Tag Archives for " product creation "

Simple Business Case Study: How to Become THE Expert in Your Niche (by Making Your Niche Smaller)

Jump Rope Dudes

If you want people to pay attention to you, it helps to be an expert.

But as you know, becoming an expert takes time. You must amass knowledge, apply it and then develop a strong record of practical success before the internet will consider you an authority.

It’s hard to shortcut that process, but today we’re going to look at a business that managed to do just that.

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ActiveGrowth Manifesto

There are many websites you could be visiting and many blogs you could be reading. So why spend your time here, on ActiveGrowth, instead of out there, where hypey content, distraction and funny cat gifs beckon?

There are 3 good reasons to be here. ActiveGrowth stands for 3 things, above all else. There are 3 things that, in my entrepreneurial journey so far, have given me an unfair advantage over my competition.

This post is about those 3 things.


Watch the video at the top of the post to get the main content. Below is a summary of the points, for reference and for those who prefer reading over watching.

Principle 1: If You Wanna Make Money, You Gotta Sell Something

In online business, perhaps more than anywhere else, the most alluring promise is “quick and easy”. We see an endless parade of books, products and marketing fads that promise a new shortcut to quick and easy results.

Building a business sounds complicated and really, why bother with all that? Isn’t it much more appealing to use [latest automation software thingy] to auto-post scraped content to [latest social media fad] all day and make money on autopilot?

Why bother with product creation, software development, bug fixes, customer support and all this complexity that real businesses have to deal with? Why bother, when you can just create a bunch of simple niche sites and earn money from AdSense clicks?

You get the idea: there’s no limit to business models that try to avoid or shortcut past all this “real business” stuff. And they’re alluring.

They’re also, for the most part, doomed to fail.

On ActiveGrowth, the first principle is a simple creed that will help you circumvent all this nonsense: the foundation of a real business is a product. The way to make an online business work is to create something people want and/or need and then sell it to them, directly.

I call this a value based business.

The antidote to get-rich-quick nonsense: create a valuable product and sell it directly to people.

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The Many Faces of a “Product”

When I talk about “products” or “offers”, that can mean many things. For example:

  • A digital product like an ebook.
  • An information product like an online course.
  • A membership or subscription service.
  • Software or SaaS (software as a service).
  • A service based business like a web design service.
  • A coaching business.

What all these products have in common is that they are uniquely created by you and you sell them directly to your customers.

This is the crucial point. You’re not earning a bit of a kick-back from ad clicks, you’re not promoting other people’s products as an affiliate, you’re not tied up in a multi-level-marketing scheme and trying to recruit more sellers… you’re simply selling something useful to people who want it.

Screw Passive Income

One of the problems with a value based business is that it doesn’t sound much like passive income. And everybody loves the idea of passive income!

You know what? Screw passive income.

First of all, look at Pat Flynn (SmartPassiveIncome) and Tim Ferriss (4 Hour Work Week). These two guys are the icons of passive income. The very embodiments of the concept. And guess what: they both work their asses off, every day.

If that’s the reality for them, what are your chances?

On a more serious note: the real problem lies in the pursuit of passive income. If the only way you’re motivated to work is because of a promise of passive income in the future, you’re not going to make it.

When you work on your own product and with your own customers, it’s easy to find enjoyment and fulfillment in your work. You’re creating something of your own and something that has meaning to your customers. Customers you’re in direct contact with.

Working on something you care about helps you get through the inevitable hard times. It helps you get through those times when there’s lots of work, but no money yet.

If money is your only motivation, you’ll not last very long through those “no money” periods.

What it comes down to is this: the pursuit of passive income doesn’t work. For most people, it just leads to being passively broke.

The pursuit of passive income (and shortcuts to it) will lead you to being passively broke.

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Principle 2: Your Personal Skills & Character Define Your Business

Building a business out of thin air is difficult, creative work. It’s an extraordinarily challenging task and to conquer it, you must become an extraordinary person.

You have to develop your own skills, mindset and character to the point where you have:

  • more initiative
  • a stronger drive
  • better work ethic
  • a more strategic and long term way of thinking
  • more grit/willpower/stubbornness
  • and better communication and leadership skills…

…than is ever expected of anyone in an “ordinary” employee role. That is what I mean when I say you need to become an extraordinary person.

In an employee role, you may be highly skilled and motivated, but as an entrepreneur you need a whole set of skills and character traits on top of what an excellent employee would have. Most people don’t have this and most people don’t do this.

The point here is that you cannot disconnect your character and skills from the success or failure of your business. You can’t be lazy and scatterbrained and build a company that’s highly effective and focused.

You can’t be lazy and scatterbrained and build a company that’s highly effective and focused.

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Skills & Mindset

On ActiveGrowth, we don’t just post about the latest tricks, tools and marketing tactics. We also post about how to be more productive, how to think strategically and how to communicate with and manage a startup team.

More importantly, I it as part of the purpose of this site, to provide you with strategies that will help you become an entrepreneurial badass. Marketing and business know-how are not enough. Habits, skills and mindset are just as important.

Also consider this: your skills and mindset are an asset no one can take away from you. Business models change, opportunities come and go, but if you are excellent at learning new skills and you have the right work ethic and mindset, you’ll always do well.​

Principle 3: Own Your Platform, Own Your Brand

This is one principle that manifests in two ways. To explain what owning your platform means, let me first illustrate the opposite:

If you’re a YouTuber, you don’t own your platform. You may be very successful on YouTube and make a lot of money from their ad-revenue sharing program, but you’ll always be dependent on YouTube. If they make a change that causes you to lose revenue, you can’t do anything about it. If they suddenly close your account without warning (happens more often than you’d think), you can’t do anything about it. You just lost your business from one moment to the next, and all you can do is complain and be upset.

If you understand why 3rd party platforms are inherently unstable, check out this post: Instagram Created a Monster

Owning your platform is the opposite of that. It’s when you host your own content, in a way no one else can interfere with. It’s making sure that you set up your business in such a way that it’s never dependent on one single 3rd party that you have no control over.

Of course, you’ll still use 3rd party tools. But you protect what you own. You can use YouTube to host your videos, but don’t send visitors to the YouTube video, send them to your own website, where you embed the video. Don’t try to grow your YouTube subscriber base, grow your own mailing list, instead.

From this follows the concept of owning your brand. The opposite of this would be something I did quite a lot in the past: I used to build small niche sites and monetize them with AdSense or affiliate links. I’d get traffic to them (sometimes a lot of traffic) via SEO. These sites made good money, but they were faceless middle-men to my visitors. A visitor would click through from a search result, spend only a brief time on my site and then (ideally) click on an ad or affiliate link.

No one ever remembered my site. And I had almost zero return traffic. When Google changed its algorithm to remove sites like mine from the results, my earnings from these sites dropped to zero and I had nothing to show for my work.

If you build a brand that people will recognize and come back to, you are no longer vulnerable like this. Even if you get banned from YouTube or lose your search traffic, you’ll have an audience of fans and people will find other ways back to your site.

As Kevin Kelly postulates in his legendary post about 1,000 True Fans, owning your brand doesn’t mean that you have to compete with Coca Cola or become a world-renowned superstar. What matters is that you connect with real people, not just anonymous traffic that passes by your site for brief moments.

Create and own your brand. Don’t be a slave to platforms you can’t control.

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The Craft, The Brains, The Tech & You

In summary, the 3 principles are:

  • The Craft: creating good products that people want to buy from you.
  • The Brains: developing the skills and mindset that make you a highly effective entrepreneur.
  • The Tech: using the right tools to build and grow your own platform.

This is what I believe to be the most effective, lowest risk and fastest approach to building a real, sustainable online business, created for long term growth.

It’s what I have focused on in my own development as an entrepreneur and I attribute my success to following these principles. If you want to learn more about this and you agree that this is the way to build a business, you’re in the right place, here on ActiveGrowth.

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15 Reasons You Need to Create & Sell Your Own Product

15 Reasons

If you want to make money, you gotta sell something. And that means creating a product of your own. We call this creating a value based business and it's a simple proposition. However, the suggestion to create your own product probably causes a feeling of resistance inside you.

"Isn't creating your own product too difficult?"

"What if I'm not good enough to teach something in an info product or offer a service?"

"And stuff like payment processing and memberships and all that? Isn't that too complicated?"

If various gurus and the ever-passing parade of online marketing trends is to be believed, there are far easier ways to make money. So, why should you go the path of (seemingly) greater resistance and get your hands dirty creating your own product?

As you'll discover in this post, there are many reasons...

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Is “Bright-Shiny-Object Syndrome” Keeping You from Growing Your Business?

Do you think coming up with a good idea for a product or learning the skills to build it is hard? If you've tried launching your own product or service before, you know that there's one thing that's even harder: shipping it! 

We're here with a brand new podcast series that we named "Your Job Is To Ship".

As the title says, in this series we're discussing why shipping is the most important part of your business, why so many of us fail to do so and leave projects unfinished, and, most importantly: what you can do to get better at shipping quicker. 

It's time to take that unfinished book out of your drawer and stop abandoning projects that you've been meaning to finish. 

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The Importance of Owning Your Platform (& Why You Shouldn’t Be a YouTuber)

This Monday, we're here with another Mixup podcast episode. The topic for this episode is rarely discussed on the web, yet we find it extremely important: true ownership of your platform and business. 

Owning your platform is one of the three main pillars we talk about on ActiveGrowth. We find these three pillars so essential that it's the first thing you can read about on our homepage

So, what exactly does "owning your platform" mean? And what are the mistakes entrepreneurs make, that leave them with a business they don't truly own? Listen to today's episode to find out!

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Podcast Mixup Episode: Why Ego is Bad for Business

Today's episode is the first one that isn't part of the "Forget Traffic!" series. Instead, we discuss a problem that can undermine a business in subversive ways.

Simply put, that problem is: ego.

We've all got it, but the more you succumb to your ego, the lower your chances of success.

Listen in to discover the 5 ways in which ego will hurt your business and the strategies we've employed to outmaneuver our egos in these situations.

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How To Go From Your 1st Customer to a Digital Product Empire

How do you move from a Customer First online coaching business to actually selling products online?

In the 3rd episode of the Forget Traffic! podcast mini-series, Shane and Hanne are going to show you exactly how to do that.

If you missed the first two episodes of the series, you can download the audio and read the show notes here: Part 1, Part 2.

In this episode, we lay out a plan you can follow to scale up your business. With the Customer First approach, we may start on a small scale, but as you'll see here, there's a longer term game plan.

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The Only 3 Things You Can Do to Increase Your Revenue

Building a business can often feel quite overwhelming. One of your most important tasks is to make the business grow and it seems like there are unlimited possibilities and an endless list of tasks.

Well, I'm about to make this a lot easier for you. When you get right down to it, there are only 3 things you can do to make more money. In this post, you'll get the big-picture overview of these 3 things, so you know what to do next, no matter what your current situation is.​

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The “Dry Stretch” that Makes Almost All Entrepreneurs Fail

Have you ever wondered why starting a business is so damn difficult? And all the while, some entrepreneurs make it look easy.

What's up with that?

In today's post, you'll discover a universal and unshakable principle that makes being an entrepreneur difficult. There's (almost) nothing you can do about it, but if you know about this, you're much more likely to see it through...​

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The Free Line: Does Giving Away Valuable Content for Free Hurt Your Business?

Online course creators face a tough question: where do you draw the line between your free content and your paid content?

Anyone selling online courses or selling information products of any kind needs to answer this question. After all, content marketing is all about providing useful, valuable information for free...

But when are you giving away too much of your information for free? How can you do content marketing without cannibalizing content that goes into your premium information products?

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Crushing it in 2015 – Everything We Learnt From Our Most Successful Year Yet – IMP#39

Like last year, Paul McCarthy and myself took some time to reflect on the year past and extract the most important and transformative lessons we learnt.

2015 was a year of fast growth for our company (Thrive Themes) and today's podcast episode is chock-full of tips you can apply to grow your own business, become a more focused and productive entrepreneur and much more...​

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What to Do When You Launch a Product & No One Buys… IMP#36

In previous posts & podcast episodes, we've talked a lot about minimum viable products, getting businesses off the ground on a shoestring budget and the value of releasing rapidly.

If you follow the advice you find here, you'll soon find yourself with a product or service ready to present to the world and perhaps you even orchestrate a small launch for it.

Now, what if you do all this and get virtually no result? What if no one buys your minimum viable product, no one signs up to your launch list and you get no feedback from the market? Is it time to give up or are there other options?

Discover the answer in today's podcast episode...​

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