What happens when you don’t make it big? What do you do when your new business idea doesn’t turn into the next Facebook?
I can only speak from personal experience. Podcasting. Starting a YouTube series. Launching courses. I’ve done it all. I’ve never made it big at anything. I’ve never been an overnight sensation. That’s why I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t aim to start the next Facebook.
Don’t worry. This article isn’t all pessimistic. I wanted to show you why you shouldn’t start that business in hopes of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg. I’m also going to show you what to focus on instead.
“In the chaos of sport, as in life, process provides us a way. It says: Okay, you’ve got to do something very difficult. Don’t focus on that. Instead break it down into pieces. Simply do what you need to do right now. And do it well. And then move on to the next thing. Follow the process and not the prize.” — Ryan Holiday
“I’m going to start a widely popular YouTube channel.”
I hear this on a regular basis. Friends on social media know that I’ve been involved in the online world for a while so they want to share their grandiose plans with me. They’re ready to take on the world.
My reaction is usually the same…
“Okay, why don’t you start a YouTube channel first? Then try to turn it into a popular YouTube channel.”
They think that it’s easy to start a social media platform, a popular YouTube Channel or a blog that brings in money.
Why should you not worry about trying to start the next Facebook or super-famous YouTube channel as your next big project?
The survivorship bias distorts reality.
When you make it big, they make a documentary on you. When you fail, well, nobody really talks about you. You just fade away into obscurity.
I first learned about this concept in college.
According to Wikipedia, this is what the “survivorship bias” is:
“Survivorship bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility.”
Nobody talks about the person who gave up or failed because it’s not so sexy. We don’t even talk about the entrepreneur who’s making a decent living. What this means is that we get excited when we read about some success story or see some motivational video. We think that this could be us. So we chase after some unrealistic goal (starting a YouTube channel that hits a million subscribers in 3 months). When we don’t make it big like that famous blogger that we read about on social media, we call it quits.
This article on the Entrepreneur brings up an excellent point:
“It’s fun to look at all the risk-takers whose gambles ended up paying off, but this view ignores the millions of entrepreneurs who took big risks and failed. You don’t hear many news stories about the business owners who ended up in financial ruin.”
As you can see, we love to glorify those who make it big while ignoring everyone in the middle or everyone who failed.
What’s the point here? It’s okay to create a living for yourself doing something that you love.
Most of us struggle with consistency.
The following sequence may sound familiar:
Someone talks about how they can’t wait to have their YouTube channel explode. They post a few crappy videos, spam social media, and then give up when nobody cares.
It’s what I’ve done many times!
We give up and move on to the next project. We go looking for the next big thing. We struggle with consistency. When that big project doesn’t take off, we give up instead of tweaking things. It’s also okay to start that Instagram account as a fun hobby.
Growth takes forever.
It could take you years to make it. Your business may need a year or two to even turn a profit. It could take some time before you start to build an audience.
Here are a few other things to think about here when starting a new project:
- You could never make it big.
- There are different levels of success.
- You may need time to work on your content or your target market.
- You may not have enough free time to devote to this new venture.
- Life may get in the way at times.
- You might pivot or switch gears.
Long story short: growth takes forever. You can’t expect to start the next game changing social media platform or blog overnight.
You have to get better.
There’s no easy way to say this, but you might not be good enough yet. It takes time to actually get decent at anything from writing articles on personal finance to creating videos for a YouTube channel. Nobody starts with a million followers with a highly produced product.
You could need a few months or even years of solid effort before what you’re doing starts to come together. Most of us will give up in this time because we won’t see instant results.
That’s why you need to stop stressing about trying to create the next Facebook or famous blog.
So what should you do instead?
Don’t bother if you’re not willing to see that new project for the long run. I don’t know why so many of us get into ventures thinking that we can outperform those who have devoted their entire lives to it.
The goal should be to launch and then be consistent.
I’m not trying to be pessimistic nor do I want to discourage you from going after your dreams. I just need to be realistic with you since nobody else will do it. Everyone else just wants to sell you the dream.
I want you to just start.
Don’t worry about changing the world or being the next Mark Zuckerberg. Just start.
- Start saving money.
- Start investing in yourself.
- Start that freelancing business.
- Start that Instagram account.
- Start that YouTube channel.
- Start that blog.
- Start selling art.
- Start writing.
- Start sharing your ideas with the world.
Just start today.
Here are the exact steps to getting started with that new project…
(This is a brief summary for the sake of time. Check out the articles linked throughout this piece for further help.)
Step 1: Find an audience.
Before you make bold plans to take over the world, you have to ensure that an audience exists out there.
Do you have an audience in mind? Do people care about this topic? Do enough people care about this topic?
If nobody’s talking about your idea then it might be because nobody cares about it. You need an audience to promote to. The easiest way to find an audience is by checking the hashtags in Instagram to see if anyone’s talking about this topic. You can also search for popular videos on YouTube and popular articles on Google. It takes a few minutes to see what the interest level is at.
Step 2: Figure out exactly what your topic is.
What’s your topic? What’s your unique angle? Why should anyone care about your message?
There’s too much general advice out there. You have to narrow it down to something very specific. If you don’t have a clear niche, then don’t even bother. The world doesn’t need another general self-help blog.
Step 3: Study the players in the game.
Can you find people who are already successful at what you want to do?
I always make a point to study the most popular players in the field just to see what’s working and what to avoid. You don’t want to be an imitation but you also don’t want to do what doesn’t work.
Step 4: Produce content.
You have to get into the habit of producing quality content consistently.
There’s no secret formula or shortcut here. No motivational quote can help you either. You simply have to create content that gets noticed.
How do you do that? Nobody has this figured out 100% yet.
Step 5: Get feedback along the way.
Try to learn from those who have done what you want to do so that you’re not fumbling in the dark.
How do you get feedback?
- Facebook groups with like-minded people.
- Paying for consulting.
- Your own results (does anyone care?).
- Asking for feedback through (doesn’t always work).
Step 6: Don’t quit your day job.
I’m pretty surprised by the friends who have quit their jobs to start a business only to go back to work when the business idea totally bombed.
Why does this happen? Why do people fail with their new business ventures?
Working for yourself is tough, lonely, discouraging, and not all that easy. You need to stop listening to charlatans on Instagram who talk about passive income. You need to have an income first. Then you can worry about a passive income.
You also no longer have a boss or a steady paycheck when you attempt working for yourself. You’re in charge of everything. You’re in charge of marketing, hiring, sales, finances, accounting, and everything else that comes up.
Can you handle this? Perhaps. Just don’t quit your job until you have real money coming in.
So, what’s next?
I want you to go over the following practical posts about making money:
- The exact steps to getting paid as a writer.
- How to start an online business in 6 easy steps.
- How to make money off social media.
Then I want you to launch.
Good luck with launching. You may become super famous and be too cool to ever read Studenomics again. You may quit when you don’t become famous instantly. I don’t know. Let’s see.