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By Yaro Starak
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Welcome to the EJ Podcast ‘Solo Session 2’, otherwise known as the Failure episode.
The episode itself is not a failure, but features business projects that I created during my earlier years as an entrepreneur that did not become financial successes.
Despite the label as failures, each of these projects helped me learn key lessons about what works in business and more importantly, what I wanted as an entrepreneur and how I desired to live my life.
This podcast begins when I just started out as an entrepreneur at 18 years old, living in Australia.
If you know my story well, the one I share in podcast interviews, webinars and when talking on stage, then you’ve heard about my successful projects – a card game business, editing company, investing in websites and of course, blogging and digital products.
What you probably don’t know about, are all the other projects, websites and businesses that never went anywhere, which I spent many hours on during the first seven years of my entrepreneurial life.
In this podcast you’re going to hear stories behind my MP3 website, followed by YoungActivist.com, my trading marketplace Yaz.com.au and the biggest failure of them all – my English tutoring business called Aussie Tutor (a real world physical business with an office and everything!).
If you grew up online during the late 1990s to early 2000s, you’re going to enjoy this trip down memory lane.
Throughout this podcast, I explain each of the key learnings I took away from these ‘failures’ and how they led me to put the steps together to eventually reach the point where I am today, with over a decade of success and millions of dollars in sales of my products and services.
At the end of the episode I summarize all the key changes I made as a result of experiencing each of the so-called failed projects.
I recommend you listen to the entire podcast and learn from my mistakes. You can fast-track your own success by avoiding and acting on what I had to live through while building all these projects that never made money.
As I mentioned at the end of the podcast, the smart next step after listening to this episode is to work your way through my free ‘Mindset and Productivity’ email course. I’ll send you a series of my best training to help you fortify your mind and make smart decisions as you grow your own business.
You can subscribe here, it is free:
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I hope you get a lot out of this episode. As much as they are stories of failure, they are incredibly important stepping stones in my entrepreneurial journey.
I may have felt lost and confused during much of this time — just as you might feel right now with your own business – but I promise you, looking back one day you will see how all these failure experiences became the foundation for your success.
Talk to you soon,
YARO: Hello this is Yaro Starak and welcome to a solo Entrepreneurs-Journey podcast episode featuring me. This is the second episode I’ve done as a solo episode kind of like the reboot process for the Entrepreneurs-Journey podcast. Today’s subject is well two things, I want to talk to you about something that I really haven’t spent a lot of time talking about on my blog or in my podcast or really anywhere which is all the failed projects I’ve had in the past.
You probably know me for my blog, my successful Entrepreneurs-Journey blog, maybe my course Blog Mastermind or any of the eBooks or my membership site, the Laptop Lifestyle Academy or even if you’re not a customer of mine you possibly know me from me just talking about my editing and proofreading company on my blog, I’ve written about that. Also written a lot about my Magic: The Gathering collectable card game site and community site, my successful projects basically. It makes sense that we spent a lot of time talking about what works as a teacher online so I tend to focus my energy there but I feel today it’s important for me to share with you everything that didn’t work.
I’m going to go through some of my projects from the early days, why I started them, what happened, how I’ve built the businesses and what went wrong and ultimately what I learned from the experience and how that impacted what I do today. Second I’m going to talk about mindset because a lot of failure relates to mindset. Before I recorded this episode I actually did a little survey to both my Laptop Lifestyle Facebook Group which you can join at laptoplifestyle.me. Also my academy, the Laptop Lifestyle Academy which is my paid membership site which I have some people in there who I talk to everyday in the forums and on slack chat just for members.
I asked those two groups what topics you’d like me to talk about on this podcast. I got a bunch of replies but one of the repeating themes were questions relating to mindset. Things like how do you stay focused, how do you stay motivated when things are not going great, I’m not getting any traffic, I’m having trouble choosing a topic, no one buys my stuff, I keep feeling overwhelmed because I have to do too many things. All these kind of issues are things we all face and I certainly did and I think a lot of my early failures really were impacted by those kind of negative situations or at least getting lost in the emotions and the thoughts that come along with things where you feel like you’re just failing or things are going incredibly slowly and you’re not getting anywhere.
By explaining to you some of my failures and also how that impacted my mindset towards my successes you can see the connection and see hopefully some lessons that you can apply to help you get through whatever situation you’re dealing with, with your online business. So we’re taking a trip back in time.
We’re going to go all the way back to the late 1990s because that’s when I got my start on the internet. Normally when I tell my story I start talking about how my first website was built on the GO City’s platform back in 1998. I built a card game website about Magic: The Gathering and that then turned into a full blown ecommerce site, I had a forum and I had some people writing articles all about this card game which I actually played myself competitively back then as well.
What I don’t talk about so much is the websites that I did at the same time as running my card game website and also the ones that sort of followed up after it. There’s a period of time pretty much between 1998 and round about 2002, 2003 where I was playing around with a lot of ideas. Now it’s important for you to understand why I felt the need to start new projects when I had a successful card game website.
The answer is pretty simple, I was losing interest in that game and it’s a very small market. I was focused on the Australian Magic: The Gathering population and I was making a bit of money from advertising and from selling cards. Very small money, maybe 500 to the best month I had about a thousand dollars come in and I really didn’t see that business getting much bigger nor did I want to put in the effort to grow it. I didn’t want to become a global site and compete with all the global Magic: The Gathering sites. Plus simply put my interest in the game itself was starting to wane. I was looking to start new things.
This is when a lot of my experimentation with new websites happened leading up to the creation of my editing company betteredit.com, it was in the mix here as well. What happened and this is a really good lesson, I learned a skill. I taught myself how to do HTML which basically was the building block for websites and back then that’s all you really needed. You didn’t have to have programming skills or CSS skills, websites were really sort of flat, basic tools. There wasn’t even comments like we have on blogs today, no social media, this was a basic time. In some ways that was good because it meant I could do a lot myself but also it was kind of bad because it meant I could do a lot myself. So I spent a lot of years wasting time building websites that I really probably shouldn’t have started in the first place and wouldn’t have even started in the first place today because I wouldn’t have had the skillset to build what I wanted. Back then all I really needed to do was create some kind of online magazine type site.
Let me go through a couple of projects I had to explain my thinking at the time. Here I am in university and I’m also just about to graduate so I’m hitting my early 20’s, I want to get more money coming from an online business, I have an existing business that’s kind of pottering along but I’m not really interested in growing it. What I start to do is just think about all the things I’m interested in. As a young adult I was just finding different subjects interesting and like a lot of people my first focus was I will use my passion as a place to start my next online business.
I registered a domain name called mp3now.com and it was meant to be an mp3 sharing site. I’ll be completely upfront with you, at the time mp3’s were starting to take off. This is when basically that whole Napster period started to, actually it was just before the Napster period kicked off where people started trading mp3 music. Back then you still had to find your mp3’s just searching your basic search engines. Going to AltaVista or HotBot or Lycos or … I think Yahoo may have just started then too. You have to go in there and type in the name of the song, mp3 and trudge through all these broken links to try and find the right working link.
Bearing in mind this was still very much kind of a very iffy legal situation the laws were just starting to come into place around music and sharing on the internet. I loved mp3’s, I loved music and I was really interested in getting involved with that. I registered mp3now.com and built a website. Essentially it was going to a link farm for linking through to mp3’s. I knew to avoid getting in trouble I didn’t host the mp3’s myself because that would have been the risky part, people were getting sued if they hosted the mp3s. All I did was link to them and cover news and maybe even potentially start breaking in some independent artists like mp3.com was doing I could potentially have a business.
I went and spent a lot of nights just using my HTML skills that I learned from a textbook, I bought Teach Yourself HTML in 24 Hours and used that to build my Magic website and then I used it to build this mp3 website. To cut a long story short it didn’t really go anywhere. I finished the designed, opened up and launched the site but very quickly realized what am I doing? I’m getting into an area that’s really got a lot of legal troubles potentially, how am I going to make money from this, I didn’t really have a plan besides maybe if I get enough traffic I could put some ads up but let’s face it people would just come there to look for an mp3 and then run off.
It was a bad business model getting into a potentially legal issue and I only cared about it because I just loved music and wanted to be somehow involved in that community and there were definitely better ways to do that. I didn’t really have a business model. The lesson from that I feel that I really want to share with you is the legal aspect because I’ve had a lot of friends over the years who have skills technically but they’ve taken those skills and applied it to areas where they could potentially get into legal trouble.
I never understand why make your life harder by starting businesses where you could essentially succeed and because you succeed you get shut down because legally you get in trouble. It’s pretty obvious from day one when that’s the case, I knew it with my mp3now.com website. I basically shut that site down pretty much … The minute I finished the website and put it live I kind of said this is nuts and switched it off.
That lead me to kind of almost swinging in completely the opposite direction. My next project I registered domain name called youngactivist.com. I was in my early 20s and I was feeling a lot of passion about a lot of subjects like the environment and health and all kinds of areas, to make the world a better place basically. I knew that a lot of other people my age were also interested in that subject, being active to make the world a better place.
It was an area that really wasn’t catered to on the internet very much yet. I know years later certain sites like TreeHugger Blog popped up that got quite a lot of traction around environmental issues and basically blogging around that topic. I thought, back then this is before blogging, I’ll start this young activist site, I’ll grow it kind of like my Magic site. I’ll get some writers and we’ll build up this community around it. Once again I just spent a whole bunch of time often my nights, sitting there coding up HTML, designing my own logo using really, really basic graphic skills. I used PaintShop Pro to try and design things. I was a mediocre designer at best but I went through the process and I finished that website and I did actually publish it and I started to write a few articles for it and started to try and get a few other people involved which I got no one involved.
That one kind of at least got started but it fizzled out. What happened with that was I lost interest pretty quickly and I noticed what was wrong here I was having trouble getting anyone committing to it, I was having trouble getting any traffic to it, there was a lot of difficulty getting momentum and I realized that even if I got all those things I didn’t have a business model that I thought could work. I actually didn’t understand or see how I could make money from this business because while my card game website it made sense that people would come back every day to trade cards plus there’s a commerce aspect, they buy and they sell cards. There’s a monetary exchange going on that I could build a business around.
With youngactivist.com I really didn’t have a direction, a strategy in place where money could be made, even with advertising I would need a lot of traffic that even wouldn’t have been the best kind of traffic to monetize, we’re talking potentially young people who have no money to spend either because they’re too busy being activists and studying and so on. Again I felt just lack of direction, lack of motivation poor planning, no monetization strategy so I shut down youngactivist.com as well and put that one into the graveyard.
The next project after that, this one was actually started on a trip to Canada. I remember very clearly I was in bed, I was already running my proofreading company at the time, so I had my card game website and my Better Edit business. We’re getting kind of closer to, I was 23, 24 or 25 and I woke up or I tried to get to be one night going I know what I’ll do, I’m going to start a new, essentially a new Craigslist. This is how silly it sounds like in retrospect.
I thought I’m going to start a new directory based sort of trading community because I get how powerful trading cards is on my Magic site. What I’m going to do is start up a trading based community focused on students which I can then connect to my editing company which goes after students. I wasn’t completely crazy because I can see a connection, maybe I could turn the audience I was already attracting with Better Edit, the student market, into users of this kind of like a Craigslist for students.
I registered a domain name called yaz.com.au, Y-A-Z. I have no idea why I chose that name other than the fact it was three letters and it had the letter Y and the letter Z which are two letters you rarely see in domain names and I built a site. I actually went ahead again and built a whole community, I installed some software to run a trading type, Craigslist type site and I was really excited about this project because to me the fact that Craigslist worked using such an ugly simple design meant I don’t have to get caught up in the website design, I just needed the users. I understood the power of getting a critical mass of people using a trading community that creates the value and I could build off that.
I figured well I already have an audience that’s showing up at my editing company let’s turn some of them into users of this Yaz site. That was my strategy, that was my thinking. Once again threw in a bunch of time building the entire website and then I attempted to get people to start listing their products and services.
What I did to start with was just kind of use a few strategic places to link my Better Edit business to this Yaz site. Not too many because I knew Better Edit was a proofreading company and I didn’t want to ruin the income source I had coming in there but I thought maybe a link in the footer, maybe a link in the emails that go out, maybe after jobs are done go to Yaz. Plus I start to market my business using the knowledge I knew from running my two successful projects I started posting in forums and directories and making connections online and trying to drive a bit of traffic using banners and simple things like that.
I got a tiny, tiny bit of traction. I started getting one or two entries into my community, my Craigslist directory type site where people were selling things that they had. Kind of like a garage sale online, basically what eBay was doing at the time as well but not auction based, mine was just list and sell. That’s about as far as that project went. You see the problem I had with this one was no matter how many listings I got I simply didn’t have enough people seeing those listings so those products never got purchased, so they never came back.
It’s a classic catch 22 critical mass issue. I was crazy enough to think that I could somehow grow enough of a critical mass to my directory site to get a regular user base despite the fact that eBay and Craigslist and there was Gumtree in Australia and the UK and there’s Kijiji in Canada and all these other countries kind of already have their established players and even they were necessarily struggling to necessarily be profitable even though they had millions of users, staff and so on.
I kind of got the hint that this is not an area where I’m going to throw myself into trying to get a bunch of people to start buying and selling on my yaz.com the new site. I also started to feel at that time too that I really should start to focus on my editing company since it was doing well and get some growth there.
Those three stories that I share with you now, mp3.com sorry, mp3now.com, youngactivist.com and yaz.com.au they all came about simply because I saw an opportunity and because I had the ability to create a website myself I went and built websites. Now what I did that was smart with those projects was I acted fast. I built websites and got them out the door and put things in front of people. What I didn’t do very well was really think about the future and the strategy behind what I was doing.
I didn’t see first of all the legal issues, I ignored them, second of all the monetization strategy wasn’t as good or third the actual growth strategy needing a critical mass I just wasn’t going to make that work in that industry. I kind of took all those lessons with me as I moved on to my next projects going forward. I’d like to share with you a bit of a longer story now with a project that I really invested a lot of time and a lot of money into that actually ended up being a cash drain, I lost money on this. This is my biggest failure you could say because not only did I build a website, I actually built a whole business.
Let me put this into perspective. Around about 2003 I was introduced to something called NEIS in Australia, it’s N-E-I-S, New Enterprise Incentive Scheme. It’s a program run by the Australian government designed to give support to entrepreneurs or small business owners when they’re getting started so that they have their basic living costs covered. It’s kind of like getting unemployment benefits but as an entrepreneur.
What you do is … Well to give it context, I was sitting in my car one day with my father driving and he tells me he’s got this friend of his living on the Gold Coast which is an area in Queensland Australia who is essentially writing a book and getting paid by the government to do so. I thought something sounds a little dodgy there so I asked my dad a little bit more. My dad really couldn’t explain it, he didn’t understand it but I got a phone number for his friend, called him up and spoke to him and he then explained to me he’s on NEIS, the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme. He’s getting paid a couple of hundred dollars a week to write a book which is part of his business.
I got really excited about this idea. Now I was fresh out of the university, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, I came back from some travels and it was time to get serious about making some money and hopefully moving out of my parents’ house and so on. I looked into it and it seemed pretty good, all you had to do was apply for it and to apply you had to first of all go to unemployment benefits in Australia, something I never wanted to do but I certainly qualified as a graduate from university and I didn’t have a job. Then once you get accepted into the NEIS program you go into a course, you do a small business course and then submit a business plan and have a panel interview.
Then once you’re accepted you get 12 months of ongoing financial support of around 200 dollars a week, so 800 dollars a month which was pretty big money. It’s meant to be used to pay for your food and your groceries, maybe your rent while you’re getting your business up and running. I applied, I went into unemployment benefits, immediately switched over to the NEIS program and thankfully because I already graduated with a business management degree from university they gave me what’s called recognition of prior learning. So I didn’t have to do the course, the small business course but I still had to write a business plan and then sit a panel interview.
I decided my editing company I would take it seriously once I got accepted into this program. For me that was a big mindset change, so I switched over and said you know what for the next year I’m on the NEIS program so I’m going to get some money, means I’m going to focus on this business and that’s what happened. I went to the process, wrote a business plan, it’s the first and last business plan I’ve ever written in my life, I think it was basically useless but they wanted you to go through the process. Sat the panel interview, got accepted, started down the 12 months of income support and a bit of mentoring.
Now one of the things I took away from the mentor in the NEIS program was the idea of showing consistent growth every quarter to see your business working. I mistakenly mistook that for you need to show us that your business is growing every quarter in revenue or we will kick you off the NEIS program, we’ll take away the income support. I actually got a little concerned because my editing company was very seasonal. I basically would make good money when it was essay writing time in universities. So around end of semester I’d get a bunch of money but summer was virtually dead, I’d get no sales, almost no sales coming through summertime.
I was concerned that as I hit the summertime in Australia my income would drop to almost nothing and that would eventually cost me my NEIS program. I started to plan ahead as we headed towards summer and I’m thinking what can I do to make additional income stream to make sure I don’t lose the NEIS money. What I did was I actually saw a poster inside a Korean restaurant area because I was putting up posters to advertise my Better Edit company and I kept reading all these other posters. One of the posters said I’m an English tutor, I’m whatever, 10 dollars an hour, 15 dollars an hour, pull the tab, phone them up and make some money or in this case learn English.
I started thinking maybe I can start teaching English on the side, so as I put up my editing business posters I put up some posters saying I’m available for English tutoring. Where I lived in Brisbane Australia it was a hotspot for a lot of Asian students coming to learn English. What I did was two birds with one stone, I printed out a bunch of posters advertising an English one on one tutoring service as well as my editing company online, put them both up and I actually got some phone calls from people looking for English tutoring.
I charged 15 dollars an hour and it was really simple, I had no qualifications as an English tutor whatsoever but I felt my level of English would be good enough that just having a conversation with them they’d be pretty happy with the service plus I would print out some exercises from the internet, which is what I did. I booked my first student, printed out some exercises from the internet, we’d often meet at a café for an hour and I’d sit down with them and help them go through these tutorials and try and have a conversation with them.
Let’s just say I never saw a future for myself as an English teacher but it was an interesting experience and really it was a great insight into a business because I started to see this world of English tutoring and how much money the companies were making in Australia running these classes. That’s when my mind went hello, what’s missing here is a tutoring service where they get one on one time or small groups because what I noticed from studying all of the business running English services, English teaching in Brisbane was that they catered to large classes. We’re talking minimum 10 people, usually 20 to 30 people per class, no individual attention, they’re surrounded by other people from Asia, not anyone from Australia. What they really wanted to do was learn English from Australians, from locals, to make some local friends as well.
I had this brainwave, I’m going to get serious about this business. Meanwhile my Better Edit company is still going, I’m still running it, it’s a hundred percent online, it’s very hands off though. It was a true laptop lifestyle business. I had all this time to sort of think about my new English tutoring service and I went crazy. I actually went as far as getting an office. I started thinking you know what I need, I need an official office space, we’ll get some classes running, I did some basic calculations on a piece of paper, I’ll start charging 20 dollars a lesson, I’ll try and get groups maybe three people to four people in small groups. I’ll hire some other people to teach English and I’ll have a full blown school. At the very least I’ll make some extra money to help me with the NEIS program but who knows, maybe it’s my future business. I was just excited about the idea of getting serious about another project.
I went ahead and spent a few months searching for office space and eventually settled on a third floor office space. It had four teaching rooms, a reception area, a bathroom all inside this building in an area called Spring Hill. It’s just right next to the City of Brisbane, it’s about a 10 minute walk outside of Brisbane downtown. I set up the English school and then the job was fill it with students.
First of all I had a 1200 dollar a month rent to pay. Here’s the big mistake to begin with, I basically signed myself up for a three year lease, 1200 dollars a month and that was basically taking almost all my profits, I was making a bit more than that but it was taking a big chunk of my editing company profits, pouring them into the rent for my new tutoring business.
I built a website for it, I called it aussietutor.com built the website again just using my own website building skills, just talked about what we offer and then I went and did that job of getting students. I kept putting up posters, we started to hand out fliers outside of the other English schools in Brisbane to try and bring them across for private tutoring and continued to put up posters as well.
Now the end result of this big investment experience was I absolutely struggled to get anyone in the door. I eventually hired two of my friends who were actual English teachers, they had spent some time tutoring English in Japan and they’d come back to Brisbane and they were looking for a little bit of extra work so I said I’ve got work for you but I just don’t know how much it’ll be but I’ll let you know. I think through almost a full year I had running that business in the office I may have had maybe five to six students actually come through.
I spent a lot of time sitting in a very quiet office by myself on the internet working on my editing company or just wasting time browsing around feeling down on myself because A, I had done the thing I was trying to avoid, I created a job. I was trying to avoid getting a job ever in my life so instead I built an office where I had to go 9:00 to 5:00 to be in the office in case someone showed up who wanted tutoring. That was a big lesson there, don’t get an office if you don’t want an office.
To end that story after almost a year I realized this is nuts, I don’t want to do this. I managed to break my lease early, I paid them a few months in advance, broke my lease and closed down the tutoring business and went back to focusing on the editing business that was actually working and really doubled down and narrowed in on a more specific niche and grew the income.
The big lesson from that for me was first of all don’t get an office, that was crazy. Don’t go and start a business where you really don’t have any leverage. I would basically have to hire new teachers to teach any additional students and paying the teachers would eat up almost all the profits that I’d get from the extra students. There was high sunk costs in that business. I had to buy desks and tables and computers and I had to get rent and I had to do advertising, there was a lot of money going out before any money was coming in which was crazy.
I had no industry experience, I really had nothing to do with tutoring the English service besides knowing how to speak English and I had real no point of differentiation. Here I was entering a crowded market of English schools starting what I thought would be a slightly different service with tutoring but at the end of the day the students didn’t have a lot of money, they were paying for one English school it’s not likely they’re going to pay for a second anyway. They didn’t mind paying for one lesson here and there but enrolling in an entire second school not going to happen. I learned a lot from that experience and it certainly kept me away from ever doing anything with an office again, that was a huge lesson for me.
By this point I was feeling actually like I pretty much failed big time in a lot of ways. I had a whole bunch of websites that went nowhere, I had basically spent all my profits of a successful business inside a company that didn’t work for an entire year so my savings didn’t go up that year and I was feeling lost. The card game website wasn’t my interest, I clearly wasn’t totally devoted to my proofreading company anymore because I was trying all these other projects and actually at that point I flew to Canada and really started thinking about what I’m going to do with my business going forward. A year later I actually started my blog so that started me down the blogging path.
To this point you can see there was a lot of confusion and doubt and lack of direction, nothing seemed to work very well and often it was because I was very much choosing to start things without really thinking where I was going and especially with Aussie Tutor, the English teaching school I threw myself in very deep without really having an awareness of what I was doing. I see it as an important lesson because it opened my eyes but that’s crazy to think I did that, that was a very beginner green mistake to do.
At least with the three previous websites they were more like just ideas I could put together, I’d use some time up, I’d lose a bit of money from buying a domain name and having some hoisting but I didn’t have rent and I didn’t have office furniture and all of those sorts of sunk cost. This was a mistake on a much grander scale with Aussie Tutor.
I’ve got one more mistake for you before we switch over to really what the learnings were from these experiences that I took with me to my successful projects onwards, AdSense. Once I started with blogging and even before blogging I was getting exposed to people who are making a lot of money from Google AdSense, often from Google AdWords as well, so the buying advertising platform or the selling advertising platform. I got caught up in the idea of easy money.
For several … a lot of times during the night I’d read up and potentially consider starting a business that I would buy traffic and send it to affiliate offers or I build niche websites and put AdSense on it and make some money because a lot of people were doing amazing things. Ed Dale had made great money with AdSense niche content websites, so had Frank Kern, John Reese was talking about his amazing income from AdSense around that time as well. There was a bunch of people talking about pay per click advertising on Google AdWords, just sending it straight to affiliate offers and making a bunch of easy money.
All these things were exciting to me but they’re only exciting to me because of the money. I didn’t really care about the business model, I didn’t really care about the subjects, I didn’t really care about the process, I just wanted the money. Because of that I actually started to down these paths, I started to look at setting some things up, taking some courses but what happened was thankfully around the same time I started to write my blog consistently and that started to take off and pulled me away from those other projects. It also taught me the fact that to make those things work I have to spend a lot of time doing things that I wasn’t interested in.
I have to spend a lot of time learning how to get good at a pay per click advertising system when I don’t really care about learning about that process or I have to spend a bunch of time writing content about subjects, niche website subjects that I didn’t care about. I don’t want to talk about goldfish just to try and get a little bit of traffic to sell a goldfish eBook, it just didn’t interest me.
Now to be fair I had some money coming through from my two successful websites. I didn’t feel the pressure I got to make money at any reason, at all costs because I just need cash to survive, I had my survival money from my successful projects. Now in your case obviously you may not have that cash yet so you’re probably feeling that pull of anyone saying I’m making X thousand dollars here a month or I’m making X thousand dollars there a month because let’s face it you got to make money so you’re motivated to go where the money is. That’s understandable but it’s important to also ask yourself what part of this process am I going to enjoy and be motivated to do because you have to complete the process to make it work and if it’s just based on money that may not be enough to get you over the line. You might need to find something that actually has at least one thing you enjoy doing so you’ll keep doing it.
All right, so in summary, I pretty much had a bunch of websites I built that I put into the graveyard that pretty much crashed and burned before they even went anywhere because I realized they just weren’t going to work. I threw myself deep into a tutoring business because I mistakenly believed I needed to show income growth in my existing company and then went to town and made it even bigger than I thought it would ever be getting office space and learned a ton about what it’s like to run a physical real world business. Then later on seeing the opportunity from AdSense and AdWords and other types of get rich quick, easy make money online type programs which I actually did start to follow through in but quickly pulled away from thankfully because I had blog pulling me in a different direction.
Those are the mistakes I consider the failures I have over the years and you probably see yourself in a number of those, you probably have websites that you built that went nowhere, you’ve probably been lured in by a lot of money making opportunities online that you’ve just never gone anywhere with. Maybe even gone as far as building a business in the real world like I did with the tutoring service that actually never became profitable as well.
What happened from that point forward? All those mistakes from me were in my early 20s. That was pretty much from 18 years old to 25, 26, all of those things happened to me. From about 25 onwards things started to get a lot more congruent, I got a lot more focused, I started to really enjoy what I was doing, I started to make a lot more money and things really took off for me. Now that primarily happened because I started to get clarity on what I wanted to do, I started to see myself as a blogger, as a teacher, as a writer, I loved email marketing, I loved writing emails, I loved writing blog posts, I loved creating product, I loved creating content.
By then I’d sold off my Magic: The Gathering site, I was soon to sell off my proofreading company, my editing company. I was starting to get towards a direction that was filling all my needs, good money, enjoyable process, a future that I was looking forward to. All that was built off those first seven years of experiences online and even all the content I wrote on my blog, the foundation of what I do today came about because I had all those experiences and all those failures and success to actually share stories with in blog posts. If I didn’t have those I wouldn’t have a blog. I have to look back on those times as failures, yes, but key stepping stones for every success I’ve had since then.
Let’s switch over to mindset mode now. What did I learn and in particular if you’re still in the trenches, if you’re currently experiencing the situation like I described from my early days you haven’t broken through yet. I’m going to tell you there’s probably three areas where one or two of them are breaking down for you, maybe all three because this is what I found.
I found that, A, I was doing things because I needed money. B, I was looking for projects that I actually enjoyed doing and C, I was looking for projects where I was getting some traction, right? If one of those things were missing that’s often why a project never took off. Either it wasn’t making good money, I didn’t see a future in it myself and I just wasn’t getting traction. If those breakdown, you’re probably out. However if you’re seeing positive signs in those things, if you are making money, you’re getting some traction and you actually see a future for yourself in those projects then you’re likely to keep going through it.
For me the important mindset lesson that I took forward and that I teach now, today, to everyone who goes through my programs is looking at everything you’re doing as a process in the case of trying to find answers to questions not simply failures or success. The problem with the idea of failure is that it’s got such a negative connotation that it can actually pull you backwards and reinforce negative beliefs about yourself. What you want to do is see the failure as simply an experiment, a stepping stone to the success. In order for that to work you need to be excited by the process of discovering failures that you use on to create awareness, to create moments of clarity about what didn’t work so you can then take that into your future and what does work.
For me very simple lessons from early on. Don’t do something in the market where you could get into legal trouble, tick. Don’t go after a business where you don’t see a way to make money from it, don’t do that, don’t choose a bad business model. Don’t go into an industry where you need a critical mass of users when that critical mass is already at another site. Don’t start another eBay if everyone’s over at eBay, don’t start another Craigslist if everyone’s at Craigslist, don’t start a Facebook if everyone’s at Facebook.
Obviously if you have points of differentiation and you can build on them that works but if you’re a one person show and you need to make some cash you’re not going to start by trying to go after Facebook unless of course you’re getting investment funding and following the startup path. For most people if you’re building a laptop lifestyle business you’re going to go after businesses that don’t get you into legal trouble, that have a direct path to income very quickly and you’re doing it where there’s an actual audience that you could potentially capture. That’s key lessons I took into going forward in everything I do and in everything I teach.
I also think it’s important to teach … to experience the process of running your business with the mind of curiosity. If you, and this is an important point, whenever you’re thinking about doing something online rather than seeing it as a failure or success, an A or a B, simply do it with the mind of a curious child or a curious adult in this case and be excited about finding the answer to the questions you’re trying to answer.
A good example you might be thinking I’m going to do a webinar to sell my first ever course. Now that is something you’ve never done before so you’re probably going to have a lot of fear about it. I don’t know how to get anyone to show up on the webinar, I don’t know what to put on the webinar to get people to buy, I don’t know how to get people from the buying point into getting the product point. There’s all these windows where you don’t know answers to yet.
Now you can see those as reasons to not do it, to get afraid, to give up, to turn away or you can see those I’m going to be really curious about getting answers to those questions. Now I’m really curious if I ran this Facebook ad campaign will it get me the kind of traffic I want? Now you don’t do this blind, you educate yourself, you take a course on Facebook ads if you’re going to do Facebook Ads, you take a course on building content and creating funnels like I do with my system if that’s what you’re going to do you take a course on that.
Once you’ve got the knowledge you go into the execution phase purely thinking I wonder how this is going to work. I’m going to do the best job I can to make this work and from that point forward the outcome is like let’s see what happens because the best thing about taking action is getting that outcome. If you’re curious about it and not just thinking I’m going to fail or I’m going to succeed then you’re giving yourself a dynamic situation that you can’t help benefit from. Otherwise you’re just treating failure as failure and then you’re getting more negative feelings and that could stop you from taking any action.
I can guarantee you the one biggest cause of permanent failure is not taking action. Anyone who spends all their time planning, anyone who spends all their time kind of trying to find where they fit, trying to get over confidence issues that to me is the biggest problem that you need to overcome because that’s what stops you from actually doing something. I think curiosity is a beautiful emotion to exchange all those fears for because curiosity just makes you see everything like a fun experiment to see what happens. Let’s see what happens when I run a webinar even if I have only five people on it, it’ll be great because then I’ll learn how to deliver my content, I might get to answer a couple of questions, hey I may make no sales whatever but I’m going to be a step closer to a successful profitable webinar because the time after that I’ll have 10 people and the time after that I’ll have 50 people and by that point I’ve already had four webinars so I feel more confident so when I do my best performance it’s for 50 people.
It’s seeing this as a process with a curious mind and not a negative mind that’s looking to point out all the things you don’t know, all the things you’re failing at with an attitude of action, that’s really important too. Now one thing that’s not really talked about regarding failures and having a history of things not working is how incredibly happy and appreciative and motivating it is when you do start to get a result. I can tell you it took me a long time to reach the point I felt I had a stable, consistent, full time income from my online businesses and I had a lot of self-doubt, a lot of crazy thoughts, all those failed websites I had, that tutoring service where I lost money in.
After that, once I reached that stable point and I saw that I had actually succeeded at something I worked hard at for a long time that made me hungry for more, that made me motivated, that made me confident in what I was doing. I really want you to push as much as you can to get that first sale and to get that 10,000 dollar a month income stream coming from online laptop lifestyle business and see each of these failures as stepping stones to that moment when you get a breakthrough and you will really appreciate that breakthrough. It makes you hungrier, it makes you want it more, it makes you appreciate it more. I think that’s an important thing to understand about failure. It’s fuel for the fire for when you do succeed.
The other good thing about just going through the process of doing something, building something online, creating websites is you learn about yourself, you learn about what you want from your business, you learn about what kind of roles you want in your business, you learn about other people, the kind of people who you may be hired to work with, the kind of people you sell to, your potential customers, your partners, the industry you’re in, just industries in general and how business works. Great learning experiences there plus and this is probably one of the most important ones today is you get a basic technical understanding.
You don’t necessarily have to become the person who builds the websites but if you can learn the components that go into websites or learn enough to then instruct the technical people to do the work for you that’s a skill you take into your second project and your third project so you don’t have to build those basic skills again.
Every failure really, really, I can’t emphasize this enough is such a stepping stone on so many levels from a practical standpoint, from a mindset standpoint, from a motivation standpoint, from a knowledge and research standpoint about your industry and about people, all those things come through from your previous projects to make the current project, the one that will eventually be successful happen because you went through all of that, because you built a platform of knowledge and experience and skills to stand on and then succeed with your current project.
Even if you’ve been working a job for most of your life just having gone through that experience and then making the switch over to entrepreneurship you take all that with you to use in the starting of your business. Then from that point forward everything you do is building the platform for your first successful online business. That is the case for me, so everything I’ve ever done online has gone into what I currently do today.
The fact that I can tell these stories to you in this podcast which gets sent out to thousands of people online some of which then go buy my products because I talk about these experience on these podcast, it’s all interconnected, it’s all interrelated but it only works because I’m willing to put things out there and share. You have to be a content creator, you have to share if you’re going to do anything online.
I think that’s a great point to wrap up this podcast episode with. This has been the failure and mindset edition of Entrepreneurs-Journey podcast. I hope you enjoyed some of those stories and maybe feel a little bit better about any potential failures you’ve had in your past, maybe if you’re worried you’re in a failure right now with your current business understand that you can move on, you can start something else. You don’t have to see what you do online as a one trick pony, you’ve got opportunities here to build a business and then another one until you find the right fit for what you’re doing.
Now I’m just going to end this episode with one recommendation. If you have never taken my free mindset and productivity email course it goes into a lot more depth about these mindset subjects, these mindset issues as well as a lot of really important concepts like how I’ve used the 80-20 rule to grow my business, the theory of constraints, inevitability thinking, there’s a lot of issues like that that I talk about, introduce you to inside that course. Which also leads you to my package, I have a training program you can buy on mindset and productivity. I recommend you start with the free email course if anything I’ve said to you resonates in this episode of the EJ Podcast.
To sign up for that free email course just go to this link I’ve set up that will take you straight to this podcast. It’s EJPodcast.com/2, just the number 2, EJPodcast.com/2. That will then redirect you to the blog post of this podcast episode where you’ll find all the show notes for this episode, the PDF transcript download, you can get the mp3 there if you don’t have it and you’ll find an email opt in box for my free mindset e-course were you can sign up. That one’s the most comprehensive free email course I have, it goes for a month long, it’s ongoing training, it takes you to some of my best blog posts on mindset and productivity and frankly I think that’s the most important issue to get right when you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur and I will call it the end of this podcast.
Thanks again for listening to the Entrepreneurs-Journey podcast. My name is Yaro Starak and I’ll talk to you on the next episode. Bye bye.
About Yaro Starak
Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.