One of the very first mentors I encountered online was Ramit Sethi. I consider myself very lucky to have found him after spending quite a while jumping from business idea to business idea.
Once I was introduced to Ramit and his Zero To Launch program, things started to click. My business skyrocketed, and his guidance continues to provide the basis for the decisions I make on a daily basis.
(If you’re not familiar with Ramit, he’s a New York Times bestselling author, speaker and teacher, and a recognized expert in online business. He’s been interviewed by numerous top-level media outlets, including Fortune, NPR, The Today Show, and the Wall Street Journal, among others.)
In this blog post, I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned. I’ve explained what I’ve learned and how I’ve applied it, and then issued a challenge to you so you can benefit from his guidance as well.
Lesson 1: Success Takes More Than Knowledge.
In my goal-setting post (“Goal-Setting: How To Make 2017 The Best Year Ever”), I talked a lot about how you need to bridge the gap between information and achievement.
This is a principle that Ramit talks about a lot. In fact, he says:
“We have tons of information at our fingertips. A lot of it free… if information alone mattered, almost nobody would be overweight, or unproductive, or in debt.”
So what do you need to go from INFORMATION to SUCCESS?
Two things: 1. The right MINDSET and the right SYSTEM.
Ramit in particular stresses the importance of getting your brain right. (We’ll talk about systems a bit later…)
I would say I now spend at least as much time on my mindset as I do on actual tasks.
I know that if my mind isn’t in the right place, it won’t matter what goals and plans I have. I’ll sabotage my own success by letting the doubts and questions about “Can I do this?” “Maybe I’m working on the wrong things,” “Will this even work?”
That’s a waste of energy and time. I owe it to my audience, my team and myself to stay positive and keep moving forward!
Your Challenge: Take 15 minutes right now to go to a quiet place and think about what’s holding you back. What are the barriers you put up in your own mind? What are those “voices” saying about your possibility of success? Once you you identify your personal “tapes,” as Ramit calls them, you need to dive deep to root them out or counter them.
This isn’t an easy assignment. You may need to work with a coach or mentor to help develop routines to bring you back to a positive, powerful mindset. Yes, it takes time — but it is so worth it.
Lesson 2: Build Assets
I talk a lot to my Virtual Summit Mastery students about how it’s nearly impossible to become truly wealthy and enjoy a “lifestyle” business if you are trading dollars for hours. No matter how great of an expert you are, you’re still capped by the number of hours you work, and the ceiling on what your customers or clients are willing to pay. Also, if you stop working, you stop earning – and that means you can say “goodbye” to your dreams of earning money while you sleep!
One way out of that trap is by building assets — something that grows in value over time.
Ramit really drove home this principle for me by sharing his own story of how knew very early on that to create “freedom” in his life, he’d need to find a way to serve his audience that didn’t require his constant presence.
I adopted this philosophy early on. Even though over the past few years I’ve received numerous requests to consult with people on their virtual summits (and get paid very well to do so!) I turn down these requests 99% of the time. I don’t want to take time that I could use to build my business (my asset!) and spend it building an asset for someone else.
Even though it might pay well in the short run, in the long term, I’d be better off investing that time in my own business.
Your Challenge: Review how you spend your time. Are you building an asset that will continue to grow and pay off over time, or are you selling your hours for dollars for a short-term gain?
Even if you’re a professional services provider — like an attorney, a coach, a consultant, an accountant — set aside some time to work on building an asset that will help you escape the dollar-for-hours treadmill (of course, a virtual summit is an excellent way to do this!).
Lesson 3: Think First About People, Not Profits
A lot of people start an online business because they want to make money, or they want to create a “freedom” lifestyle.
I get it — That was one of the main reasons I was drawn to build my own business!
BUT… if your focus stays there, you’re destined to lose.
Why? Ramit says it’s because when you focus just on your bottom line, you lose sight of the most important thing — the people you’re serving:
“To build a successful online business… you have to first focus on other people… deeply understanding what people want, what they’ll pay for, and how you can help them over and over.”
People pick up on it when you’re just using them to generate dollars. But when you switch your perspective to SERVING them, they’ll sense it. They’ll know they can trust you. And that’s when you’ll gain traction.
That’s what happened to me. Early on, I bounced from business idea to business idea. But once I produced my first virtual summit and saw how I could serve others who wanted to create their own profitable summit, my business took off. And the more I learn about this audience, the more I’m able to create products and content to serve them — and the more money I make. But the money comes AFTER I meet their biggest needs, not before.
Your Challenge: Make a list of your current products and services. Which ones did you develop because your target market wanted it? Which ones are you offering simply because it was a way to make a quick buck? Are you expecting your audience to give you money just because you’re cool? Or are you focusing on servicing them FIRST? If you aren’t keeping their interests front and center, re-evaluate your business!
Lesson 4: Focus On Systems, Not Tactics
You know how I say that early in my business I tried everything from blogging to podcasting to affiliate marketing?
And how it didn’t work?
That’s because I was focused on TACTICS.
Blogging is a marketing tactic.
Podcasting is a marketing tactic.
They are not systems for creating a business!
Ramit says that many aspiring online business owners make the same mistake I did: they focus on specifics instead of on a system.
Your challenge: Forget tactics — instead, find a proven system that will generate the results you want.
(When I committed to creating my first epic summit, I had to deconstruct a system for myself based on successful summits in other industries. You’re super lucky that there are systems-based programs like Virtual Summit Mastery and Zero To Launch that take the guesswork out for you!).
Lesson 5: Avoid The Posers
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s “experts” who have no business promoting themselves as “experts.”
I’ve been online for a while now, and the number of sleazy online marketers seems like it’s growing all the time.
These people take advantage of newcomers (maybe like you are — and like I once was).
They sell stuff like “How to make six figures online,” and their product is — you guessed it! — a course that teaches you how to sell courses on making money online.
Or they will claim to be “experts” in producing virtual summits because they created ONE virtual summit for ONE market ONE TIME.
I really, really hate this — and Ramit calls these people out, too. He says:
“Most online business advice is narrow, simplistic, or downright deceptive.”
Your Challenge: When you’re evaluating programs, books, or even just people who seem to always “know” the “right thing” to do, ask yourself:
• Do they follow their own advice? (If they say you have to blog every day, are they blogging daily?)
• Have they done what they are coaching you to do? (If they say they’re a “million dollar business coach,” do they themselves make over seven-figures?)
• Have they helped numerous other people in different industries do the same? (What are their success rates? How many of their students have successfully implemented their advice?)
• Are they offering a proven SYSTEM, or just tactics that worked once? (Times change and tactics change, but sound business systems will survive the test of time.)
If they can’t answer “yes” to all these questions, stay far away!
Lesson 6: Be World Class
It’s easy to make money online.
It’s NOT easy to build a business that’s an asset, that truly helps tens of thousands of people, and that can be seen as “the best” out there.
Since I first started trying to make money online, I shifted from “I want to make a ton of money,” to “I want to create a world-class business that offers the BEST information to help as many people as possible.”
This is a lesson I learned from Ramit, who invests hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours in perfecting his courses, creating high-quality free content, and refining each and every product and service he offers.
As an entrepreneur, I have TONS of ideas (just ask my team!). But I constantly challenge myself to keep refining what was ALREADY have before we move on to something new (this is why I’m investing 100s of hours in reworking the entire Virtual Summit Mastery course for 2017! I could say, “People like it, they’re learning a lot, and it’s making money.” But that’s not enough. I want to make it the absolute BEST it can possibly be.
I want my business to be something that I’m proud of, that really changes lives.
That means I may do less, but I’ll do it better.
Your Challenge: Each time you’re tempted to move on from a product or course you’ve already created, ask yourself, “Is this the BEST it can be?” If the answer is no, figure out how to increase its value to your customers. Do less, but do it better.
Lesson 7: Invest In Yourself
What do these sports “greats” all have in common?
They all have coaches!
Ramit taught me early on that you never “outgrow” your need to keep upping your game and improving yourself. Whether it’s specific skills, mindset, strategy, whatever — there’s always a way you can level up.
That’s why over the past three years I’ve invested heavily in courses (like Ramit’s), and in coaching.
In fact, last week I had a bit of a panic attack when I processed a payment for $40,000 to join a high-level mastermind! It’s the single biggest payment I’ve ever made in my business, but I know it’s not an expense, it’s an investment in myself and in my business.
At the level I’m at (closing in on making $1 million in the next 12 months) I have to have all elements of my business aligned. And I need to be challenged and motivated to do that. Surrounding myself with other high-level businesspeople will help me get where I want to go.
Your Challenge: Invest in yourself.
When you spend wisely on masterminds, education, and coaching, that money can come back to you 10x. Just make sure that the programs and people you’re investing with have a PROVEN system to take you where you want to go!
To summarize, the seven online business lessons I’ve learned from Ramit Sethi:
- Success Takes More Than Knowledge.
- Build Assets.
- Think First About People, Not Profits.
- Focus On Systems, Not Tactics
- Avoid The Posers.
- Be World Class.
- Invest In Yourself.