The 15 year overnight success & the value of persistence

In this article, I need to call bullshit on myself.

About 18 months ago, I wrote an article titled Zero to $33k in 6 months - Lessons learned.

The contents of the article had a lot of valuable insights.

But the headline is BS.

While Lead Cookie may have hit those numbers in 6 months... that is misleading.

Because none of that would have happened without 15 years of painstaking hell that came before.

In this article, I am going to share on the value of persistence and what the real story leading up to Lead Cookie's success looked like.

My entrepreneurial timeline

2004
I started a recording studio in my parents' basement and charged bands $10 per song to record and produce a full song for them.

At that point, I also got my first introduction to sales by selling ads to local businesses for my high school newspaper.

2009
In college, I partnered up with a video producer to create an audio/video production company. This became my first "real business."

During college, I also attempted to start a concert series, manage bands, and run a PA rental company... all failed.

2009-2013
With my partner, I built up a video production agency while in college for an entrepreneurship program. We had decent success here and did work for some really big clients, but we didn't make much money (despite having a good amount of revenue). And I worked around the clock.

2014
I left the video production company due to disagreements with my partner and my over-inflated ego. A mentor decided to fund me to work on a startup to use the Xbox Kinect in physical therapy... I spent 9 months on a healthcare startup before I looked around and asked myself, "What the hell am I doing working in healthcare? I hate this stuff."

2015-July 2017
I worked as a freelance consultant doing all sorts of different stuff. I slowly evolved from a complete generalist to niching down on outbound marketing campaigns.

During this time, I flared up 5-6 startup attempts that never lasted more than a month or two. I ended up killing most before they even had a chance to see the light of day.

The problem wasn't my ideas, it was me.

July 2017
As I grew sick of consulting, I wrote down the idea of Linkedin Marketing Agency along with a series of other business ideas.

I scheduled a call with my adviser, Alex McClafferty, and within a couple of weeks, Lead Cookie was born.

July 2017-Today (2019)
I built up Lead Cookie but made tons of mistakes along the way.

At one point, I had to lay off 6 people because I screwed up.
I racked up credit card debt that we are just now paying off.
I cheaped out on an accountant and let my books turn into a nightmare that took me nearly 5 months to fix.
At multiple points, I couldn't pay myself with the company (due to my own inexperience).

Today (2019)
Lead Cookie is finally hitting, what I consider, to be an amazing place where it runs without me and is starting to generate actual profits that are not tied to the time spent working on it.

I've also slowly built up Content Allies on the side, and I'm doing everything 10x better on this business since it's my second attempt at a real company. I feel like Lead Cookie was a warm-up for what Content Allies can and will become.

Results take persistence

In this internet world, it's easy to look at these stories of overnight successes, but there is always so much of a backstory before their company actually started.

In one way or another, the individual was training for this moment long before their time hit.

Dan Norris had failed over and over again before he partnered with Alex McClafferty, who had spent years developing his skills in corporate.

Justin Tan is hitting huge success with VideoHusky right now, but he has shared that this has only come after years and years of pain as a marketing consultant.

Russ Perry had spent years trying to run a traditional design agency before Design Pickle.

No one comes out of the gate swinging.
And even if it looks like they do, they have honed their skills somewhere else that has enabled them to achieve results so quickly.

Stop rushing it and take the long-term view

If I could go back and tell myself anything it would be, "Stop trying to rush it. Slow down and think long-term."

From 2014-2018, I was in short term mindset. I was trying to get rich quick. I jumped from idea to idea.

Even Lead Cookie was built with short-term thinking. I knew that there were some fatal flaws in the business model, but I didn't care because there was a potential for success right there in front of me.

After all of this, I've finally started to change my mindset to thinking about the bigger picture.

With Content Allies, I have put deep thought into the business model and what I am trying to build.

As I aim to evolve Lead Cookie, I'm thinking about how to protect our company for the long-term, and not how to generate cash tomorrow.

And the great thing about long-term thinking is...

It reduces your stress.

When you aren't trying to get some result by tomorrow, it takes the pressure off.

You can simply say, I know that if I keep going in this direction, then over time I am going to get to where I want to go.

For Content Allies, I have no massive growth target. Instead, I am just building slow and steady on a business model that I know is robust and will last forever.

I see my big-picture goal of having a stable company that runs without me and creates massive freedom... And I know that if I show up and do the work every day, I will eventually get there.

I'm in no hurry. Because I can see the long-term view.

I challenge you to analyze anyone who is successful

Go listen to any one of Tim Ferris's interviews. Or any podcast interview with someone acclaimed.

No one made it there overnight.
Instead, they got to where they after years and years of pain.

Recently, I've started to create electronic music in my free time. As a result, I'm diving into a completely new domain as a rookie again.

It would be easy for me to have this desire to be creating great music today... and then to get down on myself when my music isn't good, or no one wants to listen to it.

That's like the new entrepreneur who wants to have a huge company tomorrow but gets down on their failures.

But here is what I have learned diving into this realm of music...

Every single musical artist I listen to and love has been building their career for 15-20 years...

As a practical example, I went to college with the band Moon Taxi. These guys are getting huge right now. They are opening for the biggest bands in their genre and their songs are all over the radio, as well as TV commercials and movies.

I saw Moon Taxi playing house shows in 2007 to crowds of like 30 people...
And I don't even know how long they were a band before that...

But they stuck with it. And now 12 years later, they are starting to see real fruits of their labors.

The truth about building anything great

It takes time.
It takes practice.
It takes years to build up anything great.

Your entrepreneurial skills will take time to build.

Stop rushing it and take the long-term view.

There is no magic formula.
There is nothing I have that you don't.
The only difference is time, persistence, and doing the work.

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