If you’ve been around the online marketing space for a few seconds, chances are you’ve seen a lot of six and seven-figure business gurus selling their blueprint for building a successful online business. Just follow these seven steps in my instruction manual, and you too can build a successful online business and sip fruity cocktails on the beach every day.
But before you go signing up for their expensive program, it’s time for a little reality check. Just because they succeeded with this blueprint doesn’t mean it will work for you too.
I’ve got some bad news: There’s no instruction manual for entrepreneurship that can guarantee success.
Building a successful business isn’t like putting together a piece of furniture. To build a desk, you just follow the steps in the instruction manual, and when you’re done, you’ll have a desk.
But that isn’t the way entrepreneurship works.
You can’t expect someone to give you the steps, and if you follow them in order, you’ll have guaranteed success. There’s no assurance those steps will work for you.
What I can tell you is when you decide on a path to take, it’s good to get some insights from successful people who’ve done it before. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll also see the same results.
What You Often See Is Survivor’s Bias At Worst
So how did we get to this place where gurus are selling business instruction manuals? Well, part of the answer is that we’re only seeing the online entrepreneurs who have succeeded. You don’t see wanna be gurus who’ve tried and failed.
When you hear only from those who have had success, you’d believe success is inevitable. That’s survivor’s bias at worst.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way because there are a million factors that go into why someone is successful or not. One example is time lapsed. It was easier to build an online business five years ago because there was a lot less competition, so you didn’t have to be so good.
For example, you could have a crappy course and good marketing, but you could still succeed. Or you can have a good course and bad marketing but still succeed.
It makes sense, especially if you’re the only person in the market offering that course or product. But as more competition enters the space, it gets harder.
So you can’t say that if a strategy worked for them, it’s gonna work for you too. Because it could be that at the time that they were building their reputation, there was no competition. Now they’ve built that reputation, which helps them stay successful. In short, their business plan isn’t the thing that you need to build a successful business.
You Don’t Hear About People Who Followed The Advice And Failed
We only hear testimonials from people who followed a set of instructions in building their business and had success. It’s not just the gurus who are survivor-biased, it’s also their students.
It makes sense that we hear from students who’ve experienced successes by following particular advice but don’t hear about those who’ve failed. Chances are most of them probably quit trying to build on online business.
There could be a million reasons for that. Maybe they decided it’s not the business they want to build after all, or maybe they didn’t follow the advice.
What I can tell you is that some people have taken all the prescribed steps one by one and haven’t succeeded. It’s just what it is.
You might say maybe they’re not doing it right. The problem is there’s not necessarily a “right.” You have to use judgment at some levels of your business, like when validating an idea for a product.
You Simply Can’t Look For An Instruction Manual
For entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the work, the time, and the effort to build their business, this is good news. The fact that there is no single, step-by-step manual for building a business is a good thing. Sure, it makes your life harder building your business, there’s no question about that, but it also weeds out the people who aren’t willing to do the work.
Being a successful entrepreneur isn’t about a specific tactic that is laid out in a step-by-step process. It goes deeper than that. You need to dig in to understand the principles behind the strategy—why you’re doing something, what it’s meant to do, and what’s the broader purpose or the why of each step.
When you get there, the other things become easier. When you understand the why, you start to see what is happening around you and how to respond to it.
Now this doesn’t mean that by knowing the why you can simply follow the steps and you’ll succeed. Sometimes you follow the steps, and it doesn’t work. But now you can figure out why. Then you go back to the principles and realize that it wasn’t the right recipe for you.
What Do I Do Now?
If you understand online business principles and what you need to do from a marketing principles standpoint, you’re gonna figure out which strategy works for your audience, for you, your product, and your platform. You can take a general business framework and decide how to implement it.
You’re also able to tweak any instructions you get to fit your needs. You’ll know which step won’t work and how to modify it for your business so you can succeed.
The fact that there is no instruction manual that can guarantee success should not make you give up being an entrepreneur. It should make you want to put in the deep work, understand the why, the principles, and put them together in a meaningful way to build the business of your dreams.
If you’re feeling frustrated by business blueprints that don’t work, it’s time to enroll in my FREE online training program at BADA$$ Online Marketing University. This is my signature program, where you’ll learn more about the why and principles of marketing so you can build an online business that works for you.