19 Lessons I learned Building a Business in 2019

Summary

In this post, I go over 19 of the best entrepreneur tips for success I learned from building a multi-million-dollar business while traveling the world and scaling a business in 2020. This is a candid view of my entrepreneurship journey in 2019.

 

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Transcript

It’s a cliche saying that experience is the best teacher. A lot of us in the entrepreneurial world, I think we would love to just go out there and learn what we need to know and have it all worked perfectly the first time. But the problem is, at least with me, sometimes I experience deafness when it comes to advice from people who are further ahead of me.

I hear the advice, but it just doesn’t mean anything to me and it’s not until I look back and see where I struggled after going through the same struggles as the people who spoke that advice in the first place that I finally understand. And I think that’s what experience is. It’s perspective. Without that perspective, it’s really hard to understand some advice that we get, but I do something once a year that is look back on my year and see what lessons I learned.

I do that to lock in that perspective and to make sure that I don’t make the same mistakes as the year before. And so in this YouTube video on this podcast, we’re going to walk through 19 lessons learned in 2019 and if you’d like to go back to my 2018 year in review on the podcast, we have a four part series, 18 lessons learned in 2018 and that was on my journey to break the million dollar a year Mark. Now looking back, we, we broke the $2 million Mark in the business. We’re approaching $2.5 million with WFA. And I’ve learned a lot this year.

I had to grow as a person, I had to confront problems that I had never seen before and I had to really learn how to run a business, not just be good at sales and marketing. And that is a completely new challenge for me because you know, up until the million dollar Mark, it’s just pushing on that sales and marketing engine.

And after that, it’s just maintaining that engine and maintaining engine is not what I’m good at. So without further ado, here are the 19 lessons learned in 2019


1. If you’re already having success, it’s not about how hard you work, it’s about how much unique value you are bringing to the marketplace. So if somebody is a complete beginner in business, it’s a, there’s a pretty good chance if they just focus on working really hard every single day that they will make progress, they will find success.

This is because they’re so new, they have so many skills to learn, they have so many things to try to gain that perspective they need after you get a little bit further ahead and you’re just continuing to do what’s already working. That’s the key here that it’s not so much about how hard you work. And I say that because I would say probably 80% of the experiments that I tried this year didn’t really move the needle in my business.

I almost think I could have just taken six months off and my business would have done even better because I wasn’t out there trying a bunch of crazy things that really didn’t produce a result. So businesses really finding that one thing that works well and the doing it over and over again. So once you get a little bit further ahead in business, sometimes it is worthwhile to sit back and think to take a day off or a week off and think about where you’re headed in the future.

And this was really hard for me because I resisted not working hard, not hustling every single day, but it’s more important at this stage of my business to make the right strategic moves than it is to be working hard every single day. Now that I have a team, now that we have a product that sells consistently, I need to figure out how can we bring more unique value to the marketplace.

And sometimes that takes letting off the gas a little bit.


2. There are ebbs and flows that are out of your control. Ride the wave instead of being mad that the wave exists. I really learned a lot about chaos, about unpredictability, about seasonality, about this uncontrollable weave in business.

There were months where we struggled and there were months that we crushed it and sometimes we didn’t do anything different at all. The first week in November, I think we did $70,000 in revenue. Uh, the week before was a terrible we can business now what changed? The answer is absolutely nothing and business was like that this year where there were wild fluctuations in sales and profitability and how good I felt about the business that had nothing to do with our funnel. And I’m sitting there like a crack head trying to change things and trying to get it to fix itself again.

But sometimes it’s just a roller coaster and you just need to wait it out. So sometimes the best course of action is patience and stay on the path. Keep doing what you’ve been doing, that’s working. And even though it’s not working right at this moment, a lot of times it comes back around.


3. Don’t assume that growth will always be at the same pace. Save for the low months. So you know the, the F my first a hundred thousand dollars a month in business.

I think within a month or 45 days of that, I had done my first $200,000 a month in business, you know? And so it took me years to work up to doing $100,000 a month and it’s like to me one more month to work up to doing $200,000 a month. And so it was just going crazy. My business was on a rocket ship and during this time I was just hiring like mad.

I just thought, well, it’s not a rocket ship now so it’s just going to continue to go up. And little did I know that I would struggle a lot more to make that next hundred thousand dollars a month. So while I hired all these people and they put in all these overhead costs and I followed the saying, you know, what would you need to do to hit your 10 year goals in six months, hiring aggressively. And then the business didn’t continue to grow at the same pace. It had been growing. We really hit a plateau around a little over $200,000 a month. We, we are, we tried it for a long time to figure out, okay, how do we break this plateau? And so I thought it would just keep going up forever and ever, but it’s wise to take those good months and put something away for the bad months to make sure that you can ride out those storms that we just talked about.


4. Education and mentorship even in formal mentorship is still some of the most important activities in a business. I’ve got some of my biggest growth this year, not through a formal mentorship program actually, but by basically stalking people that were aware. I want to be figuring out everything that they’re doing, dissecting their funnels, but also figuring out how do they think and trying to think the same way that they do, figured out what they’re focused on in their business and focus on the same things.

And so whether it’s a formal mentor who I, I had a formal mentor in 2018 or informal, which just stalking somebody who is where you want to be. It’s so important to model what’s already working in people that are ahead of you and the times that have struggled the most of the times when I’m trying to figure it all out on myself because I think that I can and I constantly forget to always be investing in mentorship at every stage of the way.


5. Longevity is cooler than maximizing revenue and profits. So it’s awesome to make 200 grand in a month. It’s awesome to make more than that. It’s awesome to make it less than that. It’s awesome though to see those big numbers in business, but what’s even cooler that I’ve seen is longevity, something that will last forever. So if I can choose, you know, between an offer that’s going to do tons and tons of revenue but it wanted, it takes all of my time and obsession and it burns me out and then only lasts a little while and an offer that can be completely automated and it just churns out revenue and sales and profit day after day after day and week after week and year after year.

That is going to be much more worthwhile to me over the longterm because if you can’t win longterm, it’s really hard to win in this game. And I learned that watching some of my friends who have been in business a lot longer than me, and they’re much less shaken by short term fluctuations. They’re really much more concerned about the longterm and smoothing things out and just having a smooth ride in the business.


6. There are only a few things that make a difference to the business, and this goes along with me trying so many different things. Most of them not doing anything at all in looking back and doing postmortems and seeing like, okay, what made the biggest differences for us this year

and often this year would be launching a new ad. So launching a new ad, it seems like just something you have to do is write your ads, right, and there’s all these other things. I’m trying to do, the podcast and the YouTube channel and JVs and blog posts and just pretty much anything you can think of. Where’s the one activity in my business that actually produces a substantial result is creating an amazing advertisement. If I can spend more money on those things that it’s where I put in work and it pays off over and over again forever. If I can do that instead of spending time posting on social media or whatever, that doesn’t bring in clients but everyone says you should do, uh, my business is a lot smoother and there’s a lot less work involved and I get those results. So that’s leverage. Finding those few things that actually make a difference in business.


7.  I have read more and again this goes along with taking the time to think. So bill Gates famously you said do a think week every year where he would go into isolation and he would bring all the books that he wants to read and he would not work in his company for a week and he would read all those books and he would figured out where he wanted to go in the future. I think books are amazing. They’re like a decade of experience in a couple hundred pages. And by consistently reading books this year and studying them in a group, I feel like I’ve really learned a lot. I’ve, I’ve get that perspective from the authors that otherwise I would have to go through the trials and tribulations to get, and it helps me to understand where to go for the future, especially when it’s on charter territory.

Things like hiring and managing a company and all these things that are are new to me because my company used to be small and then it got much bigger. Books have really helped me learn those new skills that I need to get to the next level and also just feel okay with the level that I’m at.


8. I have personal growth translates to business growth and the flip side of that, personal shortcomings translate to business shortcomings.

Whenever I’m stuck in business, I may think that it’s a business problem, but it’s usually always a personal problem. It’s how am I showing up? How are my fear showing up? How are my own limitation showing up in this business? And once I can learn to transcend my own limits, the business follows suit. Okay, so we need to, as T Harv Eker would say, work on the roots and the fruits will take care of themselves.

So personal growth is one of the most important things you could focus on as an entrepreneur. And when you do that, everything else gets easier. If you feel like you’re struggling with everything in your business, you might need to work on yourself. You might need to stop stressing about things that are normal and work on acceptance. That’s one of the biggest things you can do.


9. I have find something to win at outside of business. I think I got this one from Tim Ferris and business, you know it’s, you don’t win every time. And again, like I said, the monks, the months fluctuate and so it’s really great when things are going amazingly well and it’s awesome to feel good about yourself and offers high self esteem and feel accomplished when that’s happening. When it’s not, it’s nice to have something outside of business to make progress in to women, to get satisfaction out of and to give you that flow state because then when you have the bad months in business, you don’t freak out and your whole life doesn’t fall apart. You have those relationships or those hobbies to fall back on.

So I always like to be learning other things. I played the guitar. Um, I like fitness and sports, snowboarding, CrossFit, things like that. These things that I can, Oh, he’s progressing no matter what because they require mastery. And so even if my business may be is having a bad month, I can feel good about making progress elsewhere.


10. Having money doesn’t change your personal relationships. I think I’ve made the mistake in the past by thinking that, you know, business is a cumulative effort and fitness is a cumulative effort, but that I can just forsake my relationships and go take care of them after I figured out all this business stuff. But it’s the same thing. Relationships require constant effort every day, day after day, year after year. And for some reason I thought it would get easier when I made more money.

Um, but it doesn’t, it still requires just as much effort. So I dunno if that one might sound weird, but money doesn’t make personal relationships easier. They still require that hard work and effort just like everything else that’s worth it.


11. Having money doesn’t reduce stress.Having money does reduce stress as long as you focus on building systems. So if you start making more in your business, but it’s more work for every client that you bring on, you’re going to have much more stress in your life. If you make a lot more money and your systems are doing the work for you and you’re focused on building systems, every time you need a new system,

life becomes less stressful. You don’t have to worry about eating out. You don’t have to worry about paying the bills. All these things that used to be make your body tighten up. All of a sudden it’s taken care of and you don’t have to worry about it. You can solve problems with money. You know, somebody said, um, if you have a problem that can be solved by money, you don’t have a problem and you can start to buy back your time as well. One of the amazing things that money can do, so I know people say money doesn’t buy happiness. Yes, you still need to focus on your fitness. You still need to focus on your relationships and fulfillment and being in flow. But money does get rid of problems and getting rid of problems can make you happier.


12. There is a cost to everything. Simplify your life. There is a cost to every relationship that you have to every product that you put out to every service that you offer to everything that you buy. Everything in life has a cost. Whether that’s time or money or effort or even Mindshare, right? Even if something is taking over your mind, even if you looked at your emails before bed, there is a cost to that because now it’s inhibiting. It’s taking over your mind. And so this is just a reminder to myself to keep things simple. To keep the product simple and streamlined, um, to not focus on material things cause they usually just complicate my life to really simplify everything in life so that I can stay focused so that it can have peace of mind and all those things.


13. There’s no reason you can’t do the things you want to do. Now you can literally do anything. You just have to be willing to pay the price. So I asked, ask myself, can I raise enough money, expect to get the result that I want based on the actions that I’ve taken. I see this all the time where say that they want something in life. And I say, can you reasonably expect to have that result based on the actions you’ve taken in a lot of time if they haven’t gotten the result? No, it’s not a reasonable expectation.

Do the thing and you shall have the power. And so, you know, one of the things that building a business does is it builds competence. It builds confidence in being able to get a result, setting a goal and going out there and achieving it. And so I really think that for most of us within reason, we can have anything we want in life, but we must pay the price.

What are other people doing that have this thing that we want? You know, if it’s fitness, if we want the body of, of somebody we see out in public, we think, I wish I was in that gonna shape. Are we willing to see the pay, the same price that that guy or girl did to get in that good of shape? If so, we can probably be in really good shape with relationships.

Are we willing to go meet hundreds of new people in a jury of the rejection that it takes to find the one who are really meant to be with? If we see someone and we envy their relationship, have we paid the price? And if not, then we can’t reasonably expect to have that result. So you can’t have anything you want. Just be willing to pay the price. If you want the business, be willing to grind it out for a couple of years until you actually get good at what it is you’re trying to do.

14. I have skills in leadership beat everything else. As always, you need to be a leader to your customers. You need to be a leader to your employees and your team. You need to be a leader to yourself. Leadership development is everything in business and that combined with skill development where you have the skills to produce a result for somebody and you can lead them there, that’s going to get you the biggest results in business.

If you really don’t have anything that you, one business you, you probably don’t have the skills yet. Focus on skills once you get those focused on leadership and that’s skill multiplier.


15. Execution is so, so much more important and so much harder than ideas. People think that business is about ideas. It’s not about ideas, it’s about executing things that matter to your customers. Ideas are frivolous.

Ideas are like Instagram posts. They come and they go there give you a good dopamine hit, but they don’t mean anything. Execution is discipline. It is grinding out at the gym every single morning at 5:00 AM 365 days in a row. That’s the difference between ideas and execution and I think a lot of people who are in a business just don’t understand just how hard it is to even take the simplest, the best idea ever and actually execute that successfully is is very difficult. And the people that win are the people that know how to execute with discipline.


16. We claim to understand more about ourselves than we actually know. And this is one of the reasons that we need mentorship. We need somebody looking over our shoulder, seeing our blind spots pointing out why are you acting that way? Why are you doing that thing? Why are you avoiding that thing that you said you would do? And we might have a reason in our head why and it might be complete bullshit. It’s because we’re afraid subconsciously it’s our mind rationalize or lack of action or our ability to just not do the things that we said we could do. So you need somebody looking in from the outside. You need somebody to reflect yourself to you so that you can understand yourself. We do not understand ourselves. Most of our behavior is unconscious and until you make that unconscious conscious, you will be dictated by things that you do not understand.


17. I learned from all subjects in all industries. So it’s really good to study multiple subjects, multiple industries, different kinds of books. Don’t just read sales and marketing books, read other types of business books, read fiction. There are themes across life that apply to everything. Okay? One of them is mastery. You know, you couldn’t look at a successful musician and see what kind of habits they have and apply the same thing to your business to get results. So it’s an awesome idea to study from all kinds of different things in just from a business perspective, we can look at a business in a different niche and say, how are they bringing in customers? How are they serving their customers? How are they pricing their products? How are they running things? How are they managing things? How are they building their team? And we can take that and we can apply that to our business.

Even though we’re in a different industry. This is a great way to find things that work, but no, none of our competitors are doing them yet.


18. do cool projects with cool people. Business in the beginning is all about just getting ahead, just getting some momentum, getting some traction, paying the bills, putting money in the bank. Eventually you realized, okay, this is a marathon, not a sprint to be cliche, which means this is going to happen for a long time. I better enjoy the process and all of a sudden it’s not about maximizing profit again, it’s about are my doing cool things that I enjoy that are meaningful to me, that are meaningful to my customers and my team with people that I like to work with every single day. Are we building something that matters? Are we going to look back in this and be proud of it? In five years, 10 years, not just did we make the most money possible. Life is happening right now and it’s not just our accomplishments that are going to make life fulfilling, but our day to day actions


19. The things that take the long lists are the hardest to do and involve the most uncertainty, other most rewarding things in life. Don’t avoid them. These are the things that no one can take away from you. If something is easy to do, somebody else can come in and replicate it and take away your advantage. Do things that are hard, that take a very long time. I always try and look out 10 years and say, what kind of life do I want to have 10 years from now? You know, 10 years ago I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I’d never played a guitar in my life and I decided to start playing and now I’m still not great at guitar, but I’m not horrible either and that having the ability to do something complicated like that, nobody can take that away from me.

It’s something that I get to enjoy doing every single day and I’ll be able to do it for the rest of my life and it’s only because I put in 10 years of hard work. I sucked at it for 10 years to finally get to the place where it’s like really worthwhile. The same goes in business. You know the products that will do the best are not products that are easy to create otherwise somebody else has already created them. Otherwise somebody already executed on that. It’s the things that take a long time and it’s very difficult for your competitors to replicate it. It will give you a competitive advantage that’s going to reap the most rewards for you. So if your market has problems, don’t run away from those problems you’re getting paid to solve those problems for your market, solve those problems. Your customers will thank you and you will make a lot more money in your business. Nobody can take that advantage away from you. We’re always looking at what’s the moat in our business? What things can we do that are hard, that take a long time, that nobody can replicate quickly. And that’s why I believe we have the best program out there right now.


20. You’ve already won. You know, if you have food, shelter, clean drinking water, we’ve already won life, okay? There’s so much of the population on planet earth that struggles much more than we do in first world countries. You know, just waking up and not being in a war zone is winning, is not having to deal with situations that other people will never get out of in their entire life. So we might stress about business, we might stress about paying the bills this month and things like that, but we’ve already won. We already have a quality of life that’s higher than most people in human history have ever experienced. We have anesthesia. If we have to go under surgery, just think about living in the 17 hundreds and going to the doctor. How terrifying would that be? So we’ve already won on so many fronts, and this is why it’s important to practice gratitude, to understand this and to realize it.

To thank be thankful every single day for the things that we already have. And again, when we do that, we’re just going to cultivate more goodness in our life because our body and our brain is going to be open to experiencing good things instead of us just being stressed and tightened up about all the problems in our life.


21. Always be testing new funnels. The big tests, not the small ones. Don’t test the color of the button on your page. Okay. Test a completely new concept to see how the market resonates with it. Test new hook a new angle, a new story and see which one people respond to in less because testing is a volume game, right? If we can consistently test, we find that one angle. You know, I’ve, I’ve run a webinar or angle for two years now. It’s one big hook and it was only by testing that I got the hook and then I kind of stopped testing for awhile.

But if we always have those hooks that hit, we can keep crushing it with new products and it might take 20 tries. You know we might have to test 20 different hooks in one of those gets a hundred times the response of all the others. If you go through and look at my YouTube channel, especially on some older videos, you know, some of them might have, and again I don’t have a big YouTube following, but this is just a really good example and I was seeing it today. Some of my earlier videos, somebody have 200 views and some have eight and I’m like, wow, that is such a difference in hooks in while I was creating these videos, I had no idea that this one would perform better than the other, so everything in our business is kind of like that. You got to test it, you find the one that hits and you just double, triple, quadruple down on that hoo.

22. I have shit will always hit the fan.

By the way, I passed the 19 looks like actually I have 24 lessons this year. Number 22 shit will always hit the fan. Why would you get upset when it does? This is what you signed up for. I’ve spoken about this one before, but when bad things happen to my business, I just tell myself like, listen, you can have any reaction you want to, things that happen in your business, you can get upset, you can get stressed, you can shut down or you can be unfazed by, and if you look at successful business people, they’re unfazed by almost everything. Okay? It’s just problems are, are not so painful to them. It’s just another thing to deal with and they will deal with it. And so when my Facebook ad, it gets shut down or by entire business feels like it’s collapsing. I’m just kinda like, I’ve dealt with it before.

I’ll deal with it this time. There’s no point in stressing myself out more than I already need to. I need to respond to the situation, but I don’t need to have a breakdown over it. And this is what I signed up for. Business owners get paid to solve problems. Okay? If you want extraordinary results, you need to be willing to pay the price. As I’ve said before, so just get used to paying the price. It’s the same thing in fitness, right? Fitness is always going to hurt and so if we can go to the gym every day and we can learn to love that pain, we can learn to love the process and we can get the results that we’re after. You can do the same thing in business. When it’s painful, you can learn to love that pain and it’s going to make it a lot easier to endure and get the results that you’re after.

So things will always go wrong. Don’t be Mon your business when things go wrong. Don’t get upset about it to say, yeah, this is what I signed up for.


23. Optimize wide first fine tune later when fine tuning, no longer works. Optimize again. So again, building a funnel to multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. We started to really focus on fine, fine tuning the funnel, making these small optimizations. What if we changed this on the landing page, but if we move our page over to HTML, what if we use this platform and set it out platform? What if we add this software product? What if we add voicemail drops? These are all minor things. They’re not going to make a massive difference to the funnel. And so when you’re scaling, it’s good to optimize because you can squeeze some extra margin out of the funnel, but it’s the big things that really matter is, again, it’s that launching that product that people respond to 20 times or a hundred times more than any other products you’ve launched that actually get you the results.

So if you’re new in business, you need to only focus on the big things. Don’t focus on your website, business cards, any of that stuff. Focus on making an offer to your market over and over again every day when one starts to hit and you get momentum double down on that, then you optimize that offer. When it no longer starts to work, you might want to test something big again.


24. More than anything, embrace the pain. I know I already mentioned this, but acceptance of everything while working towards a better future is the best gift you can give yourself and others. Life is hard. It’s painful if you choose to go into business, if you choose to be a high achiever, if you choose to do things that most people will never even attempt, you’re in for a life of pain.

Now there are much, there’s much worse pain in this world, right? We’re not going to war. We’re just going to war with ourselves. And avoidance of pain, resistance of pain will just cause your problems to persist. It will just keep you miserable. And so when you can accept that pain and and stop telling a story around it, stop thinking that you shouldn’t have pain in your life. Something that you shouldn’t have to deal with it, that it shouldn’t be happening to you.

You stop thinking you’re a victim and just accept it and then take the next step. That’s a, there’s a real sense of freedom there. There’s a real ability to deal with anything and just keep going and not have it be like you’re, you’re doing this just to get to the next stage, right? This is just who you are now and that’s going to give you a lot more patients.

It’s going to get you to tackle hard things and it will get you extraordinary results that nobody else can get. Cause they’re all afraid of pain. It’s really not so bad once you accept it. So that was lessons learned in 2019 again, building a multimillion dollar business, building a team, scaling a funnel, and growing as a person, as always dealing with problems I’ve never had to experience, um, let downs, bad months, amazing months and just seeing kind of what a roller coaster business really is.

Those are the lessons I learned and they’ve served me well and I hope I can internalize those moving forward. I’d love to hear what lessons you learned in the last year.

I again, I think we all have so much to learn from each other in a matter what our situations are and if you want to avoid, you know, learning some of these lessons on your own, go check out somebody who has been through what you want to do. Go see somebody who has accomplished the results you’re after and ask yourself, is it reasonable to expect that I would get the same result as them based on my actions?

If not, start taking the actions that they take, really study what they do. Just take the same actions, be patient and see what happens. Cause I think you might be surprised by the results. That’s all. Thanks for hanging out with me today. I’ll see you on the next one. This is Christian Martin. Peace out.