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Advice and clarity really needed

Discussion in 'Ideas, Needs, Concept Feedback' started by James Cozens, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. James Cozens
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    James Cozens Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Hello everyone.

    I want to keep this as short and to the point as possible.

    I feel like I've been stuck in a rut my entire adult life.

    Ever since my first job at 18, I have been trying to make extra money on the side. Between the ages of 18-25, I took a half-assed approach by trying to buy things cheap and sell them on Ebay. I barely made any money and had a very weak mindset. If it felt the tiniest bit difficult, I would give up and try something else.
    When I turned 25, I had my first kid and things got serious. I made the decision that I need to take things seriously and get my life sorted.

    The first problem I tried to solve was helping ex-prisoners find employment. I arranged a wage subsidy with the Work & Income section of the government as an incentive for businesses to hire ex-cons. I then took half-days off work to knock on businesses doors and talk to the business owners to see if they'd consider hiring ex-employers. I managed to get a good list of people who would, so I then went to corrections and a handful of charities & non-profit organisations to see how we could help match the employers I found to ex-prisoners. It was like hitting a F*cking brick wall. I pushed and reevaluated and pushed again, but without access to prisoners, it completely flopped and I found myself out of pocket.

    That was failure 1.

    Next I began to consume personal development material. I became a junkie on that stuff. Started to blow all my money on programs, books and courses thinking that they would solve my problems. Without owning a house or having any cash in the bank, I went into debt to buy one of those Robert Kiyosaki real estate mentorships for $20,000. I know what you're thinking - I'm an idiot. We'll you're right. I believed every single word they sold me. I thought that the 3-day mentorship would teach me some hidden secrets to get rich... Well it didn't. I realized without access to cash, it's very hard to buy a property. I tried to buddy up with friends and family to get a bunch of deals, but every time we got close to purchasing, somebody would back out. I came to the conclusion it wasn't going to happen.

    I persisted with the personal development courses. Next I bought the Tai Lopez "social media marketing agency" course. What a scam that was. Bunch of out-dated information. Still, it put me on the path to try ecommerce.

    From there, I started up a crappy Shopify store and got a few sales out of it. It was great practice for Facebook ads and showed me just how outdated Tai Lopez's course is.

    I sold that store and started another store. This is when things started to pick up. I did a bit of Facebook advertising and started to break-even on the ads. I got into branding and really focused a lot of effort into solving (what I thought were) real problems. Then I started experimenting with influencer marketing and things started to take off! I began to make some money. Sure it was only a few hundred a month, but damn it felt good to actually make money instead of losing it!

    It was at this time that I decided to quit my job and go out on my own. I planned to use my ecommerce results to help me get clients for social media marketing. Boy was I in for a shock. I networked 5 days a week for 4 months and didn't get a single client!!! So many close calls, but every single person backed out at the last minute every single time! Guess I wasn't applying Grant Cardone's sales training correctly :/

    However, I partnered up with the owner of a marketing company who contracted me to do a whole lot of work for his clients. Was hopeful for a while as I started to work on his clients and started to get them some pretty good results... until I realized that the owner of the company was a slick-talking bullshit artist... I did about $16k worth of work for him and he paid me nothing! (I heard his company went into liquidation last month, so I guess there is some justice in the world)

    I tried to partner up with another owner of another marketing agency to work on an influencer marketing project, but turns out he was another bullshit artist. I had put him in contact with a model I used for my ecommerce store and he began sending her dirty messages and trying to get her to cheat on her husband with her. I later found out most of his marketing agency and news articles about it were faked.

    I had enough of trying to market other people's businesses so I went back to my old job and continued with my ecommerce on the side. I began to make some awesome progress with it, one day even hitting $2,000 in profit.
    Sadly, influencers began raising their prices, their reach started declining and Facebook ad reach also started declining. Where I had previously broken even or profited, I now began losing money. I tried to invest in the product, but it's impossible for people to recommend your product by word of mouth (productocracy) when you can't even get people to buy from you in the first place. I went into debt trying to improve the product and doing a large influencer marketing campaign to promote it. While I got plenty of sales, it was still a loss and once again, I'm stuck paying off debt. To date I've lost over $20,000 in that ecommerce store. Lesson learned - don't rely on cheap reach to get sales. Rely on solving a real problem.

    Now here I am!

    At my job, earning $80,000/pa salary and to be honest it's the only thing that's ever actually made me money.
    I'm 30 years old, 31 in a few days. My son is 4 and a half and my daughter is 3.
    No matter what we do, we never seem to have enough money to meet our needs. We're always throwing money at business to see if something works and lately we've always been stung. Our money always seems to be paying off debt and being invested in failed business ideas. Our food bill is low. Our entertainment budget is $0. Our clothes are crap. We have one car. We live in a cheap 2-bedroom unit.
    I'm really sick of living like this. I want to be a dad that my wife and kids can be proud of. A dad who can afford a house and some decent cars and a fricking holiday overseas, yet here I am constantly paying off debt and injecting money into a business that looks like it will never give back. I'm still running the ecommerce business, but it's really bleeding us out having to cover all the costs every month.

    Today as I was reversing out the driveway, the front shock in my car snapped (thank goodness it wasn't on the highway) and I now have no car to get to work tomorrow and barely the money to fix it. And I guess this has triggered this rant.

    I've had many "F*ck THIS" moments over the last 5 years, but my problem ISN'T LACK OF MOTIVATION. I'm desperately unhappy! My problem is not being able to find a single thing that will make me enough money to get my family out of this rut! I'm sick of trying and trying and putting all my time into things that yield no results.

    I just need ONE SINGLE money money-making process. That's it. To find ONE process that makes money. And then scale it.

    I'm not after pity. It won't help. You can criticize me, ream me out, call me stupid, that's fine. I've had enough hard lessons and done a lot of stupid things that I've learned from. But this is my rock bottom.

    PLEASE could somebody give me some practical advice? What should I do? Thanks so much in advance
     
  2. Yzn
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    Yzn Bronze Contributor

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    Following.
     
  3. MTF
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    MTF Never give up Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I empathize with your story as it took me several failures (and a few years of hopeless struggles) to finally find a lucrative business model for me.

    Firstly, just so you don't think you're alone or that your struggles are atypical, take a look at this thread: NOTABLE! - How many Business Failures did you have before success? Note how many failures it took for most people to reach success and how many people are still failing.

    Secondly, I don't think it's about finding a money-making process that works. E-commerce is a process that works, but it doesn't necessarily work with your first, second, or even third attempt. Same with any other business model that's successful for a lot of people—and unsuccessful for a lot of people still trying to figure it out.

    It all depends on personal preference, but I prefer businesses that you can start with zero or no capital. Even if they fail, at least you won't lose anything else but your time, while models like e-commerce can cost you a lot financially. All of the following models require little to no investment and have been proven to work for a lot of people:
    • productized services (here's a good article on how to go about it: http://www.tropicalmba.com/quick-launch-biz-ideas/)
    • self-publishing (which is largely a numbers game of publishing consistently until you find something that works),
    • content-based businesses like blogging, vlogging, podcasting, and other similar personal branding businesses (which, to be more specific, is a strategy to build a loyal audience and then sell them whatever products fit the market best),
    • selling all kinds of digital products, including e-books, access to a database, coaching, templates, etc.
    The thing about all of these models is that, like I mentioned, it might take you a few tries to succeed. But since you're not spending much money on it, you don't risk that much, either.

    What do you do in your day job? Do you have any marketable skills that you could offer to start out as a freelancer and then perhaps transition to a productized service business?
     
  4. James Cozens
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    James Cozens Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate the time it would have taken to write it.

    I am a CNC programmer & operator by day. However the CNC software I specialize in is very rare in New Zealand and I work in the only large company to actually use the software on their machines. The other companies to use that software are small garage operations. It makes me super valuable to the company, but not so much outside of it.

    I have looked at the possibility of taking up small CNC jobs on the side and using my employer's machines in the weekend. I actually advertised my CNC skills to try and get some clients, but had no response.

    As well as the CNC skills, my employer is slowly moving me into creating systems & processes for them as well as designing a product code system for their many products.

    I have a lot of skills, but I'm a bit of a "jack of all trades, master of none" - except for my CNC skills. I'm actually a master of those, but there is no-one else in the country who uses the same software :playful: so it's a bit like being a master of underwater basket weaving.

    Again, I really appreciate the reply. At this stage I'm willing to give anything a try. I just need to get a taste of profit in my bank account and I'll put everything into it!

    I'll go and read that link as soon as I've finished typing this reply.

    Last thing: I've been doing ecommerce for almost two years now.

    On one hand people say: "Never be afraid to drop something if it's not working". On the other hand people say "Never give up - you're closer than you think". How do you know which is the right choice? How do you know when to give up and how do you know when to persist?

    Thank you!
     
  5. MTF
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    MTF Never give up Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Thank you for rep transfer, James.

    A good book about this topic is The Dip by Seth Godin. You'll read it in less than an hour and it might help you make a decision, though I wouldn't take his approach of "be #1 or give up" that seriously. Very few, if any, of us on this forum will ever become billionaires but it doesn't mean we shouldn't pursue entrepreneurship.

    In my opinion, it comes down to:

    1. The sunk cost fallacy test - if you're doing something only because of the costs you've already incurred but have no plan and take no new actions to change your situation, I think it makes sense to give up. Do you have any possible opportunities to turn a profit with your e-commerce business? Are you constantly testing new things or largely doing the same old stuff that has proved to be ineffective? If you have any specific challenges, then maybe asking someone here on the forum knowledgeable about e-commerce (like @biophase or @AllenCrawley) could help you.

    2. The 80/20 test - are there any products/advertising channels/price points, etc. that perform better than other things? What if you doubled down on them? Is there anything—even if it's a super small thing—that's working well for you?

    3. The enthusiasm test - do you still have enthusiasm for the business despite the challenges or have you grown to hate it and can't wait to be done with it? If so, it's better to count your losses and do something else. I sold two businesses which I had grown to dislike or hate and in both situations, I was relieved after I handed them off. I'm not talking about "doing what you love"—you won't love everything about your business, but if you absolutely despise it, for the sake of your well-being, it's time to escape it.

    4. The competition test - are there other people in your industry doing the same or a very similar thing to what you're doing with your business? If they're successful doing it, then it's clear you can make money in it. It's very likely that what you're going through now is what every competitor had to go through as well to establish themselves in a niche.

    5. The unique strengths test - I had a few businesses that were clearly not for me because they required me to use my weaknesses in everyday operations. I was blinded by the possible lucrativeness of the business (or other factors like the business model being hot at the moment) and forgot that focusing on your weaknesses is largely a waste of time. When I discovered a new business model that focused on my unique strengths, I quit my previous business and attacked the new opportunity head on. It proved to be by far the best business decision I've ever made. Compared to what you're doing now, what type of a business would perfectly complement your "jack of all trades" skills?
     
    NMdad, Mutant, GSF and 2 others like this.
  6. Andy Daniels
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    Andy Daniels Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    According to your profile, you've read UNSCRIPTED... So you obviously read Chapter 21 about The Money Scam? I'll pull right from the book here:

    'Stop hunting money and start hunting value. Money is not prey. Instead, erase "money" from your vocabulary. Vow to never utter the word again. As a producer, start thinking of "money" as value-vouchers- a store of perceived value produced, communicated, and delivered to the world'.

    Maybe try shifting your mindset? Think of what kind of value you can add to other people's lives, not how much money something will make you.

    Yes, money is important, but it's always preceded by VALUE.

    Just think back to when you were hustling for potential digital marketing clients. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. Would you buy what you're selling? What would make it even tastier?

    Hope this helps,
    Andy
     
    NMdad, Mutant and James Cozens like this.
  7. James Cozens
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    James Cozens Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Damn you got me there! Thanks for the nudge :happy: Looks like I have some re-reading to do
     
  8. James Cozens
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    James Cozens Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    This is pure gold. Thank you so much!

    I need to sleep on this to digest it properly :playful:
     
    MTF likes this.
  9. Omega
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    Omega Absolute dominationem vitae Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    You more than likely have much more experience than me however in your position I would sell the sinking eCommerce business, make sure to pay off any debts and get your car fixed before you think about starting another business. You have a source of income, see how much money you can squeeze out of your job after all your bills and pool it up for a bit.

    Take a step back, take a deep breath, and evaluate your options. You're upset and angry now (which is fine) but make sure when you make a decision your head is cool and collected. You've said that you have made a profit in the past, so somewhere in you, you know how to do it.
     
    Mutant, Strm and James Cozens like this.
  10. James Cozens
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    James Cozens Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Dude thank you! I really needed this.

    I'm going to have a sleep and wake up tomorrow with a clearer mind.

    Sincerely appreciate all the advice; it's been super calming to unload and get all this awesome feedback :praise:
     
    Omega likes this.
  11. James Cozens
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    James Cozens Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    This is absolute gold - You would not believe how much this has helped me overnight!

    It really did help. You're completely right - we became so desperate for money that value disappeared into the background. From now any venture I do, I will do my best to ensure that I'm focusing on value first.

    This has to be one of the most calming responses I've ever read and it's what I needed. Also thanks for the $100, but it should have been the other way around. Am transferring you $200 ;)



    Guys thank you all so much, I was feeling really down, but having you take the time to give me some much needed clarity, was really appreciated.

    I'm normally not the type of person to ask anyone for anything - normally I stand on my own two feet, but lately things have been feeling so hopeless. Going through the failure thread, I realize I'm not alone!

    Taking your advice, my wife and I have decided to close the ecommerce business. It has been sucking away at our life-forces and bank account like a parasite. Still a lot of things we have to do to wrap it up, but to be honest I'm happy that it's coming to an end and it takes a huge strain off us.

    I'm going to take a few months off to rest. During that time, I'll be re-reading both MJ's books while casually looking at different fastlane opportunities and applying the CENTS formula - something I should have done a long time ago. It also gives us a chance to save some money & wipe out the remaining debt.

    I'll mark July 1st on the calendar as a reminder date to get started with a new venture. I'm also going to start being more active on this forum again, so I hope to stay in touch and soak up more pearls of wisdom!

    Thank you again!
     
  12. MTF
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    MTF Never give up Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Happy to hear that you've already made a decision.

    If possible at all, don't close it down - sell it. There's probably some value in it; someone might pay you for it. Maybe it will sell on Flippa, even if for a very low price.
     
    Omega and James Cozens like this.

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