The big question to ask yourself before starting a business

Whenever I started Lead Cookie, I had a mentor ask me some questions. 

But to be honest, I didn't really think through them well at the time. This is what lead me to leaving open a fatal flaw in my business model which I wrote about last week

And so as I start up a new venture, I returned to the big question that my mentor asked me at the time. I have shared the question in more detail, and even walked you through my own processing of that question with Content Allies.

The Big Question

When I started Lead Cookie, I hired Alex McClafferty, Co-Founder of WP Curve as a mentor from day one. And one of the first questions he asked me hit me hard...

Assuming that any business you start will be a success, why are you building this business?

I freaking love this question, and I have come back to it over and over again for a few reasons.

Assumed Success

Do you know why most entrepreneurs fail? 

It has nothing to do with not having the right business model.

It is because they don't believe that they can succeed, and so they self-sabotage before they ever give their business a chance. They change directions and try something else and think that the problem was in the business that they choosed.

The truth is, the reason entrepreneurs fail most often has little to do with their business.
The reason they fail is because they fail and give up.

This question flips that on it's head.

It assumes that you are going to succeed.
It assumes you are going to hustle and do what is required to make this work.
It assumes you will hit challenges and overcome them.

Consider for a moment, that your next business is going to be a wild success that makes you millions of dollars... 

What is stopping you? 

The only thing is you. 

So quit "questioning if your business will work". 
Assume that you will succeed. 
That is step one.

Why this business?

This second part of the question is the hard part to answer.

When Alex asked me this question in July of 2017, I half-assed my answer. I literally went back and found the email and this is all I wrote.

When I stopped doing the physical packages, I said to myself “I am going to continue consulting until I find a predictable and repeatable outbound sales process. Once I figure that out, I will productize it and scale it. I have finally found that predictable process and I am ready to scale

That is a pretty weak freaking answer. 
That was my "Why" for this business...

Clearly I didn't think through this very much.
And to be honest, that has shown itself drastically over time.

Alex challenged me on this in calls, but I never really looked at the question in more detail...

I ignored this rooted "why" to my business and just pushed forward and built it anyway...

Forcing a why into an existing venture

As I started to build up Lead Cookie, I thought long and hard about why I was actually building it. I thought about what I really wanted out of any business I built.

Eventually I came up with a purpose for my businesses.

Freedom - The purpose behind the businesses I create is to generate more freedom, not less, for the owners, team members, and customers.

This particular statement was adopted from Verne Harnish's book on Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and has become a driving rallying call for me and my team in terms of why we build our businesses.

But the truth is, I came up with this purpose for my businesses AFTER I started Lead Cookie. 

And while we try and embody this as much as we can, there are pieces of our model that don't fit in this purpose.

For example:

Our Philippines team has to work US hours. While we give them freedom and support them in as many ways as we can, they all have to do the night shift which is not preferred. I hate that this is the case, but it is the nature of the model that I chose.

It is also extremely difficult for myself, lead strategist, or ops director to take off for extended periods of time. Our business is high touch with clients, and it's hard to hand over context for "client strategy".

And lastly, for our clients, this is actually a decent amount of work. They don't just hire us and magically have more sales in their bank account. They have to work these outbound leads and nurture them over time. 


And so all of these things, they are kind of in line with our purpose, but not totally... 

Our purpose still guides us in decision making, but there are some realities of our model that we simply can't change. 

Revisiting The Big Question for my latest venture

As you will see, I didn't even have my why, or think through this process when I started Lead Cookie. I was operating from a place of excitement and scarcity and I failed to really think big picture.

This time, with Content Allies, I stepped back and put some real thought into the question. 

Assuming that any business you start will be a success, why are you building this business?

For Content Allies, I actually had a good answer here.

This business is built on a stable foundation

As I mentioned in my article last week, my fatal flaw with Lead Cookie was building a business on someone elses land. 

With Content Allies, I am building a Virtual Assistant service for content marketers. There is no external party that can pose an immediate threat and shut us down over night.

That means once I build this business up, I can stabilize it, protect it, and have a guaranteed income and long term asset for life

This business enables freedom for me personally

Another problem with Lead Cookie is that our clients are ultimately successful due to my expertise in outbound marketing. I have become one of the leading experts in outbound for Linkedin, and I have innovated different scripts and approaches that have brought our clients success.

Along the way, I did hire an Account Strategist which frees me up significant time, BUT I still double check his work, and I am coaching him weekly on how to become a better strategist.

Ultimately, our business was built on expertise which makes it hard to ever scale. 

On the flip side, Content Allies is 100% a process. I have removed myself from the business from day one. This means I don't even talk to customers once they sign. This business is built from the get go to operate 100% without me so that my personal expertise has no influence on a clients decision to purchase, or the quality of our service.

For me, that means massive freedom personally from the start.

This business enables freedom for my team

Recently, I attended Russ Perry's business conference where he taught about Design Pickle. One thing that stood out to me is that the entire Design Pickle team in the Philippines works standard daylight hours over there.

When I contrasted that to the late hours that my team currently has to work, it sounds amazing to think about being able to provide them all with normal and natural sleep schedules.

And with Content Allies, we can do that. Our team does not have to be live and do work at a specific time. They can receive a request while they are asleep, wake up and do the work, and then go to sleep while our clients review requests and provide feedback.

The model creates freedom from day one for our team.

This business enables freedom for our clients & creators 

This is a big one, and what gets me even more excited. Our service also creates massive freedom for our customers as well. 

Within one week, our clients will be saving significant time with Content Allies. 

They first have to teach us a process which may take a bit of extra time.
But after that, they can just keep sending us content inputs and we handle the rest.

For me personally as a "client of my own business", I know that I utilize Content Allies for almost 10 hours per week in order to handle my current content output. 

I run a daily blog. Content Allies posts this to my website, Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram every day. This would take me at least 30 minutes per day to do... 

I publish articles 1-2 times per week and send those out to my email newsletter. These articles take roughly 90 minutes each of prep time to go live on my website and email newsletter. That is 3 hours per week that Content Allies saves me. 

I publish podcasts weekly. Once again, this is another 60-90 minute process every week that I am freed up from doing. 

Literally, using Content Allies for myself has freed me up to create way more content than I could otherwise. 

That excites the crap out of me! 

I see what this does for me, and I am excited to bring this service to others to help them ramp up their content output, their marketing, and ultimately their business and incomes. 

Through all of this, I can envision a future where I don't just run a business, but instead I have built a Tribe of people who want to create more content.

People who want to write every day.
People who want to make an impact with their message.
People who want to use their creativity to make a difference in their life, and the lives of others.

And through this business, I enable people to do that, and can position my personal platform in a way that enables that...

Align your business with your why, and experience rocket fuel

Yesterday, I had an intro call with a new customer for Content Allies. Her name is Alexia Leachman and she runs the blog

This blog is something that Alexia is passionate about. 
She cares about the message she is putting out there into the world. 

And so when I asked her about her publishing process, she started to get quite worked up.

She went through and shared how on one night every week, she records a podcast, and then edits the audio and creates the show notes. 

She loves doing that part because it is creative. 

Then, she has one 4 hour chunk blocked out just to get every podcast and article live on her website...

Creating the thumbnails for blog posts.
Creating quote blocks to share on social.
Getting the audio onto her podcast hosting.
Setting up the article in her Wordpress.
Getting all of the SEO settings right in her plug-ins.
Scheduling shares out to her social media platforms...

All in all, Alexia would block out 4 hours just to get a post live and hit all of her steps.

And often, she wouldn't hit all of her steps because it was just overwhelming and too time consuming... 

As I sat there and saw this, I got teary eyed... Seriously... 
I saw the pain she felt, and I knew that my service was going to totally change her life. 

She was the EXACT avatar of everything I was trying to create this for. 
She experienced the EXACT pains I felt as a content creator.
And those pains were preventing her from properly sharing her message, and reducing her freedom in life...

Now lets bring this back to my purpose... 

The purpose behind the businesses I create is to generate more freedom, not less, for the owners, team members, and CUSTOMERS.

As this story above demonstrates, this business is 100% aligned with the purpose I have set out. 
And I can't even explain to you how that feels...

I am lit up, motivated, fired up, excited, pumped, jacked, elated, and ON FIRE! 

That is how I feel because what I am building finally aligns with a deep rooted why that I have had for years. 

Not every business created is going to lead to self-actualization and fulfilling of your purpose.

But if you can get your purpose and business to align, then HOT DAMN it is an amazing feeling! 

Are you seeing this?

Are you seeing the difference in my why here?

Are you seeing how much more lit up and excited I am about Content Allies than I was about Lead Cookie when I started?

Are you seeing how it's worth thinking through this on the front end and making sure that what you are building aligns to what you actually want?

Answering this big question is not easy...

You can glaze over it and still probably make some decent money.

But if you don't take the time to answer it well, at some point, you will lose motivation or start to think "I don't really care that much about this business". 

If I had really thought through all of this at the start of Lead Cookie, I honestly don't know if I would have still gone down that path. 

Lead Cookie is great.
It has produced a solid income.
And it has taught me a lot.

But I failed to think through it on the front end...

And as a result I built a business that is NOT a long term asset.
And several facets of the business model are counter to my true purpose and desire.

To the person in scarcity, who just wants to make a living. You may not even consider these factors right now. 
But once you start to see some success, you realize how essential some of these other factors are to long term happiness.

Money isn't everything. 
It's important and damn necessary.

But if your only motivation is to make some quick cash, then that won't leave you satisfied forever.
Get clear on why you are building this.
Think through its vulnerabilities on the front end.

And make sure you are building a business that aligns with the life that YOU want. 

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