Business Opportunity or Costly Distraction?

When a newbie first enters the Internet Business Jungle, the choices and decisions can be overwhelming. One of the most important lessons to be learned is how to identify a real business opportunity and how to recognize offers that are nothing more than distractions that can pull them off course and result in the loss of  thousands of dollars.

The Shiny Object Syndrome

As you get more and more involved in your business, regardless of your area of focus – Social Media Marketing, E-commerce, Writing, Publishing, Virtual Assistant, Website Design, Affiliate Marketing, etc. – you will be bombarded with offers that promise to “help you be successful.” This was discussed in previous postings, but it is important to look at it again because it is a dangerous and enticing trap.

Possibly the most common distraction for people who are new to  the Internet Business Jungle is what Adam Short of Niche Profit Classroom calls the Shiny Object Syndrome.  In a recent blog, he writes:

Shiny Object Syndrome PosterIt symbolizes loss of focus and attention, and an attraction to every shiny, new strategy that comes along. This takes your attention away from following through with the strategies on which you are working.

Here is an example of the syndrome at work…

Let’s say you have two websites and you are working on linking strategies but you are getting frustrated waiting for your Google rankings to rise. In your email inbox comes another shiny, new strategy for you to try that promises to help you increase traffic. Due to your current frustration, you drop what you are doing with the linking and decide to give this new strategy a try. You are hoping this new “thing” will be a quick fix to your problem.

Unfortunately, this vicious cycle continues until one day you realize you have started tons of new strategies with no earnings to speak of. The problem is not the strategies; it is the lack of follow through required to make them work.

It’s important to note here that new strategies are always good to consider and they aren’t necessarily toxic to your marketing. These “new” techniques are only detrimental if they cause you to abandon the strategies in progress in hopes of something “better”.

The solution to this problem, or maybe I should say the preventative action to help you avoid developing the “shiny object syndrome” is two-fold:

  1. Choose one strategy and stay with it long enough to see results (a minimum of six months – preferably a year.) Do not allow yourself to be distracted. DO NOT “buy-in” to every offer that comes along just because it sounds good and you HOPE that the new offer will solve all your problems!
  2. Keep your long-term goal(s) in mind at all times. Goals should always be considered in the purchase of books, training programs, software, or other materials. If they do not tie-in directly with the accomplishment of your goals and the strategy that you are currently using . . . do not make the purchase. It will only be a distraction and take you off course. REMEMBER – the offer (or one very similar) will always be available if you decide you want to explore it in the future.

Learn to Recognize REAL Opportunities

It is easy to become so hyper-aware of dangers in the Internet Jungle that you fail to recognize real opportunities when they show up.

Keep in mind that all of the natives are not UNFRIENDLY; some of the lions, tigers, bears, and snakes can be helpful creatures; and there are medicinal herbs and plants as well as poisonous ones.

Danger and opportunity live side-by-side in the Internet Business Jungle. The key to success is developing the ability to recognize the difference between the two. You must be able to avoid the traps and being eaten alive; but you also want to be able to recognize the viable opportunities that fit with your goals.

Use the following questions to help you recognize opportunity and avoid danger in the jungle:

Is it legal?
Whether you are being asked to enter into a business agreement or to buy a piece of software, you need to know the laws and/or the rules and regulations that govern the specific situation. This knowledge will help you recognize a real opportunity when it happens…..and, they DO happen!

Is it real?
It is often difficult to get past the energetic hype and get down to the real facts of an offer. You must learn to Ignore the super sales pitch and look closely at the product, service, or offer itself. Do not be caught up in the wild promises. If it is too good to be true, it probably is. You are the only one who can determine what is real and right for you (at any given point in time), and what is a highly-polished sales pitch designed to trap the unsuspecting buyer.

Will it help me? (The most important question of all!)
Regardless of what you are considering – a seminar, teleseminar, webinar, buying a piece of software, agreeing to a business arrangement, or hiring a bookkeeper, ask yourself this question – and answer it honestly:

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#bf6017″]“Will this help me right now to accomplish my goals
over the next six months based on my current strategy?”[/typography]

In other words, is it a real opportunity or a money-sucking distraction? If there is any hesitation or lack of clarity in your answer, walk away and stay focused on what you are currently doing. “Maybe” is not a good answer.

Educate Yourself – Study, Listen, Learn

There is a good chance that you have been told all your life, “Get an education.” That is sound advice, but what they fail to mention is that every day you live is part of your education. Experience is one of the great teachers in life and is critical in this new business world.

There are always others out there who have information you do not have, or who know things you do not know. Those with experience have learned what TO DO and what NOT TO DO…. things you have yet to learn.

A formal education – college degree, advanced degree, or specialized training can be helpful; but, when you decide to start an online business, be prepared for the very steep learning curve you will face. You must be willing to educate yourself about how business is done in this new frontier.

To be successful, you need to set aside a specific amount of time every day to study – to learn something you need to know – something that will help you reach your goals… It may be about marketing on the Internet, using social media, how to set up a Website, how to write and self-publish e-books, or developing expertise in your selected niche. The list is endless and I promise you that the more you know, the more you will realize how much you don’t know! You must NEVER lose your interest in learning and the pursuit of knowledge.

Knowledge is power! Knowledge is what makes surviving and thriving in the Internet Jungle possible.

Plan Your Jungle Adventure

There is an anonymous quote that is frequently used. “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” I agree it is trite; but, it is also true. As I explained in the last posting, a business plan is vital to success. It should become a road map that you reference often. It will keep you on course, and ultimately take you where you want to go.

When developing any kind of map, you must first determine where you are right now – what are your assets and liabilities; what do you know and what do you need to know; and what is your ultimate destination?

If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? Your ultimate destination is your long-range goal. Make it as clear as possible and write it down. If you can’t see beyond the next six months – then set your goals for where you want to be in six months and begin writing your plan.

The next step is to identify the action steps that will take you from Point A to Point B to Point C, and so on, until you reach that six-month goal. The journey cannot be made in one giant leap. It must be accomplished a step-at-a-time. Each of those action steps must be written down as well. If you do not know what the first step is, it may be easier to work backward from the final goal. Use whatever method works for you – but write your plan! When you are nearing the end of the six-month journey, develop your plan for the next six months, one year, or three years (as far out as you can see clearly.)

Find a Jungle Guide

Having a road map (business plan) is great; and it is also incredibly helpful to find a guide. Having the combination of a road map AND a guide will almost guarantee that you will arrive at your destination without taking a lot of detours and side trips.

A jungle guide (or mentor) can be your strongest asset. If you can clearly define where you are and where you want to be, a mentor will be able to show you the most direct path to get there.

Well-seasoned and well-established Internet marketers, gurus, and experts can take a newbie under their wings, and guide them in making good business decisions that lead them down the right path. It would be wise to actively look for such a guide. Explore the options, ask lots of questions, and talk to others who have worked with the “mentors” you are considering, if at all possible.

Once you have made your decision about a mentor and his/her program – stay with it. Many years ago I gave my daughters a framed needlepoint that read, “Choose your love. Love your choice!” That statement can also be applied in this setting. Once your choice is made, stay with it – for at least a year. Follow your mentor’s lead. Work through their training. Apply their teachings. Find out what works for you and what doesn’t.

Do not get distracted; do not jump ship and grab each “shiny object” that comes along. Many of the available programs work; but only if you stay with them, study hard, and keep your eyes on the prize (focused).

You can do it and be successful if you are disciplined, stay consistent, and remain focused.

 

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