Don’t Believe Everything You Read on the Internet—Including This One

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Here’s the truth.

There’s just too much content today that it’s impossible to consume them all. Even if you spend 24 hours each day trying to read, listen, or watch everything it is impossible. Not nearly impossible, but really impossible.

Here’s what happens in a single minute on the internet in 2020.

Internet Minute 2020 Infographic

That’s right.

In 60 seconds, everything you saw in that infographic takes place:

  • 19 million SMS sent
  • 190 million emails
  • 4.1 million searches on Google
  • 59 million messages sent on Messenger and WhatsApp

And a whole lot more.

That’s why it’s impossible to consume all those content even if you dedicate your whole life to it.

But the problem goes beyond the quantity of content. It’s the quality of these content that makes it a big issue, especially in the world of business.

And I’m not just talking about low quality content —you know, those poorly written, paraphrased, or worse an exact copy-pasted version of another content.

I’m talking about bad content. Those that get you into trouble if you follow them.

And there are plenty of them.

It’s easy to create a website and start posting about business, interviewing, retirement plans, digital marketing, and many more.

It’s even easier to create a social media account, be anonymous, and start spreading fake news.

And while they may not be that much of an issue most of the time, because you can ignore them or it doesn’t reach you, it can affect significant events in our lives. Remember the Facebook Cambridge Analytica controversy back in 2016?

The only way to avoid getting duped is to remain vigilant. Apply discretion. And test them out yourself, instead of blindly accepting them as truths.

The first thing you have to accept is that you don’t know everything. And that’s a good thing. We all benefit from gaining more knowledge to improve our lives. And that’s where “experts” come in.

They have spent the vast majority of their lives doing what they do. Perhaps even achieve greater results than most people do.

But the main problem is that their circumstances are 99.99% different than yours. So, whatever strategies and tactics they used to reach their success will most likely not work for you.

You also have to understand that it’s easy to claim something and make a lot of people believe in it simply because it’s something they want to hear. In short— bad advice. Or, advice that’s not grounded on reality.

I’ve seen these kinds of advice in all areas of life. One of the things that were popular back in the day is to use video resumes. Sure, they are cute. Unique. Makes you stand out.

But it doesn’t take into account the reality that hiring managers process hundreds if not thousands of applications in a single role. For them to switch to a different medium (from reading a pile of resumes) to watching a video that could easily be 10 minutes in length or over. That’s a lot of hurdles the hiring manager has to jump over, not to mention the time it takes just to get through one candidate. If you’re a rockstar like Elon Musk, sure, I’ll watch your video. But if you’re John Smith, it’s not worth it. As they say, you have to first know the rules before you can break the rules. These advice usually come from people who haven’t even hired nor managed people in their lives. They just appeal to something people want to hear.

And that’s where the problem lies.

Most people who go on the internet believe these “experts” blindly to the point that they seem like a follower of a cult.

The same goes with this post of mine.

Take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt.

The next best thing you can do is apply the concepts and test it out yourself. But do it on a small scale first. That way, you reduce the risk to yourself and your brand especially if the advice or method or tactic was way off.

For example, I’m primarily in the digital marketing industry. So there are tons of experts out there who know more than me. But, their circumstances are different. They are in different countries. They have clout in their names. They do things at a bigger scale. They already have a ton of followers. And more importantly, they have money to soend on ads to grow and reach more people.

None of those are applicable to me.

So, if I blindly accept what they teach on their webinars, trainings, websites, and social media accounts, I could potentially lose any previous success I’ve had or completely wasted my time implementing them.

What do I do instead? (And what I encourage you to do as well)

Understand the rationale behind the strategy/tactic. Get into the why of it. From there, I let it simmer in my head. Maybe draw a mind map if it helps. But more importantly, I add my own experiences. Localize it to my situation and my understanding of my own clients or the market I operate in.

If I see it worthy to pursue, I conduct my own test. I apply those strategies and tactics on a small scale. Rather than implement them on my entire website or email campaigns, or social media networks, I pick one or two then try it out.

Of course, this would mean you’d need to have some sort of analytics in place and some benchmark scores. That way, whatever your experiment is, you’d know if it’s a success or not.

And that’s exactly what I did the last couple of days. I picked a few of these strategies and tactics that I find some merit in, then implemented them on my site. The tests are still running. It’ll probably take a few weeks to get significant results in those experiments.

In summary, don’t stop learning. There are tons of great and valuable content out there. You just have to know where to look for them. Then of course, continue applying discretion. Don’t believe blindly. Finally, test them out yourself to see if they are really valid and applicable to you and your specific situation.

You Can’t Grow Your Business If You Don’t Do This

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Ok, that title was clickbait-ish, but that doesn’t mean this article isn’t accurate.

I’ve spoken to a couple of business owners lately and one recurring theme I hear is that they want to grow their business.

Who doesn’t, right?

But the problem is they want to grow their business — generate new leads and customers and eventually revenues, hire new team members — but don’t want to do the work necessary for that growth.

Here’s a conversation I had with a business owner a few weeks ago.

“I want to grow my current sales by 2x so I can cover my opex [operating expenses].” I then reply with, “I totally understand. Everybody likes more sales, right? What are you currently doing to grow your revenues?”

“Nothing,” the owner replied. “I don’t want to ‘advertise’ yet nor do any marketing activities because I’m afraid if I do so, my current team can’t handle it.”

Let’s step back a little bit. What do you think about the business owner’s answer?

Look, any person who’s not invested in the business — emotionally — will clearly see that there’s a disconnect.

The owner wants to grow the business while doing nothing.

You don’t do anything but the business just keeps growing.

In a perfect world, that’s the dream!

But in reality, that’s just not going to happen.

Growing Your Business Requires Two Things from its Owners

If there’s a magic formula for success, then every business would be successful.

But that’s not always the case.

According to one study, 20% of businesses fail within the first year, 30% on the second year, and 50% of fail within 5 years.

Growing any business means you have to spend more and do more. Let me explain…

1. You will spend more

Accept the fact that you will spend more. Whether that’s for hiring new people, advertising, or other activities like developing your product or buying a bigger inventory to avail of lower prices.

It’s the most basic idea in business (or in investments).

You buy/produce something at a lower price only to sell it at a higher price to achieve profits.

Sales – Expenses = Profits.

The only thing you have to keep in mind is when you spend, you do so with the expectation that the return will be higher than the expense itself.

So, instead of simply thinking that shelling out money is simply an expense, think of it as an investment.

Of course, there are ways to use that money wisely, and we’ll get to that in a minute. But at this point, treat every expense as a learning opportunity.

If the outcome is good, meaning the return is at least equal the expense (breakeven), improve on it so the same activity will lead to a bigger return in the future.

If the outcome is bad, learn from it so you don’t make the same mistakes again. If you don’t learn from it, and do the same thing again, that’s not a wise use of your money and other resources.

2. You will do more

Fact is your business will not grow with status quo.

If you have one store with 10 people, open from 9am – 9pm, how do you expect to grow 10x if you don’t hire more people nor do any marketing activities, nor invest in productivity software and apps, nor open new stores?

You spend more because you do more. You do more because you spend more.

Again, there are better uses of resources (in this case manpower and your time). But the fact remains that in order to grow, you have to do more things.

Don’t expect that your brilliant idea will get you where you want to go. You have to do a lot of experimentation — from testing your main value proposition to the smallest details like CTA copy.

This is actually one of the things I mentioned in my private newsletter (which you can subscribe to here, by the way). I worked with another consultant for a client and it’s been 7 weeks of planning and spreadsheets but nothing is coming out.

How to Grow Your Business Effectively and Efficiently

1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

I’m sure you know this already, but you don’t invest everything in that one brilliant idea of yours and leave nothing for yourself or as a fallback.

Now, this isn’t to say that you don’t go “all-in” when you execute on your idea. What I meant by not putting all your eggs in one basket is you have to do this smartly.

If you have a secured full-time job and you have a brilliant idea and want to pursue it, don’t just jump the ship and resign from your day job to focus on your side hustle.

Build out your side hustle first while still working full-time. When you see actual profits coming in — positive cashflow — then that’s the only time you start thinking of resigning from your job.

Not everyone has access to investments like the ones we constantly hear from the news where they got millions to fund their growth.

For normal people like us, we have to rely on how regular businesses survive in the market — earn revenues from customers.

Hustle — that’s the proper term. Work on your side business after your full-time job. Work on the weekends. Once it starts growing, that’s when you consider going at this business full-time.

2. Continuously get market feedback

Having started my own consulting practice, I always tell business owners that the market is the best source of feedback for your business.

Most of the time, business owners want to spend resources building out this awesome product/service without getting feedback from the market.

All they did was casually ask around and thought this idea is perfect. They now want to pour in money to build this thing. New website, hire new team, new company, even. All the works.

While it’s an unfortunate story, a lot of business owners go through this. Especially the ones who are “serial entrepreneurs” and have other working businesses. So, it’s okay for them to lose money.

To them, it’s part of the game.

But for most of us, we can’t afford to lose money.

For most of us, investments towards businesses are entire life savings.

So, what do you do instead?

Don’t rely on assumptions

When you have an idea, there are always underlying assumptions behind it. The biggest one is this: when you put your products/services out there, customers will both want and have the capacity to buy it.

But those are two different things.

And the best approach is to test your assumptions (or hypotheses) using market feedback (yup, not market research).

There are already countless tools and frameworks you can use to do this. And I plan on writing more about them in the future. If you want to receive updates about testing your ideas in the market, you can enter your email here.

For the record, I’m not against asking around. In fact, it’s the first step in market validation. If everyone says it’s a terrible idea, don’t proceed. Move to the next one. But if they say it’s great, you have to go to the next step of validation — are people willing to buy it.

Sample testing: e-commerce store introducing a new product/product line

Here’s a brief example of how you can get early market feedback before spending (wasting) a lot of time and money.

Let’s say you’re an existing e-commerce store and you want to introduce a new product or product line.

There are two ways you can go about this:

  1. Develop it first and go to market
  2. Refine the idea, get feedback
    • if positive, develop it and go to market
    • if negative, scrap it and move on to the next idea

After everything I said so far, you know the correct answer is #2, right?

Here’s how you do it.

And you can do it in two ways:

  1. Ask your existing customers
  2. Ask others

I recommend doing it both ways. First, ask your customers to see if it’s the right idea in the first place. After all, your customers already bought from you so they are most likely to tell you how to improve. You can find your best customers and ask them. Depending on how you define them, it could be any of the following:

  • Top-paying customers (all-time or within a specific period like 6 months)
  • Those who bought from you 6x in the last 12 months, instead of just once

You get the idea. There are more variations you can do here depending on your business.

And if that still isn’t a good benefit, remember that existing customers are easier and costs less to sell to. So, if you include them early on about your journey and plans for the business, they’re more likely to become advocates.

Next, use the information you got from your customers to further refine your idea, then either ask them again, or ask the market — people who don’t know you.

The easiest way to do this is through a survey. Or, if you’re further along the development, you can already ask for pre-orders.

This is the main idea behind Kickstarter. Instead of building your own product upfront, you create a campaign and ask feedback from the market. Based on that, you can go ahead and proceed with it, or move on to the next idea.

Pro tip: Do you advertise on facebook? You can use this same approach of getting market feedback early. What you do is post organically on your page. After some time, check back on the analytics. If it gets more engagement than other posts, that’s what you promote. Why? Because there’s a higher chance of it succeeding and gaining traction. Use this tactic instead of multiple A/B testing variations that will just eat up your budget.

3. Use an iterative implementation approach

This was already implied in the previous section, but it’s worth mentioning it here again.

You don’t need to create elaborate 100+ page business plans no one will read.

But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel as well.

There are tools that you can use that allows you to easily “write down” your business and test it against the market.

For example, a favorite tool of mine is the Business Model Canvas. I use this to easily understand how my clients’ business works. I also use this to plan out new service offerings.

There’s a lot of tools within it — like the value proposition canvas. I particularly like this because it really helps you get in the mindset of your customers. You can download both tools here for free.

Then, to make the process of testing and learning easier, there are also some tools provided and named so sophisticatedly that you won’t forget them — the test card and the learning card.

Here’s a video on how you can use these tools…

Validate Your Ideas with the Test Card
Capture (Customer) Insights and Actions with the Learning Card

So, What Are You Going to Do Next

There is no “right” path for business owners. There is no playbook in the market that allows you to easily navigate your way around. There’s no manual that teaches you how to register your business to finding your first customer to hiring and firing people.

The best you can do is learn from what you’re doing and learn from others. Both the successes and the mistakes.

Growing your business means you will do more and spend more.

As the saying goes, “what got you here won’t get you there.”

Expect a lot of bumps in your journey. But if you continuously test your ideas against the market — those small, unconscious adjustments you make on the wheel — you will reach your destination.

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