was a waste of time. After spending countless hours trying to find the easy way out, I’d always come back to the same conclusion. The path to success requires consistent work and dedication over a long period of time.

A Personal Story

making moneyMost of you are aware that I teach a class on how to start an online store. And one of the benefits of being a student in my class is that I will personally critique your website when it goes live.

Anyways, the other day I was browsing the course forums when I saw this message thread that caught my eye. Basically, one of the newer students wanted to know what the “success rate” was for the students in the class and how long it took to get there.

And this question was immediately followed by a comment from another student who noticed that a few of the sites that I had critiqued in the past were no longer open.

Here was my response…

As for the websites that have shut down, unfortunately it’s a fact of life that not everyone is going to be successful. For a while I debated whether to take those critiques down but I ultimately decided to leave them up because there are lessons to be learned from them.

Anyways, I don’t want to sugar coat things for you. Your chances of success or failure largely depend on you. I will be there to answer your questions and help guide you along but there are no guarantees:)

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter how long it takes “other people” to succeed. You are your own person and you are in control of your own destiny. There is no magical formula for success. I can only show you the process and the right way to do things but I can’t act on your behalf.

Wanting to know “how long it takes other people” is completely natural, but it implies that success is based on a formula when in fact there are many other variables at stake. The biggest variable is how much time and dedication you are willing to devote to your business. How willing are you to learn and execute what I’m teaching you?

Getting Past Get Rich Quick

money seedsSince launching my class back in March of 2011, I still often get asked the same old “get rich quick” type of questions…

So Steve, how long do you think it would take for the average person to make $50,000.

How soon will the money start rolling in after I launch my shop?

How many hours am I going to have spend working on this? Can I do it in just 4 hours a week?

Some of these people eventually sign up for my class and then get frustrated when they find out that gosh darn….it actually takes work to make money. What’s this??? I have to learn a new skill that is completely new to me? Imagine that!

But here’s the thing. The students that stick it out and persevere through all of the material and hard work eventually discover that the the skills they have gained go way beyond just creating websites.

The students that make it past the “get rich quick” stage often take on a completely different mindset. They start thinking longer term about creating businesses that are built to last. They start believing in their own abilities as opposed to following a bogus recipe. They start realizing that it’s ok to experiment, fail and learn from the process.

Here’s an example of one such student who has gotten past the get rich quick phase.

We have failed at three prior attempts to open and operate an online business. In hindsight, the short and simple reason for this is that we didn’t have enough guidance from competent sources. We have operated a very successful “brick and mortar” business for ten years, but the transition to a successful online business was elusive…until we found this site.

I started planning our online business almost two years ago, when I started looking for guidance. My priority? I wanted to get the guidance from someone who was already operating a successful business, and was honest and ethical.

I got my money’s worth on the first day I logged on to this site, almost a year ago.

The most important advice that I could give to anyone starting out is to go through this entire course and keep a dictionary handy for any terms that are not understood. Everything you need to succeed is here in this course.

If you skip videos or cruise past things you don’t understand, you are selling yourself short, and you are setting yourself up to not succeed. There is a LOT to get through on this course, and a lot of it is not easy to understand.

Steve is right; some students will succeed and some will fail. There are no guarantees that someone else can give you. The only guarantee that makes sense is the one you give yourself. If you persist, you will succeed.

Trying To Get Rick Quick Will Only Waste Your Time

The sooner you realize that success really depends on your internal drive and persistence, the sooner you will start making forward progress.

I have wasted countless hours of time on get rich quick schemes in the past and they have never ever worked. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

So quit looking for “external” ways to get things done and starting looking “internally” at yourself. You should be asking yourself…

What can I learn to help me create value with a business?

What skills do I need to take me to the next level?

How can I avoid stupid mistakes that may hinder my progress?

Anyways, I just wanted to end this post with a fantastic quote that Mike, a student in my class, left on my course forums.

I really love my students and they make me proud. Anyways, his quote below pretty much sums everything up quite nicely so I’ll let him take the podium. Thanks for the awesome post Mike!

I think it is a little funny, that some people actually believe someone else can guarantee them success. They want some “magical turnkey formula”. And you know what? A lot of scam artist out there know this is exactly what many people are looking for. So they promise to give it to them, for a fee of course.

People can end up paying hundreds and thousands of dollars, chasing the “formula”. The formula where everything is set up for you, and you don’t have to do any work. I know, because I used to think it existed.

At some point, I don’t remember exactly when, but at some point, I finally realized those kinds of people were playing on my emotions.

They were saying things like, “all you have to do is PLUG into the system”. A lot of language like that was being thrown around all over the internet. Many scammers are still making false promises they knew are lies.

Some of these people are making tens of millions of dollars, selling bogus internet marketing courses. I once paid $500 for such a course. Looking back, and thinking about what I know now about internet marketing now, I know that it was a total scam.

But they were making all kinds of guarantees and promising me the moon, with statements like, make $10,000 a month with just 10 minuets of work per day”. This implies that you don’t really have to do any work. It will be almost effortless!

Even large corporations push myths like that on people. Like for example trying to make them believe that if they buy a franchise, they are guaranteed to succeed with a “turnkey system”.

I am here to tell you it is all a bunch of BS. It is not the system that makes you succeed, it is YOU. A system can only facilitate your success, but only if you have to QUALITIES that it takes to be successful. Success is more a state of mind.

It is really very simple. What many are failing to see, is that successful business owners are smart people, who actually apply themselves, ON A CONSISTENT BASIS. They have the right attitude and work ethic.

They figure out what they need to learn for the business, and they do the work to learn it. They have a certain mindset that many people just don’t have. I think you have to be willing to consistently do the hard and/or boring work, that most people are just not willing to do.

That is what sets successful people apart from those who fail. Many people who have always worked for someone else, don’t really take these things into consideration when they are thinking about owning their own business.

What if you pick the wrong niche and you fail? Many people would just give up, and say that’s it, I can’t do it. With that attitude, they will never be able to own a business. My belief, is that you have to fail to succeed.

When we fail, we can look back and then analyze what we did wrong. We can learn from the mistakes and apply that knowledge in our future endeavors. Sooner or later, we will stop making so many mistakes, because we learned what not to do.

So experience is a major factor. The way I see it is, the smarter you are, the less experience you need. If you are less smart, you can still succeed, but you need to fail more, in order to learn what not to do.

An Open Invitation

In closing, I wanted to extend an open invitation for anyone to ask me questions about ecommerce in the comments below. And also, I’m always looking for motivated students to join my class. If you are ready to work hard and put in the work, then I will do whatever it takes to help you succeed. Get rich quick customers need not apply:)

photo credit: Tax Credits 401(K) 2013 BramstonePhotography

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?

If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

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29 thoughts on “This One Simple Tip Will Change The Way You Think About Starting a Business”

  1. True, True, True. I’ve also learned that it takes money to make money, and investing in learning is money well spent.

    1. Thanks Carole. Fortunately, it doesn’t take that much money to give things a try these days.

  2. Great post Steve and spot on. I am glad someone reputable is coming out and saying exactly this. Making money takes work and commitment and time – along with providing quality to customers.

    1. Thanks Tracey. I hope that everything is working out with your shipper/forwarder

  3. One if the main reasons that I am a fanatic follower of your blog is the straight to the point approach that you use. There are no shortcuts, no easy magical way and in the end you can only reap what you sow. I have always wanted to have my own online business, but never acted on it. Delaying and delaying uner the guise of doing research and making sure everything is perfect. Getting laid off sure made me speed up the process. :) Luckily, I work in a field where you can find work if you are willing to move (Telecom) so, I was laid off, but had work the next day in a different state. Reading your blog is the main reason why my online business is where it is at today and it took me some time to find and surprisingly I got to your blog through YouTube.
    I would like to take a risk and attempt to take advantage of you open invitation to ask ecommerce questions and ask you to critique my website. I know from a different post that you stopped doing that after a reader got upset with your critique, but would love to have a straight to the point, no sugar coated critique to help me improve. Whether you agree to critique it or not, I would love to offer you a gift from the site as a token of my appreciation to what I have learned from your wonderful blog.

    Thank you Steve. :)

    1. Thanks Omar for coming out of the woodwork and leaving such a thoughtful comment. Unfortunately, the demands of my class prevent me from critiquing sites outside of my students, but I’ll head over to take a quick look at yours.

      1. I understand you are a busy man. Thank you in advance for any feedback you can give. Also, please let me know which painting you like and I will go ahead and ship to you. :)

  4. Great post and spot on! Totally agree that it depends on your internal drive and persistent, and a mentor or guide also helps, such as your class, although I am not a student but a follower of your blog, is the formula for success.

    1. Thanks Victoria. That’s a good looking blog you have there:)

      1. Thanks Steve, that means a lot coming from you! It is not a money making blog, just a love fashion and vintage fashionista blog lovin’ site for my super wonderful like minded folks, What is a word for folks like that, I know we would be co-horts in the academia world.

  5. Steve, this was a really powerful post. I created a blog this year with the intention to monetize, I’ve worked hard to create valuable content and build an audience; however, I’ve yet to monetize. Part of that is due to the nature of my blog…I desire to help people transform their relationship with money.

    Ads and “selly sell” content run counter to the message I’m trying to send. Therefore, I’ve considered starting a second site purely designed to monetize and on a completely different track. I purchased Market Samurai and think I have a good keyword to build the site around.

    Your course and Marie Forelo’s BSchool are the top on my list for investing in in 2014. If I decide to move forward with a 2nd site I’ll likely choose your program.

    I like your style, honesty, track record and more…I think you would be a good fit for me.

    Here’s to a profitable and happy new year!

    1. Sounds good Ree. I’ve heard great things about Marie’s course as well. Best of luck to your business and have a happy holidays!

  6. Summer says:

    Hi Steve!

    I’m a long time reader and newsletter subscriber. Due in part to inspiration for you, my husband and I have been working on a product that works well with our brand and would be something our well established audience would be excited about. It’s taken a year of research, samples, and negotiation but we are about ready to place our first order with our manufacturer.

    My question, which I’ve done some research on and can’t seem to find any answers, is in regards to workflow. We’ve figured out the website, we have a great initial marketing plan in place, photography, and found the plugins for streamlining postage, etc… But what I’m curious about is how you actually set up work flow in terms of receiving orders, printing labels, customizing your product (which we will be doing), packaging, and mailing. How do you stay organized? Do you have a system? Do you have an assembly line?

    Perhaps there is no info on this because its so specific to each business, but any tips you have in actual order fulfillment in-house would be appreciated!!

    Thank you so much!!!

    1. Hi Summer,
      It always makes me happy to receive comments from folks like yourself. In terms of our workflow, I could probably write a post about it but I don’t think that there’s anything special about what we do. Is there anything specific that you are having problems wrapping your head around?

      1. Hey Steve!

        Thanks for your quick reply. I think that the basics of workflow are glossed over, perhaps because it is different for everyone or because owners figure it out as they go. But it is something I’m concerned with because we are already running our blog as a full time business.

        I’d just love some ideas on how to streamline our process, packing products, what your turn around time is from order to ship date (how did you decide on that…how long does it take for each product to be customized) and how you successfully keep yourselves organized. For example, many of your products look alike. How do you internally prevent mixups, make sure the correct style gets the correct initials, etc…? Do you have systems in place? Do you pull all product, put printed forms with each product, then do all customization, then pack all? Do you do each one at a time? Do you have someone in charge of each different job? How you do you double check that you’ve sent off each order? (We’re planning on going with shopify to start…I assume there will be a system for me to notify my recipient of shipment).

        I suppose I’d just love to know how you go from an online order to a completed, mailed product. How did it work when it was in your home versus in your warehouse? What’s different? I’d love more info about the systems you created, adjusted, and found helpful when you started and as you grew. For you it probably seems second hand, but on our end, it’s the one thing I can’t find any information on but would love to learn about the nuts and bolts of order fulfillment. Even simple things like, where’s the best place to get boxes?

        Because we’re adding this business to what we already do at home, the more research and prep that we have under our belts, the better. Perhaps my questions will be answered once we get started selling, but the more prepared we are, the better, right?

        Thanks so much, Steve!

  7. HI Steve, thanks for your informative emails :)

    I have an ecommerce store that I set up this year also in the wedding market -selling kids formal wear – flower girl dresses and boys suits.

    I am now looking to get more traffic and convert the traffic I do have into customers. I am currently getting around 200 visitors a month to which is not a lot I know, but I am only converting about one of these into a sale. It has been suggested to me that I need a more up to date design. Would you recommend redesigning my website to convert more customers? Also would you say it is better to put money into SEO or into advertising on a wedding directory.

    Thanking you for your suggestions in advance

    kind regards

    1. Hi Carolyn!

      I hope it’s okay that I chime with feedback about your store. I’m in the wedding industry and speak at conferences about branding, marketing, and blogging. We look at wedding products on a daily basis, so in this case, I’m very intimately associated with the industry.

      I would definitely strongly consider thinking through your site design. I took a look and had the initial feeling that it was an informational blog, rather than a store. There were no immediate product photos that jumped out at me.

      Also, your color accent of navy blue, the layout out and the typefaces are very professional looking, but convey a more business oriented tone–similar to what I would expect on a financial services site. You might consider rethinking branding that is oriented to a feminine perspective, as normally women are the ones shopping online for attendant’s wardrobe.

      I hope those two points are helpful starting off points for you. I’m very bias toward great site design, branding, and product photography. For pinterest obsessed women these days, imagery could not play a more important role!


      1. While I am in no way associated with the wedding industry, I will have to say that what Summer is saying sounds really great.

      2. HI Summer, thanks for your comments. I greatly appreciate your input. What you have said verbalises my gut feeling about my website. Thanks and great to have some feedback. I will look at getting it redesigned and have the products displayed in a prominent position – maybe a slider near the top – what do you think?

  8. Great post! That was a very insightful quote from your student. Starting a business really is trial and error. You just have to keep trying until you get it right.

  9. Sharan says:

    I love your blogs and always learn something new from them. Great advice always. Thanks.

  10. Judy says:

    Hi Steve,

    Would your program work if I wanted to sell food items?

    Have a Safe and Happy New Year.


  11. Great post! As a student I really appreciate your honest, transparent, data-driven advice. Its from the perspective of someone who has been and still is working in ecommerce.

    So many of these “get rich quick” classes are being offered by people who have only advised start-ups/small businesses or who have sold their business and is no longer in their given field. Its refreshing to be on this “start an online store” journey with someone who really understands the challenges.

    Business is dynamic so the formula for success is hard to pin down. I agree with Steve it just takes a ton of hard work and the right attitude.

    ~ Anna

  12. Great post. Every entrepreneur should definitely read this article.

    It’s good you point out that success should not be measured by others. I think after getting that out of an entrepreneur’s head as well as getting past the get rich quick phase, the only thing (mentally) that’s most likely in their way is the thought of failure. I assume that’s why people believe the get rich quick idea due to the thought that they won’t fail.

  13. Hi Steve.
    Thank you so much for so much awesome information! Also, everybody else on here that has commented! Thank you C.Kardos for your comment about needing to get the idea of the failure past out of my head! That’s part of what is stopping me also!
    I’m wanting to start an online store selling vintage items like clothing and nic-nacks and decor and household goods at first, to get the cash flow going so that I can get what I really want to do. Which is design and makejewelry.
    I have started an etsy store twice now. However, after I make a few sales I just find reasons that I’m not able to get back to the store, and the listings expire. I return to the store sometimes 2 or 3 months later.
    I’m understanding a little more now why. My question to you Steve is now that I am truly feeling a passion, a true passion for designing and learningto make jewelry, what do you suggest I do with the etsy store?

    1. Hi jackie,

      Just read your post. I have an etsy store also, so what to do with yours, I would suggest keeping it. You can put it in vacation mode indefinitely, and let folks know you are shifting focus. Also you can list the jewelry you make in your etsy shop, until you open your own website, if that is your goal. You can sell on both sites, depending if you reproduce your items. And you are allowed to change your shop name once, just in case the current name doesn’t vibe with your new jewelry design business. Hope this helps.

    2. I would keep your Etsy store open, start up your own website and then gradually funnel your Etsy customers over. There’s no reason to close one for the other. Good luck!

  14. Katie says:

    Hi Steve,

    I just signed up for your newsletter and E-book today. I’m loving the content so far. I came up with an awesome and growing line of furniture that is completely unique and created for parents, which is a related market that makes for huge potential. I’ve been working on the Intellectual property and documentation for patents, and built two mini-prototypes. I am now deep into business research mode and in creative overdrive. The huge end goal of the product line was to take the products and make it into an all-inclusive on line e-commerce store, while continuing to design products for the children’s market. It seems like such a huge task to get the products manufactured and the we bsite started… and now I’ve run across an idea to make wood frames in my garage as an easy start-up business & a faster way to market to secure the funds to go after the launch of the first flagship product. But reading your information now has me wondering if starting the e-commerce website first might be another idea… I also have three ebooks I want to write that could instead be make into a blog, but they are about a completely different subject/market. I have my Masters degree in art and have never suffered from such creative overload. We are so poor from my not being able to work and staying at home with my daughter, and my husband was out of work for almost a year. I need to make a future for us but don’t know which way to go. What would your thoughts be on this?

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