Why you shouldn't work from the beach
I was scrolling through Google last week and was searching for my Passive Income competition - almost without fail, they all preach the Passive Income dream as Working From the Beach!
My friends, this is not the central image we need of flexible work. This is not what we should have in mind when it comes to location independence or getting more done. And this image certainly has nothing to do with balance.
Just because you can work from anywhere doesn't mean you should work from anywhere. My Passive Income goals include having the ability to work from anywhere in the world, including the beach - however, the beach is a terrible place to work from on a laptop.
Beaches were made for sand castles, seashells, and checking out the hotties in bikinis, not for you checking your reports from your laptop. Beaches are there for us to contemplate the immensity of our world and to get lost in the beauty of nature. No one wants to see you check stocks while you apply sunscreen.
Sand and laptops, not a good mix, sun-cream will mess up your screen, and lets not talk about over-heating - you'll half your laptop batteries life.
So please, get your work done and then come outside to play with us. We really don't want to crack your screen with our football.
Even the longest journey, must start from a single small step ...
To many, success seems to come suddenly. When you observe others and what they have achieved you usually don’t appreciate what it has taken for them to get where they are. Ultimately, in failing to do this you also fail to learn what it would take for you to attain the same level of achievement and success.
But, if you take the time to truly think about it, you will find that success is usually only a small step away, yet despite that, it eludes most people. It is always so near and yet so far. Let me illustrate what I mean with a short story I found whilst looking for inspiration on taking small steps to achieve big goals.
A lesson from military school
As part of our military training in the air force we were given a very demanding assignment. We were put in groups of about 10 and taken to some unknown location far in the bush. After a few days of camping there and doing some military manoeuvres, we were told to head back to the base. Only this time we wouldn’t be driven back – we would have to hike back.
We had only a few things to carry - a litre of water each for the whole trip and an AK47 riffle with one round of ammunition.
So we started off that day at sunset, walking through the thick bush. Because we were using a compass for direction we had to walk in a straight line back to the base. Any slight deviation from the path and we would inevitably have gotten lost. That meant that whatever obstacle we encountered on the way had to be overcome. That straight line had to be maintained at all costs. Worse still, we had no light - we were basically walking blind in the moonless night.
So you could not see where your next step was going to land. But we had to walk fast. Our deadline was 12 noon the next day to be at the base - or else we would have failed the assignment.
So we walked through the night. There was no time for fear, no time for doubt. We had to do what we had to do. Our futures depended on it.
"Just take it one step at a time"
As I walked through that unknown and scary world one thought kept going through my mind…It was… “Just take it one step at a time. Doesn’t worry about what will happen later, just think about each step… one small step to success”… That was the idea I hang on to.
So with that I found some courage to get going. We moved on through grass as tall as giraffes and as tough as bamboo. Our hands were pierced, bruised and sliced as we searched around in the dark to make a path to go through.
We conquered what seemed to have been endless mountains on the way. The rocks were so hard on our tired feet it was as though we had no boots on. Our legs cried for mercy from the effort of climbing up the steep slopes. We had to keep moving… “small steps to success.”
Every now and then a dim light would appear in the distance offering some hope to find a village and get some water to replenish our fast depleting reserves. Only to disappear as we got closer. It was not on our route. Or perhaps we had had some mass delusion.
Take a break, if you must, but don't give up
Finally, we could go no further. The pain and fatigue was unbearable. We had to catch a nap – it was past midnight. One hour of sleep, all cuddled up like puppies for warmth, and then we moved on.
Soon the morning came. But there was no time to appreciate the sunrise. Our water was all gone and the day brought with it unbearable heat and nasty irritating little flies which were intent on getting into your nose or your ears. It was so hot you could feel the heat embracing your face.
We were getting dehydrated by now. It was so bad you could eat the salt off our faces. All the sweat had dried up. Had it been any other day I would have laughed out loud at seeing everyone walking round with a white powder on their face. But right then my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth and laughing was very difficult.
By now, everyone was wishing they had not had to carry the heavy AK47. It seemed to have gained an extra 5 kilos since we had begun. The straps had slowly dug into the flesh across the shoulders and the back.
Every step was accompanied by some pain in one part of the body or other. Every part of the body was crying out for attention. But we had to move on… “small steps to success.”
By mid morning we were utterly exhausted. Some dragged their riffles behind them like unwanted tails.
Others had taken off all they could for the heat. We were as dry and shrivelled as prunes. We were a sorry sight. But right then it was more about survival than about dignity.
Finally, a few minutes to midday…we arrived at the base. Only then did I notice how horrible I smelt. I had no idea I could stink so bad. But first things first despite the smell… water… food….and a bath…in that order!
The journey of a thousand miles...
So, you see, we took small steps to success all along that hike. Together, they added up to hundreds of thousands of small steps. But we might have chosen not to take the first step. We might have stopped at any point along the way. That would have meant that we would not have gotten to our destination.
There were also obstacles along the way. But with each small step they were overcome.
There were frustrations, fears and uncertainties. But with each small step they were crushed.
There was hardship and danger, but with each small step and focus on the desired destination it was conquered.So you see, success is no mystery.
It takes only one small step to succeed.
Because, as the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
Have you taken that one step today?
Minimum Viable Income
Let us talk about minimum viable income and everything that you should know to be able to afford to chase your dreams.
Starting your own business is for many people ultimate freedom. You get to set your own hours, all the work you do for you and your business and when you do things right there are unlimited opportunities. However, it is not all sunshine and butterflies. Contrary of traditional employment, entrepreneurship does not guarantee income.
Now, personally I am very enthusiastic about the online business model and I truly believe that you can create a full-time income with it. As much as we sometimes wish to dive in and focus on our passion, it is important to know what the numbers are that we are working towards.
It would be disappointing if you would have to beg to get your old job back.
The good news is that often this number is a lot lower than you might think, to make it even better I have developed an easy to use tool that gives you some quick information about your numbers. So let’s get started!
Minimum Viable Income – An Introduction
The key to knowing your magical number that you need to make to keep your life afloat is called minimum viable income. Minimum viable income means the least amount of money your business or side project would need to make in order to support yourself and those that depend on you.
Now minimum viable income could greatly vary per person. A student that lives with its parents needs less income to maintain their lifestyle than a single parent with two children. That is understandable and perfectly okay, it is important that you objectively look at your personal situation.
A keyword here is minimum, which means the most basic form of lifestyle that you and those around you can afford to live. Now I would, for example, wish to be driving a Ferrari now while starting my business, but that would not really qualify as a minimum requirement.
Often our fears, fears we won’t be able to live, fears we won’t be able to support those around us or fears we simply won’t have enough to eat, are holding us back.
Money should not be an argument to not get started and if you actually put a number on your fears you will find that the number is much lower and easier to work with. Yes, you probably will have to cut some corners here and there, but that is a small price to pay (or not) to chase your dreams.
Calculating your Minimum Viable Income
In order to calculate your minimum viable income, there are a couple of steps that you should take. Below we will discuss all the required steps.
Determine Fixed Costs
Your fixed costs are all the expenditures that you have to pay each month, this is always a fixed amount. Examples include mortgage/rent, insurances, tuition fees, loan payments and bills such as electricity, cell phone, internet and cable.
Take some time and write down all your fixed monthly expenses, you can fill them in directly into an Excel file. You can also simply write it down on a piece of paper.
Determine Variable Costs
Variable costs are all the expenses that are not fixed but that you are required to pay for, your groceries are a good example. You can also approach your variable costs by setting budgets or maximum amounts that you can spend on certain categories.
Run the calculations
Now that you have written down all your numbers it is time to check the final calculations. If you used the sheet I prepared this will be done automatically, otherwise you might need to add some quick formulas. Your total expenses number is the number you will be working towards.
Check your number, is this more or less than you expected? How much money do you have left in your current situation and do you see any potential areas where you could save money? These are important questions to ask yourself now.
Tighten your belt, how far are you willing to go?
Changes are that the number that you have calculated is not the minimum number, more likely this is the number of your current lifestyle. In an ideal world, this number would suffice, you start your business, you make ends meet and that marks the start of a successful entrepreneurship story. However, changes are that in the real world things might go differently.
Minimum viable income is all about finding your absolute minimum, what is the lowest number you could work with. This is all a matter of how far you are willing to go, some entrepreneurs move back in with their parents, some stay with friends and some even live out their car.
I am not saying that you should, but you should figure out what is in your situation, the absolute minimum you require.
Making ends meet is easier than you think!
Now say that you have calculated your numbers, you have objectively assessed your financials and determined that your absolute minimum totals to £2,000 per month. Next step is to determine how many of whatever it is you are selling you need to sell to make your number, it is easier than you think.
Say you sell eBooks and the profit you make per book is £15, that means you need to sell 134 books per month to make your number, which is approximately 4,5 book per day. That is not impossible if you have taken the time to organise your business in the right way.
Say you sell courses and the profit per course is £200, not taken into account the time you spend to create this course. To make your magical number you would have to sell 10 courses per month, again not impossible.
If you know your magical number, your absolute minimum viable income, you can start calculating how many sales or referrals (if you are into affiliate marketing) to make your number. Often it is much easier than you imagined. If you do not put a number on it, you do not know, after you set the number and the target, all you can do is make it work!
What if you are not making your number?
Entrepreneurship comes with many uncertainties and it is likely that it takes time before your business starts generating the money you envisioned. Below I will share some tips and tricks that you can implement if you are not yet making your minimum viable income and how you can be independent faster.
#1 Save up your runway
A popular term in entrepreneurship is runway, in other words, how long of a runway can you afford with your savings. Say your minimum viable income is £2000 and you have £ 10,000 in savings, that would mean that your runway is five months.
Saving up enough money before you start your entrepreneurial life is not a guarantee of success but it certainly helps you to focus on your business.
#2 Supportive spouse or partner
Does your spouse or partner has a steady income and does he/she support you in chasing your dreams, a supportive spouse can add that extra financial security that you might need to build a business. It is important to go into this with mutual understanding.
#3 A regular job
There is nothing wrong with having a regular job aside from starting your own business. Having a job would provide you with the financial security and puts less stress on making things work as soon as possible with your business.
#4 Part-time work
Working part-time frees up more time in your schedule and gives you financial security. If you do not want to work full-time because setting up your business is too time intensive, working part-time might be more suitable for you. Having a steady side stream of income takes off some of the pressure to make money as quickly as possible with your online business.
#5 Go freelance
Working freelance provides you with the opportunity to already work in the field of your business. Are you setting up an online design agency, it is great to start building a portfolio by doing freelance work. It helps you to create an additional income, polish and build on your skills while also building your personal business.
Managing your financials and knowing your minimum viable income is a vital step when it comes to building a successful business. Using this simple exercise you will gain the required insights of the numbers that you need to make to be able to live off your online business.
How did you start your business and how did you figure out your minimum viable income, let me know in the comments below! For now all the best and stay awesome!
You’re Being Lied to: 5 Myths You’ve Been Told About Making Money Online
When it comes to making money online, you’re being lied to! Why? Because there is more short-term money in lies than there is in truth.
So, how do you know what is myth and what is truth?
Here are 5 of the most common myths about making money online and how you can avoid them:
Myth #1: You Have to Have the Perfect Idea to Get Started
Perhaps the biggest myth holding people back from pursuing their dreams and building a consistent stream of online income is thinking they have to have the perfect idea.
That somewhere there is a veritable pot of gold just waiting for them to stumble upon it and make them rich.
The problem? It’s a pleasing fable.
Thinking that you need to have the best idea, the perfect plan, will always keep you doing nothing and never reaching your goals.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Marketers pray on this myth by selling you a product, course or e-Book designed to “make you rich” and give you the life you’ve always dreamed of.
The problem? You buy it and it falls horribly short of the promise.
Why? Because there is no perfect idea. There is no perfect method of generating income online. It doesn’t exist.
Granted some ways are better than others but even bad ideas can make a lot of money. I’m not saying forget the research and just go with the first thing that comes into your mind. I’m saying drop the pot of gold idea and start something geared towards the long-term instead of the short-term.
Many times online businesses fail because they were expecting instant rewards, an overnight success and when that doesn’t happen, they simply give up.
Which leads us to Myth #2:
Myth #2: Making Money Online is Easy Work
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It may sound nice to only work 4 hours a week and make passive income while you sleep, but the reality you don’t see and often are not told is that it takes hundreds of hours of work to get there.
Some paths to success are shorter. Some are longer but all require hard work and unflinching dedication.
You want to make money online? You have to put in the work.
Are there tips and tricks and strategies to help you work more efficiently? Absolutely! But it all boils down to how hard you want it and how much you’re willing to work for it.
Also, you have to be willing to change your thinking. Some markets and ideas simply will not make you money no matter how much time you put into it.
There may be 100K – 1M people searching for “How to Make French Toast” each month but that doesn’t mean you can start a blog or niche site about french toast and be profitable.
Read the market, do the research and then give it all you have!
Myth #3: I Must Reinvent the Wheel to Make Money
This myth states that you have to be worlds above your competition to make any sales or drive any traffic to your website or product.
The truth? It’s a myth!
You have to differentiate yourself from your competition and put your own style and spin on it but you don’t have to be the next Albert Einstein to be a success.
Being better than your competition gives you the edge however do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to invent the next light bulb to be successful.
Remember, it is far easier to outsmart and out-market your competition than it is to outdo them.
Myth #4: There’s Too Much Competition
At this point in time the internet is so gigantic that there will be competition for every single idea you can ever imagine.
To that I say, so what?
Trying to compete with Wikipedia would be foolhardy but the truth is, if there is competition in a particular space or market, you can enter that space and create a profitable business.
It may take more time and require much more work than a smaller niche would but the rewards and potential are exponentially higher.
Competition should be a gauge to determine how difficult it will be to make entry into the market. It defines your marketing and traffic-building strategy.
Can you compete with Amazon or Google? No!
Why would you want to? Why compete with the big players when you can use them to your advantage?
You can make thousands selling products on Amazon or partnering with them as an Affiliate. Likewise you can make thousands ranking your website on Google for a hot keyword.
Use them to your advantage. Don’t try and outdo them!
Finally when it comes to competition, any niche or market where there is no competition at all there is usually a reason. Competition tells you without a doubt that it is profitable!
Myth #5: It’s All a Scam and Not Worth My Time
Perhaps you’ve been burnt by a get-rich-quick scheme and now you see every piece of information online as a scam. The truth is there are millions of scams out there but there are literally millions of legitimate ways to make real sustainable income online too.
Be sceptical, ask questions, do your research and learn as much as you can. There is a wealth of great information out there if you can fight your way past the crap.
And that is why I started this blog: to help you fight past the bogus crap out there to see what it actually takes to make money online.
I won’t promise you riches or that it will be easy. If you’re looking for a get-rich quick scheme then you’ve landed at the wrong blog.
But if you’re looking for the cold hard honest truth about generating a sustainable income online, you may want to stick around.
Perhaps you’ve read down to here and thought, what now?
Take action on something. If you have no clue how to even get started then stay tuned as I have a lot of content coming soon.
It’s up to you now!
The Value of Ideas
Every week I receive emails from people who tell me their ideas for new websites, businesses, or organisations they’d like to build. Usually they ask me for feedback on their ideas, implying that their ideas have some intrinsic value. Occasionally they want me to invest in their ideas, either financially or by putting in some of my time and effort.
I recall a similar experience while running my computer games business. People would send me their ideas for new games, asking me what I thought the ideas were worth. Some wanted me to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) just to hear the idea because they were worried I might steal it. I still get a few NDA requests today. I simply disregard such requests. If people are paranoid I might steal their ideas, it’s best they keep the secret to themselves.
I generally tell people that their ideas are worthless. Good ideas are a dime a dozen, and even that price is too high.
Generating Good Ideas
Coming up with good ideas is easy. This includes ideas for new websites or businesses. Anybody can generate good ideas.
One technique you can use is to simply brainstorm a list. If you write down 20, 50, or 200 ideas for anything, chances are you’ll come up with a few gems. You probably have a decent flow of good ideas popping up at random times too, such as while showering or exercising. You certainly don’t have to be a genius to come up with good ideas.
Do you honestly suffer from a shortage of good ideas in your life? It’s more likely you have the opposite problem. If you had to decide between gaining 5 great new ideas vs. successfully implementing 5 ideas you already have, which would you choose? I’d much rather have the implementation.
If you truly feel deprived of ideas, you can get as many as you want for free. Just ask other people. In January I asked for suggestions for future 30-day trials and got more than 100 suggestions, far more than I could possibly implement. If you want more ideas, just ask around. A small percentage of those ideas will be useful.
The Value of Implementation
The real value of any creation is in the implementation, not the idea.
Do you really bemoan the fact that you didn’t think of some great idea before someone else did? Would it have made any difference if you did? You’re probably sitting on lots of great ideas that someone else is already implementing.
In the gaming industry, I saw several companies do quite well with ideas that were totally unoriginal. They succeeded because they had great implementation of those ideas. There are a lot of Galaga and Tetris clones on the market. I remember that many developers were disturbed by the success of these cloners.
I had an original game idea that I thought was pretty good, but it didn’t generate any income by itself. It just sat there on paper. It took months to turn it into an actual game, and the final product sold quite well. Some people assumed it was the idea that caused the game to sell well. No, it was the implementation of that idea.
Ideas are easy. Implementing ideas is hard because that’s where things get complicated. The devil is in the details. Turning something mental into something physical is often quite a challenge.
Sure there are exceptions, but even when people value ideas, solid implementation is still required to extract the value.
Making Ideas Concrete
Part of implementing an idea is making it more concrete, such as by creating a design doc or business plan. A structured document is more than an idea — it’s part of the implementation process. This is where you begin working out the practical details. If you do it correctly, this kind of work can really make you pull your hair out. But it also creates a lot of value.
For example, writing a 25-word, high-concept description for a new movie is pretty easy. Erin recently took a screenwriting class at UNLV, and she and I had fun cranking out several high-concept movie ideas in a matter of minutes. Even her instructor (an accomplished screenwriter) liked some of our ideas. But those ideas aren’t worth much by themselves. Turning an idea into a complete script is hard. Getting an agent is hard. Selling the script is hard. Revising the script is hard. Filming the movie is hard. Cashing the six-figure check is easy.
I usually have at least 100 good ideas on my “to blog” list. I add ideas to the list from time to time, and people send me more ideas every week, so the list never gets depleted. Keeping a good bank of ideas is trivially easy. Turning those ideas into helpful articles is the hard part. In the time it takes me to actually write one article, I could generate at least 200 new article ideas. It would take me about a year to implement the article ideas I could generate in a single hour. If these were books or computer games instead of articles, one hour of idea generation could occupy me with a lifetime of implementation.
Even when you’re dealing with flexible content like, software, music, or video, it still takes a lot of work to turn a high concept into something you can actually implement. A general idea for a new web service is largely worthless. But a few documents that include the technical requirements, market analysis, and high-level software and database design do have some value.
The more concrete your ideas become, the more valuable they are. The ultimate value, however, isn’t delivered until your idea is in some kind of physical form that can be shared. You might be able to find an intermediary who will carry your implementation the rest of the way, but you still need to take a few steps beyond the idea phase before such people will want to listen to you.
Focusing on Implementation
It’s easy to get stuck on the treadmill of idea generation (i.e. analysis paralysis), mistakenly assuming that ideas themselves have value. I often get caught in this trap myself. I keep trying to find more optimal solutions to problems when it would be faster and easier to just implement a mediocre solution and deal with the consequences. I have to remind myself that getting some value is better than none.
There are some situations where advance planning is critical, such as the $8 billion City Centre project being built on the Las Vegas Strip (the most expensive private construction project in the world). If they screw up the construction, that’s a pretty costly mistake. For that kind of project, you have to make sure your plan is very concrete before you start pouring real concrete.
In many situations, however, mistakes can be easily corrected. If you make a mistake in building a website, you can reprogram it to fix the mistake. If you move to a neighbourhood you don’t like, you can move again. If you get in a bad relationship, you can break up. If you quit a job and later regret your decision, you can find employment again. If you write a bad draft of your book, you can rewrite it. Sure there are consequences, but in many cases it’s not the end of the world if you jump to implement a half-baked idea. At least your implementation will still provide some value, and sometimes that’s good enough.
If perfectionism and obsessing over finding the right idea or the right approach keeps you paralysed indefinitely, but you have a mediocre idea you could implement right now and start enjoying the results, that’s basically a no-brainer, isn’t it?
If you’re not sure if you’re stuck in the idea phase, give yourself a deadline to start implementing your idea, regardless of how good it is. Deadlines are a necessary evil in many creative fields like movies and game development. Creative people typically hate deadlines, but without deadlines they’d rarely finish anything. They’d remain stuck in an endless loop of pondering new alternatives. What you release may not be the perfect implementation, but at least you’ll get it out the door.
For example, my website has a fairly basic design. I put together something simple and functional in order to get the site launched without worrying about perfecting it. If I were starting from scratch today, I would have done a few things differently. That’s okay though. At least I got the site launched, and I was able to adjust course along the way. The value is being delivered. Lots of people will look at my site and say, “I’m sure I can create a better-looking site than Steve has.” I’m sure they could, but did they already do it, or are they stuck in the idea phase? Are they already enjoying good results?
If an idea doesn’t quickly lead to its own implementation, maybe it’s not such a great idea after all. Maybe you’re over-complicating the idea to the point where it actually becomes demotivating. Can you define the idea in simpler terms, so simple that you can actually start working on it today?
If you implement a lot of so-so ideas that aren’t perfect, you’ll gain experience. You’ll probably learn a lot more than you would if you spent all your time perfecting ideas instead of taking action.
If you find yourself lost in a sea of ideas while lagging behind on the implementation side, work to shift yourself to the action side and see what happens. One of my favourite techniques for doing this is to have Action Hours or Action Days. I set aside a block of time such as an hour or a day to do nothing but implementation.
To kick off this period of action, I create a quick Action List. An Action List is a specific type of to-do list. It doesn’t include any items that involve planning, high-level decision-making, communication, or discussion. Every item on the list must be geared towards moving some project forward to the point of value delivery. This means each item on the list must shift a task or project further along the spectrum from mental idea to physical action.
Once I begin working, I tackle tasks in order, and I don’t stop to second-guess myself. I trust that the decisions I made earlier are good enough. If things don’t work out so well, I can hopefully fix them later.
What good ideas are you sitting on right now? What can you do to shift one of those ideas from your imagination into physical reality? Do you realise that your very best ideas are worth less than a single mediocre idea you actually implemented?
In the forum discussion, consider sharing your best methods for moving from idea to action. How do you get yourself to implement your ideas? How do you know when you’re ready to move beyond the incubation period and start taking action?
Our goal is to find multiple income streams, and the more passive the better.