Since 2001, I have had a lot of success, made millions and lost most of it. The loss didn’t come from the traditional sense but that of carelessness and lots of mistakes. If I had the wisdom I did today, I would have done things differently. While this isn’t a post about having regrets, it is about self-awareness. Regardless, I am 37 years young and the second part of my business career has just begun and this time, things will be done differently. In “10 Business Mistakes to Avoid Making”, I will describe how I would have done things differently had I known better.
1. Don’t Get Comfortable
When I started my business a decade ago, I loved the fact that I was making money while asleep at night. In the morning, I would wake up to thousands of dollars in earned revenue but this lead to becoming comfortable. As a result, in 2004 my business crashed because I was not maintaining it. In similar fashion, if you plant a seed, in 4-6 weeks, the seed will rise above the soil. Then with a little maintenance like water and sun, the seed continues to grow, eventually blooming into a flower or tree. However, if you stop watering it and remove it from the sun, it will slow start to die. Don’t ever become satisfied with what you have but always want more. Every day could be your last day.
2. Live Within Your Means
A few years after starting my business, I felt really rich because I had a really fat bank account. I walked into a dealership and bought myself a brand new Ford Mustang GT for $36000 – man, this car was a dream! To make matters worse, I paid for it ALL cash! Now that I think about it, that was really a dumb decision. Not only that, but when I got the car, I spent an additional 10-15K in aftermarket parts and a custom paint job. Besides that, I spent money carelessly in other ways too like overpriced upscale vacations and lavish meals and other exotic luxuries I could have done without. Living within your means is not living a fantastic lifestyle but paying for a car all in cash is careless and doesn’t make much business sense. It pays to be frugal, even when you’re rich.
3. Invest First, Spend Whatever is Remaining
I wish I had invested more. During the real estate boom, I had money but I didn’t have the mindset to invest. However, in 2008, I did invest in Gold and Silver and as a result, it has doubled in price and its estimated that Gold/Silver will be around $3500 and $100 per ounce respectively (3-5 years time). Other than that, I missed the real estate boom, the stock market boom and a lot of other things. My motto these days has changed though – today, I invest everything I make and spend whatever that is left. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a superb lifestyle but I spend wisely.
4. Be Careful Who You Take Advice From
Everyone has an opinion and its always free. I hate it when I see people blatantly telling the world what they will accomplish – the result of that happening is that there will always be a flurry of people telling you all sorts of negative things like its not possible or how hard it will be. Its OK to tell the world what you plan to do but its better to show it first. I like this philosophy because someone you may or may not know can dampen your spirits and lead you down the wrong path even though your heart (and gut) may tell you that it will work. Ask yourself – “the person giving me this opinion – have they done it before and how long have they been successful doing it themselves? What credits do they have under their own name?” Its great to listen to outside influence but its better to just nod and listen but do your own due-diligence.
5. Stay Informed
Learn everything you can about your industry and always stay ahead of the game. Guys like Donald Trump who’re heavily into real estate read every newspaper and trend reports as the first thing they do when they wake up. Why? It keeps them in the loop of whats new with daily trends and cycles. As a business owner, I wish I had done more of this for myself. Today, I subscribe to about 15 blogs who’re well known in the industry and besides that, I learn as much as I can about my industry. I no longer want to be left behind but instead stay current and if possible, a few steps ahead of everyone else. Wisdom comes from experience and knowledge comes from being current. Wealth is a combination of the two.
6. Market Like Crazy
When I first started, I put all of my eggs in one basket – this is a bad idea and we all know it! After my web sites launched, Google was gracious enough to send thousands of visits to my sites per day and I felt like I had a money tree but little did I know that some day that would end. In 2010, my sites were not ranking on Google anymore as a result of the Penguin and Panda updates and I lost 90% of my traffic and business. Two lessons – do not put all of your eggs in one basket and second, regardless of free traffic or not, continue to market your web site through some kind of paid method. I got used to free but later suffered the consequences. Even if you’re still getting organic traffic, do not rely on a single source. Diversify.
7. Plan Your Entire Year and Track Progress
Another mistake I made was that I had plans but didn’t follow them through. Today, I plan my entire year in advance by having a 2-3 day retreat by myself towards the end of the year and then quarterly retreats to track my progress. I wish I had done this in the beginning and followed through with it. I guess it all comes down to feeling comfortable, especially when you’re making lots of money and there is no need to do much else but bask in the luxuries. Every man owes it to himself to do a self-diagnoses of everything that is important to him a few times a year. Intently.
8. Go On Quarterly (Business) Retreats
Speaking of quarterly retreats – all deca-millionaire and billionaire companies do it so why shouldn’t you? A quarterly retreat gives you balance in life and allows you to reset your mind for a few days and plan the road ahead. This time also allows you to gain new perspective and become refreshed. i love my quarterly retreats because ideas that I didn’t have before magically appear. This is the result of being in a new environment and setting. Quarterly retreats should be done someplace other than your place of business like a nice fancy suite with a big open view, preferably a waterfront.
9. Meet People in Your Industry
For every industry, there are conferences and learning reteats. I have to admit, because business hasn’t been too good lately, I stopped going but this is something I must commit to doing on a regular basis. Going to at least 2-3 conferences to network and meet like minded people is a must. As for me, since I am now a blogger, I am interested in becoming a public speaker, seminar leader and professional blogger who is authoritative in my field. What better way to do it then to learn from the best? There is an old saying “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you will become.”
10. Have an Exit Strategy
Until last year, I had five web sites and now I am down to only two because I sold the rest. If I had sold the web sites during their peak, I would have been a millionaire by now but I sold them after their downfall because I was ready to move onto something better. Thus, 80% of the equity in the sold businesses was lost. I should have created my exit strategy the first year I was in business but I was careless and without a plan. If I had to start all over again (which I am), I would have sold the businesses during their peak and started something entirely different years ago.
I hope you had a few take-aways as a result of reading this blog post. In a future blog post, I may write the sequel to this post with a few more things to avoid. For now, thanks for reading and please share if you found it helpful!!
Please comment below and let me know if you have any other common mistakes to avoid and/or if you would like to discuss any of the 10 items above. I respond to all comments received!