21 Lessons In Life & Business I learnt Before My 21st Birthday
As some of you know I recently turned 21.
At age 21 it may be a little premature to look back on your life but I have been inspired by some of your comments and questions to relate 21 of the most important lessons in life and business I learned before my 21st Birthday. I should point out that this is not a complete list and it is not even in any particular order. Making a list like this, is like trying to make a list of your top songs or favorite films – all of them are important, but it is difficult to select the most important one. Lists like this are always Fluid and bound to change as I get more experience.
So what important life or business lessons have you learned?
Please Share – I think you be really cool is to hear your Business and Life Lessons in the comments below – no matter what your age or experience.
As I created this list I am also very aware just how much I have learned in the last 3 or 4 years. Many of you have followed me on this journey and I am very grateful for that. I am especially thankful to my many mentors and Mastermind Colleagues who have contributed to this knowledge and experience. Also the seminars and workshops I have attended. I won’t actually name NAMES, because if I do it would become something Like an Oscars Awards Ceremony Acceptance Speech – and I am bound to miss someone.
Thank you Teachers, Mentors, Friends and Readers – you have all encouraged me, inspired me and MOTIVATED me.
To all our Successes in 2010
21 Lessons in Life, Business, Everything – By Michael Dunlop
1: Nothing is for sure in life or business, just because something has worked today, it doesn’t mean it will work again tomorrow. This applies to marketing, selling, traffic, advertisers. There really are No Guarantees – the only Guarantee you can rely on when it all comes down to it, is yourself!
2: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – in particular with any Make Money Online method or monetizing your website strategy. So often, people have only one or two methods of monetizing a website such as banner advertising. But advertisers come and go and no month is ever the same. Diversify your income with different methods such as affiliate marketing, email marketing, email lists, banner ads, coaching, ebooks etc! And with affiliate marketing, promote multiple offers – you don’t want to end up with a very large percentage of your income coming from one source (as has happened to me)
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Some people go further on this strategy and have multiple websites in different niches. (In the theory that it is easier to have 10 sites averaging you $200 per month each than one site doing $2000). I have to say that for me personally that has not been so much the case, I have found it better to focus on a small number of sites but then within them to focus on numerous sub-niches and methods of generating revenue.
3: Customers may be wrong but telling them that, does not work. Successful business people are successful communicators and persuaders.
4: Package content in a different way – everyone has seen Problogger.net write posts on how to drive traffic, copying it and writing it slightly different won’t help your site because they will find his site 99.999% of the time instead of yours. You can package content as a video or as an audio or as great copy fir example. OR you can do what I do occasionally and package as Video, Audio, Web Copy and as PDF reports
5: Don’t rush anything. I use to try writing a blog post every day but it was pointless because you can never rush a good job. I once had someone who worked with me on WebDesignDev who would constantly use the term – “wack up a post” which basically meant put something quickly together so readers had something to come to the site for. However when we worked for 2 days or even longer on a really big post, we could get sometimes as much as 30x the amount of traffic.
6: The 4 hour work week doesn’t exist for me. When I heard the term 4 hour work week and internet lifestyle, I just like most of you, wanted to try it out. It will work well if your ambition is a modest income and you have low overheads – but to build a really successful business you have to work a lot harder than that. Mind you, credit to Tim Ferris for coming up with that idea — it is a great example of capturing a large number of peoples imaginations with a clever Book Title.
7: The early bird catch’s the worm, a saying you’re probably heard often before. Take for example someone who bought Business.com in 1997 was able to sell it for $7.5 million 2 years later. OK, perhaps you can’t do that everyday but don’t think this is an isolated case, opportunities are all around us. Take for example Twitter.com – the first few marketers who got on it were able to take advantage of it before new rules came into place to slow you down from adding people. When you see a opportunities, take it!
8: You will always get people who will rip you off. Over the past year I have been scammed, conned and ripped off a number of times. I could fight back and sometimes I do, but your time is often more valuable than the monies involved. These are small minded people who cannot think about building real businesses who ultimately in my opinion will become very sad and sorry individuals. I believe in Karma – what goes around, comes around.
9: Content is KING – It’s something we have heard of a lot but it’s so crucial! If I didn’t have great content, my blog would suck and there would be no reason for you to be here. One thing you will find is, if you create some great unique content, you don’t need to market your blog, people will find your site. Honestly, 10% of my traffic comes from me marketing my blog and actively seeking visitors, the rest comes just from word of mouth and passive sources because of my great content.
10: Consistency is important! The second you stop working at the rate you are, your readers will notice and will forget about you. I have to admit, this is one of the hardest things for me to get right. You want your readers to expect posts on certain days so they get in the routine of visiting your site as often as possible. (I’m still working on getting that right)
11: Anyone who has been in business for any length of time already knows this – But Employees Don’t Think Like You Do, They Don’t Have Your Work Ethic – and whats more, you should not expect that of them
Looking back on it now, I realise that I was fortunate to have a part-time job as an employee when I was attending college. I learned so much from that experience, in particular how many employees think, indeed how some of them consider that they are at ‘war’ with their employer and are always looking for ways to do less work, scam their employer. SHOCKING!
Now, of course with good management and the right compensation package employees can be motivated and indeed there is such a thing I believe as the ‘entrepreneurial employee’ – but alas I have not got that far yet.
12: Have a backup plan – A Plan B. Things will crop up and it’s best to be prepared. For me it’s when I am ill or am travelling and can’t publish a post. Having your posts set to pre-publish or asking a friend or family member to do them is great.
13: Newspapers are great publicity. When a local newspaper asked to interview me I didn’t expect much from it, but then I found myself the main story on the front and second pages. With around 50,000 people having access to this Newspaper was incredible exposure for my business.
14: Surround yourself with amazing EXCEPTIONAL people. The difference between me going to the pub with a few mates and drinking beer and going out with Yanik Silver’s mastermind group for dinner is HUGE! I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun and go hang with mates, just the more time you spend with clever people, the more your business will progress.
15: What you focus on is what you get – really simple, when I work on IncomeDiary, I make a lot more money. When I neglect it and don’t do any updates my income will drop. If you want to make money, keep being persistant and work hard.
16: Always be learning – the difference it makes to my business when I go to a seminar, mastermind or read someone’s blog is HUGE! Just one idea I took away from Yanik Silvers Underground Online Seminar last year made me an extra $50,000 and the feedback I have had back from one of Mastermind Groups I attend could see this blog earn me as much as $1,000,000 in next 12 – 18 months
17: Perfection is overrated. So many business people, internet entrepreneurs, programmers etc.. want there work to be perfect before they launch it. Let me tell you something, that day will probably never come. If it’s around 70% perfect, then I will put it online and work at getting it 100% perfect over time.
Good Enough, Is Good Enough
18: No Short Cuts. Again a mistake I made a few years ago – trying all sorts of dubious methods to promote my websites on Blogs, Digg.com etc. Nothing works like good quality informative content. Content that your readers will refer to other readers!
19: Be Healthy – This may seem like a common sense sort of lesson but the reality is so many of us knowingly harm our body’s by smoking, drinking, eating badly and not exercising. I use to get ill quite often because I didn’t look after myself and had a crummy immune system and so I would have to take a lot of time of work to get better. Another thing is, when I did feel ill, I didn’t straight away try and cure myself, I would wait till it was really bad before I went to a Doctor or pharmacist. One thing I think about often is, there is no point of being rich if you haven’t got your health. So the bottom line is stay healthy.
20: Have an Exit Plan. Have you thought who will buy your business? Your Website? Do you have any potential buyers in mind. I recently sold my former website WebDesignDev.com for a sensible amount of money and an excellent earnings ratio compared to profit — that would not have happened if I had not known how to promote the site to potential buyers or how to position my sales offering.
21: Make it legal – contracts etc. OK, this is not a strong point for me – but it is something I am quickly learning. Put all agreements in writing. Even very simple agreements should be documented in an exchange of emails and confirmation from each party of what has been agreed.
Collaboration Beats Competition
People often ask me why I give away so much valuable information for free? Or they ask me why I work so closely with other bloggers who might be considered my competition? My answer is simple – Collaboration Beats Competition. I am not saying that business is not competitive (it is) but I am saying that if you get away from that scarcity mentality, that worries about what your competition is doing and how you can beat them – a far more powerful creative energy appears. Actually I have had some of my best ideas while brainstorming with my ‘competition’
Final Thought For Bloggers and Entrepreneurs Everywhere
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
– Calvin Coolidge, Past President of the United States.