We’re now publishing our weekly newsletters on the blog too. To see all previous newsletters, visit our newsletter archive. And when you realise you’d love to receive one every Monday, sign up to our newsletter here!
This week – in between drinking beer, listening to terrible pop music, getting everywhere bang on time and generally acting out the German stereotype to a T – we’ve been analysing and categorising the questions we get asked by readers. Which seems pretty German-style efficient in itself.
And the question we get asked most often is… “What’s your favourite London Tube line?” Just kidding. Although we really want to have that conversation with you all one day.
No, what we get asked is: “I want to leave my job and start up my own business, but I don’t know what to do. I read Seth Godin and I listen to Mixergy and I watch The Rise To The Top and I’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek and I LOVE Marie Forleo and and and… but I’m stuck. I can’t decide what to do. How do I decide?”
And here’s the answer we often give – although this time we’ve included our own real-life examples:
JUST EFFING START SOMETHING!! Please! All the books, blogs, podcasts, etc. in theresources list on our site will get you so far (and they’re even more useful once you’ve started), but at some stage you just have to coil up your earphones, turn off your Kindle and stop checking your RSS.
Because here’s the thing: whatever you start will be a bit crap. You’ll try to create something perfect, but you won’t – no matter how much time you spend preparing it. Once you’ve started something, you’ll come across problems and have ingenious ideas that you’d never have anticipated during the preparation stage.
Here are two examples:
Our company Mortified Cow took forever to launch, because we wanted to get everything perfect. And now? We’re doing a big ol’ business pivot…
We started out by positioning ourselves as web designers, because although we specialise in (and prefer) brand consultancy and copywriting, we thought we’d get people through the door more quickly if we say we do web design. (It’s the whole “sell them what they want; give them what they need” mentality.)
We’re changing that because we’ve realised that we actually get far better clients if we position ourselves as brand consultants who figure out their businesses’s problems and then go about solving all those problems – which can include web design. (In fact, before the pivot, we were getting the worst types of stingy, difficult, non-trusting clients who just wanted a website for the sake of having a website.)
This is a very very cut-down version of the story, but please believe us: it was only through starting that we were able to figure out the best way to run our business.
Making It Anywhere
Our blog started out as a travel-esque blog, because we didn’t know what else to write about really. But we wanted to start writing something, anything, to give ourselves an online presence and show off our writing a little bit. It was only when we introduced the odd ad-hoc business-related post (because there are only so many times you can talk about deer in your backyard) that we got a surge in interest and even new clients through it.
Today, MIA is all about helping you do work you love on your own terms – with a few travel-related and silly posts thrown in for old times’ sake. But at the beginning, we never thought MIA would turn out this way.
So please just start something!
It won’t be perfect. It’ll probably be shit. Don’t spend loads of money on it (look at lean startup techniques if you like), and iterate along the way. You’ll get there – even if what you eventually end up with is completely and totally different from your original idea.
Now that’s sorted, we’re hitting up YouTube for some German-language lessons. (Oh, and by the way, YouTube began life as a video dating site…)
On the blog this week
- If you believe that two dogs are better than one, you’re not too fussed about the rights of geese and finding a bathroom is just too much effort sometimes…Budapest is the place for you! Here are ten things we now know from our time there.
- Wanna make money? OK, step one: give everything away for free; step two: profit. Er…uh? No, seriously - here’s why the best thing you can do in business is give everything away, with examples of hugely successful businesses who’ve done just that.
What we’ve been reading
- Before he was just “Seth”, Seth Godin was a bald guy with a TypePad account whose first post was titled “Boring”. Eleven years and 5,000 posts later…well, you know what happened. Here’s what we can learn about showing up, doing the work, giving it away generously, and honing your craft.
- If you’ve ever got a few hours to kill and don’t mind hearing the phrase “but this is the really clever bit…” over and over again, ask Rob to explain his thoughts on The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes to you. Or, just read Derek Sivers’ excellent notes from it.
- “Pinning your self worth to an Amazon rank is no better than measuring your value by the pH balance of your front lawn”, and 24 other brilliantly sweary ways to be a happier writer.
- Back in our post on how to make money online in four easy steps, we talked about using platforms like Elance and Fiverr to learn the ropes and get established before moving on to your own platform. Well, this week we read two things that prove that while you’re on other people’s platforms, you don’t have to be scraping around for a few dollars here and there: here’s a proven system for consistently winning jobs on Elance even when you’re more expensive than everyone else, and the story of a guy who made enough money on Fiverr to buy a house with cash.
(You can now view our entire week’s reading list – including a load of extra links we can’t be bothered to write up – at Readlists.com - where you can easily send the entire collection of posts to your Kindle. Not even 20 posts this week – must try harder next time.)
Enjoy this post? Then join our weekly list!
You'll get an email every Sunday, rounding up what's happened on the blog and linking you to the best stuff we've read online. No spam, no sales pitches, but plenty of bad jokes.
(Not sure if you'll like them? See what they're like by visiting our newsletter archive.)When you sign up, we'll also send you a FREE guide to