Why I Haven’t Jumped On the Guru Train

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Ok. So, for starters, I don’t much like “gurus.” I know there are experts out there, and I’m not opposed to paying for their expertise. But respect is earned, not automatically given. And if you disseminate false or misleading information, you go on my “gurus” list.

The problem is, we are so starved for information about how to break free of our limitations that our standards are pretty low. Basically, all someone has to do is show some level of success and they qualify as an expert. This guy has a business that generates 3 million dollars a year, or this guy built a 10 thousand person email list in 12 months. So what we do then is go “Ok, well if they tell me how they did that, I can do it too.”

However, MOST of them just got lucky. That’s it. They may be convinced it was their business acumen, but likely it was nothing more than the winds of fate. That isn’t to say everyone that makes it is just “fortunate” but typically meteoric success being monetized through the sale of information at a premium is the result of such.

But I digress. This isn’t even the real issue. The real issue is the false or misleading information being disseminated. I don’t really care about people selling their knowledge, and I don’t care about industry experts EXCEPT for when they perpetuate bad information.

Unrealistic Expectations Set by Gurus

And the number one bit of misleading information that is currently stuck in my craw is this B.S. about “How to go from Zero to a Million in a year” or some variation of that.

Whoa whoa whoa. Simmer down. How could you POSSIBLY take issue with someone wanting to show people that?

I know right? I must be a total fatalist and asshole. The thing is, the reason I don’t like that line of thinking is because it terribly skews expectations to beyond realistic. And being a wide-eyed and bushy-tailed optimistic entrepreneur isn’t necessarily damaging UNTIL you fall so short of your guru-driven goal that you feel like a total failure.

Think about it. You go whole heartedly into an endeavor, spend all this money to learn the “secrets” and you are part of the “club.” Then, you don’t make it. You do everything you were told, but somehow it doesn’t work. Then you miss out on the revenue-gated, next level “club” and not only do you personally feel like a failure but you feel you have disappointed those you were accountable to.

Ya Ya Ya…whatever. All this talk of feelings. Who cares as long as you are getting good info and learning actionable steps?

EXCEPT that if all you are worrying about is how to make a million bucks in your first year, you’ll probably leave a lot of opportunities that need time to grow on the table. You’ll think anything that isn’t a home run is a foul ball. This could be detrimental.

How To Make 1 Million Dollars in Your First Year (As Long As You Pay Me)

When I talk about this, it always makes me feel and sound like such a pessimist. I’m the guy that couldn’t do it so OF COURSE I’m angry and want to pull everyone else down with me, right?

Whatever, let’s just look at the statistics.

According to research published by Statistic Brain that breaks down startup business failure rates by industry, only about 50% of all retail and wholesale businesses survive past year four. The department of labor also reports that around 30% of non-employer businesses (defined as not having w-2 employees on payroll) go out of business every year.

Well, that’s actually much better than that silly (and untrue) adage that 80% of all businesses go under in the first year. So there is hope, right? Yes. There really is. Small business and ecommerce are growing rapidly every year. The opportunity is ripe for the diligent. That isn’t what we are discussing here though.

We are talking about whether you’ll likely generate 1 million dollars in sales in your first year. Well, research conducted by Ryan Westwood of Outbox Systems in a 2 year study of 10,000 small business owners revealed that only two of them made that amount in revenue year one (that’s 0.2%).

This mirrors census data findings from 2011 where only 26,744 non-employer businesses in the US made over 1 million in less than a year. That is out of 22.5 million (0.01%). And the IRS reports 23 million sole proprietors file every year and less than 11% have total receipts of over 100,000.

 So we’re all just doomed to fail?

Not in the slightest. But running a business is hard work. And it takes effort and TIME. Setting unrealistic expectations can take the wind out of your sails.

What Does it All MEAN?

It means you should hold your gurus to a higher standard. Just because someone made a lot of money once does not mean what they did is duplicable, scalable or even worth learning. It means you should set realistic goals and celebrate the realistic milestones you reach.

If you survive your first year in business, pat yourself on the back.

If you survive year two, you have beat out 48% of all your peers according to the department of labor. Kudos!

It may take three years to quit your full time job, but that is ok. You may need to make a five year and ten year goal and that is ok too. Don’t get caught up in the hype rush of wild, overnight success.

To continue the baseball analogy, those are called “home runs.” And they are VERY rare. You can keep swinging and swinging to try and hit a home run, but don’t let that be your only focus. You may overlook a base hit and think it’s a foul ball.

BASE HITS PAY THE BILLS!

In conclusion, if you make it to a mil in a year, CONGRATS. That is awesome. If you don’t make it there, welcome to the club. It is ok. You’re building a solid foundation and growing at a normal speed. Read through the lines of guru B.S. and stay the course.