Taking a Vision First Approach to Entrepreneurship

Taking a Vision First Approach to Entrepreneurship

I was at the peak of frustration. And my mastermind group could tell.

They told me that regardless of how frustrated I was getting I should stick with the process for at least a year before deciding whether it was working.

I could see the wisdom in that. But I didn’t feel any less frustrated. And none of that changed until I finally went on break.

That’s where I began to embrace the wisdom of taking a vision first approach to entrepreneurship.

Blazing a Trail

The reason any of us get into freelancing, business, or some other unconventional profession is because we had an idea. And that idea actively excited us to the point where not acting on it seemed foolish.

Yet, when it comes time to make decisions regarding our business, we often take an entirely different approach, forgetting our roots and forsaking the foundation it was built upon.

When we started the business, we started excited about the possibilities, ignoring all good sense and conflicting guidance. We went ahead with the idea regardless of what anyone else said.

But at some point, it became about something entirely different. It became about money.

Money First, Vision Second?

Business is nothing more than a system for generating revenue.

I once heard that statement at a networking event, and at the time, it seemed profound.

True, business is supposed to be a system. And it is supposed to generate revenue. And if possible, it should be just that simple.

But missing within that formula is so much humanity, and living, and adventure, and even fulfillment. I have never heard anyone say they don’t want those things, yet focus inordinately on results they’re not getting.

Forbes contributor Chrissy Scivicque says:

Career fulfillment can change your reality.

Wow.

I’ve tried putting money first in my business. And that led me to working ridiculous hours with diminishing returns.

You would think the opposite to be true – that working harder and longer would lead to greater results in business. My experience has been anything but.

In like manner, so much of business is counter intuitive.

Waiting for the Money…

At one point, business was about vision. For you and for me.

We saw a possibility to create something for ourselves and for others. We saw a win-win, or maybe even a win-win-win.

And decisions were made based on that vision, to advance it as quickly as possible.

But at some point, old programming kicked in. And suddenly, we stopped making leaps of faith and instead started waiting for the money to come in.

“I can’t launch that initiative without the money.”

“I’m waiting for the money to come in so I can put more into advertising.”

“I’m saving up to buy that app that’s going to be a game-changer.”

And this can stifle growth. But we do it anyway because it seems like the sensible way. The right way. The accepted way.

We forgot the foundation our business was built upon, which had cast all “good sense” aside in favor of a vision of the future that gripped and compelled us.

What About Your Heart?

When we started our businesses, we did not see our future with our heads. We saw it with our hearts. We felt it.

But at some point, decision making became about head knowledge. Reacting to circumstances instead of being proactive in making our visions a reality.

As transformational comedian Kyle Cease often says, we should lead by our hearts instead of our heads, because our hearts have better ideas than we could ever come up with using our heads.

The problem is we often get impatient and don’t meditate or sit with ourselves long enough to sense what our heart is trying to say to us.

So, instead of creating from a space of clarity and possibility, we create from a space of unresolved pain, addiction, trauma, and more.

So, How Can I Take a Vision First Approach?

As suggested in the book Reality transurfing. Steps I-V by Vadim Zeland (affiliate link), we must put vision first. If we follow our vision first and foremost, the money will follow.

This isn’t necessarily easy or simple. Because fear gets in the way.

We might look at our bank accounts and say to ourselves, “no, it’s just too risky to follow my heart.”

We might consider what we’ve accomplished to this point and say, “that would be great, but I’m just not good enough.”

It didn’t stop us when we started our business. But now that we’ve made our way down that path and have repeatedly been beaten down by challenges and disappointments, we’ve begun to lose faith in ourselves.

But that’s all it is. And that’s good news, because we can interrupt that flow and get back on the path of faith.

Oftentimes, that’s where we must begin if we are serious about putting vision first. Because we will usually find ourselves in a cycle of frustration or disappointment.

Interrupting the flow can be as simple as taking two weeks off to reflect. This worked for me.

Then, it’s a matter of finding what makes you excited to be in business again. The ideas that come to you may seem wild or crazy. They may even seem impossible.

But if you prioritize those ideas, you will find yourself putting vision first once more.

Vision First Approach, Final Thoughts

Taking a vision first approach to your business isn’t necessarily easy. Because it often involves throwing caution to the wind.

But you must remember that this is exactly how you got started. You cast aside what others might call good sense and took a chance on yourself anyway.

Beyond that, it’s a matter of recognizing the patterns as they arise. Every commitment is followed by a challenge. If you resist, it’s game over. Back to square one. If you embrace it, you will move passed it and find yourself standing at your destination.

But as I often say, the meat is the journey, so you’d better enjoy the journey!

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Why I’m Loving Loom

Why I’m Loving Loom

People have been telling me to make videos for Music Entrepreneur HQ for a while.

And I get it. Video content is huge right now.

People also like being able to see you, so they can get a better sense of who you are.

Well, ever since I started learning about James Schramko’s Own The Racecourse method, which was around 2016, I have been making videos. And technically, I’ve been making videos for Music Entrepreneur HQ well before that – the first one I uploaded was in 2014.

And the reality is that I started making video content back in 2009 – the same year I started podcasting. Only, my focus back then was on entertainment. I made video game and movie reviews.

This is What Happened When I Started Making Videos

I understand the importance or programmatic publishing as well as anyone else. But I often found making videos cumbersome, so I didn’t publish consistently.

I was also making multiple types of content.

I wrote blog posts, made podcast episodes, and created videos. Inevitably, I found that making video content took the longest, because of scripting, filming, editing, and other factors.

And when I finally started making more video content, people started saying things like:

“Why is your background always the same?”

“You look tense on your videos.”

“Your delivery is the same on video as it is on your podcasts.”

This was often because I was just excited about diving back in and getting in the habit of making videos instead of insisting on perfection. After all, you get better with practice, right?

But the feedback made me laugh a little. Because I was doing the very thing others were asking for, and apparently what they were imagining in their minds was a little different. I have no way of knowing for sure what they were imagining though.

Finding a Workflow Was Tedious

Even as I was making videos, it irked me that simple things would go awry.

For example, bad angles or lighting would make some raw footage virtually unusable.

Or some video software would only output mono audio instead of stereo audio (that was the issue with QuickTime) and I’d have to find a way to fix it in post.

Or filming with my smartphone gave me good quality video, but if I wanted better quality audio, I’d have to record the audio separately and match it up to the audio later.

Or editing software would be hard to learn, expensive, or missing seemingly simple features I needed.

Honestly, it was all a bit of a nightmare, and quite time-consuming besides.

Let me tell you something about me – I’m a “pick up and go” kind of guy. I spent many years as a visual artist, so I do appreciate that good things take time. I’m no stranger to putting time into projects. I have five books, after all.

But if I couldn’t find a way to streamline the process, I knew it wasn’t going to happen for me. I had far too many other urgent and important things to do to be able to dedicate enough time and energy to video.

Enter Loom

Loom is a fast-growing video message app among entrepreneurs.

It’s incredibly easy to use, and it comes with all the functionality you need to create simple presentation style videos.

I’ve been experimenting with it as of late, and it has greatly streamlined and improved the process of making videos for me.

I’m not saying I can’t improve backgrounds, lighting, angles, and even my presentation style. But when I tweak the settings within Loom and hit record, I can rest assured everything is going to work out perfectly.

Once I’m done recording, I might need to make a few quick edits, but that’s it.

And the best part is that I can use any website or presentation I want as my background. Since I’m not always set up in beautiful environments (right now I live in a mostly unfurnished basement suite, okay?), I can add more personality to the videos with backgrounds that don’t look like my kitchen.

Here’s an example of something I did just the other week:

Now, just so you know, no one is paying me to talk about Loom. It just so happens that I learned about it, gave it a try, and I’m liking it.

Final Thoughts

All that to say, I am publishing weekly video content on my YouTube channel now.

I said 2020 would be the year of video, and honestly it has been. I have over 70 folders in Dropbox containing one or more video files, and most of those were created this year.

I also made a course and published it. And I’m almost ready to launch another.

So, for those who’ve been waiting on that video content, just know that there is plenty already, and more is coming.

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I Hate Boring Webinars

I Hate Boring Webinars

There are few things triter in business than a webinar selling users on a course.

To be fair, the formula works. And you don’t even need to be an amazing communicator. You just need a webinar and a course to sell to people.

The content of the webinar doesn’t even matter that much. You could throw together your slides in maybe 20 to 30 minutes or less, and not even practice your presentation before going live for the first time.

Just make sure you throw around the term “secrets” and don’t reveal those secrets until later in the webinar to make sure people keep watching to the end. Otherwise, you don’t make any sales.

Pepper in a few “I’m not trying to sell you anything…” drops, and you should be good to go.

Long Introductions Are Poop Droplets

Presenters seem to think we might be interested in everything they’ve ever done, and all the great things they’ve accomplished in this lifetime.

Sure, we do need to get a sense of who you are. But do you really need 30 to 45 minutes to share about yourself?

If you’re spending more than a few minutes on this, you’re clearly there to talk about yourself and have no interest in helping viewers achieve anything.

Your Results Are Not the Reason I’m Tuning in

I think webinar hosts often forget that the reason people tune in is because they want to get something for themselves. Not because the teacher or her students have gotten amazing results.

Sure, go ahead and share what you and others have accomplished if you must. I get that it builds credibility.

But if you’re spending more than a few minutes on this, you’re just pleasuring yourself.

I’ve got it man. You’ve accomplished something and so have others. That’s why we’re watching you. Before we develop an inferiority complex, get to the point!

Webinars That Teach You Nothing? Butt Juice!

Why does it seem like I never learn anything on webinars? It seems like marketers forgot that there are two pieces to this – web and seminar.

A seminar, by definition, is a form of academic instruction. Meaning sharing information is generally part of the deal.

I’ve heard known marketers proudly proclaim, “The reason I was able to grow my new blog so fast? Because I have a big social media following!”

That’s not the secret. The secret is how you got the social media following. That’s what we need to know because that’s what you have that we don’t have, clearly.

Where’s the Beef (Value)?

If you can’t communicate the value of your webinar, it’s just a sales pitch plain and simple, and you should probably call it that to avoid false advertising.

Getting your users quick wins seems like a good thing to aim for, considering you’re probably going to be talking for the next 30 to 60 minutes.

When your viewers get quick wins, they get hooked and want to stick around. Instead of feeling obligated to hang onto the end because they put your webinar in their calendar a week ago.

Value, rather than selling, should be the beef, don’t you think?

Value, rather than selling, should be the beef, don’t you think? Click To Tweet

Lies Aren’t Cool, Bro

I was on a webinar today, where the presenter clearly ignored my comments and questions… until I realized that the webinar probably wasn’t live and I was watching a replay.

Which is fine. You’re allowed to reuse content. But it’s not cool if you don’t let people know in advance.

Even tackier was when the host said, “We’re having some technical issues and I’m probably not seeing all your questions – just send me an email with your question and I will answer it.”

If it was true, it makes him look like a superhero. If it was a lie, it makes him look about as slimy as all the other guru marketers out there.

Webinars, Final Thoughts

To be fair, I’m probably not the target market for webinars. I will poke holes in them all day long, given half a chance.

I’ve spent far too much time digging into marketing and entrepreneurship to not be acquainted with most tropes and trends.

And I understand that many people follow a formula. Because it works. Don’t change on my account.

I just think it’s tacky how some do it. It seems to me authenticity would work just as well. If I’m wrong, tell me.

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Stop Trying to be so Clever in Your Selling

Stop Trying to be so Clever in Your Selling

Cheating people out of money might feel good in the short term.

But in the long run, it’s sure to result in complaints, returns, and exchanges.

In matters of business and relationships, my mentors always told me:

What you win them with is what you win them to.

If you win people over with your clever schemes and copy, then it’s only natural that you’re going to see people leave in droves.

Sure, some will stick around. And maybe you’re counting on a high turnover rate.

But is it worth gaining a negative reputation over? And is it worth putting so much time and effort into appealing to the lowest common denominator?

Yes, it does depend on who you’re selling to. Your audience matters. Entrepreneurs, for example, appreciate when sellers get to the point instead of delivering a 30-minute spiel.

But if you’re going to win people over with your clever schemes, they’re liable to turn them around on you. Then you stand to lose something too.

Clever marketing tactics reek of desperation. They tell people that you’re probably just in it for the money. They tell people that you’re probably not legit. Just that you could afford YouTube ads.

Instead of trying to skip steps, earn credibility with others. Get their permission to market to them. Then, let them know of what’s available and why they’d be missing out if they didn’t buy.

Honesty, integrity, and authenticity are appreciated more today than you even realize. And even if it doesn’t lead to immediate profit, it will lead to better results long-term.

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Publishing Daily is Not a Decision

Publishing Daily is Not a Decision

I’ve shared about the fact that I’ve been publishing daily since the end of July.

And if you’ve been keeping an eye on my Medium feed, then you already know what’s up.

But why prioritize publishing? Don’t I have better things to do? Don’t I have higher priorities?

Here’s why I’m publishing daily.

I’m Sharing My Story

We’ve all got a story to share.

I’ve experienced all kinds of things in this lifetime – major earthquakes, the death of my father, writing five books, and a great deal more.

There’s no value in a story never told. But there’s always value in stories shared, even if they only ever touch, move, or inspire one person.

Stories can be instructive, insightful, entertaining, educational, and more.

My story may never be told to large audiences. But if some aspect of it resonates with a few people, that’s more than enough. And if it can make their lives better, nothing could possibly make me happier.

I’m Putting What I Know into Practice

Author of Show Your Work! Austin Kleon suggests artists set up a website with a custom domain and blog every day about their creativity.

Author Seth Godin talks about showing up. And true to his word, he shows up daily. Publishing daily is not a decision for him (more on that later).

Marketer Russell Brunson claims publishing daily will solve all your business problems. I don’t know whether that’s true, but I do like the sound of it.

So, I’m putting something I know to do into practice. Because I’m an artist. And love creating. And I can’t imagine not creating.

I need a portal where I can share everything I create. That’s what this is.

I’m Documenting My Journey & Answering Questions

Hopefully, by documenting my journey and answering your questions, I’m adding value to you. That’s the idea, know it or not.

I can gather that you’re not going to read everything I publish. That’s a given.

But publishing daily gives me a presence. So, you’re less likely to forget about me completely.

And if I’ve added value to you, you’re likely to return for more.

It’s not strictly about building traffic or a following, though that might be a desirable byproduct of publishing daily.

It’s just a way of saying “this is what I’m doing – if you want to, you can do it too.”

I have a vague sense of my purpose in this world, and that’s to inspire people. But you can’t be inspiring without being inspirational. And that means showing up and doing the work.

Being prolific or not isn’t the point. Because I’ve written a few garbage stories since I started publishing daily.

It’s about being available. Being a source of information. Helping people see new possibilities.

I’m Sharing My Works

I have many creative works I think are worth sharing, and many people don’t know about them.

I’ve written five books.

I have two albums, two EPs, and six singles.

And I also have eBooks, courses, a YouTube channel (or two), a podcast, and more.

These things are worth sharing. Not in a “look at me – I’m awesome” kind of way. Not even in a “buy all my stuff” kind of way. More in a “here’s something you might enjoy” kind of way.

Publishing Daily, Final Thoughts

Seth Godin often talks about the fact that certain aspects of his life are “not a decision.”

Each of us have limited willpower and it continually diminishes throughout the day. So, when he says it’s not a decision, he’s saying he doesn’t have to think about certain decisions in his daily life. He just goes and does what he’s chosen to do. This keeps his life optimized.

That’s why publishing daily is not a decision to me. I’m going to do it. And it might seem crazy, or irresponsible, or unreasonable, or unnecessary. The great news is I will enjoy myself either way! And I hope you will too.

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What’s the Best Funnel Builder?

What’s the Best Funnel Builder?

This question recently came through on Instagram:

Funnel question

It’s a great question. And if one person has it, there are bound to be others who are wondering.

Here’s what I see as being the best funnel builder.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

My Favorite Funnel Builder is 10XPro

You may not have heard of it. But my favorite funnel builder is 10XPro. And throughout this review, I will cover why that is.

10XPro

10XPro is somewhat of a newcomer to the space. But it’s clearly been developed by people who understand the needs of authors, course creators, membership site builders, and anyone who wants to set up funnels, webinars, launches, or otherwise.

If you’ve used other funnel builders (like ClickFunnels), then you understand their strengths and weaknesses well. I have experience with Builderall, Leadpages, ClickFunnels, and CartFlows (I compared some of these in an earlier post). I’ve even built funnels with a hodgepodge of tools (generally not recommended).

If you jumped right into using 10XPro, you would probably take some of the functionality for granted. But if you were to compare it against what else is out there, you would notice some clear differences.

Basically, what I’m saying is that it’s hard to appreciate what’s amazing about 10XPro without knowing some of the stumbling blocks inherent within other platforms.

Still, I will share what I like most about 10XPro. Let’s get into it.

What I Like Most About 10XPro

If I were to talk about everything you get with 10XPro, we’d be here all day. So, in this section, I’m just going to highlight what I like most about 10XPro and how it’s different from other funnel builders.

It’s Well-Documented

Going back many years, I used both Movable Type and WordPress for blogging.

One of the main differences between the two platforms was that WordPress had far more documentation available. Meaning if you ran into any issues with the platform, it was easier to find help with WordPress compared to Movable Type.

10XPro may be relatively new, but they’ve clearly thought this through. The platform is well-documented. They also offer great support.

10XPro documentation

Some of the terminology may take some time to get acquainted with. But that’s par for the course with any funnel builder.

It’s Easy to Use

Deploying a funnel (or campaign) within 10XPro is basically three clicks away from anywhere on the dashboard.

10XPro campaign

And they’ve got all the common funnel types covered – List Builder, Live Launch, Live Webinar, Book Funnel (one of my favorites), Evergreen Webinar, or otherwise.

Designing pages works much the same way it does with Elegant Theme’s Divi Theme (which is one of my favorites for WordPress). So does ClickFunnels, but it just doesn’t work as well. You’ll struggle far less with 10XPro, and you won’t even have to fuss over some of the technical details that get people tripped up in ClickFunnels.

It’s Simple, Minimal & Beautiful

Although I’m being blunt, this is the best way I can put it:

ClickFunnels is great for the user – not so great for the customer. The customer experience leaves something to be desired, mainly in product delivery. I’m not saying ClickFunnels doesn’t do this. I’m just saying it doesn’t do member’s areas all that well.

10XPro is great for the user and the customer. The default templates and designs are highly usable, and easily customizable. You can get everything on your site up and running without endlessly mucking about with templates.

Here’s what one of my courses looks like (minimal customization involved):

10XPro course

It’s Versatile

ClickFunnels is designed to help you build your funnels. And there’s no denying it does that one thing incredibly well! That’s why you won’t outright hear me saying it’s no good.

But it leaves something to be desired in terms of setting up a membership site or even a course platform.

You can do just about anything you want with 10XPro. You can:

  • Build a website with a blog
  • Create funnels (campaigns) with just a few clicks
  • Load up all your courses or member’s content with a killer member’s area
  • Create a fan club or membership site
  • Build a community forum
  • And a great deal more

With 10XPro, everything is built into one, simple, elegant solution. So, if at any point you’re looking to expand, or you want to build out your business, you’ll be grateful you went with 10XPro.

Downsides to 10XPro?

The only downside I can see is that some are going to consider its cost exorbitant.

10XPro price

I get it. There certainly are more affordable options out there. The question is – do you want to buy a Ferrari and have everything you need in one place, ready to go, or do you want to buy a Toyota, realize it doesn’t have everything you need, and get frustrated with all the workarounds you’ll be forced to employ?

Because that analogy seems to apply in full effect here.

Not to get too philosophical, but if we were to focus on the solution (what we want) rather than the problem (what we don’t want), then covering the cost of the software is simply a matter of getting to breakeven as soon as possible.

And you aren’t going to need many customers to get to breakeven every month. Depending on the product, you would only need one monthly customer (e.g. courses that cost $197 are relatively commonplace).

I know that it takes time to build traffic to anything. Trust me. My journey to 800 visits per month on Music Entrepreneur HQ was a struggle, and it’s well-documented besides.

But you’ve got people like me willing to answer all your questions. Which means, let’s face it, the deck is stacked in your favor.

Can I Use Another Funnel Builder?

Yes. Everything shared here is just one man’s opinion. You don’t need to listen to me.

For me, an elegant solution isn’t just one that’s powerful. It’s also one that’s easy to use. That’s why I like 10XPro.

If you’re happy with your funnel builder, there’s no need to switch.

If you want to explore other alternatives, you’re more than welcome to.

You can build effective funnels without using the same funnel builder I use. Different strokes for different folks.

Funnel Builder, Final Thoughts

When it comes to building funnels, the software you use will make a difference.

Some builders are harder to use than others. That makes delays inevitable, and frustrations a strong possibility.

Some builders aren’t overly customizable. Which can leave you feeling uncertain about your message and whether it will come across.

Some builders are missing functionality. And that can slow down your business’ growth and can even result in greater expenses (because of the need for additional software).

So, choose well. Choose something that allows you to get up and running fast so you can start focusing on the most important part – marketing and sales!

10XPro has got a 30-day trial, which is quite generous, so if in doubt, just take it for a test spin.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.

Get your copy of The Music Entrepreneur Code.