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After a year of “playing the field,” I’ve decided to break up with all but one of my “girlfriends” and fix my eyes on that special one. She’s really amazing, but I’m a little scared.
You see, a year ago, I set out to start three businesses. It was like dating three great women. It sounded good at first, but eventually I realized it couldn’t last.
Sharing my time wasn’t fair to them or me, for that matter. They were all jealous of each other and I found it impossible to make them feel special. It’s now time to say goodbye to all but one. I hope – no, I’m sure – I made the right decision.
Though I’m sad about breaking up, I’m excited about building a life with the girl of my dreams. She’s not perfect, nobody is; and I hope I’ll have some really good news to report back next year. It’s so exciting!
What’s Good for Me Isn’t Good for You
At the start of 2015, I set out to evaluate and start three new businesses. Despite my own advice, I fractionalized my efforts into three new startups and then into a fourth startup. If someone were to ask if I should start three businesses, I’d suggest they focus on one. In theory, that’s good advice if you know what you want to pursue; and it may be good advice if you don’t either.
But for me, I think I needed to explore and find my calling. I “needed” to research and try out more than one business. I didn’t have a passion or a single purpose which I could commit to, so I think I needed 2015. Though this was good for my case, I still believe focusing on one business at a time is a good idea.
If you don’t know what to do and you have the financial resources to sustain yourself for a year or more, then exploring your options may be what you need to do. It’s part of finding your “why” – which is one of the first steps in my Business Startup Guide.
Traveling Back In Time
In 2012, my primary goal was to accumulate as many active duty retirement points as I could – I’m a U.S. Navy Reserve Component officer. So, I accepted a position in San Diego for 11 months and then following that assignment, I deployed to Afghanistan. In all, this took 27 months to accomplish.
While stationed in San Diego, I started working on an online company to connect local service businesses with local consumers, but I had no idea how to get clients to use my service. Which is a common theme in all my businesses.
So, my research led me to various blogs and podcasts: that’s when I began listening to shows about business startups and marketing.
Life and education doesn’t teach aspiring entrepreneurs how to get customers – in real life. I have three degrees, and two of them have a business focus and neither of them teach essential small business skills. In essence, they teach you just enough to get a job, which is a common theme in almost all college education. They teach us to work for an employer instead of how to be a business owner.
Anyway, when I deployed to Afghanistan, I continued to listen to and find other interesting podcasts. I listened to a dozen or so until I settled on Pat Flynn’s “Smart Passive Income” and Amy Porterfield’s “Marketing Made Easy”. In time, I also found Michael O’Neal’s “Solopreneur Hour” and Chalene Johnson’s “Build Your Tribe” podcasts.
During this period I researched content marketing systems, such as WordPress and Drupal, but the internet connection was so slow that it took months to look into. The best thing about podcasts is their ability to download when one’s sleeping. Podcast were made for deployments!
One caution when listening to podcasts: be careful what you listen to. Just like what people say about friends, you can tell someone’s future by the friends they associate with. That goes with podcasts, except they are often lacking in the depth and experience one needs to start successful businesses, initially.
Redeployed and Ready to Go Into Business
Upon redeployment to the States and demobilization, I was set on starting a business – but which one? I didn’t know what to start and since I was listening to podcasts and reading their blogs, I decided I’d start a blog to chronicle my startup activities. Read the article that explains why I started Free-Market Startup, “Deployed to Afghanistan: An Epiphany About What America Used to Be and Needs to Be.”
I wanted to do a podcast, so I attended the inaugural Podcast Movement conference. I had plans for a Podcast similar to this web site, but was talked out of it by relatives and friends. Eventually, I started Astounding Talk Radio podcast, because I didn’t ask anyone what they thought. I produced six podcasts and abandoned it. It was a podcast that explored everything from current events to business. Though it had potential, it needed to be more niche. It was too general to really draw an audience.
By the way, unless your friends are the positive, supportive type, don’t ask them about your startup idea. They are not knowledgeable enough to give advice, yet they freely do. Do your own research and keep your entrepreneurial ideas to yourself. In many instances, if you listen to them, you’ll go back to working for an employer in short time.
Podcast Monetize Challenges
Monetization has always been a challenge, especially for a podcast. At Podcast Movement, I learned that advertisers pay something like $15 per thousand – which is CPM or Cost Per Thousand. Think about it, 20,000 average downloads would generate $300, per episode. That seemed monumental, given the small number of downloads I got. So, after deciding that it would take forever to grow an audience, I abandoned it.
At Podcast Movement, a couple of speakers explained the purpose of podcasts that, though obvious, didn’t register with me at the time. They are generally one of many marketing channels businesses use. Some are a business of their own, such as National Public Radio or The Glenn Beck Program. Their purpose is to entertain or inspire and they garner a large audience, which companies pay to advertise on.
For most of us, we use someone else’s advertising channel, whether it’s Google or the local newspaper or radio station. For a select few, they create their own advertising channels though most still need a platform, such as iTunes or Stitcher to work on.
I always intended to produce a Free-Market Startup podcast, but it turned out to be just another “thing” to distract me from my efforts.
Your Start-Up Test Pilot
A year ago, I set out to chronicle my entrepreneurial antics. I hoped to eventually become an expert in it and help others while growing the businesses I seeded here. If you read the article why I started Free-Market Startup, it makes sense. My purpose is to both teach and do. I want the success only a business can provide and I want other Americans to do that as well.
In fact, I’m tired of the socialist and neo-communists telling us that capitalism is bad – especially since every country in the world that embraces it succeeds and grows to astounding heights and every country that fights against it fades into totalitarianism, chaos, or at best, mediocrity. Here are a few examples: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Russia, today), New Zealand, Venezuela, China, Brazil, and Greece. Look up a few of these countries and see which ones succeed and failed. Find the ones that abandoned the free market for socialism and killed millions of their own citizens for a social theory. Which ones abandoned socialism and grew to imaginable heights with more personal freedom? Which ones are at best mediocre?
So, after a year of “finding myself,” I’m now ready to focus on two sectors: business education and real estate.
Real Estate as a Business
It’s been difficult finding something I want to pursue. I’ve decided real estate will be the core business. The one I’ll focus on this year.
Real estate caught my eye many years ago and ever since I had an interest in it. It doesn’t mean that I still don’t have affection for my other sweethearts (other business ideas), it’s just that I have to commit to one. Hum, that sounds like good dating advice, too!
Anyway, I’ve dedicated 2016 as the “Year of Real Estate.” I will focus my interests and efforts on this one sector and develop cash flow and sustainable businesses around it.
This is despite reservations about the economy. I keep seeing storm clouds ahead in real estate, but I’ll attempt to use my piloting skills to avoid the bad weather along my flight path. Hopefully, I will not be taking my “date” up for a flight for a mountaintop picnic and run into inclement weather!
Buying and Selling
I’ll focus 2016 on finding “flipper” properties and representing clients in buying and selling. Up until now, I’ve used my real estate license for my own buying and selling. I’ll continue that use, but will expand into more “typical” brokerage or agent work. This will encourage me to follow the real estate market and create cash flow as well.
Real Estate Education
I’ll also develop online real estate training programs. I plan to use podcasting as an exposure channel, which will provide 10 or 15 minutes of free FSBO information three times per week. The information will be sufficient for listeners to pull together a marketing plan to sell their home without a real estate broker. It will have information on marketing, advertising, negotiations, the housing economy, and more. For others that want a training program, I’ll offer a video-based training
In later years, I plan to pursue a physical products business. But, for now, I’ll leave that business on the table.
Free-Market Startup’s credibility depends on my other businesses. The blog is supposed to chronicle my efforts and spotlight successful companies. To date, it’s been an obscure log of my efforts. It’s now time to focus on the spotlight portion a little.
What’s different this year? I’ll add a podcast by mid-year. In later years, it will train and more directly mentor aspiring entrepreneurs – but that’s later.
The podcast will interview businesses “who have already done it” and hopefully it will be entertaining and enlightening to me and the listeners.
Even though I demoted Free-Market Startup to more of a hobby, I will continue to publish content of my exploits; because, it allows me to think out loud and be more deliberate with my entrepreneurial pursuits.
I’ll Only Kiss My Sweetheart From Now On
Even though the allure of dating beautiful and enticing businesses is attractive, you can’t build a future on them. Yeah, I admit it. It was fun dating and learning about various “gals,” but some were so shallow and others were downright mean. Think about it, would you bring any of them home to mom and dad? You cannot build a future only on looks! She’s got to have substance; and I prefer to kiss only one girl – my sweetheart – anyway.