Journal 17 – Validation: 3 Feet From Gold

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Gold Mine

The easy part of being an entrepreneur is dreaming. A close second is developing the mechanics behind the dream – the web sites, the podcasts, buying cameras and reading books or watching how-to videos. But, once you kick-off the business, the dreams come into stark contrast with the realities of the marketplace.

That’s where I am right now. Project 4’s validation hasn’t won out. In fact, from what I can tell, there’s not a demand for a for-sale-by-owner online training course.

Ever heard of the ol’ saying about the Alaskan or California gold rushes?  It’s said that the only ones who struck it rich were the mining suppliers.  You know, the hardware store who sold the the shovels, picks, and dynamite. The bars who provided the beer and dance girls to drain the pockets of the piddly gold the miners happened to find.

Sure a few struck it rich and they and other miners were vocal about it – didn’t they want to be a Rockefeller or Bill Gates of their time! They only heard quiet rumors of ol’ “Miner Jack” who lost everything except the clothes on his back and his best friend, Nelly, his mule.

I Once Owned a Gold Mine

This little saying has sincere meaning to me; because, I actually partnered in a gold and silver mine once. We all lost our proverbial shirts. We held on to our dreams just a little too long, thinking “just one more foot” or “if we just had another $50,000 then it would all change.”

The rumors of others who struck it big kept us going for a while. It encouraged us to liquidate our savings just so we could buy something else with more promise. Just  like the 1800s gold rush, the service providers seemed to be the only ones making any money. They’d say, “What you need to do next is…”

It goes like this. Expert “A” says, “If I were you, I’d go underground. Forget about drilling for samples. No one ever made any money just drilling holes.”

Then Expert “B” would say, “Don’t spend any more money until you have proof. That vein may go five feet and then end. It may only draft 10 feet and that’s it! I’ll tell you what, I’ll bring my drilling rig up here and we’ll drill five or six bore holes on and near the the vein and pull samples.” It shouldn’t cost more than $70,000 or $80,000.” 

Then there are the mining promoters. “We have a $100 million mine here, we just need investors to get it going. Look at our geological reports.” Forget that those reports are rarely definitive, especially if there are only a few bore samples. There’s no shortage of promoters: they’re the under-capitalized gold mines, the multi-level marketing scheme, or the online businesses without sufficient working capital.

The Parallels Were Always There

There are so many parallels to mining and business startups, especially for online businesses. If you think you have a great idea, how far do you go? How many experts do you listen to?

We love to dream of striking it rich. We invest in books, seminars, webinars, courses, and listen to every podcast, read every blog, and research every online business. In the end, we are victims of what we don’t know. Just like in mining, there are those that strike it big and there are those that invested everything only to wind up going back to the corporate grind.

Certainly, there is money to be made online, but there are so many variables that make that “strike” so evasive. Let’s take my last validation (see Project 4 and the last journal entry). I don’t know if my idea is really good or bad. Is my idea a dud because I don’t know how to market or advertise? Or, did it fail because, there wasn’t a market for my information product?

If I don’t get it right, I lose. If I stumble across some sort of essential method or just plain luck, I win. There are a log of entrepreneurs that accidently strike it rich and there are those that skillfully win. In both cases, I think planning and risk taking are often called success, just as much as they are called failure. Of course, that’s coming from someone who has failed, thus far – at least in the online marketing world. Though, I did okay with the house fip I did earlier (see Project 1).

So, where am I going with this? To date, I haven’t found the magic validation or online formula. As I said in a prior post, if I don’t win, was it because of good or bad content or from good or bad advertising or one or two of the four? Change the combination and one can find success. Then again, no matter how much you change that combination, a bad idea is just a bad idea.

What’s Next?

So far, my validation may be working. If my idea sucks, then the validation worked! But, advancing forward or re-deploying often comes down to our own life experiences. Life has a way of grinding the lense we look through. I’d like to think I have a positive outlook in life, but I also want to be realistic. However, in the past, I’ve taken the positive perspective only to lose more money pursuing the gold.

If my gold mine venture worked, I may be saying, keep going! However, the failure of the gold mine and the other online failures (so far) has me rethinking my current and next project. There’s a book out there called, Three Feet From Gold (Lechter and Reid, 2011). It’s about persistence and those that quit too soon. I could blindly follow the authors’ advice and keep going or I could (to mix metaphors), “cut bait” and move up the stream to a different fishing hole.

That’s a difficult question to answer right now. I’m inclined to believe in the validation step and move on. Isn’t that why all the “experts” recommend validating first? Isn’t that why miners drill for samples? What do you think I should do?

Talley Ho!


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