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The Desert of Desertion is real... and I'm in it.

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Scot

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A few of you have messaged me through various means, checking up on me, the status of my business and just to chat. Some of you may have noticed that I haven't been around a lot lately.

Why? I'm stuck in the Desert of Desertion.

I've been putting off writing this thread for a while, for various reasons. The biggest reason is, the desert sucks the will do accomplish things out of you. Secondly, I feel like this is just me putting excuses out into the world.

But I know I'm not the only one here who's dealt with this. So, my hope is that by airing my struggle like my dirty laundry, someone here might identify and get their act together like I am.

It all started with a bump in the road. For those of you that have read my progress thread, I'm starting a food brand. Well, an ingredient, my main one, turned out to be much more expensive than I was expecting. This led to my total product being almost double what it would need to be to have meager margins in the retail sector.

So I searched to for a replacement. But then it started. The doubt.

"See, this whole thing was unrealistic, who are you to think you could start a food company"

"Ugh, its impossible, nothing fits the specs for my replacement ingredient, this will never happen"

"At this rate, it'll be 2018 until I even get product off the line. Good job missing that trade show!"

Those voices inside my head slowed me down. They caused doubt. But they also made it easier to get into the mindset of, "well its already been a week, whats one more day."

So work got put off until tomorrow. And then multiple days. Before I knew it, I'd lost a week, then two. Progress was happening, but at a snails pace. Finally today, I got myself back to where I needed to be. But I'm not free yet.

I still feel like I'm in quick sand, that there's no urgency.

But this isn't my pitty party, my list of excuses.

Here's what I did and what I will do.

Set goals. I know this sounds really basic, but its important. I wrote down my actual goals. On paper, and put them on the wall.

1. Get production order into co-packer by Nov 30th.
2. Make contact with buys from 3 major chains by Dec 15th.
3. Have label finished by Nov 15th.
4. Finish website by Nov 10th.

Engage your scarcity mindset. The closer those dates become, the more you have to make them happen.

Focus on the end game. Focus on your goal. Realize that these set backs and bumps in the road happen to EVERY business owner out there.

If you feel like your tank is close to empty, you're not alone. Deep breath, eye on the prize, get shit done.
 

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juggler619

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Respect to your endurance Scot ,been following your post . Similar boat here - i have noted down my 90 days goals starting October to be completed before the clock strikes 2018 and im very much on track!

I haven't earned much /done much on this forum to dish out advice's here yet. Thou going thru your post shows the characteristics you are built off and i believe you will swim thru the sand like a shark!
 

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You're not alone, I'm in the desert now as well. Was supposed to launch my product in end Oct but due to way high manufacturing costs which gives me tiny unprofitable margins, I had to take a detour and find cheaper manufacturers elsewhere. Although I'm can only launch in Jan 2018 (missed the Xmas retail shopping season!!!!!), It's a blessing in disguise as my costs are now 4x lower and margins are way higher. Cheers!
 
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Scot

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You're not alone, I'm in the desert now as well. Was supposed to launch my product in end Oct but due to way high manufacturing costs which gives me tiny unprofitable margins, I had to take a detour and find cheaper manufacturers elsewhere. Although I'm can only launch in Jan 2018 (missed the Xmas retail shopping season!!!!!), It's a blessing in disguise as my costs are now 4x lower and margins are way higher. Cheers!
And that delay is worth the margin. If I pushed my original iteration out, I’d never have made it to retail. I owe @G-Man for talking some sense into me. Waiting a few months to double or triple profits, always worth it.
 

G-Man

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It doesn’t feel like it, but you’ve made a ton of progress.

Here’s another way to look at it: Because the margins are tough, the product development is hard, and the sales cycle is long, it’s a space that keeps most people out. This means that once you get your product out on shelf, you’ll have probably an entire year before you have to deal with any “me too” competition.

Then, when you really get going, you’ll be looking to sell the brand for 3-4x gross revenue, instead of 2x ebitda like everyone else.

Keep going dude. You’ve done the hardest part.
 

MidwestLandlord

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Reps for the honesty.

Yeah, I noticed you were gone. Figured I'd give you some time before I started bugging you with "what's up???" and "Where the hell are ya?!?"

Just a PM away if you need something, ya know? Happy to help where I can.

desert.jpg

And in all seriousness:

never.jpg
 

G-Man

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Yeah, I noticed you were gone. Figured I'd give you some time before I started bugging you with "what's up???" and "Where the hell are ya?!?"
I didn't wait to bug him or you. Tact and sensitivity have never been my strong suit.

Seriously, though @Scot You have a commercially bottled product that didn't exist until you created it. I hope you understand that that alone puts you in the 1% of people. I've certainly never created a product from scratch. That's why I'm sure you're gonna make it.
 

Iammelissamoore

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Seriously, though @Scot You have a commercially bottled product that didn't exist until you created it. I hope you understand that that alone puts you in the 1% of people.
I've often heard of the Desert of Desertion, and have walked through it a good times well, but indeed, super kudos to you, the mere fact that you are creating something from scratch that is worthy, that alone is a huge accomplishment; it is really cool of you to admit your pause in your journey, as you know we often believe the road to the Fastlane is a pretty one, so to admit this is huge, I know it took a lot for you to do it, but it's cool you did.

Sometimes the timing is really everything, here it is the ingredient may have shot up production costs, but the timing as to when you'll launch works well, as you'd be able to set great costing to allow you a decent profit margin. Keep going at it, keep pushing and keep winning. I know you are gaining valuable insight with this journey. Keep pushing strong.
 

JAJT

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So work got put off until tomorrow. And then multiple days. Before I knew it, I'd lost a week, then two. Progress was happening, but at a snails pace.
I've been stuck here numerous times.

The worst lasted almost all of last year. An entire year. It never should have gotten to that point but I was spent. Done. Out of gas. All I can recall of last year was the feeling of being lost.

Luckily I'm out of it and on my way now but if I can pinpoint this "lost" feeling to anything it's a lack of direction and activity. Not knowing the next step.

I've been in micro-deserts during this new company launch. It's been another entire year and I STILL don't have product on the shelves. You are I started about the same time and we both are "productless", for the most part. I feel you. I totally do. It's HARD to keep this going. I've felt embarrassed at my product choice. Regretting the margins I've chosen to live with on this product. Regretting the price of everything with the decisions I've made. Underestimating the start-up costs. All this shit adds up. Some days I can barely get into my office.

Something that has helped keep me going is knowing what I CAN do, and doing that.

I have a to-do list that I keep as up to date as best I can but some days what I really need to do and helps me a lot is just grabbing a new sheet of paper, sitting outside, and writing down all the shit that comes into my head. Things that need doing. People I need to talk to. Money I need to come up with. The balls I have in the air that I'm waiting on to come back down, balls I still need to throw in the air, all the little things I just haven't gotten to, the low priority shit, Etc...

Then I take that big list and realize I have a lot of F*cking work to do. And pick one. And do that. Then every day I put a new thing on the board and get through it. Then I realize I'm hammering out 2-3 things per day or more. Some days I'll realize I've been working on the same task for a week and start questioning why it's taking that long. Then fix it.

For me, getting out of that desert quickly has been crucial. And I get out of it by knowing what I need to do and doing that. Even if it's small like an email or phone call - I just need to get the ball rolling again and all the doubt/sadness/inaction falls off and I feel 20 pounds lighter and moving again.
 
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Scot

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I've been stuck here numerous times.

The worst lasted almost all of last year. An entire year. It never should have gotten to that point but I was spent. Done. Out of gas. All I can recall of last year was the feeling of being lost.

Luckily I'm out of it and on my way now but if I can pinpoint this "lost" feeling to anything it's a lack of direction and activity. Not knowing the next step.

I've been in micro-deserts during this new company launch. It's been another entire year and I STILL don't have product on the shelves. You are I started about the same time and we both are "productless", for the most part. I feel you. I totally do. It's HARD to keep this going. I've felt embarrassed at my product choice. Regretting the margins I've chosen to live with on this product. Regretting the price of everything with the decisions I've made. Underestimating the start-up costs. All this shit adds up. Some days I can barely get into my office.

Something that has helped keep me going is knowing what I CAN do, and doing that.

I have a to-do list that I keep as up to date as best I can but some days what I really need to do and helps me a lot is just grabbing a new sheet of paper, sitting outside, and writing down all the shit that comes into my head. Things that need doing. People I need to talk to. Money I need to come up with. The balls I have in the air that I'm waiting on to come back down, balls I still need to throw in the air, all the little things I just haven't gotten to, the low priority shit, Etc...

Then I take that big list and realize I have a lot of F*cking work to do. And pick one. And do that. Then every day I put a new thing on the board and get through it. Then I realize I'm hammering out 2-3 things per day or more. Some days I'll realize I've been working on the same task for a week and start questioning why it's taking that long. Then fix it.

For me, getting out of that desert quickly has been crucial. And I get out of it by knowing what I need to do and doing that. Even if it's small like an email or phone call - I just need to get the ball rolling again and all the doubt/sadness/inaction falls off and I feel 20 pounds lighter and moving again.

Talking ugh you while you’re working on your current business has put a lot of my struggles into perspective. I definitely appreciate the encouragement but also knowing this happens to everyone.

Passion alone isn’t going to get work done, but discipline without passion won’t suffice either.

One thing I’m going to start doing is reaching out to my potential customers, the people who need my diet to be healthy. I need to focus on helping them. Reminding myself that if I don’t help them, I let them down. Make it about something bigger than myself.
 

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Genius01

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Great to hear some of the legendary names around here have passed through this.
Thanks for posting this, and for the degree of detail. Particular appreciation to @Scot and @JAJT .
I've been having similar feelings since the latter part of January, and most of this February, triggered off by some unexpected delays and setbacks in my earlier plans.
I'm reactivating and re-firing with immediate effect.
Thanks so much for sharing guys, you don't know just how much what you shared helps someone sitting in his own room in one corner of the world.
 
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Scot

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Great to hear some of the legendary names around here have passed through this.
Thanks for posting this, and for the degree of detail. Particular appreciation to @Scot and @JAJT .
I've been having similar feelings since the latter part of January, and most of this February, triggered off by some unexpected delays and setbacks in my earlier plans.
I'm reactivating and re-firing with immediate effect.
Thanks so much for sharing guys, you don't know just how much what you shared helps someone sitting in his own room in one corner of the world.
It's funny, because @Greg R and a few other guys and I were just talking about this exact thread.

When you're working on a product, especially a physical one, its going to take a lot of time. Even setting up a SaaS or app requires time to build.

Its a lot of hurry up and wait. I can't tell you the number of times I wanted to walk away and give up on my project because of how long I had to wait. It sucked.

But, now I'm selling, and I never seem to have a chance to catch my breath, its amazing. I get to talk to my customers, I get to watch the sales numbers go up, I have product in my hands. The desert of desertion has a path out. BUT you have to force yourself to find it.
 

johnp

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tell me about it... I'm there all of the time.

It's a very lonely place. Especially if you're in my situation and you don't have too many people to talk to about this type of stuff.

Personally, I try to accept the fact that there's no avoiding it. It's where breakthroughs happen.

I have noticed one big thing though. Over the years, if I find myself bouncing in and out of the desert, like 3 or more times in a 6 month span on the same project, then I take that as a sign to step back and look at the bigger picture of what I'm doing, because there is something going on at a much deeper level. It's sort of like a red flag for me. I'm not sure if anyone else feels this way.
 

johnp

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I've felt embarrassed at my product choice. Regretting the margins I've chosen to live with on this product. Regretting the price of everything with the decisions I've made. Underestimating the start-up costs. All this sh*t adds up. Some days I can barely get into my office.
This is exactly how I have felt about some of my latest products. I've even had family members laugh at me, tell me that I'm going to get sued, etc... I'd like to say that it doesn't get to me, but I think it does.
 
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tell me about it... I'm there all of the time.

It's a very lonely place. Especially if you're in my situation and you don't have too many people to talk to about this type of stuff.

Personally, I try to accept the fact that there's no avoiding it. It's where breakthroughs happen.

I have noticed one big thing though. Over the years, if I find myself bouncing in and out of the desert, like 3 or more times in a 6 month span on the same project, then I take that as a sign to step back and look at the bigger picture of what I'm doing, because there is something going on at a much deeper level. It's sort of like a red flag for me. I'm not sure if anyone else feels this way.

It’s all about the feedback loop. If it’s not firing, it’s very easy to feel discouraged.

If you’re not in a place to fire that feedback loop with sales, go out and talk to potential customers. Get to know them, their struggles, share your ideas. Something as simple as someone getting excited and saying they can’t wait to try it can fire that feedback loop. That is enough to keep you going for a while.

The desert of desertion May be empty, but you don’t have to work in a bubble.
 

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evlttwin

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@Scot Is there any way to negotiate a cheaper price on that one ingredient? Have you tried every conceivable way to negotiate it down? Like calling someone, instead of emailing them?
 
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@Scot Is there any way to negotiate a cheaper price on that one ingredient? Have you tried every conceivable way to negotiate it down? Like calling someone, instead of emailing them?
Oh man, that was so long ago. We found an alternative a while ago, margins aren’t sexy, but they work enough that we’ve launched already.

The ingredient was hellmans mayo. I dont think they negotiate often haha
 

LeoistheSun

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So I searched to for a replacement. But then it started. The doubt.

"See, this whole thing was unrealistic, who are you to think you could start a food company"
Substitute "food company" for software that has 10M to 1B dollar competitors and you get my situation!
 

Philip Marlowe

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Well, I'm finally in it. The middle of the damn desert of desertion.

Funny thing is, I'm only here because I took the action to move-out on my dreams. I PUT myself here.

I'm just heads down doing work. There's nothing to talk about. No one to show anything too. I have a lot of questions and find that I spend more time on forums and YouTube looking for answers than I ever did before.

I don't want to talk to friends or family about what I'm doing mostly because now I feel like more of a fraud than ever. I've realized how much work even the smallest business takes and I'm humbled. Talking about it feels like a fake accomplishment. Like people who tell you about their diet when in reality, they should only mention it when you SEE it working.

Here are some examples:

-I get up at 4:30 every morning. I have a routine where I either get in a really intense work-out, or give a solid 2 hours to my business (I alternate, since my biggest goal is weight loss)
-At 4:30, there's no one to see you working or running. Kids are asleep. Dog is asleep.
-I've lost weight, but not really enough that someone would comment.
-My business is up and running, but by it's nature it's going to take a few months to get any momentum. There's nothing to socialize
-I get actual headaches trying to understand technology I NEVER thought I'd use

Someone might catch me in a moment of weakness and think I'm stressed, but that's not it. It's different. It's like I want to go to sleep, just so I can wake-up early again and kick the next day in the nuts.

I've accomplished more than I ever thought possible. Over a year now I've dreamed of this point and I'm firing on all cylinders, and yet I couldn't be further from my goal. A progress thread would be like me talking about carving a sculpture, piece by piece.

I'm just...grinding. It's not cool or sexy. It's just F*cking work.

Time to trust the process.

-PM
 

ZF Lee

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-I get actual headaches trying to understand technology I NEVER thought I'd use
I get headaches too when trying to write sales copy for technology I never learned in school. Or health products with Holy Grail ingredients.

And when swipe files fail me...:clench:

May I ask what technology you are dealing with? Programming? Autocad?
Maybe it might be better off to start hiring a few tasks out.

EDIT: Waking up at 4 am in the morning? I'm not sure what time you go to bed...but do it early.

I used to go to bed at 2am...only to oversleep more often.
These days I work on sleeping by 12 am, unless I did have some naps the day before, and I could wake up at 7-8am in better spirits.

I'm thinking the 'sleep late' creed for success is pretty dangerous unless there's alternatives like power naps.
 
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Philip Marlowe

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May I ask what technology you are dealing with? Programming? Autocad?
Honestly, it's embarrassing.

For example, I'd include pictures on my website and it took me forever to figure-out how to modify them. As in, the pixel size. I couldn't understand why some were larger than others.

And I still can't figure-out why my text is so condensed in mobile...

I also don't know ANYTHING about the "back end". For example, are the things I'm doing (picture size, for one) slowing my load times? Is it OK to be on a shared server?

My problems are basic. Luckily there's a YouTube video on most of my topics, but it typically requires me watching a 30 second ad, then watching a 10 minute video for something that really could have been 30 seconds. But beggars can't be choosers.

I'm not worried - just takes time.

And on sleep, I go to bed early, mostly because I'm much more creative and awake in the morning. In the evenings I'm beat. The best I can do is some accounting or something mundane.

-PM
 

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Honestly, it's embarrassing.

And I still can't figure-out why my text is so condensed in mobile...


-PM
Are you using any plugins to help build your pages? I use beaver builder to create my website pages it is extremely easy to use with many features.

It allows you to easily create separate font size for desktop and mobile devices. If you are struggling it might be worth purchasing a plugin to make your life easier.
 

Philip Marlowe

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Are you using any plugins to help build your pages? I use beaver builder to create my website pages it is extremely easy to use with many features.
I haven't, but thanks for the recommendation. Off to watch a few tutorials!
 

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