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GOLD! What was your biggest business and life lesson in 2014?

Tony I

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Couple lessons I learned from building a business, almost losing it entirely, and then building it back up again this year;

1. Do NOT cry about changing business conditions- Instead of complaining and resisting change, embrace it. You will be ahead of the majority.

2. If your business can be easily replicated, branding is king. Give your product a unique twist and offer extra value to the customer.

3. KNOW your customer- email a few of them and have a 30 minute discussion with them. What are their needs, hobbies, etc. How can you improve your product to better meet their needs?

4. If you sell on ebay/amazon/3rd party, BUILD AN EMAIL LIST and create your own unique sales funnel.
 

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The-J

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I've got quite a few of em.

1) If you can't provide honest-to-god 'extra' value, you don't belong in the business. Don't deal in commodities unless you have the edge in pricing or reach. This applies in the service business, too (and is where I learned this lesson). You NEED to be different somehow.

Backstory: I was doing web design for small companies. I even struck a deal with a development house in India in order to separate the business from my time. It went well (and I relaxed HARD), until I ran out of clients. All my clients had come from my own personal network (and slightly outside of it). When it came time to fish for more clients, I found that what I was charging was way more than LOCAL people were charging. Ouch. But I figured, hey, why not offer something? I tested an offer here (FREE website) and only one person out of the 5 that contacted me went through with everything I needed them to do for the offer. F*cking ouch!

I offered nothing extra. I was no faster than anyone else, my designs weren't better, and worse, my prices were HIGHER! I knew there was a way to keep going (fish for bigger clients, create an exclusive 'expert' brand) but my heart was no longer in it. I decided to leave it behind.

2) Pick up the phone. Call em on Skype. Meet up in person. This is how deals are made.

3) (related to 1) Don't F*cking relax when you know your business could stop generating 'passive income' at any moment. You're still in work mode. Biggest mistake of 2014: I could have built something else while getting passive income! I'm never making that mistake again, and honestly I think that's a mistake you have to make to understand. LOL

Dang, it felt good to get all of that off my chest. Onward to 2015!
 

ddzc

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Business - Decided to strap on a set and actually take action instead of read document read read read. I had a bad habit of reading so much info and applying jack shit...this went on throughout 2013 and a bit of 2014. I lost a nice chunk of change in the importing last year, but I learnt a shitload more than I lost...something a business degree doesn't offer you, real life a$$ whooping. The amount I learnt by actual taking action far supersedes the dollar figures lost...I'm now in a greater position to start something big and educated to do so from the experience and failures. I also always have a backup plan so I still have a nice income coming in...I don't believe in debt.

Life - This relates and ties to business in so many ways. I've been slowly cutting off idiots who deliver nothing but negative energy in my life....people that want you to fail, people that want in on what I'm doing bc they're lazy asses, people who have back stabbed me many times when I helped them numerous times in life, etc....those people are slowly vanishing. I'm trying to surround myself around more educated, business minded folks who understand and relate to my life and goals...which btw, is extremely hard, everyone I know is a braindead slowlaner or pothead...this forum and the people on here are my sanctuary. I moved out east so I can get away from distractions, people, technology, friends and addictions (I won't get in to details), but my addictions are no where to be found where I live now. I can't stress enough to everyone here how vital moving is sometimes. It changed me in so many different ways and allowed me to really focus on my objectives with business, along with time.
 

Esquire

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Don't F*cking relax when you know your business could stop generating 'passive income' at any moment. You're still in work mode. Biggest mistake of 2014: I could have built something else while getting passive income! I'm never making that mistake again, and honestly I think that's a mistake you have to make to understand.
Reminds me (in a way) of something I often heard from an entrepreneur client of mine who acquired ... and then lost ... half a billion dollars:

"The height of satisfaction ... is the height of danger."

Translated loosely:

The moment you think you're king of the world and get too comfortable with your success ... is the moment you let your guard down ... and someone knocks you off the throne.

Winning is all fine and good ... but never lose a healthy sense of paranoia ... never get too comfortable ... and never get complacent.

Act like someone is gunning for you ... because they are.
 

Tony I

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3) (related to 1) Don't F*cking relax when you know your business could stop generating 'passive income' at any moment. You're still in work mode. Biggest mistake of 2014: I could have built something else while getting passive income! I'm never making that mistake again, and honestly I think that's a mistake you have to make to understand. LOL
This times 100x. It's a gift and a curse.

Just got to adopt the mindset everyday of "I'm at $0 a day- what do I do?"
 

Tom.V

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2014, what a year.

It was hell for the most part. Not to say many great lessons were not learned in the process, but it was hard on the body and soul, there is no doubt of this aspect. From breaking up with the girl I loved for many reasons (some of which I do admit were selfish at this point in time), to losing my a$$ in my attempted business ventures. So saving you and myself the trouble of going through hell with a fine toothed comb once again just to get the same F*cking answers, it all boils down to this. I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t put in enough effort. I didn’t want it bad enough. That’s it. No excuses. It was my fault, and that’s why this year has been so difficult. Shouldering that weight alone has exasperated any other attempts I have flailed at in recent months. Recovering from such substantial defeats takes some time, but I need to reprogram, and keep at it. Fail faster, learn faster, win faster. This methodology is time tested and proven for success, in any facet of life. Go about everything in a scientific way, be inquisitive, question everything, and dig until you find your answer.

Another life lesson learned this year is this: Don’t give up on yourself. No matter what life throws at you, pick that shit up, and throw it right back twice as hard. Use what comes your way in every way you can. Leverage is everything, but mindset is essential to even notice when to use it. Using it blindly, or for the wrong reasons will do nothing but prolong stagnation and inhibit personal growth. Keep your powder dry for the big wins, the ones that really count.

There are more of course, but in a nutshell.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Post marked GOLD because there is some GOLD! Duh!

Marketing > product
I'm gonna disagree. A shitty product can't survive without marketing, but a good product can. But I guess that's another thread.

As the year 2014, it was a challenging year with some hard decisions. It was a good reminder that trust, but verify is a sound principle to live by, especially when it comes people on the internet. It was a good reminder that your gut is often a voice to be trusted, over your mind which prefers things neat and orderly. It was a good reminder that people generally do not change and that most people are generally good, however often times you have to decode relationships to determine if your dealing with someone who is genuine in purpose, or someone who is operating with a mask and an ulterior motive. And finally, in 2014 taught me that once and for all, the media cannot be trusted. Journalism is dead. Now excuse me while I go make $72 million trading oil futures while in high school on my lunch break, and while living with my parents.

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csalvato

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Another life lesson learned this year is this: Don’t give up on yourself. No matter what life throws at you, pick that shit up, and throw it right back twice as hard. Use what comes your way in every way you can.
Love it
 

Sebastya

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I'm gonna disagree. A shitty product can't survive without marketing, but a good product can. But I guess that's another thread.
I guess it depends what industry you're in. I'm in the supplement industry and the top selling products are real low quality despite the fact there are a handful of high quality products that don't sell half as well.
 

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H. Palmer

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Biggest lessons.

1. Real estate is not passive income.

2. It's risky and unproductive to try to build a business on a marketplace website. In the end you need either control of the platform or an easy alternative.

3. Outsourcing part of your operations is more powerful than I thought.
 

Sebastya

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Biggest lessons.

1. Real estate is not passive income.

2. It's risky and unproductive to try to build a business on a marketplace website. In the end you need either control of the platform or an easy alternative.

3. Outsourcing part of your operations is more powerful than I thought.
Interesting. Can you elaborate on 1 & 3?
 

H. Palmer

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Interesting. Can you elaborate on 1 & 3?
1. More than 3 years ago I decided to get my feet wet in real estate.

It took about a year of research to decide that in the country I live in (Netherlands) investing in RE was more or less out of the question. No ROI possible over 4 percent and prices on the low end for first time investors far too high. And too much regulation anyway.

I went across the border into Germany but purchasing my first property cost half a year to get all the information from brokers, visit premises, visit the notary twice and wait for the property manager of the apartment complex to give his permission. That was March 2013.

So far I haven't had positive ROI out of the investment and the situation has turned into such a mess that it will probably require my active involvement for several years before I will get my objective of 7 to 8 percent ROI from investment. So forget about passive.

Already I've had to deal with document forgery, a renter that can't (doesn't want to) pay and has his door bell out of order on purpose, the property manager not picking up the phone and making verbal agreements with the renter without my permission, property manager withholding funds he has already received from the renter, not responding to inquiries whatsoever without letters sent by recorded delivery, and so on, and so on.

I could expand on this, but the situation is in Europe (I'm in Netherlands, the property in Germany) and I can guarantee you that if you are American you wouldn't recognize anything of what is going on there. The legal system and the culture are totally different.

3. Outsourcing is easy if you can specify exactly what tasks you want your assistants to do for you. I use very detailed scripts that I give them and these scripts are refined based upon their performance on the task and their feedback.

Most people will perform satisfactorily and will work for you for low pay if you are very clear what you want them to do, treat them with respect and listen to their comments for improvement. And pay them promptly when pay is due. Most people prefer stability and regularity over all kinds of risk, even when you pay them minimum wage.

For me, not only does it free up a lot of time to pursue new income producing activities, but I don't get bogged down in low level work anymore, which makes me feel better on the whole.
 
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randomnumber314

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Business: If you find the unicorn that is a high demand product, with a lack of supply, there's usually a solid reason behind the lack of supply (in my case the skilled labor market is where the problem is in my area) -- SO, approach it like a cat showing their belly, it looks good, but it will probably bite.

Life: Jumping from whim to whim is tiring and useless. Pick one thing, stick with it, and it's amazing how easily hundreds of thousands of dollars will find you. The key, then, is not spending $2 in pursuit of $1
 

ksc23

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  1. "In order to get what you want you must deserve what you want. Deliver to the world what you would want to buy if you were on the other side." - Charlie Munger
  2. Just because you're a nice person and you work hard doesn't mean you deserve a lot of money
  3. People who are without money are going to be without money next week too. It has nothing whatsover to do with my existence. Money is abundant and the best thing I can do for them is become as rich as I can
  4. You can't deposit philosophy into a bank account
 
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csalvato

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Goobii

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Lessons in Business: Stop chasing the money, you'll just end up chasing your tail!

Lessons in Life: Progressive Action is necessary in all areas on your life in order to maintain harmony
 

randomnumber314

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Never heard that saying before. As a cat owner, I love it. haha
I just thought of it.

Was this related at all to my comment about learning how to spend $1 to get $2?
Didn't see your comment. It's more a comment on the business I had this summer, many many dollars in the bank, and many, many out. Learned a ton of lessons, one of them being to not underestimate the expense side of labor and all the other costly things that comes with hiring employees.
 

Valor

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1. Don't start a business to make lots of money; start a business because it's more fun and more fulfilling than any job. (Remember...work doesn't need you, you need work.)

2. You don't need to satisfy all CENTS commandments at the same time, a NEC business or a NECS business is better than no business at all; just start and then work towards CENTS
 
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Don Dano

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My biggest lessons of 2014

1: Take Action!!!
2: Validate the market to some extent before going in full-scale
3: Don't let fear or doubts stop me from taking action
4: Surround myself with like minded action takers
5: Love myself and other people
6: Understand that I am in this game for the long haul.
 

Ikke

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My biggest lesson I learned in 2014 is both applicable to business and life in general. But I believe it is strong enough for both categories. It is to have a more positive mindset. Don´t be the one that complains, but be aware what your choices bring you.
 

Flora

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Business: Have systems in place so that your family knows what to do in case you unexpectedly expire or become debilitated or sick. I had a family member commit suicide this last year and left us all scratching our heads at how she ran her on-line business and how to refund and contact customers. It gave me pause to think- how would my husband or daughter know what to do to keep my business running or close it down if something happened to me. I put systems in place to stop accounts and store passwords for my family to use just in case.

Life: Take every opportunity to have fun with your family and show them how much you love them by being present for them. Don't schedule a call with grandma - call her when you think about her which is often. Plus take every opportunity to look into your child's eyes and tell them that you love them. Cherish the real people in your life not the imaginary FB- G+ communities you are linked to.
 

SlowlaneJay

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One lesson I learned LAST year was to not take advice from anyone who is NOT just a few steps further along your path.
^truth


EDIT:
This is pretty killer too. Love this forum!
You don't need to satisfy all CENTS commandments at the same time, a NEC business or a NECS business is better than no business at all; just start and then work towards CENTS
 
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Silverhawk851

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Business: You can read or theorize all you want, but learning doesn't start until you're doing.
Personal: Every person has a different perception of the world, and nobody's is wrong.
Awesome, resonate strongly with that one
 
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csalvato

csalvato

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Cut costs ruthlessly.
I learned the opposite this year -- don't be afraid to spend.

Can I have the context of this lesson? What I learned is don't be afraid to spend to find something that works, then learn to cut down the cost it takes to reproduce what works.
 
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GuestUser140

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I learned the opposite this year -- don't be afraid to spend.

Can I have the context of this lesson? What I learned is don't be afraid to spend to find something that works, then learn to cut down the cost it takes to reproduce what works.
Well, there it is: I had/have something that worked.

By thinking packing and shipping through, I managed to save not only time, but also thousands each month. Calculated on a yearly basis, it's about a minimum wage salary that stays in the bank with just a little tweak, at the same amount of sales.

To me, it's mindblowing that once you have a business that moves some volume, cutting costs by a few $ on each order amounts to an amount other people have to work an entire year for.

In detail: I started using 80 micron (strong) poly mailing bags at $0.10 instead of bespoke retail boxes at $4.50. Customers can now tick the "bespoke retail box $2.99" option during checkout, but I found out most people don't care about a box. Also, packing's a breeze now.

 

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