What would you do with an extra $1,509 a month?

Here’s why you need to be able to answer that question succinctly (especially if you hope to BYOBoss):

My friend (we’ll call him Dave) hates his job. He’s hated his last three jobs, actually. I’ve been trying to convince him to start his own business… do something he’s more passionate about (he has plenty of great skills) but he’s victim to a paralyzing mindset that kept me trapped for years.

Like Dave, I kept thinking another job was the answer. If I had better hours, a better boss, a better commute, work that was interesting, good coworkers, bigger paycheck, blah blah, I would be happy.

I focused on the shortsighted problems and not the bigger issue: which that another job wasn’t the answer.

Recently Dave was offered a job that was substantially similar to the work he was already doing, but slightly more interesting, and he’d see a bump in pay: an extra $1,509 a month. (He would also have to move to Nevada).

Dave was so giddy and excited. Every single one of our friends was giving him a pat on the back and telling him to take the job — he’d be a “fool” not to.

“What do you want the extra $1,509 for?” I asked.

Dave couldn’t answer. He literally stuttered.

I tried to help him out. I asked him if he wanted to buy a new car, or a bigger house. I asked him if he wanted to buy clothes, and blah blah.

“I don’t have a list of thing I want to buy!” he said defensively.

“I just want to understand why you’re focused on this money.” I explained. “It’s the whole reason you’re excited about this job.”

After talking in circles for 10 minutes, it became clear to everyone (including Dave) that he wanted the job just because it paid more. Dave wanted more money, but he had no idea why he wanted more money, or a plan for that money, he just wanted more money because we’re all supposed to just want more more more.

Then came the harder truth: More money wasn’t going to bring Dave the happiness and satisfaction he wanted. He was going to hate his next job just as much as his current job… but he would have a pile of extra cash to sit on, I suppose.

Dave called yesterday to tell me he didn’t take the job.

I’m happy for him. I want my friends to be rich and prosperous, but rich and prosperous in everything.

If my own personal experience taught me anything, it’s that more money is more problems. (In this post I talk about how at $10/hr I thought my life would be so much better at $12/hr. I then worked all the way to almost $30/hr, but in 10 yrs, and almost tripling my salary, I never changed my situation. Then I lost my job and literally found myself back to where I started at $10/hr… and THEN I found happiness as my own boss.)

This is why the ideal day exercise is so important. You have to know what you want, where you’re headed, and what your goals are, so you can work towards it. You have to know where the exit is to work towards an exit.

and It’s absolutely okay to want to be a millionaire and be able to ride around in a ferarri. Whatever floats your boat!

Point is, you have to KNOW what it is you want. For me, it was never about money. It was always about helping people, being my own boss, and being able to set my own schedule… live that ideal day every day.

Now it’s your turn :)

Reexamine the ideal day exercise I made you do when you first joined the free Exit Strategy School newsletter.

Clearly define what it is you’re working toward — what it is you want from your life, your career, and this future business we’re going to build together.

and if you KNOW what you’d do with an extra $1,509, then start your exit strategy this weekend to bring in that extra pizza dough 😉 see free training video #3 for help! Let this be your motivational kick in the pants.

share your ideal day and goals below!

How many social media accounts do you need for success?

Wanna know how many fans or followers you need to be successful? click here.

Social media is a beast.

Recently someone said to me “OMG you’re not on [new social media channel I’ve never heard of]?”

and I said “umm no… guess not. I’m a minimalist.”

Which is true, I am (I’ve even written two books on the topic), but being a minimalist with my possessions is only half of the story.

When I started Happy Herbivore in 2006, there was only Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t know about Twitter at the time, but I was on Facebook (personally), having migrated from MySpace. Oh, g-d. Myspace. Remember that?

Anyway, about a year after I started blogging, I found my way to Twitter, because it was what all the other bloggers in my genre were doing. Twitter felt pretty naturally to me, and now 5+ years later I have almost 60k tweets and 31k followers to show for it.

Around the same time, Facebook created what it now calls “pages” a.k.a. business profiles. I quickly made one for Happy Herbivore, then started to wonder if I should have two accounts on Twitter, too. One for me personally, and one for Happy Herbivore. I noticed many of the other bloggers I followed were already doing that… some even had a third account for their cookbook, or job, or activist work, yada yada… and thus we finally get to today’s topic/lesson:

(This question-tweet popped up in my feed recently)

curioustwet

I was all set to create a second Twitter account for myself but then thought “ugh. that seems like too much work” and didn’t. Plus, what if I said something that I meant for my personal account, but accidentally went out on my HH account? And the bigger question: why am I saying things I’m hiding from or am too embarrassed to say publicly… really publicly?

Of course, I respect that sometimes there is an actual need for separate accounts. For example, a friend of mine has a business that revolves around a cartoon character, so he has a separate business twitter because those tweets come from that “character” and not him. (So he has his own personal twitter to rant about the Knicks, and so forth).

But when your business is tied to who you are, or your story, (or your skills—as I teach in the Exit Strategy School course) at least in some way, there should be one account, especially with today’s consumer wanting a personal relationship with every product or service they support. (Any social media “expert” will tell you this: the nameless, faceless business days are over). You gotta get personal and share a little of yourself… the 1st word in “social media” is SOCIAL, after all.

HH’s Facebook and twitter are two parts business and one part me, and interestingly, it’s often the personal bits that go viral.

Exhibit A:

scottburrito
(1,570 likes, 31 shares and 88 comments.. and this is with FB’s new “pay to play” approach, meaning FB makes it’s near impossible to reach more than 1-2% of your fans without paying… but this update hit over 20% of my peeps organically, uphill battle and all).

An important lesson

When I started launching my businesses, first my study guide business, and then getmealplans.com, rebootcleanse911.com, and even my cookbooks, I wondered if I should create multiple twitter or Facebook pages for all of them. I mean, what did my study guides have to do with vegan recipes?

I hate when my food touches on the plate… shouldn’t I spread this stuff out too?

I looked around and noticed other authors had separate pages for their separate books. It seemed to make sense… and I absolutely intended to follow along and do the same, but I never got around to it and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Why would I want my own products to compete with each other?

I’m already competing with all the other cookbooks on the market… and with Twitter, etc.. I’m already competing with everything and everyone else on the internet to get peoples eyeballs and attention… why would I want to be my own (added) competition?

Less is indeed more.

I’m a one-stop shop.

I finally came to see the big picture of my dumb luck when I was freelancing. A company I worked for owned three online business websites: pool covers, pool supplies, and outdoor furniture. They had separate twitters, facebooks, newsletters and websites for each. The last two made sense (somewhat), but I made myself crazy trying to manage 6 social media accounts… and it felt like splitting hairs because most people who bought a pool cover, would need pool SUPPLIES, and likely had a backyard for said pool (and may want a grill or lawn chair to go in it). The business owners were spending thousands in advertising and new customer acquisition, too. Finally I said, why don’t we just merge everything and try to sell to pool supplies to people who bought pool covers? It took some convincing, but they let me try it and the first “group” all-peeps-included newsletter resulted in over $2,000 in sales. Booyah!

Ultimately, I left the websites separate (but added links to each other) and merged their social media into one “global” account. This was not only easier and less stressful, I was no-longer dividing my time and resources between six accounts. I could dive deep into two and do those two really well.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach or answer, but I DO hope I’ve given you something to think about — especially if you’re just starting to ponder social media for your business!

What social media outlets are you using personally… for your business? Share your experiences in the comments!

p.s. If you’re using twitter, don’t make this mistake.

Are you treating Social Media like a Popularity Contest?

Social media not a popularity contest.

I repeat, social media is not a popularity contest.

This is a point with social media (and marketing) I can’t emphasize enough.

In my last post about using twitter wrong I said, “Numbers — like total likes and followers don’t really matter.”

Here’s why: What good is having 80,000 followers if no one is buying your product or service?

This is something I learned the hard way and talk a lot about in my free video series for Exit Strategy School.

I was a superstar at growing my fan base. I had a steady stream of followers on Twitter, blog readers, newsletter subscribers, and Facebook likes… my numbers were impressive and (knock on wood) growing. BUT (and this is a big but) I wasn’t making any money.

For the longest time my focus was on growing my fan base… getting the word out. Getting more fans and more likes and more followers WAS my marketing strategy…

I was treating it like a popularity contest (even if I didn’t recognize that at the time). And while it felt good to have more followers, my situation remained unchanged.

Eventually I said to myself, “Why am I spending all this time trying to get more followers? What will 100,000 do for me that 10,000 did not?”

I’d doubled…tripled…quadrupled my fan base but I still wasn’t making money!

I was frustrated.

Eventually I realized my problem was in my marketing strategy. I’d left off the very important part… the business part… that marketing was a wasted effort if it wasn’t going to bring me business (a.k.a. make me money).

According to Wikipedia, “Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service.”

Clearly I’d bonked on that last part.

This concept was really brought to life for me when I met my friend Sarah.* (I’m changing her name for privacy).

I was introduced to Sarah through a mutual friend who knew I was struggling with my business (or well, struggling to make money) and he thought Sarah could be a good mentor or sounding board since she’d been running her own successful online business for a few years.

Before meeting Sarah, I scoped her out on the Internet. (Okay, fine, I sized her up). Sarah didn’t have a lot of Facebook fans or Twitter followers. A few hundred on Facebook, a few thousand on Twitter. Not nothing, I admit, but I had tens of thousands more than her. I wondered how Sarah could “help” me.

Still, I said I’d meet her and when I did, I promptly put my foot in my mouth. Sarah was making $20,000 a month with her business. I was barely making $500 a month. Social love be damned!

I’ve since gone on to meet several other business owners who make a lot of money but don’t have a lot of fans or followers. Some don’t have Facebook or Twitter at all.

A marketing blog I read sometimes has the tagline “Page views don’t pay you, people do.” Truth!

Point is, it really can’t be a numbers game… unless those numbers represent dollars.

Social media can absolutely help grow your business, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. It all depends on your business and (this is important) your customer.

I think fan counts can be a helpful tool in determining whether you’re doing something right (or wrong). But take it from me: having 5,000 fans doesn’t make you more successful (or more profitable) than someone with 500 fans. Similarly, growing from 500 fans to 5,000 fans doesn’t mean your profit will increase 10 fold too.

You can’t make social media or your blog a popularity contest. Being popular doesn’t always go hand in hand with prosperity.

Your marketing strategy has to be about sales. End of story.

One lesson I hope to teach you with Minimalist Marketing is in that first word “minimalist.” Doing less and getting more. A big part of that is figuring out what you’re NOT going to do.

(Here’s a sneak peek into another upcoming lesson: It’s better to do one thing, and do it well, then to do a poor job, or a half job, all over the place).

So what’s something you’re NOT going to do? Treat social media like a popularity contest :)

I’ll say it again: What good is having 80,000 followers if no one is buying your product or service?

and please please please don’t buy followers. It only hurts you. For more on why this is a horrible practice, see my blog post “Three things picking up dog poop taught me about success” (I know the title doesn’t sound like it would be about marketing and paying for likes but I promise that’s what it’s about).

‘Til next time!
Lindsay

Are you using Twitter wrong?

I’ve been on Twitter for 5 years, 11 months, 1 day, 2 hours and 12 minutes.

(I didn’t actually remember WHEN I signed up for Twitter, so I used howlonghavei.com)

I’ve learned a lot.

The two biggest tokens of wisdom are:

#1 Don’t start your tweet with an @.

For example, don’t tweet “@happyherbivore pancakes for breakfast!”

If you do that, only people who follow you and that person (in this case me, @happyherbivore) will see your tweet. That means most of your followers won’t see your tweet.

Add some language before the @ in: “I had @happyherbivore pancakes for breakfast”

OR just add a period

“.@happyherbivore pancakes for breakfast!”

(I’m sorry if I’m making everyone hungry for pancakes now)

On the flip side, starting a tweet with @ comes in handy if you need to reply to someone. Then you’re entire audience is muted from the conversation.

I get a lot of questions via twitter (it’s micro email for me)… can you imagine how fast I’d lose followers if every person who followed me could see every tweet? It would be like a front row seat to my inbox (booooring!).

#2 don’t obsess over followers (and unfollows).

Recently I unfollowed someone and they emailed me asking for an explanation.

I felt so violated… and put of the spot. I think it was worse because they emailedme. Maybe if they’d sent a tweet it wouldn’t have felt so intrusive…

Anyway, I didn’t know this person. We’d never met, or been in any kind of regular contact. We didn’t tweet at each other. We’d emailed once but it was professional and not social or chatty, and so forth. Basically, we had no relationship where such a question might have been cool. (For example, I wouldn’t have minded the question so much if it came from a long-time twitter friend I had been very close with).

Worse still, in addition to asking WHY I unfollowed, they also made accusations — assumptions about why I’d unfollowed (hint they weren’t nice).

This all served as a reminder to me why you can’t read too much into social media (especially people’s actions on social media) and that assumptions really do “make an ass out of you and me.”

I closed my reply email with this advice:

I don’t pay attention to who follows me or unfollows me… that’s not really the point of social media or twitter. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s about sharing information.

(and if you share good information, popularity will follow)

A few hours later, Gary V. (a Twitter heavyweight) tweeted the following:

garytweet

A little in-your-face perhaps (that’s his style) but YES!

The Takeaway: Focus on putting out good content, sharing information, interacting, treating those who already love you well, and being awesome.

Focus on QUALITY not quantity.

Don’t make it a numbers game.

(Numbers — like total likes and followers don’t really matter — more on that soon). Unfollows and unsubscribes, while painful, are often a good thing (more on that soon, too) and remember that the first word in “social media” is SOCIAL. (Yes, more on this soon, too! x3!)

Well, I think I’ve sufficiently opened that can of worms — they’re crawling away in all directions, but I’ll hit all these topics (and more) in upcoming posts!

Stay tuned!
Lindsay

3 Marketing Words That Make You Lose Customers

Here’s a conversation I had back in November with my friend, Amy. (If you’re enrolled in the EXS course, you know her well — she is the smart gal behind Let’s Freckle, one of my favorite examples).

amytwitter

(Amy’s previous tweet went something like “If you’re saying your product or software is a “game changer” it’s probably not).

It looks like we’re snarking, and maybe we are just a tad — but that doesn’t make our point any less true.

Rule #2: Saying something doesn’t make it true.

Rule #3: (and if it’s not true, or at least, doesn’t look true, you’re going to lose the sale).

You don’t want to lose credibility or trust with your customer.

Have you ever rolled your eyes at the seemingly ridiculous claims in an infomercial? Or laughed a little when you came upon a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the middle of the desert with a sign “World’s Best Fish Sandwiches”?

(C’mon, you know you have!)

THAT is what Amy and I are talking about.

Another example: A few years ago I was still working as a social media/marketing consultant. One of my clients was marketing herself all wrong, but doing what most marketing books will tell you to do: “network.” In other words, my client was walking around, shoving her business cards into people’s hands, and talking non-stop about how fabulous she was. She didn’t miss a networking event — or an opportunity to plug herself or her business. She hustled but it was wasn’t working. She wasn’t getting new clients and then she started to lose the clients she had (having made the common business mistake of not focusing on client retention — but that’s another topic for another newsletter).

Finally, I sat my client down and said, “When you’re awesome. You’re just awesome. You don’t need to walk around and tell people, “Hey! guess what! I’m awesome!”

My friend Stephanie brought this to life in one of her recent Facebook updates:

stephanieFB

We all feel this way on the inside sometimes. We may not all say it out loud like Amy, Stephanie, or I did — but you can bet this is how customers (consumers) feel.

It’s fine to be proud and puff up your chest — and marketing IS about getting that sale: convincing the consumer to buy, but this where rule #1 comes in:

Rule #1: SHOW don’t tell.

SHOW them why your product is awesome (with a tutorial video, a free trial, or a sample).

and if you can’t show that way, show with testimonials!

BE awesome. Don’t say “awesome.”

If nothing else, don’t use words or phrases like “revolutionary” or “game changer” or “world’s best” or even “best seller” (even I’m trying to get away from that last one) because it’ll hurt you more than help you most of the time.

THE UPCOMING EXIT STRATEGY BUSINESS & MARKETING COURSE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

(I couldn’t resist. lol.)

‘Til next time!
Lindsay

 

Are you being obvious enough? (A simple but costly marketing mistake)

“This page has books?”

At least once a week I’ll see this comment to one of my updates.

What??

For the longest time this confused me.

I mean, what did they think those things were in the banner at the top of my page?

hhbanner

Eventually, I figured it out. Someone can stumble upon and “like” your page without ever seeing the page. They can even read, like, and share your content, without ever seeing or going to your actual page (and thus, never seeing my banner).

With more and more people using mobile Facebook apps (and abandoning their computers and laptops) this will become the norm.

Take a minute to think about your own use of Facebook: How often do you go to pages? Other than your own and the competitions, I mean. Almost never right?

Point is, people aren’t seeing your banner, or your hours of operation, or those buttons to your store, events, pinterest, newsletter, and so forth that live under the banner:

oheranners

You’ll need to share this information (or link) in a status update regularly.

There are fun, creative ways of doing this, and it’ll help bring in more sales (in addition to making your consumer aware).

For example, the restaurant above could very easily post that delicious picture of food and say “who wants our polenta stack for dinner? We’re open tonight, and every night, until 9pm”

To advertise your store, post a picture of your merchandise (preferably a picture submitted by a customer) and say something like “Check out our new T-shirts! Grab this one and check out other options in our store (link)” — a coupon code, free shipping, or a discount really gets them clicking!

Finally with newsletters, tease with upcoming content they can expect.

For example, I remember when Engine 2’s new book was coming out, they posted a picture of a dish from that book and said “recipe in this week’s newsletter, signup here!”

That not only makes their readers aware they have a newsletter, but also gets a lot of people on their newsletter. It’s great marketing all around!

Point is, you can’t be too obvious. Never make an assumption about what your customer knows.

Have a great week!
Lindsay

What does a manicure have to do with marketing?

I’ve been going to the same nail salon for the last year or so.

It’s not the closest salon to my house, but the service is consistently good, the prices are reasonable, and there’s ample parking (a big issue in Los Angeles).

I don’t treat myself to a manicure or pedicure all that often, but after a year of sporadic visits, some of the nail technicians now recognize me and say hello. (Facial recognition of repeat customers is great for business! It’s great customer service!) 

Because the service there has always been good, I take whoever is available when I walk in. 

But that all changed on my last visit!

The technician, we’ll call her Mindy, said, “You come here pretty often, right?” I smiled and nodded. Then she said, “What’s your name?” I told her “Lindsay” and she said, “I’m Mindy. It’s nice to meet you.” 

and that was it. That was all it took. 

When my manicure was over I asked Mindy if I could request her specifically in the future. 

The total effects of this change are much deeper than they seem on the surface. 

I’m not only requesting a specific person, I am now calling ahead to book an appointment. I’m not just walking in off the street on a whim like I used to. I’m totally changing my pattern, and making it less convenient for me, just so I can have Mindy.

So what’s the big deal? Why did this manicure change everything? And what the heck does it have to do with marketing?

Today’s marketing is all about a personal connection. Customers want to feel personally connected to you or your product.

I’ve chitchatted with all the nail technicians at the salon, but it was Mindy who asked me my name and told me hers. She created a personal connection. 

Customers also want to feel appreciated (i.e. facial recognition) and that you are interested in them and not just their pocket book. 

This is the beauty of social media. Businesses can get personal on social media. They can get to know their customers, really know their customers. 

My manicure with Mindy is also a reminder how powerful your story is. Customers want to hear your story. They want to know why you do what you do. Why do you sell this product? What’s the story behind it? Why did you start offering this service? What motivated you to blog? and so on.

Customers also want to tell you THEIR story (and you need to listen!)

Create a personal connection. 

It can be as simple and easy as asking someone their name. Show you’re interested! 

:) 

Lindsay

p.p.s. Hi, my name is Lindsay… what’s your name?

12 Things Successful People Do Differently

I came across this meme last week and couldn’t agree more!
1. They create and pursue focused goals.

Yes! Absolutely. This is why I have you complete the “Ideal Day” exercise as soon as you join this newsletter. You have to know what you’re working toward. Eye on the prize! (You should also write a mission statement for you personally and your dream biz).

2. They take decisive and immediate action.

Another reason to write a mission statement! It becomes your guiding light. You can easily make decisions based on whether the outcome moves you towards your ideal day, or away from it. Also, stop sitting on your hands! Let’s get this show on the road 😉 Take immediate action today: Do one thing (even if it’s a little thing) that pushes you toward the exit!

3. They focus on being productive, not busy.

True as ever. We can so easily end up doing “busy work” or giving things importance (and our time) when they’re really not important. I was guilty of this for years, especially when I worked in an office.

I recently adopted an 80/20 approach. Meaning 80% of my work each day should be directly helping me achieve my goals (which at this time are to increase revenue, but also set up systems so I can eventually work less). There are things I *have* to do (like taxes and payroll) that don’t necessarily bring me closer to my goals (like, say marketing or teaching my assistant how to do something), and those get shoved into the smaller 20% block.

Take a look at all the tasks you do in the day — what matters, what doesn’t? What can you delegate? What can you eliminate? Although I enjoyed reading the paper for years, I realized reading the paper didn’t get me any closer to where I wanted to go (and getting out of a crappy job was more important than reading the paper). There is always something that can give — remember be productive not busy!

4. They make logical, informed decisions.

This is exactly why I use a formula for business generation. The “idea” comes last after research.

5. They avoid the trap of trying to make things perfect.

I talk alot about this in the EXS course. Bluntly: You’ve just gotta get it out there. You have to start your business. Think beta, not version 5.0. (Here’s a post about starting a business with the least common denominator). You don’t need to wait until you have the perfect name, website, business cards, blah blah. Just start. I have redesigned my websites 7x. I have even changed the direction of my business 4x. That’s how it works. Thus, there is no point trying to make it “perfect” before you begin. Everytime I write a book, there is always still more I could do (editing never ends, you can keep tweaking) but eventually I have to publish. Good enough is good enough. “Not half bad” is a fine starting point.

6. They work outside of their comfort zone.

Starting an exit strategy is all about leaving your comfort zone. Come on in, the water is warm!

7. They keep things simple.

See #5 😉

8. The focus on making small, continuous improvements.

9. They measure and track their progress.

We improve what we measure. That’s why people who use food journals or apps tend to do better with weight-loss goals than those who do not. Set goals. Define how you will determine whether you are progressing towards it. For example, when I need to write a cookbook, I know I need to write about 200 recipes. I divide recipes by days until my manuscript is due. I figure out I need to do, say 3 recipes a day. I know day-to-day if I’m on par, and I also have a chalk board “128 to go!”

We also track our time and how we spend each day pretty militantly at HH HQ. (Helps us identify what needs to be more efficient while ensuring the 80/20 rule and that priorities are priorities).

Keeping track of how you spend every hour in the day will be telling — it will help you find your busy vs. productive. A great app is Let’s Freckle (created by my pal Amy. Those in the course should be familiar from classroom examples). The first 30 days are free!

10. They maintain a positive attitude and learn from their mistakes.

Some of my greatest successes come out of big fat failures. Are you afraid of failure?

11. They spend time with motivational people.

For me, this isn’t about being friends with Tony Robbins, but about surrounding yourself with people who support you, encourage you, and bring out your best self. I have also found a lot of satisfaction in befriending people who are entrepreneurs and have, or want, to start their own business. Most of these people I met online. Since none of my real life friends want to be their own boss or quit the 9-5 and live more freely, I had to seek out others. It’s made a huge difference to connect and share our struggles and successes. This is why we have a forum and listserve in the Exit Stategy School course (plus monthly live chats with me). I want to build a network. You need peeps in your corner — fellow students and alums to bounce ideas off. For those in the course already, start talkin’ to each other more! You’ll keep each other accountable, too!

12. They maintain balance in their life.

I’m working on this! In fact, realizing I have worked entirely too much since Jan 1st, I forced myself to go on a three week snowboarding trip. Good thing I’m my own boss!

 

Is your business idea cost prohibitive?

Around Lesson 5, my students taking the Exit Strategy Course start to realize I’m not a fan of starting a business that requires you sell physical things. At least, not as your first business. (Remember the business snowball!)

Here’s why: it’s usually cost prohibitive.

If you need to cough up $1,000, or even $250, to buy the materials to make your product, you’ll put it off, or you won’t be able to start for months because you’re already pinching pennies. (I always tell my students if you need more than $100 to start a business, find another business idea). PLUS you don’t want to start a fledgeling business so deep in the red. Minimize your risks (because you already have enough fear in this new journey to contend with).

Second, it takes time to make those items. Even if it only takes 20 minutes, it’s still a burden. Most of us have to start our exit strategy while still at a job that takes 40-60 hours of our time. You just don’t have the time — the time to make it, the time to pack it up, ship it, and sell it, and time to do all the OTHER business things you have to do.

In the Exit Strategy School course, I teach my students how to create a business that keeps making them money 24/7. Once they make their item, that’s it! They’re done. They just keep selling it and selling it. They don’t have to reinvent (or remake) the wheel! Most of my students can put their idea together into a final product within a weekend.

Going back to my original gripe: Selling physical goods is almost always cost prohibitive.

But don’t just take my word for it! Here’s a comment one of my students said after the lesson: “I absolutely love to knit. It’s therapeutic for me, but I also know that the hours that go into making something small are so cost prohibitive that it wouldn’t even be worth my time to try to sell my creations.”

My advice: don’t sell the sweater… sell the pattern! Sell pre-recorded video tutorials!

See? 😉

No matter what your skill or desire — there are work-around and a fuss-free business is hiding in there.

‘Til next time!
Lindsay

Are you worried about piracy and people stealing your stuff?

This question came from one of my students:

“I was talking with my significant other about my ideas for my business/exit strategy. He thinks I have great ideas but he doesn’t see how I’m going to make money off it because of people can just do screen shots and repost the stuff to Pintrest and such. I know there that would be copyright infringement but how would you enforce that? How do you people from sending your stuff out into free void of the internet? How do we deal with copyright infringement on our work?”

Great question! This is something I used to fear (and remember: fear is paralyzing, it’s what keeps you trapped!)

Before I get into my “advice” we all need to take a moment and be brutally honest with ourselves:

We are all pirates. We have all cheated the system at one time or another.

Maybe we downloaded music for free back in the late 90’s a la Napster. Maybe we bought a bootleg DVD. Maybe we watched our friend’s bootlegged DVD. Maybe we dubbed (duplicated) a friend’s CD, software, video game, etc. Or we watched one, listened to one, played one, etc. Maybe we photocopied a recipe out of a book. Maybe we wrote down a recipe from a book and gave it to our friend… If you use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or heck, go on the internet, you’ve probably looked at bootleg stuff without knowing you’re looking at bootlegged stuff because your friend posted, probably without thinking, etc.

I’ll admit I downloaded music like it was a fashion statement in the late 90’s. I could say I was a dumb kid that didn’t know better, but deep down I knew it wasn’t cool. I never would have walked into Best Buy, dropped a CD in my purse, and walked out — no way! — but downloading in the privacy of my teenage bedroom just didn’t feel the same way… it felt so…harmless. I also didn’t have the money to pay for the songs even if I wanted to and I’m sure that was my mental justification for my actions.

I was a straight-A student, a good kid. Yet…

Even in law school (law school!) I watched classmates sharing around key codes and bootlegged software like MS Office. Maybe they thought about it, maybe they didn’t…

I’m not trying to justify pirating — it’s not cool — I’m only trying to be realistic about it. It happens. People steel your stuff.

and here’s the shocker: it’s not always a bad thing.

But before I get to that and explain why, I need to drive this one point home:

There will always be people who cheat the system. There will always be freeriders. Those are not your customers.

Unless their actions are doing serious, irreparable harm, don’t waste your time or energy — or your worry on them.

You have plenty of other things to do and worry about !

Now for the good news: your goodies being pirated can often lead to paying customers.

A lot of people want to scope things out before they buy.

When I first started selling meal plans, it was donation-based. I suggested paying $5, but you could pay any amount, or no amount at all. As you can guess, we had freeloaders, as well as people who were paying less. Eventually I decided to set the price firm. You had to pay $5. Yes I lost some of my customers who were paying less, but most of them ponied up to the full $5. Even more interesting was how many freeriders then started paying.

One of the “freeriders” even emailed me about it. She said when I set the price firm she was initially aggrivated but then realized, she’d been downloading free meal plans for weeks, it was about time she paid. (Her words). It was like my setting a price clicked something on in her head. Another person also admitted they had downloaded for free because they wanted to see what it was about before they actually spent money.

I found this intriguing and ran a report on my sales. Sure enough there were dozens of instances where “freeriders” had subsequently paid for a meal plan. Either they went back and purchased the one they downloaded for free, or they paid for a subsequent one… and this was BEFORE I set the price firm.

And I can’t tell you the number of times people intend to email the meal plan they paid for to their friends (who are then getting it for free and without paying) and accidentally email me instead.

I usually write back something like, “Did you intend to send this back to me?” and then they write me back, explaining their friend was broke, or their friend just wanted to see what it was like before paying, and so on and so on. I always say, “No worries, thanks for recommending our product!” and leave it at that.

I know that a good portion of those people getting it for free will eventually pay.

Does it suck? Sure. No one wants their work being sent out for free. No one *wants* to be taken advantage of. No one wants to have money stolen out of their pocket, but it’s going to happen…try to look on the brightside.

When the kindle versions of my cookbooks first landed on piracy forums I wanted to die. I already made so little for my books (about $1 per sale) and now I was being cheated out of that??

My husband, who used to work in the tech world, assured me this was good. For 1. it meant my stuff was good enough it was worthy to steal (yay vaildation?) and 2. that serious pirates, if they like something, they will then go and actually pay for it.

My sales showed no sign of suffering after that happened.

Which brings me to another example:

A friend of mine has a great documentary. About a year after it came out, he debated whether or not to put the documentary on Hulu and Netflix. He knew his documentary would reach way more people that way (and that was the ultimate goal of the documentary — to share information with the masses) and the exposure via those channels would be unparalleled. However, he still hadn’t recooped all his costs to make the documentary. He was worried: If people can watch it for free, why would they buy the DVD? He’d never see another sale…

Turns out he couldn’t have been more wrong. Sales soared after the documentary was on Netflix and Hulu. Perhaps people just want to take things for a test drive first.

To summarize: Piracy sucks. There’s no denying it. Piracy is going to happen. (I just can’t sugarcoat that.)

What I CAN do, is tell you it’s not the end of the world. Pick your battles… look on the bright side. Sometimes free equals money later.

‘Til next time!
Lindsay