Many of us have the tendency to get distracted by the next shinny object that crosses our path. I know I do.
Many entrepreneurs (current and aspiring) share this common challenge, the challenge of being scatter brained at times. Our minds move at warp speed and sometimes there are hundreds and thousands of business ideas that cross it.
But what I want to focus on today is getting back to the basics. This post is focused on building a long term, profitable and sustainable business online within the expertise that we already posses.
This is interesting because many times we chase everything else except what we already have parked right in our backyard the whole time, and when we realize it, we kick ourselves for not having identified it earlier. Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist really drives this point home (highly recommended read).
For a business to be successful, it has to offer value to its constituents. What do people really want to pay for? They want to pay for quality, they want to pay for subject matter expertise, they want to pay for the best product or service of its kind that they can get.
As it relates to the online space, evolution in search engines is also favoring large, authoritative websites. And if you look deep within and honestly self evaluate, it is likely that you too believe that the best value you can provide the world is value derived from your own experience and subject matter expertise. I know I do.
Whereas in the past we may have chased the money (which is also important), it is time we contemplate how to create value in our area of expertise.
All signs seem to point to one thing: Build a long term and sustainable business around your subject matter expertise.
I really feel strong about this subject, and recently have started to feel even stronger after having some of my sites penalized by search engine algorithm changes. Have a read at my article on ProBlogger where I have openly expressed my thoughts on an expertise driven business.
The answer really depends on how you look at it. I can argue that it can be easier because you just have one business to focus on and therefore you are likely to be more calm.
On the other hand, it can also be more difficult depending on your niche niche. If your expertise is in a highly competitive niche, it may take a long time, a lot of effort and patience to see any results.
If your single business doesn’t pan out, you have nothing else to fall back on except valuable experience and lessons that you will hopefully apply to your next venture. When you have multiple businesses, you are diversified in some way from a particular business not panning out the way you hoped.
When you have a single business to focus on, all your time, attention and energy is focused only on that business, improving and expediting its chance to succeed. When you have many, you are spread thin.
When you are developing a business around a subject matter you know very well, it takes less effort to produce very targeted and high quality content. When you are pursuing a business purely based on keyword research or the need in the market place, you may have to put in some additional time, effort and resources creating the type of content that your target market would happily pay for and benefit from.
Similarly, there are several other variables that play into this discussion and both sides can certainly be argued very well. But here is how I am looking at it….
Most people work for a paycheck. There are more employees than there are entrepreneurs. Most wealth is still made in Corporate America (I will prove this to you factually / statistically in a future post).
With that said, you may already be content in your career. You don’t have to love your work, but as long as you don’t hate it you can enjoy a lucrative career in Corporate America as well. Having been exposed to that side of the fence, I know that many successful professionals just want that extra stream of income for that luxury car payment, that extra vacation home or an expensive hobby.
Some want the option to potentially quit and retire early, while others want the option to scale back and enjoy more autonomy. Then you have those that are looking to start a business to reduce their effective tax rate to get ahead financially.
With a successful career that takes up most of their time, most these individuals simply don’t have the bandwidth to play around with multiple business ideas simultaneously all at the same time. One of the most common questions I get from readers is how I am able to manage so many initiatives. Many readers simply cannot imagine themselves in my shoes because they have full time jobs.
The good news is that you don’t have to. For these individuals who may include you as well, who also happen to be the main readers of this blog, you simply cannot split your limited time across various initiatives and expect to succeed and remain calm at all times, at least when you are first starting out.
Don’t lose sight of your priorities. Why is it that you work so hard to begin with? Each of us has obligations and things we like to do outside of “work” such as spending time with our family and friends. Keep that in mind as you decide whether you want to focus on a single business at a time or pursue multiple projects simultaneously.
Having presented this scenario, it seems apparent that establishing an authority site is a simpler approach to both moonlighting and life. It appears more manageable especially as life gets busy. With just one business to focus on, one that you know very well, you can work on your business one day at a time, one task at a time, fully focusing on the task on hand at any given time and still be able to produce a quality product or service.
With only one business to manage, you will be part of a smaller universe of targeted forum, blogs and networks where you want to be in and not spread yourself too thin. You will have a handful of URLs and email IDs in your marketing spreadsheet instead of a mammoth database. The same goes with other mediums such as social media accounts, article marketing directories, etc.
As you can imagine, this trickle effect carries onto many other aspects of both business and life.
I recognize that the discussion above is much easier said than done for many entrepreneurs. If sticking to one project is not your cup of tea, understand that you can also succeed by dipping your feet in multiple ponds at the same time.
The trajectory and timeline of your success may look a bit different, but it is possible. I only recommend this approach for someone with enough time and experience under their belt. Otherwise, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, impatient and quit as a result.
A better way to approach it in my opinion is by picking a type or model of business that you can grow to a point where it is fairly self sustaining, allowing you to move on to your next venture. This is an approach I eventually adopted as I was building my portfolio of niche websites. This cannot be done for all types of business models and therefore has to be a conscious decision upfront if you know what your long term goals are.
Another consideration to take into account is leveraging the power of outsourcing to get things done in and for your business. Outsourcing is beneficial no matter what approach you take, but it is particularly more beneficial for someone who is trying to manage a full time career and multiple businesses on the side.
Many entrepreneurs shy away from outsourcing because of the added cost of doing business. However, if you look at what your true cost of outsourcing is after taking into account the income tax impact (at least for US Citizens), you will realize that the cost becomes a moot point in many cases.
I plan on dissecting this topic in detail in a future post, but for now this is how it boils down to in a nutshell:
If you are a successful professional and you have any bit of discretionary income (savings), outsourcing will likely benefit your bottom line because in most countries, income taxes are based on a progressive income scale. The more you make, the more you pay in taxes.
When you spend or invest in your business, you are allowed to deduct the expenditure as a business expense, therefore reducing your taxable income. When your taxable income is lower, a lower tax percentage bracket may apply to you. The percentage will also be applied on a smaller number due to your business deductions.
You will hear many entrepreneurs ask naysayers “would you rather invest that money in your business, or pay it in taxes?”
But more on this topic in a future post. This point is better demonstrated via an example equation.
Note that this is not professional legal or tax advice by any means. Always consult your professional.
One of the reasons many entrepreneurs pursue multiple businesses is because they want to establish multiple streams of income. I know I did and still do. But this doesn’t mean you cannot establish multiple streams of income within a single business.
In fact, when you already have a foundation, it is easier to feed off of that than to recreate the wheel. For example, when you are already getting hoards of traffic to your website, you can add another product offering and potentially increase your profits instantly.
I agree that it appears that you are less diversified when you have one successful online business as opposed to multiple websites, but you can create multiple streams of income within your business to mitigate the risk of one income stream drying up.
And because you put all your time, effort and resources into this single business, if your business takes off and does really well, then chances are that all your income streams within will become much larger than multiple endeavors may generate combined if you were to go that route. I know this is a hypothetical situation, but the comparison between the two routes you can take is very much realistic.
Another underlying and often underestimated factor is momentum. It is easier to build momentum in your business when you are focused on only one business at a time. When you have momentum, 1+1 starts to feel more than just 2. In other words, a little bit of incremental effort goes far longer than you may think.
If everything we have discussed makes sense so far, here is potentially how your cash flow portfolio can look like as a successful professional with a side business:
Note: You can live a very good life with only this stream of income. Many do.
I am not oblivious to reality and to the fact that not everyone earns a six figure income. I personally know families earning near the average household income who are able to establish some sort of a cash flow portfolio utilizing many of the same components you see above.
This is a big reason why I feel entrepreneurship and personal finance are very much interrelated. If you are not a student of personal finance, I encourage you to invest in your personal development as well.
But honestly, look at the sample cash flow portfolio above. Do you need more than that? You sure may want more, and that’s perfectly fine too. Just know that there is no hurry to get there, and that you can be fine with just income from your employment as well. This mind set will really help put you at ease and calm you down.
You are not racing against anyone. Your career is your bread and butter. Stop chasing shinny objects. Focus on your expertise and build a business around it slowly and steadily over time. Stick to it long enough and you will likely see some results.
And if you are a full time entrepreneur, the principles of this approach apply to you just as much – just take the job income out of the equation. You likely have a much better and faster chance of succeeding if you focus on one business and one business alone at a single time. Do everything you want and can for it until you can no longer do more or start to see diminishing returns before you move to your next project.
So how does this all apply to me? After toying around Ebay and an e-commerce business, when I first got started with an information based business model (informational websites), I used a program called SBI. You have likely read about this program in some of my previous posts.
One of the reasons I am a big advocate of this program is because in addition to just providing the website building and marketing tools, it teaches you how to build a solid, long term and sustainable business online based on your PASSION. This is what attracted me to it the most. Several years and websites later, I find myself having traveled full circle and land back to my roots.
If you have been following the blog for some time, you must have seen my post about establishing an authority site in a subject matter that I feel I am truly an “expert” in and where I can deliver maximum value to my readership. You can read more about this initiative on the Authority Site Duel Portal, where several other bloggers have also joined me in the journey as well.
Although I do own multiple other web properties, as I have written before, I don’t spend much time on any one of them. I also have Virtual Assistants who are helping me maintain those websites.
My new authority site is my primary focus at the moment and for the foreseeable future. If you are relatively new to the internet marketing world, I hope that this initiative will demonstrate that you don’t need multiple web properties to enjoy multiple streams of income. You can focus on one and make it the best of its kind and still enjoy similar success all while staying calm.
So no more getting distracted by shinny objects for the time being. Come join us in the duel if you haven’t yet. Don’t worry if you can’t find that passion or expertise. You will find it in the process. And if you don’t, you can always develop one. You will find your niche and there will be people who you resonate with who will gravitate to you.
If there is one thing I’ve learned it is that planned and sustained action taken over a long course does pay off. The key is to make progress and don’t let other factors overwhelm and paralyze you from moving forward. I hope this duel provides the push, encouragement, inspiration and support for those that need it.
And if you just want to follow each blogger’s progress and learn along the way, that’s fine too. I plan on discussing each part of the process in detail on this blog, including putting the website together from scratch.
If you are curious, no I am not using SBI for this project for three reasons.
But if you are new to all of this and don’t have the time or care to learn the technology part of doing business online, I highly encourage you to check out SBI. Either way, I am positive that this duel will give you plenty of take-aways to work with.
So I think we have finally come full circle here. This is a discussion I can keep going on about. I really didn’t think this post would ever end but here we are. If you are a scatter brained entrepreneur like me with lots of irons in the fire, hopefully I have made a compelling case in this post to focus on just one project at a time. I hope I have given you some things to think about.
What are your thoughts on this subject matter? Do you have any questions, concerns or reservations after reading my two cents on this topic? Do you plan to follow along the duel? Why or why not? Are there particular topics you’d like to see discussed in the duel?
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