Almost Famous: The Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made in Business (So You Don’t Have To)

If there is anything you pull from this post, it’s this: No matter how far you fall, there will always be an up.

Getting Too Comfortable

There is no room for comfortable people in the world of online business. There will always be a new, faster, more intelligent individual ready to take your place. You’re either forced to evolve or die with everyone else.

The largest mistake I’ve made is getting too comfortable with my work and websites. At its peak, one of my main websites earned a cool $1.5k between Amazon Associates, Clickbank, and Adsense. Once Google Penguin hit, things went into a free fall.

The culprit to my failure was feeling “okay” about not pushing out fresh content and building links. I relied too heavily on the big, popular posts to keep my traffic up. Likewise, the links I’ve built over the years were becoming less and less valuable in the eyes of Google but I didn’t feel the need to invest time toward new link building techniques.

What hit hardest was my involvement with Murlu. I felt so passionate when I first launched this blog but found myself troubled and burnt out. I couldn’t pull myself to push out new content, work with other blog owners, or get the big projects done. Now, Murlu is sitting at a shell of its former self because I’ve been so disinterested in the topics and community.

The Reality: I love the work I’ve put into my websites and the people that have become part of the community. I owe it to everyone for where I’m at today. The trouble comes from my own insecurity with my work (never feeling that it’s good enough).

The Takeaway: Keep going. You will have a time when everything comes into place but that doesn’t mean you stop to relax because that’s when your momentum turns backward. You need to create a schedule and strategy that will keep you moving forward without overexerting yourself to the point of burn out. Take mini-vacations and come back refreshed. Always learn something new. Grind.

Becoming Discouraged from Others Success

Seeing some 16 year old developer making a million dollar game or some senior citizen strike it rich with a basic idea will always be somewhat discouraging because you’re unfairly comparing yourself.

I hit a point where I felt as if my work meant nothing. I was stagnant with my earnings (comfortable) but didn’t see myself reaching a higher level because I gave myself the excuse that “these people already gobbled up the market”. But then, I see someone younger making major waves because they’re passionate about their projects.

You’ll read success stories and plant yourself in their shoes. For some, however, you’ll be discouraged by projecting yourself because you’ll take a look around at what you’ve accomplished and tell yourself it’s nothing. You use the success of others to justify not working toward the bigger goals.

For me, it was two sides of the coin. On one hand, I had been publishing income reports as a way to encourage people about what’s possible through online business. On the other, I would read reports from my peers and people I looked up to but it just seemed to pull my mood down. I felt that my work would never reach their level even though I had built something truly spectacular – I wanted something more and that discouragement made me freeze up from taking action.

The Reality: I compared my success too much with those of others. Likewise, I allowed my success to be a douche when it came to working with certain individuals. The combination of comparing yourself to successful individuals and beginners set me in a funk where I didn’t care for getting better nor doing the small interactions that is the real key to success (working with passionate newcomers).

The Takeaway: Never mind the bollocks. Realize that you have balls to go after your passion. Things take time to show the real fruits of your labor. Look at those above you as a friendly challenge and source of inspiration while those at a similar starting point in your past to be the next up-and-comers, the people you want to reach because they’ll soon be on your level (or greater).

Listening too much to the Ego

In Thailand, the country is predominantly Buddhist and so I found myself with a lack of ego, I felt at peace with the world around me.

However, back into the U.S., I got cutthroat. A different mentality. I wanted it all to myself whether it’s my free time or the income I was earning. Unfortunately, these actions allowed my ego to inflate and I quickly forgot what I learned while traveling abroad.

The unfortunate side effect of an inflated ego is that you begin to place barriers. You’ll even set up walls around the ones you love. And, in business, you stop caring about the people that helped get you where you’re at today since you’re not on their perceived level. I felt this. I let it get to my head. I stopped helping those that needed it most.

Once I stopped caring about the little guy, I found myself losing opportunities. I gave up responding to people because I felt it a waste of time. I saw myself as a player in the market. At the same time, I was a small fry to those above me so I hit a middle ground where I wasn’t helping the important people and was just trying to please those that didn’t mind me. All of this hurt my passion and drive.

The Reality: I’ve settled. I let my ego deflate. I’m back down to square one. I drove away too many people just to get some work done and I’m paying the consequences for it. I’ve been withdrawn from the people that matter just to get a pat on the back. Not anymore. In a lot of ways, this mistake has given me a second chance to be a good individual and now that I know the consequences, I won’t be making the same mistake again.

The Takeaway: Never allow your success get the best of you. At the end of the day, what matters most is your family and friends. Sure, you can buy more stuff but you can’t rebuild a friendship that you destroyed. Throughout all of your work, always make sure that you’re taking care of your mental well-being and that you remain humble.

Expecting Things to Fall in Place

There was a time when I thought I rolled over the bell curve of success and everything was just going to fall into place. I felt my momentum was strong enough to carry itself but … I was dead wrong.

I got too cocky when it came to landing freelance clients since many reached out to me. I denied work for those that needed it most because I was snotty about how much I’d make. I thought Murlu was just going to take care of itself because I “had done enough” to get traction; the same would have been said about my other projects.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Nothing is going to fall into place and if it feels that way than you’re not aware of the hard work you’ve done. The only time things “fall into place” is if you pony up and grind through the hard parts and when it does, it’s because you made it happen, not because of some luck of the draw.

I had pushed my work as hard as I could and told myself I deserved a break. I took too long. Things began to slip back but I couldn’t see/feel it. I thought I had built a brand strong enough to handle itself, that it would take me where I wanted from just done a few updates here and there. It doesn’t work like that, at all. The only reason why I got to where I am was from the relentless work I put in.

The Reality: Many of my business ventures and projects are performing at a fraction of what they were. I spent too much time away from the active duties. I stopped seeking new clients, writing new posts, and networking with passionate individuals. I now see that there isn’t a bell curve but a constant, uphill battle. It doesn’t matter how far along you are – it’ll always mean more work on your behalf.

The Takeaway: Never stop aspiring for greatness. Don’t allow a string of success be a sign that you’re doing it right because it could have been a fluke. Set your goals, reach them, and set some more. Never stop becoming a better individual even if you feel you’re out of time because the reality is that you’re just making busy work. Do the big things that matter, constantly.

Delaying the Bigger Wins

On the note about momentum, my greatest mistake was not going after the bigger wins when I had the attention of the community.

I have been putting off the creation of a premium product for years now because I never felt that it was the right time, I was discouraged with what others had been releasing since they beat me to the punch, and that it wasn’t good enough.

The thing that makes you stand out is striking when the iron is hot. I should have created products a long time ago so I had a direction. I found myself lost, mindlessly creating new blog posts, commenting, and going off on tangents just because I didn’t have something bigger and better to promote. What I should have done is launched a product six months after the blog started and used every post to solidify my expertise and generate sales.

The Reality: I let everything get to my head. I now know that I’ll always have a nagging feeling that “it won’t be good enough” but I now tell myself that it truly is since I have years of experience under my wing and I have the ability to offer something unique. After four years, I’ve finally found a direction for Murlu and that’s quite scary to say (especially when talking business).

The Takeaway: Never feel as if you’re not good enough. Get something out there even if it sucks because you can always make something better. Additionally, you’ll learn a lot more about what you’re capable of and what to do next time if you have something that will give you feedback. It’s rare that a business starts with a highly successful product – so why should yours? Keep making mistakes just as long as you’re falling forward.

Why It’s Never Too Late

It’s never too late to get started with an online business.

I don’t intend any of this post to paint a negative outlook for your online projects – just to bring attention to some of the pitfalls you may experience along the way.

There are some of you that will hit the ground running. You’ll find your success in no time with the right attitude and passion.

Others will find it difficult to overcome the initial hurdle but once they’re beyond that point, it’s just a matter of keeping the momentum and not letting their work get to their heads.

Everything is a learning experience and even when you’re low, it just means you have all the opportunity to get back up.

I’ve learned a lot over the last few years about online business but more importantly: myself. I wouldn’t take any of it back. Despite my mistakes, it’s made me who I am today and for that, I’m thankful.

Now, get on out there and start something. Anything.

10 Responses to “Almost Famous: The Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made in Business (So You Don’t Have To)”

  1. David Tromholt
    July 9, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Hi Murray

    You raise some very good points, especially

    “Becoming Discouraged from Others Success”

    I spend my first 6 months constantly reconsidering if this online business was even durable considering all the competition.

    Now, almost a year into my research & preparation for my own authority site (which I have not even decided a domain on yet, I keep changing my mind!! ), I instead fuel myself with others success stories.

    If someone have a great blog / community that they worked hard to build, and are at the same time making bank on helping others having success, with courses, plugins and what not – I feel happy for them.

    I realized that this business takes an incredible amount of work, and if someone has spend 10-14 hours a day 2 years in a row on building a successful business that helps others launch their brand, well then good for them and I’d rather use it as inspiration, instead of de-motivation – and perhaps even view the competition future business partners.

    Also, I refuse to believe that it has become much more difficult to make money online.

    I’d be very surprised if a statistic didn’t show that the seller vs. consumer ratio gab is getting bigger.

    More and more people are going online, and only a very small percentage of these people truly have what it takes to have success online (just like offline), which is passion, dedication, perseverance and many other factors.

    I think the costumer potential is only getting bigger along with the digital age and increased materialistic mindset the upcoming generations are growing up with (not necessarily a good thing for humanity I guess, but for a lot of entrepreneurs it is)

    “Keep making mistakes just as long as you’re falling forward.”

    Indeed, if you never fail, you won’t know what it takes to overcome and learn. Being afraid of making mistakes often stops people from doing anything at all, which is much less productive than actually taking chances and trying things out – which may or may not become a failure.

    I think most people don’t have the balls to test the deep waters, which is why competition is something I never worry about anymore, since I believe I have what it takes and I am willing to do the hard work, even if it will take me years before I become successful.

    Btw your website has helped me a lot. I purchased the Niche Profit Course through your blog, and I have not regret that for a second!

    I found you via the eBook cover tutorial you have on youtube, and that let me to Action Cover Pro, which I’m going to use for my future eBook.

    Your site has a wealth of information, it’s good to know that you got your passion back to where it started :)


    • Murray Lunn
      July 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      Hi David!

      Thank you for such an awesome, insightful comment.

      You’ve got a level head on your shoulders which is going to take you a really long way. I know there are days that it seems like the plans don’t come through but it’s all part of the process – giving up is 100% failure but moving forward always keeps your shot at success open.

      You touched on one particularly awesome point: the web IS getting way larger. Hell, just looking back at the 90′s, the Web was a fraction of its size now and each passing day has more and more individuals finding it. Couple in the fact that smart phones have placed the Web in people’s pockets, it’s only going to get bigger. There will be a lot of failure/success because of the numbers game but with the market as large as it is – you can’t not give it a shot.

      The best bit of advice I can give is simply this: stick in there.

      I’ve seen a lot of individuals give it up after just a year or two despite coming out swinging and showing some real promise. You’ll always have an uphill battle but it’s a battle worth fighting. You’ll learn more about yourself and business in this coming year than any other point in life. Big wins take big challenges. Even if things don’t work out exactly as planned, you’ll always be able to say you tried (and hopefully did it).

  2. July 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    Hey there o’l friend,

    You know we have a lot in common with it comes to online development. Since my mailing list hiatus, I have cut off a lot of ties with connections I have put in sweat and time to build just to finish the work.

    However, that departure also taught me a lot.

    It’s never enough.

    Dreams will always evolve.

    Inspirations has it’s time limits.

    Point is, what’s simple is true.

    After all is said and done, you only got what’s being acted on. Those small milestones are what keeps you going and on my journey towards blogging, I want to thank you personally for allowing me to network with a mastermind group, write for an article directory and even branch towards learning how to sell effectively online with Pawel’s group.

    If I have not thank you enough already, let me now say so … THANKS!!! :)

    Overall, these are all crucial actions which if I was just another bystander who read and commented, you would have thanked me for the kudos but no, what I did was took the inspirations, the lessons I’ve learned and even the ideas you’ve given me and made them work.

    And I’m amazed at the growth of bloggers who are now starting out online. Their development is much more rapid so there’s really no competition there. You’re always learning something new.

    In fact, fame is overrated. With the latest Google update, you know that those few seconds you had to ride that wave was real. Now it’s scooting over so that the next person can do the same.

    And it’s in this looking back that I find you can become your worst enemy but also know your true positioning. So you’re right, it’s never too late to start a business but it’s even better that you get an opportunity to reevaluate your direction online as well.

    Hence, I’m done with the e-course and am planning to launch it in the next month (fingers crossed). I miss the blogosphere and my time off allowed me a few lessons I would love to share too.

    Thanks for sharing this post Murray.

    May you have an awesome day!

    • Murray Lunn
      July 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      Hey Thu!

      It’s always a pleasure to hear from you – it’s been a while!

      Thank you for such kind words. I never imagined that I’ve made such an impact through the blog and other projects – thanks for letting me know – I don’t hear it too often :)

      I totally understand what you’re talking about. It’s quite shocking (and somewhat grounding) that if you take a break, the new generation is going to step up. There’s no real purpose to chase the fame and, quite honestly, it wouldn’t be fair if everyone just locked themselves in place because the new up-and-comer’s won’t get the spotlight they deserve. I can only imagine how many great bloggers got passed over because they didn’t get enough attention, became discouraged, and called it quits. The big time bloggers certainly have authority but the flame has already been passed. It’s going to take a leaner, more agile blogger and these big, established websites and blogs are going to settle down where as we come up. It’s all a process. In due time our work will fade out and be replaced but it will all be worth it because at least you’ve left some kind of impact.

      Best of luck on the launch Thu – I’m cheering for ya!

  3. Sandeep Kumar
    July 11, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Murray….
    I am speechless after reading your article……
    What I learn from your story is…always stretch your limits…don’t create a comfort zone othwise you will start moving backword…..

    Thanks for sharing your real life experience.

    • Murray Lunn
      July 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      Most definitely. You need the ability to see the box before you can break out of it but a lot of people just skirt along the edges, settle, and slip back inside.

  4. July 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Very valid points. I have not been that successful but I have tasted the fall.

    The second point resonates most with me. I used to quite competitive and had the cut throat mentality!

    Seeing some 16 year old developer making a million dollar game or some senior citizen strike it rich with a basic idea will always be somewhat discouraging because you’re unfairly comparing yourself.

    I have compared many times and have been so discouraged that I almost undone a lot of work.

    I just came started blogging and freelancing again after a long time and am enjoying it. Will keep your lessons in mind!

    • Murray Lunn
      July 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      It’ll certainly get to ya especially if you’ve done a ton of work into a post or product just to be overshadowed by another, bigger individual that comes out with something similar.

      I could go on and on about some of the stuff I’ve worked on, poured hours upon hours into, just to have it barely make a ripple then someone else covers the topic and gets all the glory. It sucks but whatever, the show goes on. The big point is that we can’t get discouraged from these type of events. Everyone’s unique and our success will be a mixture of hard work, persistence, and a tad-bit of luck :)

  5. July 19, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Yo Murray,

    Man, I really love this post. It is very honest and real. Just a few weeks ago, I had recieved some recent feedback from some people that allowed my ego to get a little big. I was talking with my father and he said to me:

    “Look, I think failure is something that you can deal with. I think your danger is in success”.

    I walked away from that conversation with my father blown away! He was right. I hadn’t even had big success and I already had allowed it to slow down my progress.

    It scared the crap out of me! I think there is a lot of power in the phrase “Don’t forget what got you here”. Everyday I remind myself of this. I have a long way to go before I consider myself “successful”. But even when I get there, I don’t want to ever forget what got me there.

    As a first time reader, your honest and sincerity in this post was very compelling. In the word of the Terminator – I’ll be back :)

    • Murray Lunn
      July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      Hi Izzy,

      Your father’s advice hits the nail on the head.

      Thinking that over, it’s incredibly to the point. It’s really easy to keep going when you realize your failures are part of the process but success really makes you stagnant, it really is the danger here.

      I did a post a while back that you may find interesting:

      Though the topic is on comments, the real underlying idea here is the ‘yes’ men in your circle. You get the ol’ pat on the back, atta boy, and your ego inflates because they’re reaffirming their idea of success onto you all the while you slowly lower your own standards.

      For the longest time, I had a number ($2k to be exact) that was my idea of success from doing this online stuff. Well, I hit that and got comfortable. I tried to ride it out because I was “successful” after all, right? Not really. Income began to drop and I froze up because I though I had it down pat. Nope. In the time that I was comfortable, I didn’t really strive to learn new skills, to pay attention to what was changing, or to look at the trends. Things have leveled out, there’s been some fallout but it was kind of for the best because it’s really leveling of the ego.

      Anyway, really keep at it man. Set up goals that are wildly out of reach so you’re always pushing hard to learn the skills that will get you there. Along the way, you may take a different route that has been revealed through your new skills – don’t be afraid to explore these ventures but do remember that you still have the big one to go after.

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