(Note from James: Today I’m just republishing a post from the Choose Yourself Facebook group that is too good not to share. Thanks to Ian Luebbers for being brave, for writing this and for letting me share it on my site)
This is a true story.
I’ll tell you how I did it in a minute (and how you might be able to also).
But first, I want to talk about why this isn’t just some random success story that you read in Fortune magazine and then forget about. It comes from a real person who suffered a hell of a lot to get where he is today.
Let me explain.
Last July, I decided to join Ramit Sethi’s Zero to Launch and start an online business. I got all excited, spent $2,000 of my hard-earned money from my summer job, and then got to work.
It actually went pretty well at the beginning. Only later would I feel the stab to the heart that comes to so many entrepreneurs on their journey. But let’s stick with the honeymoon phase for now.
I launched into work and found a niche (helping introverted entrepreneurs improve their social skills) and started building my email list. All that good stuff.
Then I went back to college for my third year and got stuck. Really stuck. Torn-between-physics-homework-and-market-research-interviews-tearing-my-hair-out stuck.
I cheated on a bunch of physics assignments so I could have more time to work on my business.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to stop splitting my heart in two.
So I called up my mom and told her I was dropping out of school for the semester. I was all polite and explained my reasoning.
You would think I had thrown a boiling kettle of water over her head.
She started crying and yelling and told me that I was throwing my life away. That I was plunging a dagger into her heart. (Those were her actual words. I’m not dramatizing here.) She told me I had better stay in school or I was paying my cell phone bill and my own tuition.
All $56,000 a year worth.
So I wrote a plea for help in this Choose Yourself group, on the recommendation of my mentor and rock Joyce Akiko. And it sort of blew up.
(You can take a look: https://www.facebook.com/groups/chooseyourself.me/search/…)
Here’s what I wrote:
[URGENT: Need advice ASAP]
I feel like the life I knew is falling apart before my eyes and my next steps are critical. I would deeply appreciate guidance and support.
Here is what’s happening. I’m a twenty year old college student starting an online business, and last week I flew to New York City behind my parents’ backs for a business event (with my own money) and they found out and decided to withdraw all financial support. I called my mom to apologize and she exploded, telling me that starting a business was ruining my life and destroying my relationships.
She said she would rather I take a semester off than work on a business while she is paying for my school tuition. So I stayed up all night thinking and decided to take a semester off to pursue my business.
Then I called her today to tell her and she exploded in the other direction, telling me that if I drop out of school I will be putting a dagger into her heart. She tried to make me promise I will stay in school.
It looks like at this point she would let me stay in school and work on my business, but now I genuinely think the best thing might be to take off and work only on my business
I don’t want to give in to a compromise that isn’t in my best interests, but I also don’t want to tear my family apart.
How do I choose myself in this situation?
I got a whole bunch of comments from people who saw me suffering and offered advice and compassion.
James actually recorded a podcast about my situation titled, “Should I drop out of college and pursue my passion?”
I read all the comments and thought hard about what to do. I realized I couldn’t buy food next week if I dropped out.
So I stayed. I kept working on my business (not really getting anywhere) while trying to finish out school.
There were days where I laid on the floor and cried for six hours. This is not an exaggerated number.
When I told my friends what I was doing they would squint their eyes and say, “Huh.”
Not the kind of “Huh!” that comes when you drop a newborn puppy in front of them. The kind of “Huh.” that people say if you tell them, “My daughter just dropped out of high school to become a burlesque dancer!”
I managed to pick myself up from the floor (quite literally) every day and finish out school. I somehow survived the torment of my parents criticizing my life choices through winter break.
Then I shipped off to Oxford University for 6 months.
Fancy, isn’t it? Except this isn’t a fancy story.
At Oxford I managed to skip all my physics classes and build my business instead. I got my first paying client. I hung out around 600 year old stone statues that constantly asked me, “Why aren’t you studying?”
I fell in love. That part was good.
And then I came home. And right when I came home, I launched a new business.
See, when I was in England I had taken a trip to Barcelona to a mastermind hosted by Navid Moazzez. There I realized that what I was doing was never going to help enough people or being me enough money to buy dinner each week.
So when I got home, I launched a business helping people do the one thing that I had actually done really well throughout this whole journey.
Not launch a successful online product. Not build an email list. Not get featured on the top blogs.
I wasn’t good at any of those things. I was pretty bad at them.
Instead, I helped people get their first client and start making enough money to buy dinner each week.
This was the one thing I had actually been able to do when my back was against the wall.
All of a sudden, my business exploded.
(I mean this in all its nuance. Yes it exploded in revenue, but it also sent chunks of flesh flying everywhere as I failed to control the growth without systems or staff.)
My friends wanted in. People who I described the business to in one sentence wanted in. People who I had never met reached out and asked to work with me.
I ran out of time to work with new clients. I currently have somewhere between 10 and 14 clients (I could go check right now but I’m too lazy) which is already more than I wanted.
Here’s the thing. I hadn’t actually done anything differently.
I hadn’t become amazing at sales overnight.
I hadn’t learned how to package my products like Steve Jobs.
I hadn’t matured into a maverick CEO in a matter of weeks.
I just changed strategies. Instead of investing my money into building online products, I started getting clients.
My revenue grew. $1,000 per month. $3,000 per month. $7,000 per month. $11,000 per month.
Then last week I passed $50,000 in coaching packages sold.
Now, I’ve gotten good at selling. REALLY good. I’ve gotten good at coaching too. I’ve learned how to package my programs so that they sound like a million bucks.
But I’m still the same person that laid on the floor with tears streaming down his face eight months ago. I don’t have an email list. Or a website. I have one staff member, a lovely virtual assistant who helps me out for 10 hours a week at $17.50 per hour.
I still have credit card debt. About $15,000.
I just don’t care anymore. Because I made $18,000 this past Tuesday in one day.
Do I deserve it? I don’t know. I don’t know what it means to deserve something.
What I do know is that I struggled really fucking hard. And I failed. Miserably. And I cried. At times I thought about laying down on the nearby train tracks and just waiting for all the pain to go away in one fell swoop.
But I didn’t. Something inside me stayed alive, like that one piece of grass that sticks through the snow.
And eventually I struck gold. I found a niche that worked and developed a couple of skills that were halfway decent.
I still suck at a lot of things. But I’m really good at getting people their first clients. And I now know how to deal with myself when all I want to do is lay on the floor.
If there’s an overarching point I’m trying to make, it’s that there comes a time in everyone’s life where they need someone to drag them out of a dark valley by the teeth.
Who will it be for you?
You better have an answer. Because you might just feel that dagger to your heart sooner that you think.
Also, don’t lay on the floor when you’re sad. It’s really hard to get up.
Ramit just open Zero To Launch a couple days ago. I’m not an affiliate, just a guy who made some money using his material. Join if you want. Or not. I don’t care either way. I’m not even going to link it here.
Just don’t do anything you hate. Do what you love (or what will bring you love in the long term despite short term pain).
Anyway, I could go on but I’ve made my point.
Have someone to drag you out by the coattails when things get tough. Don’t do things you hate.
And above all, make sure you can buy dinner each week before you drop out of school to build a business.
Take care now friends and get in touch if you want to talk about your business.
Ian deserves 100% of the credit. He knew where he needed to reach out. He reached. He found what he was reaching for. He acted.
And Ian isn’t alone.
Thousands of others have acted. Have changed their lives by reaching out for help.
That’s why Ramit created the Zero To Launch training…as a way of mentoring people like Ian (and you). To help teach and guide anyone who was willing to act.
So here is what I want you to do.
Now that you’ve seen stories like Ians I want you to give this a try…it really is the least amount you can invest and expect any sort of results.
Oh and Ramit has incredible guarantees too, so you have nothing to lose.
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