When I went to college to get my bachelors of science in business administration with a concentration in marketing, I was pissed when one of my professors told me that everything I was learning would be outdated within the span of 2 years.
Immediately, in my mind, I started doing some simple math. It was going to take me 3 to 4 years to earn my bachelors. If what I was learning today would be outdated within 2 years, before I even complete my degree, I would need to go back to school all over again if I wanted to remain competetive and on the cutting edge of my field.
College Curriculum: An Expensive Lesson in Planned Obsolescence
To be forthright, on a certain level, I felt betrayed by the admissions counselors at my school, and if I wasn’t getting paid to go to school through my post-9/11 GI Bill benefits from the VA, I would have quit.
With how fast information travels in the information age, paying to go to college and passively learn about business doesn’t make much sense. Outside of getting a credential and creating a paper trail of accomplishments, an MBA in business is an expensive lesson in planned obsolescence.
Outside of the problem of credential inflation – where too many people enter a talent pool with formal credentials, and job positions that used to only require an AA degree now require a BS…
Planned obsolescence, in an academic setting, occurs on 2 different fronts:
- Colleges are always having to remarket their academic “products” and curriculum to appeal to a wider pool of potential students and compete with other educational institutions.
- As the Internet grows, we’re witnessing a democratization of information that offers people access to “insider” information for free and flows faster than academic bureacracies.
I’ve set a tall task in promising to deliver you an MBA in one post, but I’m confident that I can put you on the right trajectory with my “College Is Worthless” approach to business, marketing, and entrepreneurship.
QUALIFIER: In saying, “college is worthless” I just mean as it applies to modern business, what you can learn about marketing online without paying for it, and how entrepreneurship is best learned hands on; not by studying it passively in a classroom. When it comes to specialized professions like being a doctor, lawyer, psychologist, teacher, or professor, college is far from worthless. College, in those cases, is necessary!
If Not College… What?
Every business, in and of itself, is an innovation lab that offers you opportunities to actively experiment and learn… right now!
Every new customer/client is a test subject that becomes a case study as you work with them to solve their problems and fulfill their needs.
By looking over the shoulder of someone that’s already active in the industry, you’re witnessing peer-reviewed science play out in live time.
Social Media: Thought Leaders & Influencers
Because of social technology, business leaders are more accessible than ever. On social media, we’re able to access thought leaders that are already offering sage advice in any and every industry. With a few clicks and a little bit of persistence, we can be in contact with business influencers.
In this new digital world, opportunities to intern or sit under the tutelage of the thought leaders and influencers we admire are abundant. In this new world, there truly is NO lack of resources; only a lack of resourcefulness.
“Every day I seek out mentors: people who have great experience to help me, particularly in areas I am new to, excited about, and know nothing about.”-James Altucher
Mentors & Coaches, Not Professors
Have you ever considered what it would be like if Tesla, Albert Einstein, or Jesus had a YouTube channel?
Think about it… what if, rather than, learning about the sermon on the mount, how Einstein used creative visualization to formulate his special theory of relativity, or Tesla’s scientific mysticism from a history book thousands, hundreds, and decades later, you could watch these events coming to be, as they happened online?
What if, Jesus offered a MasterClass in Discipleship and Ministry Development today?
What if, Tesla made a Udemy course teaching you how to unlock the mysteries of the universe that you could sit in on for just $10 bucks?
What if, rather than, pay the $1,677 bucks (the average cost of college course today) you could learn the scientific method with a certificate upon completion from Einstein on Coursera for just $39 bucks a month?
This is the power of social technology and the profound impact it’s having on education. We’re live in the age of mentors and coaches, and while professional academics isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, the industry will have no choice but to adapt or die.
Internships and Continuing Education
With no shortage of ways to harness technology to learn anything you desire about everything that makes you curious, learning how to seek out alternative modes of training and become an expert at your craft is vital.
In this business climate, it makes more sense to seek out internships and opportunities that offer you continuing education, than to go to college and waster 4-8 years of work experience that counts as a degree anyway.
If I could go back to the moment that I realized my business degree would be useless, I would have sought out internship opportunities (while I got paid to go to school) with the business leaders, entrepreneurs, or marketing agencies I admired and would want to work with.
Rather than, going to college to earn my degree, I would look for opportunities to trade my time and energy for experience with:
- Gary Vaynerchuk/Vayner Media
- Russell Brunson/ClickFunnels
- Vishen Lakhiani/Mind Valley
Just to name a few…
The Add Before You Ask Strategy
I would look for creative ways to add value to them and network. Rather than, asking/begging for an opportunity to prove myself to these people/agencies, I would brainstorm creative ways I can help them solve problems.
I would create lists of 10 different ideas that would add value to them personally or help their business and send it to them via email.
Create/Engage Your Dream 100 List
Like Russell Brunson teaches, I would create my “Dream 100” list of people that I dream working with and spend a certain amount of time each day brainstorming how I can make meaningful contributions and connections with them and their team.
Thought leaders and influencers will be more likely to give you a shot if you’re already investing time (you can’t get back) on them and their products. This Add before you Ask strategy will generate opportunities much faster than a college classroom can.
In Business, Time IS Money, Don’t Waste It!
There’s a high likelihood that you will have earned the right to work with someone on your Dream 100 list before you’ve exhausted your list. And even if you don’t immediately land a paid position, the experience you will gain will be monetizable much faster than waiting to gain real-world experience after spending years seeking a degree.
In the world of business, time is money! If you want to be successful, don’t waste It. Not yours, or anyone elses.
In most cases, hands-on training will outperform classroom theory. Especially, if you want to start a business, learn from the best in your industry, or become an entrepreneur.
I’m very passionate about this, because learning about business, being a guerilla marketer, and being an entrepreneur, in many ways, saved my life.
Entrepreneurship Saved My Life
When I left the Army in 2010, I really struggled to recreate myself and find purpose. Serving in the military is full of meaning and purpose because you have a higher calling. It is EXTREMELY hard to fill that void in the civilian sector. Because of this, not long after leaving the military, I started trying to fill the internal void with alcohol and became very depressed.
At one point, I became suicidal trying to regain a sense of purpose and meaning post-military.
It was in my deepest and darkest depression that I discovered my faith, started reading about self-development, and became interested in business/marketing.
Learning about business and marketing served as a healthy distraction long enough for me to get the help I needed. It’s in this regard, that learning about business, marketing, and my new-found aspirations to become an entrepreneur saved my life.
Case Study: That Time I Built A Business From Scratch and Saved Our A$$
After I left school and did freelance marketing and consulting for a couple of years, my wife ran into some health issues that were going to force her to be out of work for an extended period of time. Enough time that an impending financial storm cloud would soon be hanging over us.
At the time, I was just taking marketing work on the side as needed while I volunteered my services to a non-profit, and helped homeschool our kids. Having obligations with a non-profit that couldn’t afford to pay me and having to prioritize our kids’ educational needs, I was in quite a bind.
I didn’t have enough time in a given day to generate enough money to float us financially until my wife could be cleared to go back to work. So, what did I do? I decided that the answer was for me to build my own marketing agency where I could charge more than a set hourly rate for services offered and outsource the work. Risky, but I had no other option.
At that point, even if I applied for a regular job, the hiring process would burn up too much time before I could get to work and start drawing a paycheck large enough to cover our bills.
Creating a Digital Agency Overnight
With just a lose conceptualization of marketing services I could offer clients, I created digital marketing agency called 4chin Media with some basic branding assets overnight.
It’s important to know, I was starting my marketing agency with $0. No money to purchase a domain name or webhosting. No money for marketing to help me acquire my first clients. I was starting from “grind zero”.
All I had at my disposal was a few hours in the evenings, a free Canva account to create my branding assets, and Fiverr to help me offer my clients some basic services that I could outsource the work to freelancers to do.
To start, I would offer simple web-design, search engine optimization (SEO), and SSM (Social Media Marketing/Management) services.
Day 1, after I had stayed up late creating my basic branding assets on Canva the night prior, I slapped together a free website via Google Sites, and created a Facebook Business page for 4CHIN Media to start creating content.
From there, I just started pumping out content on Facebook and began booking appointments for free consultations to start qualifying clients.
Without having a marketing budget of my own, I harnessed other, larger businesses ads to my advantage. I found other well established businesses that offered services similar to the ones that I would offer my clients and would interact with people who were engaging with their content.
This is called the Piggy-Back Strategy or Ad Hacking.
WARNING: To be clear, this can be done in a spammy way that is risky; so, it must be done in good taste.
I would focus on businesses that had plenty of money to burn on ads and ran their ads in a “set it and forget it” way. This means, their ads ran on a continual basis to create brand awareness, but noone was present to add value to the people who would comment on their content.
I would look for creative ways to add value to the people that would ask questions on their ads. In interacting with the people that were engaging with their content (but weren’t getting answers), I was able to pitch my services to them. Some of these people would choose to work with me. In fact, this is how I landed my first client.
Sales is the Foundation of Any and All Business
If you’re planning to start your own business, or would like to work with a business/brand that you admire, it’s vital that you understand the role that sales plays in any and all business. When first getting your feet wet, start by learning how to sell. on average, 8 out of 10 businesses fail because people focus on creating products or services that they don’t know how to sell.
If you have the cash to spend, a good sales rep or sales team should be your first investment. It makes little to no sense that you would spend all your time bringing a product or service to market that you don’t know how to sell.
If you don’t have customers/clients to purchase your goods or services, you will burn through money quicker than you can turn a profit. You will, quite literally, be eating your own tail.
Sell First, Build Second
As someone who is analytical to a fault, when first deciding to launch a business, I had a hard time narrowing my ideas down and taking action. I was suffering from the paralysis of over-analysis. Stuck in this condition, I reached out to a friend/mentor of mine for advice.
In speaking with my friend, he said something to me that has always stuck with me. He said, “smart entrepreneurs sell first, build second.”
This one tid-bit cut through my analytical mind and helped me get out of my own way. Rather than, stressing over what could happen 3 months down the road, I just needed to fulfill the first and most vital function. I needed to prove I had a viable product/service that I could bring to market.
After I could formulate my unique selling proposition and sell myself/service to my target audience, everything else would fall into place.
When I landed my first client, I didn’t even have a means to receive payment in place. Setting up this service/capability ahead of time would have cost me money I didn’t have, so I waited until I had my first paying client to come out of pocket for it. A prime example of “Sell first, Build second.”
Make a Decision, Then, Make It Right
The second piece of sage wisdom my friend/mentor offered me that helped me get out of my own way and launch my first digital marketing business was, “Smart entrepreneurs don’t stress over making the right decision. They make a decision and then make that decision right.”
This was a revolutionary concept to me at the time. It cut through all the noise in my head and helped me step out in faith. I didn’t have to have everything figured out, I just needed to show up and get started. I just needed to decide what my next step was and take a leap.
In doing this, I just had a general idea of what services I could personally offer my clients and a means to outsource the functions I could do myself.
For my second client, I offered social media management services on a monthly basis that I fulfilled myself and my client requested a video ad that I didn’t know how to do. I told him I would email him a quote.
From there, I hopped on Fiverr and looked for someone who could deliver what my client needed. I created a quote that would allow me to higher the 3rd party to create the video for my client and added 20% on top for my efforts. I’ve now done this hundreds of times.
If you wanted, you could create a business where you sold services and highered 3rd party freelancers to fulfill the work. Many people do.
Add Value While Making Yourself/Others Shine
In offering you an MBA in this post, my goal is to minimize all barriers to entry you could possibly face in going in business for yourself. In the process, I will also give you many areas of opportunity for you to help an existing business solve logistical problems.
Back when I was selling location-based advertising, I noticed that the company I was working for could offer a few more simple services that we could outsource the work for. I pitched it to my boss. At first, he was hesitant to share it with his bosses, but after a couple weeks he diecided to share my ideas with company leadership.
I told him to take the credit and that there was no need to tell them that it was my idea. After he pitched the ideas to his boss, his boss recognized the opportunity to generate more revenue for the company and pitched the new services to the head shed. In the end, I made my boss look good and was rewarded with a promotion in the future. Win, win!
I bring this up, because these tactics and strategies can work in your own business, or in looking for opportunities to make your boss look good and create more revenue for the company you work for.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, in business, there truly is no shortage of resources; only a lack of resourcefulness. Look for opportunities to be resourceful and you will consistently make money.
Affiliate Marketing/White Label Services
I cannot stress this enough, but you DON’T need to have your own products and services figured out to start learning how to sell. Most people, either fail at business or get passed up by their peers in their respective industry because they underestimate how important sales is in business.
Outside of getting a sales job, one of the fastest ways to cut your teeth in sales is to learn affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is where you sell/marketing other peoples’ products in exchange for commission on the sales you generate.
One of my favorite products to sell as an affiliate is ClickFunnels. ClickFunnels is sales funnel builder for business owners/entrepreneurs. The reason why I recommend ClickFunnels is because of the community. I’ve personally participated in the One Funnel Away Challenge multiple times, and it is one of the best experiences to get started in direct-response marketing methodology and sales.
Russell Brunson and the ClickFunnels team are great people to follow and learn from. As is said, “success leaves clues.” Learn from the best and model what works.
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”-Steve Jobs
White Labeling to Learn to Sell/Brand Services or Products
While affiliate marketing someone elses products or services is great to learn how to sell, white labeling services/products is a great way to cut your teeth in how to brand yourself or your business.
White Labeling is when a 3rd party company fulfills a service or offers their product that you sell to your clients, but does it under you company name/brand. My favorite white labeling opportunity is GoHighLevel. High Level is an all-in-one software that offers clients CRM, SMS, Email integration, landing page/sales funnel builder, and appointment scheduler+ much more to your agency and your clients.
As an agency owner, you could literally white label HighLevel software to clients as your own, full-time. Your clients would never know that you’re selling them a 3rd party software.
When I started my first agency, I fulfilled the social media management functions while I white lebeled the SEO services I provided to my clients to a 3rd party agency. That SEO agency interacted with my clients as if they were my staff. I branded/sold their services under my company name and never had to touch the tecnical work myself.
In the end, you will learn more in selling/branding someone elses products than you will trying to get a degree or starting your own business from scratch. It’s smarter to get you feet wet in the industry using someone elses services and products than wasting a ton of time, energy, and resources on your own.
Read, Do, Read Some More…
The harderst part to an business endeavor is showing up. That’s at least 80% of the battle. Once you’re there… determine what other industry leaders you can model and start modeling what works. Do NOT try and reinvent the wheel. That’s a recipe for disaster. Remember… success leaves clues!
Find your digital mentors and study what they do, closely. If you can’t pick their brain or borrow their ear personally, follow them online. Subscribe to their YouTube channel, watch their interviews, read their blog/books, and listen to their podcast. The information you need is out there somewhere!
Read (alot!). As you go, Do/Implement what you read, and read some more!
Here’s a List of Books to Get Started
- The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business
- Zero to One: Notes on Start-Ups or How to Build the Future
- The Lean Start-Up: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
- 12 Months to $1 Million: How to Pick a Winning Product, Build a Real Business, and Become a Seven-Figure Entrepreneur
- The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
- Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
- Dotcom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online with Sales Funnels
- $100M Offers: How to Make Offers So Good People Feel Stupid Saying No
If you don’t have the money to buy books, use Library Genesis to canvas these books and see if they speak to you. If you read more than 3 chapters, it would only be fair to honor the author with a purchase.
In this post, I’ve literally removed every barrier to entry and have given you a road-map for learning everything you need to learn to be successful. By far, mindset is the most important component to master; but nothing can beat a willingness to start. As Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said…
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”-Martin Luther King Jr.
If you want to run an idea by me, or have questions about how to implement some of the things I’ve shared in this post, feel free to ask in the comments below. If you want to receive more content like this directly to your inbox, go ahead and subscribe!
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