The Grand Internet Business Idea that Didn’t Succeed

I’ve seen a variation of a very similar story play out online for dozens (perhaps hundreds) of people over the past two years.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

Let’s use a fictitous person named Fred to illustrate the story.

Here’s what happens to Fred.

  1. Fred hates his job. He does something for a living he doesn’t care about and feels like he’s not following his dreams. He feels like he dies a little inside every time he shows up at work. One day, he’s had too muchand decides he’s going to find a way out.
  2. Fred has an epiphany. He reads about how some lucky SOB is making a gazillion dollars online and only works 4 hours a week.
  3. “Why can’t I do something like that?” Fred thinks to himself. “It sounds so simple.”
  4. Fred does one of two things:
  5. A) Fred starts a blog about how he wants to quit his job in 6 months, and how he’s going to do it by making money online.

    or, B) Fred learns about “Internet Marketing” and starts jumping from one “proven formula” to the next for making money online. He hopes his “job problem” will be a thing of the past within six months.

  6. Fred doesn’t reach his six month goal of earning enough to quit his day job. At this point Fred either repeats step 3 (with a new formula for instant success), or he gives up on making money online and starts looking into something else like trading penny stocks or flipping real estate or maybe just getting a different job.

Where did Fred go wrong?

  1. Like many people, Fred doesn’t like his current job.
  2. Unfortunately, hating your job might be enough motivator to get you to think about entrepreneurship, but it definitely isn’t enough to make you successful.

    Fred’s motivations are incomplete. Starting a business is always partly about you, but it also has to be about the people your business will serve.

    We’re not necessarily already on the wrong foot here, but things usually go one of two ways from this point.

    Either the entrepreneur starts thinking about how to help other people with a business idea, or he continues to think only about how his business can help himself. The former leads to success, the latter leads to step #2.

  3. You can’t fault Fred for being seduced by the idea of working from home while drinking a beer and wearing a bathrobe (what could be more glamorous?).You can’t fault Fred for being seduced by the idea of a four-hour workweek either. Who wouldn’t want to travel the world while working one afternoon per week?
  4. The problem is, Fred’s expectations aren’t rational. The four-hour workweek concept isn’t what he thinks it is. How on earth could anyone become good enough to earn a living from something he’s never done before in just four hours a week?

    Don’t take everything you read at face value.

  5. Fred is now looking for a quick fix. His expectations are that anyone should be able to build an online business in six months.
  6. He starts looking around online and turns either to blogging or Internet marketing as his savior.

    A) In the blogging version of this scenario, Fred’s attempt is too self-centered to succeed. The fact that you want to leave your job in six months isn’t enough to build a blog around.

    If you want to build an audience around your blog, you have to solve pressing problems or fulfill burning desires. Fred’s blog is all about him, when it should be all about his readers. It’s like that asshole at a party who just talks about himself.

    Sure, you should talk about yourself on your site, but the main focus has to be on how you can help or entertain your visitors.

    Also, your idea has to be unique from what other websites are already doing. There are a million and one of those “I’m going to quit my job in six months by learning Internet marketing” blogs out there, and I have yet to see one succeed. Not one.

    The concept doesn’t work because it’s too self-centered.

    B) In the Internet marketing version of this story, Fred becomes obsessed with figuring out what the “secret strategy” is to making it online.

    Is it building an email list? Creating a membership site? Learning Facebook advertising? Starting a video blog?

    Fred is putting the cart before the horse here.

    The only secret about building a successful online business is this: you have to give people what they want or need. That’s it. Creating value has to come first.

    Yes, tactics and strategies are important, but they shouldn’t come first. If you don’t create insanely useful or entertaining content or products for your customers, everything else is a waste of time.

Things don’t have to be so hopeless for Fred

In step 4 of this scenario, Fred either gives up or repeats the cycle. Some people in Fred’s position will work hard enough to eventually figure things out, but most won’t.

Some people know that failures are the building blocks of success. With the right expectations, you’ll win the war even if you don’t win every battle.

This scenario happened because of Fred’s:

  • misguided motivations
  • irrational expectations
  • self-centered attempt at creating a business

By changing just one of those components, Fred’s entire experience could have been different. By changing all three, I believe Fred has a very high chance of success.

What about you?

Have you seen this scenario played out online? Have you been guilty yourself of following part of this plan?

Where do you think Fred went wrong?

Over at my other site Think Traffic, we’re kicking off a big ambitious new project this week that you might be interested in.

Here’s how it’s going to work: we’re going to build a profitable blog (on a topic not related to making money online) and show you exactly how we do it, live, from the very beginning.

It’s completely free to follow along, and you can create your own blog as part of the project. Check out the Million Dollar Blog Project.

I’d love you to join us.

I'm Corbett Barr, co-founder of Fizzle and entrepreneur for a decade. Get my weekly curated email of useful things for independent entrepreneurs »

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