Sometime back around 2004 or 2005, when I was the CEO of my last company, Dyrand Systems, I gave a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade titled, â€œLessons from Losingâ€.
I had volunteered to give the speech because I was looking for more exposure for my company, and I thought getting up in front of a few hundred business people for an hour would be just a great way to get that exposure.
What I didnâ€™t expect was the response that I got from the audience…which Iâ€™ll get to in a bit.
The speech, as the title suggested, was a talk about all the stupid mistakes that Iâ€™d made while running my company to that point.
While the talk was only an hour long, trust me when I say that I could have probably talked all day long because I had plenty of mistakes to talk about.
For anyone reading this who has run a fast growing company, Iâ€™m sure you can relate to this statement: the faster the growth, the more mistakes you make!
Why Talk About My Blunders?
I chose to talk about my mistakes because, to be honest, it just gave me plenty to talk about, plus, I wanted to help other people from making the same stupid mistakes that I did.
I hoped my message would resonate with the audience….but, to be honest, I really wasnâ€™t sure, because, as Iâ€™m sure you are aware, most CEOs who give a talk, generally talk about all the awesome stuff they have done – not all the blunders they made!
Much to my surprise, the audience absolutely LOVED my talk.
After the talk, I was literally bombarded with questions, and the feedback forms generally said something to the effect of â€œbest speech Iâ€™ve ever heard at a board of trade eventâ€.
Wow, talk about flattering.
Upon reflection, I realized that the reason the talk went over so well was because my honesty allowed the audience to relate much better to me than if I was up there telling them how awesome everything was in my business.
In other words, I was just a regular guy telling story of goof ups and stupid decisions; instead of trying to be Captain Awesome.
No matter who you meet, and not matter how successful they look, trust me when I say that they have plenty of things happening at any given moment that are not awesome, and if theyâ€™d be willing to share just some of their lessons from losing, itâ€™d be a huge hit.
My Many Mistakes
So, itâ€™s with that thought in mind that Iâ€™ve written todayâ€™s post. In it, you are going to hear me talk candidly about all the mistakes that Iâ€™ve made so far in my Internet Marketing business…and trust me when I say, there have been plenty of mistakes!
Mistake #1: Focusing on Micro-Niche Sites
18 months ago, building micro-niche sites (under 10 pages of low-value content) was a very popular way to make money online. There were thousands upon thousands of people doing it. Some were making a killing, others, like me, were brand new and just getting our feet wet.
Hereâ€™s why I think this was (and is) a stupid way to try and make money online.
First, you really arenâ€™t adding any value to anyone and that is a huge violation of the #1 rule of business. You must add value!
Rule #1 in Business: You must add significant value to others if you want to succeed online (<- Click here to tweet this quote)
In my case, I was enamoured with the idea of having a couple hundred sites that would make me money on auto-pilot and the thought of all the ‘easy-money’ clouded my judgement. Shame on me.
By the way, Spencer Haws has returned to building micro-niche sites and he reports here that it’s working just fine. All I’m trying to say is that building them was a mistake for ME because I believe that you MUST add value in order to succeed and I don’t believe thin sites with poorly written content are adding any value to anyone. With that said, if you can build a site with 10 pages or less that provides quality information on a very niche topic, I see no problem with that. The guys over at Adsense Flippers have also posted a lengthy debate on Micro-Niche vs Authority sites that is worth reading.
Mistake #2: Not Diversifying My Traffic Sources
The second reason that this was a stupid move was because I was building a business that was completely dependent on Google for traffic, and, as such, if Google were to significantly change their algorithm, all that free traffic could dry up in a heartbeat – which is exactly what with the release of the Pegnuin update. Having a single point of failure for anything is just a bad idea.
Mistake #3: Having Only One Monetization Method
The third reason this was a stupid move was that my entire monetization strategy was also reliant on Google, and as such, if I lost my Adsense account (as has happened to many), my income would immediately go to zero. This is another single point of failure.
Mistake #4: Not Building a Customer List
And finally, by far the worst offense on the stupid-meter was that I wasnâ€™t building a customer base that I could have an ongoing relationship with.
In other words, I was trying to take a shortcut to success.
Guess what, there arenâ€™t any shortcuts!
Luckily for me, I also decided to start this blog as a way or recording and sharing my journey with anyone who felt like reading it. That was a moderately smart move, but even there, I made some pretty massive blunders.
Mistake #5: Failing to Focus on a Super-Targeted Audience (or their specific problems)
When I launched the Online Income Lab, I didnâ€™t have a specific target audience in mind, nor did I put any thought into trying to understand what specificÂ problem(s) that target audience might want to solve. Having skipped that incredibly important step, I was also ill-equipped to provide a specificÂ solution (content) that was laser focused on solving the problem of my target audience.
In other words, I really didnâ€™t do anything to differentiate my blog from the myriad of other make-money-online blogs that were on the net and because of that, getting meaningful traffic took much longer than necessary.
Mistake #6: Failing to Build a Prospect List
Building a customer list starts with building a prospect list – which, by the way is the natural result of clearly defining who your customer is, what their problems are, and then offering a solution that solves those problems.
If you donâ€™t have a prospect list, you are never going to have a customer list, and without either list, you are left to continually search for ways to get people back to your site. Lame.
The One Thing I Did Right
Thankfully, despite making all these horrible mistakes, I did do one thing that worked.
I took action and wasn’t afraid to fail.
I didnâ€™t sit and read eBooks all day.
I didnâ€™t right some lengthy business plan.
I didnâ€™t make huge lists of all the things that I could do.
I didn’t get caught up in analysis-paralysis.
I just got up each day and started building sites and blogging about it.
My Take Away For You
My message to you is this: follow the basic laws of business (identify target customer, identify their problems, offer them a valuable solution) and then take massive action every day, day in, and day out.
Do that, and I absolutely guarantee that you will succeed online.
What Do You Think?
I am always very interested in the opinions of my readers. When I know what is on your mind, it helps me immensely to come up with ideas for what to write about in the future, so if you have a thought or comment, please share it below. Thanks so much, you rock