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Defeating Business Performance Anxiety

Melani wrote a great post called “Happily Delusional or a Few Things to Make You Feel Better about Your Marketing Stats“. In it she talks about how people feel about their business numbers and it has some strong messages for any business.

A lot of my friends, clients and contacts look at their results and feel like frauds in business. If they don’t outright feel like a complete failure, they still stress and worry that their results are not “good enough”.

In the internet world especially, people seem to be constantly comparing. That guy made so many millions, or that lady has 1,000 more clients in her membership program than me.

That’s the problem, now here is the cure: don’t sweat what other people say or do.

OK, that is kind of like the doctor saying “If your foot hurts, don’t walk on it”, but the fact is while it is natural to compare our own results against the world, it is not useful feedback in most cases.

Focus on Your Results

What we really need to focus on are the following questions:

  1. What are you actually achieving? – OK, so you are not a millionare, but did you make a sale? Are you managing to pay your bills? Is your profit going up? Are you reaching and helping more people?
  2. Do you learn from your mistakes and successes? – It is more important to make progress than worry about achieving perfection. Test, learn, implement.
  3. Are your processes improving? – If your experiments are getting you nearer to your goals then you have something to celebrate, even if you do feel impatient.

You probably realise by now that I am pretty open with my mistakes, gaffs and goofs. One of my goals with my blog is to share stuff that will make your online business a bit better, and my mistakes are often as educational (or more) than facts and tips. Well, here is another one of those “don’t do what I did” stories 🙂

It’s Not Just About Making Sales

Recently I started gearing up to launch a video product about creating WordPress based websites. I call it “Build Your WP Website“. Clever, huh?

The thirty or so people who are beta members have given me some great feedback. Success, right? Um, no. Not entirely.

  • I hadn’t done my research on what people really wanted.
  • My solution, while making complete sense to me, confused the heck out of some of the people who came to the videos without any prior knowledge at all.
  • Creating these videos was a lot more time intensive than I thought, right during a situation where my time got really crunched.
  • Underestimating the volume of questions my content would generate – If I pitch this wrong I will be creating a support log a mile long.

Essentially, I hadn’t followed my own product launch advice. If I had continued with the project as it was, while I would have made more sales, I would have also had to face potential returns, and definitely a great deal of 1:1 support, defeating the “home study video course” intent and nuking my profit.

Your sales figures are just one way of measuring success, you have to also look at the long term impact of any business project or decision. What you rarely hear about with the mega dollar launches is how many returns and complaints they get, I would much rather have a small group who are thrilled than a gajillion people angry with me 😉

The good news is I could stop to think before I publicised it, I do have something real people want to buy (already demonstrated that), based on a real need (“sack my webmaster”, or “learn how to do this website building stuff myself”), and have learned some harsh but valuable lessons.

Launches as Experiments

It is experiences such as the one above that prove that you are better of working to a long term and well thought out plan, involving several stages, rather than trying to get that all-conquering instant success launch. I tested and found my assumptions wanting, what would have happened if I sold 1,000 seats? A nervous breakdown probably, at best, heh. Of course it also demonstrates that what you see on the outside of a launch might not be the full story.

Bottom Line

Focus on making your own progress and delivering the best possible outcome for your customers and yourself!

While we are talking about launches – If you want to be shown how to do your launches right, live, with experienced guidance all along the way, the Mojo Marketing Action Plan course starts today. There are still a couple of seats left if you are quick. Melani and I are very happy with this first class full of folks so we won’t be crying into our keyboards if we start with those last seats left, and it might be a few months before we run this 12 week course again, so if a launch is in your future you really should check this class out right now.

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Comments

  1. Right on that one there, people underestimate how much time it takes to develop a video product. I tried as well.

    I guess it is all about defining your lifestyle and knowing how any business idea will impact that lifestyle.

  2. Right on that one there, people underestimate how much time it takes to develop a video product. I tried as well.

    I guess it is all about defining your lifestyle and knowing how any business idea will impact that lifestyle.

  3. Thanks for the advice! I know for my own product launch one of the things that has kept me from actually launching is that I keep looking at competitors/others in my field and seeing things they are doing that I think I need to do before I launch. This obsession with outdoing my competitors and trying to produce a site equal or above theirs has resulted in me not being able to launch my site. Also, when I look at competitors I see things they are able to do that I am not in a position (financially or technologically) able to do which can and does lower my confidence. I really need to just focus on my product, my site, and my results or else this thing will never launch! Great article, thank you!

  4. Thanks for the advice! I know for my own product launch one of the things that has kept me from actually launching is that I keep looking at competitors/others in my field and seeing things they are doing that I think I need to do before I launch. This obsession with outdoing my competitors and trying to produce a site equal or above theirs has resulted in me not being able to launch my site. Also, when I look at competitors I see things they are able to do that I am not in a position (financially or technologically) able to do which can and does lower my confidence. I really need to just focus on my product, my site, and my results or else this thing will never launch! Great article, thank you!

  5. I can’t tell you how refreshing this is to hear. For years I have been trying to explain to people that although I work on ebooks, I’m not “in the book business” – I’m in the product-making business. That means that all that matters at the end of the day is whether or not a profit was made. I measure success by the fact that I have a lifestyle that allows me to live on a lovely little island, and work from home without a commute ever again. I don’t want to be a millionaire. I just want to be fulfilled by my business. I’ve also done the video product thing, and while it was successful in terms of profit, yes, it was harder to create. Although, that was a number of years ago, and things have changed that would make it easier. But again, this lifestyle allows me to be constantly challenging the way I’ve done things in the past, and researching new and better ways to do things. By my definition, that means I’m hugely successful.

  6. I can’t tell you how refreshing this is to hear. For years I have been trying to explain to people that although I work on ebooks, I’m not “in the book business” – I’m in the product-making business. That means that all that matters at the end of the day is whether or not a profit was made. I measure success by the fact that I have a lifestyle that allows me to live on a lovely little island, and work from home without a commute ever again. I don’t want to be a millionaire. I just want to be fulfilled by my business. I’ve also done the video product thing, and while it was successful in terms of profit, yes, it was harder to create. Although, that was a number of years ago, and things have changed that would make it easier. But again, this lifestyle allows me to be constantly challenging the way I’ve done things in the past, and researching new and better ways to do things. By my definition, that means I’m hugely successful.

  7. Admitting mistakes take a whole lot more energy than creating an excuse to every fall down of our efforts. Sometimes telling people “don’t do what I did stories” give more impact on viewer’s developments and make them more creative in dealing the same kind of things. Well, for a man who never gave up with his idea, Chriss G never learns the word failure 😉

  8. Admitting mistakes take a whole lot more energy than creating an excuse to every fall down of our efforts. Sometimes telling people “don’t do what I did stories” give more impact on viewer’s developments and make them more creative in dealing the same kind of things. Well, for a man who never gave up with his idea, Chriss G never learns the word failure 😉

  9. I am definitely relating to this article!

    The “build your website” arena is a tough one to compete in. I’ve been working at it full time for over a year, and haven’t made much progress, despite actually having the chops to deal with the technical side in a lot of detail (I can write code), and having the willingness, time and capability to instruct people on 1 to 1 or on a very small group basis. Still working on getting traction. I’m sure it will come in time.

    In any case, good fortune, I’m sure you’ll be able to come out of the gate fast and large once you tune it exactly right.

  10. I am definitely relating to this article!

    The “build your website” arena is a tough one to compete in. I’ve been working at it full time for over a year, and haven’t made much progress, despite actually having the chops to deal with the technical side in a lot of detail (I can write code), and having the willingness, time and capability to instruct people on 1 to 1 or on a very small group basis. Still working on getting traction. I’m sure it will come in time.

    In any case, good fortune, I’m sure you’ll be able to come out of the gate fast and large once you tune it exactly right.

  11. Hey Chris..great post. That whole focus on YOUR results is important. Everyone is different, and at the end of the day, as long as you’re happy with where you’re at, your bills are paid, and you’re comfortable in your place and your skin… that’s all that matters.

    If the guy down the street is making 10 grand a month doing the exact same line of work as you… so what? Feel free to try and learn a little something to increase your own results, but don’t constantly compare yourself or beat yourself up if you’re not there yet. What matters is being happy and profitable, exactly where you are, and constantly working on your growth, both business and personal.

    Warm regards,
    C

  12. Hey Chris..great post. That whole focus on YOUR results is important. Everyone is different, and at the end of the day, as long as you’re happy with where you’re at, your bills are paid, and you’re comfortable in your place and your skin… that’s all that matters.

    If the guy down the street is making 10 grand a month doing the exact same line of work as you… so what? Feel free to try and learn a little something to increase your own results, but don’t constantly compare yourself or beat yourself up if you’re not there yet. What matters is being happy and profitable, exactly where you are, and constantly working on your growth, both business and personal.

    Warm regards,
    C

  13. You know Chris, I was actually thinking about this all last night and all this morning.

    My friend is currently in Bali for a “Date with Destiny” Tony Robbins and it got me revisiting his CD’s in my car – Personal Power.

    In them, Tony touches on the subject of self-sabotage and feeling like you’re not getting what you subconsciously feel you deserve.

    I can totally relate to that. He says that when you get more than what you think you deserve, you need to pull yourself back into sync with that paradigm so that you can be consistent! Consistency is apparently one of the things we all need in life…

    So, having said that… this year has been amazing – I’ve started to forge relationships with people high up in the industries I’m in, and to start getting in business that I’m just simply not used to.

    To be completely honest, it all made me feel a little out of my league.

    So I started to … guess what ? Yep, sabotage myself. And it’s been something that has been fleeting in and out of my life for well over three years now – albeit it’s definitely a lot better than it used to be.

    So to conclude – Thank You for resonating with me on this – it’s really given my day a boost!

  14. You know Chris, I was actually thinking about this all last night and all this morning.

    My friend is currently in Bali for a “Date with Destiny” Tony Robbins and it got me revisiting his CD’s in my car – Personal Power.

    In them, Tony touches on the subject of self-sabotage and feeling like you’re not getting what you subconsciously feel you deserve.

    I can totally relate to that. He says that when you get more than what you think you deserve, you need to pull yourself back into sync with that paradigm so that you can be consistent! Consistency is apparently one of the things we all need in life…

    So, having said that… this year has been amazing – I’ve started to forge relationships with people high up in the industries I’m in, and to start getting in business that I’m just simply not used to.

    To be completely honest, it all made me feel a little out of my league.

    So I started to … guess what ? Yep, sabotage myself. And it’s been something that has been fleeting in and out of my life for well over three years now – albeit it’s definitely a lot better than it used to be.

    So to conclude – Thank You for resonating with me on this – it’s really given my day a boost!

  15. This is sensible advice and is something that many businesses should take note of. Sadly, though, I think the advice will not get through, in spite of its logic and sense.

    The problem is comparisons are a powerful human motivator. Survival of any species – humans included – depends upon competitiveness and so comparing our performance to others is somewhat inbuilt.

    In the past, prior to the Internet, this was more difficult for businesses because much information was hidden, or only available at cost. One of the disadvantages of the Internet from a business perspective is the readily available measure of comparison and the public nature of what everyone does.

    The result is that combined with the natural human motivation to compare and you end up with a recipe for online businesses to spend ever more time on worrying about how they are doing up against their competitors.

    It may be logical, sensible and brilliant advice to concentrate on our own performance, but the online comparison tools, the public nature of online business and the inbuilt motivation to compare means that many business owners will find it difficult to take up your suggestion. And that’s sad.

  16. This is sensible advice and is something that many businesses should take note of. Sadly, though, I think the advice will not get through, in spite of its logic and sense.

    The problem is comparisons are a powerful human motivator. Survival of any species – humans included – depends upon competitiveness and so comparing our performance to others is somewhat inbuilt.

    In the past, prior to the Internet, this was more difficult for businesses because much information was hidden, or only available at cost. One of the disadvantages of the Internet from a business perspective is the readily available measure of comparison and the public nature of what everyone does.

    The result is that combined with the natural human motivation to compare and you end up with a recipe for online businesses to spend ever more time on worrying about how they are doing up against their competitors.

    It may be logical, sensible and brilliant advice to concentrate on our own performance, but the online comparison tools, the public nature of online business and the inbuilt motivation to compare means that many business owners will find it difficult to take up your suggestion. And that’s sad.

  17. Thanks for writing this post, Chris. How easy it is to get caught up in measuring ourselves against where someone else appears to stand—instead of against where we started in the first place ourselves. Or, even worse, trying to measure our progress using somebody else’s yardstick.

    None of those give us “numbers” that add up right, plus they often make us feel like losers—when we may actually be heroes considering where we began. Thank you, thank you for introducing this note of good sense!

  18. Thanks for writing this post, Chris. How easy it is to get caught up in measuring ourselves against where someone else appears to stand—instead of against where we started in the first place ourselves. Or, even worse, trying to measure our progress using somebody else’s yardstick.

    None of those give us “numbers” that add up right, plus they often make us feel like losers—when we may actually be heroes considering where we began. Thank you, thank you for introducing this note of good sense!

  19. @James – Yeah, I got quicker but it still took me longer to edit than it did to create each one! I can *almost* do them in one take now but there was a definite learning curve until I discovered the tricks and techniques 🙂

    @Richard – It happens to us all I think. If I obsessed about what Brian Clark and Darren Rowse achieved then I would have to sit in a corner sucking my thumb 😉 We have to realize at some point that what we do and how we do it has to suit us, and therefore the results we get are going to be unique and THAT IS OK 🙂

    @Peggy – Yup, I would say you are hugely successful by my definition too. You do stuff you want to do and are happy doing it – success 🙂

    @BIZZNURSE – Yeah failure to me is about stopping trying rather than the results you get from your “experiments” 🙂

    @Dave – I am sure it will come too, keep at it 🙂

    @Cori – Exactly, what the other folks are doing shows what is possible but then you have to look at your own goals and progress. It’s like at the gym, I try to not look at the other folks weight lifting and figures otherwise I would find it very demotivating being surrounded by supermen 😉

    @Clement – I think most of us have some self sabotage, even the most successful on the face of it. It amazes me sometimes what we see and hear at conferences for example, we are all human and subject to the frailties that are built in to that. Recognising the source and symptoms though really helps.

    @Graham – True, but I think the key is what you do with that instinct and that information. Encouragement to do better and raise the bar is good, self-defeat and a big ol’ downer, not so good 😉

    @Lynda – Totally, when I look back just 10 years I am a completely different situation, almost a different person. I am sure it is the same for everyone. It’s just we see others and think they are doing more, better, faster, more fun, whatever, and it takes the shine off, when in fact we should be happy 🙂

  20. @James – Yeah, I got quicker but it still took me longer to edit than it did to create each one! I can *almost* do them in one take now but there was a definite learning curve until I discovered the tricks and techniques 🙂

    @Richard – It happens to us all I think. If I obsessed about what Brian Clark and Darren Rowse achieved then I would have to sit in a corner sucking my thumb 😉 We have to realize at some point that what we do and how we do it has to suit us, and therefore the results we get are going to be unique and THAT IS OK 🙂

    @Peggy – Yup, I would say you are hugely successful by my definition too. You do stuff you want to do and are happy doing it – success 🙂

    @BIZZNURSE – Yeah failure to me is about stopping trying rather than the results you get from your “experiments” 🙂

    @Dave – I am sure it will come too, keep at it 🙂

    @Cori – Exactly, what the other folks are doing shows what is possible but then you have to look at your own goals and progress. It’s like at the gym, I try to not look at the other folks weight lifting and figures otherwise I would find it very demotivating being surrounded by supermen 😉

    @Clement – I think most of us have some self sabotage, even the most successful on the face of it. It amazes me sometimes what we see and hear at conferences for example, we are all human and subject to the frailties that are built in to that. Recognising the source and symptoms though really helps.

    @Graham – True, but I think the key is what you do with that instinct and that information. Encouragement to do better and raise the bar is good, self-defeat and a big ol’ downer, not so good 😉

    @Lynda – Totally, when I look back just 10 years I am a completely different situation, almost a different person. I am sure it is the same for everyone. It’s just we see others and think they are doing more, better, faster, more fun, whatever, and it takes the shine off, when in fact we should be happy 🙂

  21. LOL.. I know the feeling. ;P Just started a new gym regime yesterday, and I have to force myself at times! Then I look at some of the hard bodies around my gym making it look so easy and I have to just tune it out or I’d get totally discouraged.

    Although I’ve found listening to Jack’s Success Principles and telling myself I’m she-woman helps tremendously as I toil. ;D Hmnn…maybe that’d work in my biz too…

    C

  22. LOL.. I know the feeling. ;P Just started a new gym regime yesterday, and I have to force myself at times! Then I look at some of the hard bodies around my gym making it look so easy and I have to just tune it out or I’d get totally discouraged.

    Although I’ve found listening to Jack’s Success Principles and telling myself I’m she-woman helps tremendously as I toil. ;D Hmnn…maybe that’d work in my biz too…

    C

  23. I recently heard a TED talk by film director James Cameron. He explained how his childhood influenced his work etc. He finished his talk with a very powerful line: “Failure is an option; fear is not.” In fact, failure is our best teacher, but only if we want to sit for the lesson.

    Chris, you are a true inspiration. I am in awe to see you taking commenters so seriously and responding to as many as you can. You show you care. Where do you find the time to do it?

  24. I recently heard a TED talk by film director James Cameron. He explained how his childhood influenced his work etc. He finished his talk with a very powerful line: “Failure is an option; fear is not.” In fact, failure is our best teacher, but only if we want to sit for the lesson.

    Chris, you are a true inspiration. I am in awe to see you taking commenters so seriously and responding to as many as you can. You show you care. Where do you find the time to do it?

  25. chrisgarrett says:

    Is Success Principles good? Someone else mentioned that, might have to get it for my next flight

  26. chrisgarrett says:

    “Failure is an option; fear is not.” – love that!

    Where do I find time? I don't always right away, but we do what we can, right? 🙂