Managing Business Opportunity Overload

Apr 2nd

Do Something...Now!

In a land of opportunity there is typically lots of distraction, oddly enough those distractions are usually other opportunities. How many times have you:

  • Stared at a domain you wanted to buy, but didn't pull the trigger
  • Stared at a domain you bought, but left it parked for another year
  • Negotiated down to what you wanted to pay for a site or domain, yet didn't move forward due to (fill in the blank)
Sign of Indecision

Typical reasons surrounding procrastination tend to be "not enough time" or "this will never work". Well, how many of your "can't miss" ideas missed and how many of your "probably will miss" ideas actually hit?

Win More, Lose Less

In my experience as long as you win more than you lose you're doing ok. This sounds a bit easier than it is though. In many professions, take sports for an example, success (worth millions in contracts) can be had for "succeeding" less than 50% of the time. A couple of examples:

  • Hitters in baseball strive to get a .300 average, which is failing 7 times out of 10
  • Basketball players are considered great shooters if they are successful making 45%-48% of their shots

Imagine if you succeeded at those clips? If so, you better hope ones that you hit on were big money makers and the ones you lost on required minimal investment amounts. If you take a similar approach to finding and operating in new markets most of the initial costs are fairly similar. Basic costs like:

  • Design
  • Content
  • Site Promotion
  • PPC Testing

tend to be somewhat similar on your average new site, perhaps if you are purchasing a domain or site it can skew the numbers a bit but overall these things tend to average out. So at the very least if you are succeeding 6 out of 10 times and you don't get carried away on a new site launch you should be doing pretty well. They more you do the better your ratio gets, the better your long term profits are, and you should expect to raise that ratio a bit as you start to gain more and more experience in researching + launching new ventures.

Dueling Fears

Most of us have a fear of failure and some of us have a fear of success. A fear that if we become successful it might alienate some of our closest friends and family members, it might turn us into workaholics working day and night to sustain that success and lifestyle, and so on. Fear of failure is something I think even the most successful entrepreneur's face from time to time.

Of course, we all know the old basketball saying: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take".

Fear of failing and succeeding is something one has to overcome on their own but it terms of trying to overcome procrastination it is usually advisable to set less rigid and more reasonable deadlines for yourself and your work as outlined in this post over at harvard.edu http://www.iq.harvard.edu/blog/sss/archives/2006/10/procrastination.shtml (which references a study co-authored by Dan Ariely, who wrote the must read "Predictably Irrational").

Fear of Failure Chalkboard

Psychology Today has a research piece on the fear of failure here .

The Cost of No Action

It's kind of difficult to lay out pretty graphs and charts showing what the "cost of procrastination" really is. We can assign some arbitrary number to whatever benchmark profit exists per site in an imaginary portfolio. However, I think it's best if you play with your own numbers a bit and figure you what the cost of doing nothing is to you.

Factor in the hours you might be doing things like checking your email every 5 minutes, cluttering up Facebook with Farmville posts and annoying your friends with suggestions, wondering if this latest SEO tool suite will be the answer to your prayers, and last but not least wondering if your idea will work. There are more variables of course, but I just outlined some of things that might be commonplace.

Dealing with Competitors

The bottom line is that the web gets more and more competitive everyday and if you are just sitting on the sidelines waiting and waiting and waiting then your competition is going to sprint by you on their way to the end zone, over and over again.

Even if you don't have any fears of failure or success, or maybe you are extremely self-confident in your abilities, you should consider getting a bit more into the game if you want to make any significant headway in your efforts for world domination. You want to try and avoid doing a bunch of things "average". Try and nail down an effective process which you can replicate somewhat, site to site.

It's Up to You

Project management is an essential skill you'll need if you want to run multiple sites, create multiple products, or if you are running a web business with any scale. I like to work in different markets so I can a sense of what others are doing to be successful, more consumer data to evaluate, the ability to establish connections with people I otherwise would have never been able to establish a business relationship with, and so on. Keeping track of the different things I'm doing can be a chore. Enter.....the cloud.

With so many moving parts to a site these days (SEO, PPC, social media, monetization, domain buying, market research) you'll find yourself with quite a list of to-do's and contacts piling up all over the place. One thing that has helped me tremendously is being able to put most of my business in the cloud with services like:

Being pretty much 100% mobile really has its advantages. I like a change of scenery every once and awhile so having all my stuff readily accessible at a moment's notice is fantastic.

So take advantage of the opportunities out there, don't over-extend yourself, and establish flexible (yet reasonable) due dates and goals for you and your business. In the end, I think you'll thank yourself for it.

Published: April 2, 2010

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Comments

April 2, 2010 - 7:26pm

To compliment your words on fear, here's a great quote from a great book: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I have been very conscious of my fears lately. It's amazing how simply identifying their root squashes them. Once you apply logic and reason to things you are afraid of, you expose their irrationalities. Fear does not have to be rational to be debilitating, which reminds me of another favorite: "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."
- Mark Twain

Here's to never looking back on our lives and realizing we missed out on life's treasures due to our own false conjures of fear.

Sean Dolan

April 2, 2010 - 8:57pm

SEO is an industry where it is ALWAYS easy to wander off into the woods, staring at all the stuff and dreaming. Or talk yourself out of simply rolling up the sleeves, and attempting to fail.
I have seen some bad effects of this idea lately:
"Try and nail down an effective process which you can replicate somewhat, site to site."
What I have seen, is someone squeaking out a marginal strategy that works (for now) and start exploding it like crazy everywhere they go. To me, relying on one set of tricks like this and setting up multiple sites the same way is pretty risky, IMHO. I know you weren't being as literal as saying "Use only one thing and beat it to death" but I have seen it happen pretty often, so this mentality is certainly there. But I would argue, not every idea is meant for the assembly line.
Thanks for the goods, sir.

April 2, 2010 - 9:28pm

I tend to think starting out with the replicable wins first is a good starting point to lift the odds of success as a whole, but the best sites then layer something unique in each of them that is somewhat specific to that field and often somewhat hard to clone. The thing is...getting that first half of a mile with the fairly easy assembly line stuff means you only have to add a couple decent ideas to the site to make it wildly successful...whereas a person who does no assembly line strategy might need a half-dozen to a dozen great ideas to reach the same level of success. IMHO.

April 3, 2010 - 4:15am

I respectfully defer, knowing your experience-pool here is infinitely more varied and deeper than mine.

but I still gotta wonder why coming up with a dozen ideas is so out of line to ask a business owner to do. Easy is so fricking easy these days...I guess I need to get off the dinosaur, and get back to work. Catching up sucks! :)

April 3, 2010 - 4:35am

Hehehe. Well the thing is...sometimes we start sites...say we do 5.

  • 2 do OK
  • 2 do killer
  • 1 bombs

I would rather have only a couple thousand invested on the sites that bomb rather than committing $20,000+ to them. Sorta the fail fast strategy.

And the sites that take off really fast just get more investment faster. Nothing like starting a new site and getting hundreds of unique search visitors per day within a month. Feels much better than the site getting 1/30th that traffic level at month #6 ;)

And then the ones that were slow starters can get more effort down the road if they start to pick up and/or we have any strategic reason to pour more effort into them.

Keep in mind that when starting sites in fields you love and are passionate about I would want to have a much higher success rate...north of 95%. But if sites are mainly there just to make money, then some will fail and some will do ok, and the key is just to pour lots of assets in the ones that perform best while accepting that not every project will take off.

As an in-house person I don't think my above listed approach would be best either, but if you are a really small company drowning in opportunities then putting out some sites as feelers and then pushing hard on the ones that are working well seems like a pretty cool strategy to me. ;)

April 4, 2010 - 6:45pm

Roman generals used to send out scouts in all directions. If a scout didn't come back within a day, they wouldn't go that direction. Fail fast and learn from it. Experience is what you get when things do not go the way you expect.

Another great thing about multiple sites is when you are doing it new site, you find ways to improve your old successful sites. Assembly line the website and customer service foundation so you can create a good presentation early on. But just because you have an assembly line doesn't mean you shouldn't look for ways to improve it. Almost anything that becomes static becomes outdated.

Excellent post Aaron, hit very close to home with me. I would only add Salesforce.com to the cloud list. You're very close to getting me to pony up for an account. You keep reading my mind like this and it won't take much longer.

April 5, 2010 - 4:52pm

Time and again I see someone take one small part of one of your "ideas" and turn it into a successful business. No big plan.. just a simple little plan plus a commitment to do the work.

Most SEO people I know get so caught up in the complexity and "opportunity" of SEO changes they can't execute well. They change their site infrastructure more often than the business guy changes his home page copy.

About that baseball analogy... the hitter bats .300 which is really less than 1/3 success rate. Or is it? That's not just hitting the ball... he has to get on base cleanly. He has to defeat a lot of odds to bat .300 consistently.

April 6, 2010 - 1:45am

What I was getting about with the baseball thing is that a batter is considered an excellent hitter if he's .300 or over. Now that does take into account who's hitting around him = what types of pitches he sees, difficulty of common opponents, and all sorts of other things but it's no different than the basketball player shooting 45% because there are many variables there as well (who else is on his team, fatigue, how many double teams he must face, how many clean looks he gets)....

Not entirely different from the SEO who needs to battle many variables as well, to "win more than she/he loses". Some of the variables are unknown to the SEO though, nowhere near as defined as the idea of getting a bat on the ball or a ball through the hoop. SEO's have to operate in a game which is somewhat shrouded in secrecy.

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