This post is a candid look back at what happened in my business during the past year and what lessons can be learnt from it.
As every year, you get a no holds barred inside look. You get the good, the bad, the ugly.
Read on to find out why I said no to dozens of opportunites, lost tens of thousands of dollars and took a huge gamble…
Just over two years ago, I was phasing out of my problematic ecommerce business and had released Backlink Battleplan, my first information product.
The product was a big success, considering the circumstances (no one knew who I was, it was my first product etc.). Customers loved it, the word was spreading and sales were coming in steadily.
The path forward was was laid out for me, clear for anyone to see: if I wanted more money, all I had to do was more of the same.
There was no doubt: if I kept on creating information products, building up my name and brand and working my way up in affiliate circles, I’d get paid handsomely, over and over again.
In fact, there was even a chance that I could attain “guru” status and maybe cash in with my very own, big $2,000 product launch, which was the big craze back then.
So obviously, I proceeded to do exactly none of those things.
I didn’t even “monetize” my list of happy customers by promoting affiliate offers left and right.
There I was, sitting on a large mailing list and the potential for income most people can only dream about – money basically on the table in front of me – and I refused to take it.
What I did instead, was risk my entire business.
At the same time, in my own business, I started shifting away from information products and towards software. The only problem was: I knew absolutely nothing about software. This cost me dearly, and I still have a graveyard of unfinished and hopeless products to prove it.
In fact, in 2011, I spent most of my money on software development and had nothing to show for it, by the end of the year.
So I went ahead and invested even more time and money into software development in 2012…
That might sound like insanity, but here’s the thing: I’ve been talking about the importance of building skills and about how the only way to do that is by grinding it out. The principle of The Grind is a proven concept, to me. I’ve applied to to many areas of my life and it’s always been a success… eventually.
Yes, I was rubbish at everything to do with software: coming up with good ideas, finding the right developers, creating good documentation, managing developers and development… I had no idea what I was doing.
But that’s all part of the learning process. It’s an education. A lengthy and expensive education, in this case, but I was always certain that eventually, I’d get the result I had been looking for.
I told you you’d get the bad and the ugly, so here it is: while I was always generating income, I actually made a loss for most of the year. I sunk more money into projects and people than ever came back, for six months out of 12 (note, this only concerns “my” business, not SwissMadeMarketing, which I’m involved in, but don’t own).
My income was spectacularly lower in 2012 than in 2011 and for anyone looking in from the outside, things would have appeared critical.
Why do all this?
Because I have a vision of what I want and it involves software. Because I wasn’t entirely happy with selling information products only. Because I put my money where my mouth is and took a huge gamble that the principles I write about here, the principles I believe in, really work.
If I can grind it out long enough, I can acquire the skills I need. If I can acquire these skills, I will be able to go from here to where I want to be. If I’m not there yet, I need to grind more and build more skills.
The gamble I took is showing early signs of paying off. We did an end-of-the year promotion for Hybrid Connect, one of our products, and it was a big success. Customers love the product and many affiliates got on board because we managed to make the product very lucrative for them to promote – all without 100% commissions or 15 upsells.
However, one successful launch does not a business make.
I believe that it’s possible to create products for the long term. I believe that getting regular, daily sales is not only possible but better than launching and closing products all the time. I believe that people will pay a good price for a good, high-quality product. I believe that it’s better to sell on your own website, not on forums. I believe that your business will be better off if you strive to be like some of your favorite start-ups, instead of striving to be yet another Internet marketer.
In short: I believe that pretty much the opposite of what’s happening in IM circles is the right way forward.
And I’ve yet to prove that I’m right.
I have big plans for 2013 and if you keep following this blog, you’ll see for yourself whether my gamble ultimately pays off, or whether I’d have been better off following the guru route.
Here’s some of the most important content published on this site, in 2012. If you missed any of these, be sure to check them out:
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Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on this past year. Do you agree or disagree with my “different direction” for this business?
I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.
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What to Do When You Launch a Product & No One Buys… IMP#36
Deception, Disappointment & Minimum Viable Products – IMP#35
Guide: How to Build Your List During a Product Launch
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