“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (Author; Self-Reliance and Other Essays)
“In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn’t necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it.”
Seth Godin (Author; Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us)
“When we create stuff, we do it because we listen to the customer, get their inputs and also throw in what we’d like to see, too.”
Steve Jobs (Co-Founder; Apple Inc.)
Behind every successful platform and product is a strong purpose.
Walk up to someone and ask them face-to-face to give you $500. See how it goes. The odds are stacked very strongly against you here. No one is going just hand you five Benjamins. Most people get this.
Now, create a website and ask people to give you $500 online. For some reason, this scenario seems a lot more reasonable. But in reality, the odds are the same as above, if not worse. According to Pingdom, there are now over 600 million websites on the Internet. 51 million of these websites were created this year alone. No one is dying to get online, dig through 600 million websites, and give you their hard-earned money. It doesn’t matter how passionate or knowledgeable you are about what you do. But, if you have a strong purpose, you can attract a large platform of people who will be very willing to buy your products.
9 Ways to Focus Your Life And Grow Your Business
A year ago I had less than 1,000 Facebook fans and was earning exactly zero dollars from my online projects. Within 30 days, my fan base increased by 4,031 and I was generating an extra $550 per month. How did I do it? It all started with focusing my life on a strong purpose and then turning that purpose into a brand that I could build a platform around and launch products from. You can do the same thing by following these 9 steps:
1. Avoid the life hack lie
When did life hacking become hedonism? When did Burning Man become Mount Sinai? In the beginning, life hacking was about rapid learning and determining the minimal effective dose to get great results. But more and more, life hacking is becoming about how-to lists and get-rich-quick schemes. Make a million in your underwear in 6 months! Travel the world continuously for no reason starting yesterday!
With this definition, life-hacking is like that big bag of cheese puffs on the bottom shelf of the grocery store. It looks fun and filling and like it might even taste good. So you buy it and start stuffing the puffs into your mouth and before long your breath stinks and your face is a disaster. Meanwhile, the people selling you the cheese puffs are getting rich and mastering skills like marketing and salesmanship.
There are smarter ways to do things, but there are no shortcuts. But knowing this is empowering. It means that you won’t be surprised when it takes you 30 days, instead of 3 hours, to create a system that generates $550 or more a month.
2. Stop trying to find your passion
I’m passionate about watching movies in my boxers on Friday night but nobody (unfortunately) is going to pay me to do this. Similar to life hacking, the whole find your passion thing has been reduced to the idea that you can make money off of anything as long as you enjoy it enough. Enthusiasm is an important part of being happy and building a following but it only goes so far by itself.
Instead of focusing on what you’re passionate about, focus on finding your purpose and aligning your life with it. Understand that passion without purpose is fluff. People respond to congruency more than they respond to pointless energy. Your goal should be to get a purpose, get congruent with it, and then build a massive platform around it.
3. Transform your fantasies into outcomes
Everyone has a dream. That’s because dreaming is easy. It doesn’t take very much mental energy to create fuzzy visualizations of a happier, richer, and more popular version of yourself. But try to define exactly what happiness looks like for you or exactly how much money you would need to feel rich, with a deadline, and the dream is no longer fun. That’s because it’s not a dream anymore. Once you get specific and set a deadline, your dream becomes an outcome.
Setting outcomes is painful because it takes a lot of mental energy to search your brain and soul for the specific things you want, instead of just enjoying the hazy generalizations of success that everyone fantasizes about. You may even have to do some research online, some actual work, and that’s painful. Plus, giving yourself a deadline is awful. Now, you’re responsible for actually achieving something and you could fail and look stupid. And looking stupid isn’t very dreamy.
Your purpose in life is simply a list of 3-5 outcomes you want to achieve in the next 5-10 years. Reducing your dreams and fantasies into 3-5 specific, measurable, and timed outcomes is the first step in creating a following and making extra income as an entrepreneur.
4. Find your outcomes with the Disney Method
I recommend using the Disney Method to transform your fantasies into outcomes.
First, sit down somewhere alone and write down everything you’ve ever wanted without heeding reason and without holding anything back. This is the creative step.
Second, the next day, review the giant list you created and pick out the 3-5 things that you want the most and that will be difficult (yet, possible) to achieve in the next 5-10 years. Rewrite these things as detailed outcomes. This is the realistic step.
Third, the following day, go back to the 3-5 things you chose and critically evaluate how long it would take to achieve them. Give each item measurable and give each a specific deadline. This is the critical step.
5. Align your priorities with your outcomes
Too many people go through the grueling process of defining their purpose without changing their priorities to match their purpose. If your new outcome is to create an online business that brings in $50,000 a year by January 2015 but you fail to make things like building relationships, creating content, and marketing you priorities, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
6. Do things in the right sequence
Sequence is more important than substance. When it comes to making money online, you can’t put the cart before the horse. Most people get an idea for a product they could sell online and then jump in, create a website, spend months and months creating the product, and, when they’re done, start selling it. Then, they sit back and wait to be millionaires. But nothing happens. Why?
Before you launch a product, whether it’s a book, a teaching service, or a line of dress socks, you need customers. You need fans, followers, and friends. You need a platform. But people don’t rally around flakes. The key to creating a successful platform is developing a reputation. Having a reputation means being known for something. It means being consistent in what you believe. It means being congruent. And the only way to get congruent is to find your purpose. Once you find your purpose, you can turn it into a brand and build a platform around it.
7. Build a platform around your purpose
Too many budding entrepreneurs launch product after product, failing over and over again, which is good if you learn from each failure but is also bad because failing is still a waste of time (even if you’re learning something). To be successful, don’t just double your rate of failure, double rate of leads.
A lead, in this case, is someone who could potentially be a lifelong fan. Getting fans and building your platform should come before launching your product. Your fans are both your sounding board and your customer base. They will tell you what you’re doing right and wrong and, when you do things right, they will buy from you. But how do you get more fans?
8. Develop a reputation and create credibility
The number one way to get more fans is to build your reputation. And the fastest way to build your reputation is to surround your purpose, brand, and business with as many credibility indicators as possible. Of course, this isn’t very easy when you’re just starting out. You can’t just put a logo for the Huffington’s Post or Forbes on your website unless you’ve actually been featured by them (this will make you lose credibility).
Instead, think small. Build up your social media network as much as possible. Social media proof is very powerful. For example, blog articles with more than 50 Facebook likes and 5 or more comments get clicked on much more than blog articles with less than 50 likes and no comments. So how do you get more social media engagement? It’s simple – you have to sell.
To sell is human. This is also the title of Daniel Pink’s most recent book and the message is simple: everyone is a salesman and, to be successful, everyone has to be a salesman. The only way to be a successful entrepreneur is to learn how to sale and market yourself and your product. This means hustling to expose your purpose to as many people as possible. It means doing whatever it takes to get attention on your message. There’s no perfect way to do this and you should experiment with everything to see what works for you, but, you should start doing these five things right away.
First, collect testimonials.
You have to kill the part of you that feels embarrassed by asking others to say something nice about you. If you don’t have the backbone to ask people for testimonials, how will you ever get your nerve up enough to close a sale? Start by asking family, friends, and colleagues who like you. Posting a few testimonials will make other people more likely to write you a testimonial. Salt the tip jar, so to speak. No one wants to testify to an empty page.
Second, create advertisements.
The only way to shorten the distance between what you think people like and what people actually like is to create advertisements and see what gets clicked on. Over time, you’ll start to get an instinctive feel for what your fans respond to emotionally, not just what you respond to emotionally. This will also help you write better blog titles and create better content overall. I recommend honing your creative copy skills with Facebook Ads or Google Adwords as soon as possible, even if you’re budget is $0.50 a day.
Third, ask your fans questions.
People don’t really care what you have to say unless what you’re saying includes them. Stop trying to show off your knowledge and how clever you are and start asking fun questions. I used to struggle to get even 1 person to comment on my Facebook fan page posts but now I commonly get 10-20 people to comment. Most importantly, make sure you respond back to your fans. A comment is a lead. Get your fans to move from writing you comments to writing you private messages to writing you emails to talking with you on the phone to buying your products.
Fourth, collaborate with others in the industry.
The online business, blogging, and professional development industry is just like any other industry, there are conferences, competitors, and potential collaborators for you to engage with. The fastest way to spread your visibility is to start building relationships with other people in the industry. Find a dozen or so people who think like you but aren’t direct competitors and have them create some content for your website in return for you driving some traffic to their websites, and visa versa.
Fifth, speak publicly and often.
If you really wanted to, you could set up a free workshop or seminar at a local community college or large University by the end of the month. If you really, really wanted to, you could set up 5 seminars at 5 different colleges by the end of the month. All you have to do is start cold calling either college event coordinators or department administrators and pitch your talk.
This is what I did. Last year I gave 10 free seminars in 14 days and, as a result, got 321 new email addresses. The key is to bring email signup sheets with you so that the people who attend can easily write down their contact information. Don’t ask your audience to follow up with you or sign up to your site afterwards on their own. They won’t. Get their information in person and make it as easy as possible for them.
9. Feed your platform with products and services
Your platform is something you launch products from (to get new fans) and it’s something you launch products to (to feed your current fans). You’ll know it’s time to start launching products to and from your platform when your fans start reaching out to you individually. The trick is to reach back right away. This means taking the time to sit down and write them a personal email or private social media message.
Focus on how you can help them, not on how they can help you. Offer to give them a free consulting call. Offer to give them 6 months of free consulting calls. Do whatever it takes to get them on the phone. Understand that you have to give before you get.
Talking one-on-one with your fans is the only way to figure out what their problems are and what their lives are lacking. Once you know what they need, you can create something to fulfill that need. This is what I started doing after I reached over 5,000 Facebook fans and it led me to offering a series of informational products and services that fulfilled my fans specific needs. 30 days later I was making an extra $550 offering these services. But here’s the key: I had no idea what my fans needed until I asked them one-on-one. You can’t fulfill a need until you know exactly what it is.
Find your purpose. Build your platform. Launch your product. Do you agree or disagree with this sequence?