What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Business (FS016)

Some of our favorite indie entrepreneurs share their most important mistakes and lessons learned.

Flailing around, blindly trying this and that, praying and hoping for some traction.

That’s how I started my first businesses as a solo entrepreneur. That’s how many of us do it.

If you’d like to save yourself years of trial and error, listen carefully to this episode. We each share our answers to the question: what do you wish you would have known before you got started?

Through Caleb’s story you hear about going too deep too quick. Through Corbett’s story you learn his product/audience tip. From my story you hear about b*ttholes (and, weirdly, it ends up being a really important lesson… Corbett’s favorite part, in fact).

And we pepper the responses from some of our favorite solo entrepreneurs throughout to add a bit more flavor.

This is a good one. You’re gonna like it.


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I am hesitant to say, ‘Follow your passion,’ because I don’t believe in that. It has to be something that you are also good at and that the world finds valuable.”

Jeffrey Veen


Show Notes

The bulletin board in my home office (as well as the setup for recording the new podcast song).

Jeffrey Veen on The Great Discontent – the picture and guy we discuss in detail at the beginning. Highly recommend this conversation with Jeffrey Veen, Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.

Jamaican Dance Hall Music. :|

Alan Watts on Buddhism on passions“I promise to abstain from exploiting my passions.” Makes me think of my internet douchebaggery… wherein I try to ‘hack’ a passion to ‘turn’ a buck and ‘jack’ a profit.

Fred Wilson on TWiST – a great interview about business, entrepreneurship, angel investing, etc.

The Focus Factor™“I recently finished a project. I worked hard on it. I’m proud of myself and my team. But the most important thing about it was surprising. Watch the video and let me explain.”

Johnny Rzeznik – I couldn’t pick just one image. It’s all too great. More “z” in his name than you thought, right? And here’s the critically acclaimed music video from their chart-topping, heart-throbbing hit Iris. (how dizzy do you think he is spinning around that room like that?)

Top 10 Mistakes in Starting an Online Business“Newbies love to know which mistakes are common so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about things they wish they had known or had done differently.”

Right now it costs $1 to join Fizzle. It’s worth it for the brand new Choosing A Topic course alone.

How The Wrong Metric Sinks Your Business (& How The Right One Saves It) (FS011)“There are metrics that matter A TON in your business. However, you might be making critical errors about which ones matter and which do not.”

“Aw, that was deep” – The Official™ Caleb “Wahgick” Wojcik SoundByte.

CB’s Final Words.

Guest Answerers

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  • Donnie Law

    I love how you guys work together! THE BEST internet business building podcast. Great production value, insightful, and entertaining. Together you guys = more than the sum of the parts. I was seriously sad yesterday afternoon because I thought The Fizzle Show would be publishing another episode. I could go on but I don’t want to embarrass myself…

    • Chase Reeves

      Ha! Thanks man, means a ton.

  • http://commandyourbusiness.com/ Scott Fussell

    Gluten Free Crackers! Yes! Good job working it back into the show. Great episode as always. Is it really pronounced “Jiffs” and not “Giffs”? Man I have been so wrong all these years…

    • Chase Reeves

      Entire hemispheres have gone to war for less, Scott. I, personally pronounce it gif. (i.e., no official comment).

  • http://www.stockwarrantshq.com Steven Adams

    Great show guys. You had me literally laughing out loud. I absolutely loved the quote about destroying your passion by doing for income, or for a living. I completely identified with that and had not heard it before. A real eye opener. Thanks again for a great show!

    • Chase Reeves

      Awesome, Steve. Cheers, man.

  • http://www.bestcoiloverguide.com Teddy Porumb

    I laughed harder at this episode than any other yet. Just as much if not more value than usual, so worth my hour.

    And I hate going into cigar shops so much for the same reason Chase, somehow they can look at me like I’m such an idiot after I’ve been coming in to the SAME STORE for 2 years.

    • Chase Reeves

      Fk’n cigar shop guys, man. The worst.

  • http://nerdgap.com Brett Kelly

    I’m married.

    :)

    • Chase Reeves

      Nailed it. {snort laugh}

  • http://justadandak.com DK

    Lots of pearls here – many thanks gents – devouring the links and the wisdom… off to solve someones ass problem*

    *words I’ve never written before…

  • http://www.embarka.cl Robin

    You made some distinctions between job and career. And cause you laugh a lot, I thought you might like this video by Chris Rock on the difference between a job and a career.

    Great show – love that you do hit on “meaning” and “the why” and “how to find what it is you want to do” and many other sort of existential topics.

    Here is the link to Chris Rock’s video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3YWszftWWg&feature=share&list=FL35LMmP5XSHxHMZMKmVLtqQ

  • http://kimberlydhouston.com/ Kimberly

    Just listened to the podcast. Great business-building advice wrapped in a gooey, delicious entertaining package. O wait, is this a gentlemen’s club of some sort? I feel kind of out of place here . . . ; )

    • Chase Reeves

      We know! We actually tried to get advice from some women on this question but none were able to get on the phone in time.

      In all seriousness we’re very conscientious of the lack of female voices on this show and we’re looking for ways to get more insight from ladies in here. We’re still new… pardon our mess during construction :)

  • http://tradlands.com Jeremy

    I listen to this show and absolutely crack up at the jokes. My fiance thinks I’m the biggest nerd in the world for listening to this show (the only episode she listened to was the finance show which I forced her to listen as we drove across country).

    Some things I’ve been thinking about since I started listening and also about todays episode…

    -When Caleb talks I can only imagine that he is Brian Posehn. Caleb’s a gung fu man? Me too, JKD practitioner.

    -Chase and Jesus are now seeing other people. Awesomely funny.

    -As an ex-jesus person and now Zen practitioner I really appreciate the buddhist conversations.

    -I totally agree with the power of building your circle of contacts, networking, or just meeting people, smiling, and having a great conversation. I met Scott Dinsmore at a party in the SOMA recently, talked to Leo for a bit and thanked him for the work he puts out in the world, and built a relationship with a company who we (my company) will be doing something really big with in the next few days. And it was the result of showing up and meeting people and getting out of my comfort zone. And I really get that now as opposed to years prior of sitting behind my computer and wishing to meet people or wishing people would find out about me or my art (I did photography for a long time). I was so nervous and hands sweating before I approached either of them but I’m so glad I did.

    -Getting married next month, I can understand how it takes work to show up and be a great partner every single day. Or that’s how it is for me. I have to work hard not to be all the things that are difficult about me.

    Great show guys, I’m excited to hear each week’s new episode. Seriously funny and highly informative and educational.

    • Chase Reeves

      Wow, awesome notes, Jeremy! Also, can’t believe you’d force the *accounting* show on your soon-to-be wife!

  • http://kimberlydhouston.com/ Kimberly

    Well, ladies or no, I’m totally digging the podcast! I learn something worthwhile about doing business right every week. : )

  • http://www.radicalreaderchinese.con Kelby

    I’m three months in after launching my website. I sat down today ready to take notes on this podcast and found myself pleasantly surprised. While I thought I’d sit down and accumulate a list of things to start working on, I instead ended up with renewed confidence in what I’m doing (and a couple of things to work on of course, hah).

    I’ve been following the Fizzle Show and Think Traffic since before I started, and I’m proud to say that just months in I’ve made my first sale (my ‘thing’ is a beginner’s Mandarin Chinese guide for those who are afraid of studying Chinese characters). I in no way doubt that all of the advice I’ve gotten from you guys got me here.

    Thank you, sincerely, for helping me get started the right way and find some early success. I’m wracking my brain on how to keep getting better, so howsabout an episode on improving existing products? Lol.

    Fizzle show’s always a high point of the week!

    • Chase Reeves

      So awesome, Kelby. Congrats and thanks for letting us know.

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  • http://publicaffairsjobshq.com Tim Connolly

    Chase, Corbett and Caleb – thanks for sharing the Fizzle podcast. The most valuable element for me is just hearing from *people* who are a way ahead on the journey I feel like I’m on – moving from a salary to something else, by finding the right audience and making things that audience wants.

    Anyway – I wanted to share something on the debate between making a living from your passion, or making a living so you can protect your passion.

    According to the Work Foundation (respected British think tank) 47% of self-employed people in the UK described themselves as ‘very satisfied’ with their jobs, compared to just 17% of those in full time employment.

    That’s a huge difference, and I find it greatly reassuring as I battle with the downside of being the boss.

    Full disclosure – that fact is stolen from a book called ‘How to Find Fulfilling Work’ by Roman Krznaric – which is *definitely* worth reading – a short, subtle look at tried and tested approaches to work and happiness throughout human history. I’m not his agent or anything.

    Thanks again for sharing Fizzle.

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  • writeress

    I’d like to add another perspective re: *getting bored with your business* and your suggested solution that one ought to pick something one is really passionate about. This is a been-there-done-that view ;)

    I built a business from scratch with the vision of someday being the boss lady who sits in her office in the comfy leather chair all day and tells her employees and subcontractors what to do. As it turned out that wasn’t as much fun as I had anticipated it to be. I made a good living and could pay for college, but I started to resent it anyway.

    Why? Because that’s life. People grow and change and what we dream of right now may not be exciting to us 10 or even just 3 years down the road. And that’s perfectly fine, we evolve. While in college I started to make even more money online. And my activities there have also changed a couple of times.

    So here’s my hindsight advice: Prepare to be successful, get bored, sell your business, get excited about the next thing … rinse and repeat. Many of us consider this to actually be a fun process!

    Pay special attention to the “sell your business” part. Once you make a living, start looking at it through the eyes of a potential buyer. Look at the value, figure out how you can increase it etc. This is a good idea in any case b/c you never know what’s going to happen in your life.

    Personally, I fully embrace this process now.

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Up Next:

How The Wrong Metric Sinks Your Business (& How The Right One Saves It) (FS011)

What if you built a website with a ton of traffic only to realize it could never end up supporting you? There are metrics that matter A TON in your business.

The Sparkline — a blog for independent creatives and entrepreneurs building matterful things.

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