Want to build an online business? Google “start an online business” and you’ll quickly find thousands of different opinions on how you could do it.
You’ll probably find a business model you really like from a successful entrepreneur and adapt it to your niche.
It could be super successful…
It may not…
As an entrepreneur you most likely don’t believe in “The American Dream” or the “script” that we’re taught to follow growing up. That’s why many of us have found ways to build businesses of our own—online.
We believe there is a different way to build a business and a life we love.
You know what?
It’s totally true. You can build something of your own that makes you happy and more than an enough money.
Most likely this will come with a bunch of ups and downs. That’s just part of the deal.
Lately, I’m reading and hearing more and more about entrepreneurs looking to build their own thing.
More and more people are building something that supports their lifestyle and lets them live on their own terms.
More and more there are people that are starting something so they don’t have to work for someone else or some corporation.
This is a wonderful thing. It inspires others and shows that they have a choice (if they want one) to take things into their own hands and start a business of their own.
But, I feel like we’re starting to see a pretty consistent “online business recipe” being shared and taught.
You may have seen it around. It often includes things like:
- Take your expertise and teach others (maybe via a blog or podcast)
- Build an email list of your ideal customer (the money is in the list)
- Package up your experience into some sort of ebook or digital product
- Sell it.
- Create a higher level or ongoing membership group/mastermind community that people pay to be a part of
Will you be successful with this recipe?
If you follow it exactly the answer— maybe.
But the odds are against you.
Recently Copyblogger surveyed their community to determine the cost of an online business.
60% have been in business for less than one year to 5 years.
As you can see, 43% are barely paying their bills.
One of my favorite bloggers, Justin Jackson shared the dangers of following your heroes.
Maybe it’s because everyone is following the same recipe. What do you think?
Look At The Recipe And Then Throw It Away
Last night, I wanted tacos so I looked up a recipe on my phone.
You should see me in the kitchen trying to follow a recipe. My wife gets so frustrated sometimes.
I have to read it 100 times to make sure I have the measurements correctly.
I constantly second guess myself.
“Wait let me look at the recipe ONE more time to make sure”.
You know what happens when I do that?
Dinner is served at like 9pm.
I read it so many times that it takes me forever to actually start cooking.
“It has to look like the picture” I tell myself.
What’s funny, is I have no idea how this recipe will taste just from looking at the damn picture, yet I’m trying so hard to make it exactly the same.
For all I know it may suck. Would it have been the recipe or me? Who knows?
So instead of following the recipe, I looked in the fridge and scoped out what sort of ingredients were in there.
Work With What You Have
20 mins later I tasted probably the best tacos I’ve ever made — 6 ingredients—no recipe—and it was 7pm, not 9pm.
I know you want to know what was in the tacos so here it is:
- Chicken thighs cut up and marinated with a Soyaki sauce
- Red bell pepper sliced thinly
- Red onion chopped
- Green onion chopped
- Small corn tortillas
- Topped with a green tomatillo sauce
Here’s how it came out:
So what does this have to do with business?
Think of recipe’s as recommendations of what has worked or what might taste good — to someone else.
Does that mean it will necessarily work or taste good for you?
There is no guarantee.
So why not glance at the recipe and then throw it away and work with what you have?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that following someone else’s exact recipe doesn’t put you in the best position to achieve creating the business and life of your dreams.
Right out of the gates you’re using someone else’s ingredients without considering your own first.
Here are 3 reasons you shouldn’t follow the online business recipe.
1. Their recipe may leave out your best ingredients
In a recent podcast episode of The Tropical MBA, Dan Norris of WP Curve was a guest and talks about how he spent a year trying to built his SaaS company. It got to the point where he needed to make money and launched WP Curve. He mentioned how he picked something he was already skilled in and had experience with (wordpress support and fixes) and went all in.
About 2 years later, WP Curve now does almost $60k per month and employs around 28 people.
Dan could have gone on trying to build a SaaS company following someone else’s script. When he leveraged his skills to start the next company he was able to gain traction much faster. Within 7 days actually.
If you follow someone else’s recipe you may be leaving out a few of your skills and strengths that could propel you forward.
It could be years down the road, you’ve followed the recipe exactly, yet something may still not feel right.
The recipe you’re following was created by someone different than you, leaving out the most powerful ingredient—you.
2. Their recipe works in their restaurant, for their customers.
Let’s stick with the WP Curve example for a minute.
WP Curve offers 24/7 WordPress support which includes unlimited 30 minute projects to make your site faster, more secure etc.
If Dan and Alex followed the SaaS business recipe, they may have spent months trying to build software that powered their business.
Instead, they delivered the support themselves (answering tickets at all hours of the night) and slowly grew a support team to deliver the service uninterrupted.
Yes, they use various softwares to facilitate and execute their top notch service, but there are people behind the scenes getting the work done.
Similar to WP Curve, I realized that one of my strengths is helping execute mobile marketing campaigns that drive repeat visits and get customers to spend more money, more frequently.
Mobile marketing (for me and others) seems to be best served as a service vs informational training…right now.
By sticking with this simple service model (and productizing) it, I’ve got Mobile Marketing Engine to $2k in monthly recurring revenue in just 2 months, which has been way easier to monetize than trying to create and sell mobile information to my current audience.
The audience you’re trying to serve may not receive the full benefits of your offering if you’re following someone else’s recipe.
Remember, their recipe was for their customers. Find the recipe that works best for your customers.
3. Their Recipe May Limit Your Results
Back to the taco’s.
Heck, any food recipe we follow.
By following someone else’s recipe, the result is pretty much dictated to us.
“Follow this, get that”.
What if I’m capable of more than “that”?
….”Sorry, that recipe doesn’t deliver more”.
One thing I’ve noticed in the last 2.5 years is that many of the successful online entrepreneurs out there don’t consume much content (sometimes none) from other people in the online space.
We all know it’s distracting yet we many of us do it. I’ve been guilty of this but have done a much better job by unsubscribing to 90% of the newsletters I was subscribed to.
The more we consume from others, the more we’re likely to follow someone else’s recipe.
The whole point here is that the way others build a a business and life they love may not be the best way for you.
It’s nice to have a recipe to feel safe and warm and believe that we’re on the right path, but the only person that knows if you’re’ on the right path is you.
Are you too busy someone’s online business recipe or are you making your own?