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Why Businesses Fail
Last Updated January 12th, 2015

When you already have a product or service to sell, you only need two things to run a profitable business. You need:

1) A method for attracting new prospects

2) A scalable system for converting those prospects into profitable clients and customers

And that’s it.

Get these two things right and I believe you can reach the six figure mark. And if you master it, you could probably do more, and yes, Be The Exception.

Get them wrong and you’re toast.

When I talk to entrepreneurs, instinctively they know this. They know they need to attract prospects and convert them into clients and customers…

…but I find they spend their time on things that they either a) things that don’t matter or b) things that they don’t control.

And this is true for both new and experienced business owners.

I’ll explain…

Things That Don’t Matter

Last year, I was considering an expensive move to a top tier email service provider. I told myself it was vital for my business until a friend gave me a proverbial slap in the face. “You don’t need that yet,” he said.

A top tier email service provider, the one Fortune 500 companies use, would have been nice…

…but when I ran the numbers, how much did I really stand to profit from the move? I couldn’t calculate it, and when I compared it to other things I could spend my time on, I knew it was a huge mistake.

What’s funny is, at first, I lied to myself. I said, “Social Triggers is a seven figure business! What I do is different. I NEED THIS!”

But I made the same mistake that many business owners make when they’re looking to generate their first six or seven figures. I was about to waste my time on something that doesn’t matter.

And that’s a problem. You see, when you’re building your business solo (or even with a small team), you must be RUTHLESS with how you spend your time. You don’t have much, and you must make every second count.

You might be tempted to get the perfect web design, split test your landing pages, create 100 social media accounts, and more…

…but that would be a mistake.

Can this lead to new clients and customers?


If you’re getting a flood of prospects who go to your website, and then say, “Hey, I’m not hiring you because your web design stinks,” then yes, maybe you need a new web design.

But chances are that’s not happening. And that’s why you’re better off spending your time on things that WILL lead to new clients and customers.

(Especially if you’re still looking for those first six figures).

And in my experience, that means you need: 1) a reliable – and repeatable – method for attracting new prospects and 2) A scalable – and effective – method for converting those prospects into profitable clients and customers.

That’s it.

I’ll cover in more detail later this week. So keep your eyes peeled.

But first, before you commit to what I’m about to share with you, you must be willing to table things that don’t matter so you have the time to execute on things that do matter.

And that leads me to…

Things That You Don’t Control

As of January 1st, Facebook declared war against anyone who wants to use their business Facebook page – the page they built with their time and money – to promote their business.

I don’t fault them for that. It’s their platform. They make the rules. But this change likely HURT a lot of business owners.

And that’s because they spent their time on something they don’t control.

You see, they had the illusion of control. “If I just put the time in, this thing will pay off.” But what they didn’t realize was that they were building their house next to a volcano, and that volcano was about to bury them. And bury them it did.

As another example, Rachel Scott, an entrepreneur who sells services, had a huge problem. In her words, “I recently lost my biggest referral partner who had been referring 30% of my clients. It was really a wakeup call that my referrals could disappear at any time.”

And while this is a little less obvious, Rachel also relied on something she didn’t control… the referrals people sent her business.

As a business owner, we’re lucky to have any referrals. And sure, we can make strides to try and generate referrals, but at the end of the day, we’re still relying on some third party that we do not control…

…and that’s a mistake.

When you want to build your business, you MUST focus your time on things that you control 100%. Things like the content YOU create, the content YOU promote, the sales copy YOU write, the sales calls YOU make, the activity that leads directly to revenue in your pocket.

And that’s exactly what Rachel did. She said, “I really needed to diversify and find more ways to attract clients to my brick and mortar business through my website…” And when she focused on just that, she said, “my new approach got a client signed up for my highest priced $1200 package.”

But I’ll share more on what she did later this week. For right now, before we focus on what you should do, we need to stop you from spending time on things that don’t matter and things that you don’t control.

Doing this first will give you the time and space you need to start doing things that do matter.

So, for right now, here’s what I want from you:

Leave a comment on this post.

What’s one thing you spend your time on right now that, in hindsight, is something that doesn’t matter? And what’s one thing you spend your time on that, in hindsight, you don’t control?

Share it here. And read what other people write too. You might realize you’re making a huge mistake.

And look out for another email me.

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115 comments Leave a comment

I spend so much time not trusting myself, and researching and researching and not doing enough action. Its very frustrating.

Lakeisha Jones

Good Stuff But where do I find good content to use to get subscribers not only to opt in but also buy? This is a lot who can I just pay a couple dollars to do it for me?


Great Post Derek – most businesses can learn from this

Imran Soudagar

The reason most businesses fail is that they forget to innovate and get struck to the old business formula. Where as what people need to do is reinvent their business at regular intervals.



The article is a offers a “reality check” for people like us who had just started out a small, barbeque business.

My wife had trouble focusing on what she has control over since a competition spouted near where we conduct our operation. So this will be of great help.

Thanks a lot!




The article is a offers a “reality check” for people like us who had just started out a small, barbeque business.

My wife had trouble focusing on what she has control over since a competition spouted near where we conduct our operation. So this will be of great help.

Thanks a lot!


minna parviainen

It was good to read that what you don’t need or can’t control. I am sure that I keep this in mind in case I start a company. Suprising for me was the Facebook thing, when you think you do something that is good for the business but it goes the opposite direction.

Amy Birks

Lately I’ve been spending too much time on busy work, like organizing files on my laptop or surfing on Facebook (when I should be adding value there!) instead of focusing on the big money tasks like networking and content creation.

We are constantly getting in our own way, letting resistance creep in and dictate what we should be doing INSTEAD of the 2 things you mentioned here that always get results. Such a great reminder, Derek, thank you! I’m about to copy and paste this link to share with a client of mine who I was talking to about this exact topic today!


I spend too much trying trying to design my website, then breaking it, then trying to fix it, leads to php and then its been a week of nothing. I need to spend less time reading books and articles since I know all that i can from them and need to just write the dam copy and get the last few steps done required for customers to buy from me.

T.S. Phillips

Thanks for the reminder to focus on what matters the most for your business not your Ego! T.S.


Well this was a much needed shove in the back! I definitely spend too much time focused on social which while it does lead to conversions is not more important than creating and promoting content, two things that are a big focus for me this year.

Other things I spend too much time on: GA and worrying about my website design!

Katherine Copeland

Thing that doesn’t matter: “Trying to make everything on my website (design, copy, etc.) PERFECT at the expense of actually creating consistent content.” – quoting from Stephen Fiser, another commenter. Spot on.

Thing I can’t control: Letting myself get annoyed with other people’s childish freak outs – I know it’s their issue, not mine, but I still get caught in the weeds.

Johny Raymonds

By the recent Facebook update, are you reffering the paid Newsfeed ads one?


Derek, you have being killing since new year’s, truly amaizing man, I was think unsubscribing because I don’t plan on running a blog, but you content definetly has show me otherwise.

Here I was coming all snowflake and find a very similar case to the FIRST post.

Things that doesn’t matter: I am polishing and polishing my product trying to enhance details that haven’t being, not even ONCE, the reason a client says NO.

Things I can’t control: that the source of my mined that is incorrect.

Awesome posts man,


Hey Derek,

My newsletter offers free action tip links for a life well lived to those interested in self development and spirituality. In the newsletter i offer with links to my free blog, and my youtube video where i also offer coaching tips plus interviews with leaders on the field of my work.

at the bottom of my newsletter and sometimes in teh main body, i also promote my 1-2-2 services and e-courses and the free bonuses that go with my products.

Would you say that counts as covering point 2) A scalable – and effective – method for converting those prospects into profitable clients and customers? or do i need to create a different marketing startegy?

Im also doing a lot of training on blog promotion right now with a great leader in the field. (Jon Morrow)


Annora Brennan

Things that don’t matter: focusing on how many followers I have
Things I can’t control: Social media ads


Loved this but funny…I found this article in your Facebook ad Derek in my morning newsfeed.


Time-sucking, soul-crushing Facebook. Too easy to spend too much time trying to get more likes, shares and comments. Too frustrating when it doesn’t happen and you realize that time would have been better spent working on a new opt-in offering…

Looking forward to the follow up post, Derek. Thanks so much for all you do!

Fitzroy Walters

I enjoyed reading this article, it added more excitement to an already exciting adventure that I am on…..building a website to attract potential customers to my art-works. As entrepreneurs, we sometimes get lost in our zeal and vision, often-times we know the rules for sucess but fail to execute. The advice given here serves to reinforce what we should focus on. Thanks coach!

Bob Moore

Great information flowing back and forth


Thing I can’t control …. definitely social media. I think it’s effective but quite honestly not proportional to the time required. So I’ve just hired a VA to do most of it for me, on trial for 3 months…by which time I suspect I’ll happily just keep paying her.

Between this and Ramit’s recent post about paying for stuff to happen, I’m SO in this year.


I spend too much time reading emails and blogs like this one looking for the golden answers that will get me more customers. Facebook LOL pure waste of time as oneone has ever purchased from my Facebook store. Got no customers or email signups. What keeps me going, I dont know. I guess I want to make customers happy. I dont want to fail, but its hard on your own.

Vince Comfort

This is a great eye opener for me. I just realized that the list of things I do that don’t matter is endless.

Daniel Daines-Hutt

Hey Derek,

Totally right on point.

Its so easy to lose focus on what your working on, and whats working for your business, for shiny objects or alternate methods etc

One of the main issues I have had is spending far too long on issues that should either be removed or dealt with immediately, and stop procrastinating over.
Have started a brutal regime of removing the fluff to get to the gold!


Cathy Sirvatka

Okay I had to read through others’ comments because I was having a hard time figuring out what doesn’t matter. It feels like everything matters. However, I think I can say low-ball prospects don’t matter. I mean, I hate to say they “don’t matter,” but they don’t matter for my business and I give them too much time and effort.

Don’t control: How many hours are in a day.

Vic April

I can totally relate to the false sense of security when things are going well. Just because a tactic is in place and is working doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever. I’ve learned tactics are only part of a bigger strategy.


This is the article I’ve been waiting for! A good reminder for me to stop procrastinating and start taking action. I guess we often get distracted with the things happening around us that we forgot what we suppose to do.

Thanks for the article Derek.

Bob Boreham

Thanks Derek your advice has saved me a lot of time and effort.
I was going to set up a Facebook page to help promote my new business.
In the on-line world it seems that what was a good idea one week is a time waster the next.

I would appreciate your comments if you get a chance to see my (in development) website.


Facebook..Facebook, Facebook. How does a Page get organic response?
Is Facebook actually “processing” your Page post, but it just “disappears”?
I did a status update on my Page on 1/7. I’ve “liked” and “followed” my Page specifically so I can “trace” my activity in the “system”, and the post didn’t even show up in MY Page feeds! It showed on my Page and in my Twitter activity, but not the Facebook Page News Feed. How “weird” is That?
Makes on wonder whether any advertising really gets released or not, or if
the “clicks” that supposedly occur actually happen (and I pay for) since they don’t give you profile ID’s on who supposedly clicked the ad. Hmmm.

Ashish Bhatnagar

Eye opener, Derek 😛


Thank you Derek, your email was so timely, it felt like you were talking directly to me. I spend faaaar too much time updating little bits and pieces on our site that don’t really matter. I spend a lot of time in my email inbox too, currently 18000 unread emails as I keep signing up to list after list not wanting to miss anything, these things have to stop…..now!

Sharon Hines

Dont’ control–referrals from Pinterest. They changed their algorithms and many home decor bloggers saw a drop in pageviews. We overly depend on Pinterest for referrals which equals more pageviews which equals more revenue.

Doesn’t matter – email, social media


Wow! Eye-opener! I do the same as Lena. I need help asap!


Love this article! You make things so much clearer for me! Ok, so I’m still brainstorming on what I do that doesn’t matter…I’m sure there is a list of things that I am wasting my time on, but might take a little bit to figure it out.

However, the thing that I spend my time on that I do not control is my Etsy page. Have a jewelry company on Etsy is like being a needle in the haystack. It takes too much time to figure out SEO Etsty trends to get a sale, and to they keep changing their guidelines!


Great post. Good just reading and learning from others. Time for a reality check. It’s great having lots of ideas and the promise of something exciting, but it’s the real thinking and the real work that is spent focusing on making things work that pays off in the long run. So many distractions, so little time! Clarity and focus and doing the things you know you have to do.

Time spent on things that don’t matter: Perfectionism on what my sites look like, building things in the hope that people will find them ‘when I promote them’, ‘when they’re finished’ ‘when they’re good enough’…
Matter: Building my list, getting in front of people and finding out what they REALLY want and are prepared to pay for (Ouch that hurt…)
What I don’t have control over – yes facebook, it feels like a big black hole!


Thank you for this post, I’ve found it very useful and opened my eyes.
My biggest ones is researching ways to get more leads but not actualy getting on with it and playing with social media platforms. I look forward to reading the follow on post.


Spot the fuck on!


Firstly Derek, thank you for this post. It is very timely as I have decided to stop spinning wheels and waste time on what is clearly NOT working eg social media organic reach, facebook, too much time researching as opposed to doing.
I have been “trying” to make my business work but feel that I have just not gone about finding potential customers the right way.
Or, doing detective work on what they actually want.
I have to be honest and say I do feel a bit dejected this week after working 14 hour days for the last 12 months. I have the new products, with pretty labels, the pretty website, facebook and google + pages.
Grand result today…around 40 sales a month and 25 on my email list.
I need to go back to the drawing board and be brutally honest, as you have been, that without a radical rethink my business will not succeed.
I could build a house with the number of shiny objects I have acquired 🙁


    I feel the same way. I am spending countless amount of time replying to emails, creating blogs, creating and designing images for social sites and still think I am loosing a lot of potential sales.


Doesn’t matter: Wasting time checking emails, facebook and too many newsletters, redesign without being very clear about what I want

Can’t control: Facebook


Problem: following too many experts with too many suggestions. Thank you Derek for making it simple just to follow (& implement your strategies) you from now on! Out of my control: Facebook

Ryan Kainec

I’m new at this and am just starting out. I enjoy reading your content and am excited to implement these strategies!

Gordon Firemark

My doesn’t matter: Reading email newsletters, autoresponders, etc.
My can’t control: Yotube – I rely on my videos for some chunk of my traffic. I could get taken down any time.


My can’t control: many of my clients know me through a niche hobby forum – I need to get away from my reliance on that to promote myself. As for time wasting, keeping my base rates low for that same niche community to pay – I am often contacted on Deviantart unsolicitered and those clients want to pay more than my base rates.


I did invest in ‘a top tier email service’ and wasted an enormous amount of money and time. I spent a year trying to integrate this product into an existing platform that just wasn’t having it. I finally admitted defeat, cancelled it and concentrated on making what I currently have work. Consequently my online course will be launched by the end of the month (only one year late). A big lesson, not to get distracted by the ‘almost there…. just this bit to fix, add or change…’ I am launching the first part and will work on the others as each module launch date comes up, I am not waiting for the whole thing to be finished and perfected, I am getting on with what I have. Here goes…

Laurence Bradford

Doesn’t matter: experimenting with tons of design stuff, optin form variations and so on all in my site.

Don’t control: basically all my social media efforts. And I have many :-/


I think for many of us, there is a period of required pain in order to properly understand the significance of this lesson. Let me explain.
Most of us don’t create a business over night, it’s a process and within that process you find both success and failure. What you ultimately discover however, is what you though was a priority versus what is actually required in your focus points AND your approach.
This takes time. For some it’s longer while others shorter… but we all go thru this and it’s a rite of passage is some ways for all entrepreneurs… but make no mistake… some pain is required.
IMO you need to have this happen before you can actually observe the massive amounts of time you waste. When you go through process you say things to yourself, WTF was I thinking… if you’re lucky enough, you have a mentor to slap you around and rub your nose in it.
No need to go into details but I re-invented my entire approach <<>> AFTER I figured out my system, my process and what the priority and focus points of my business needed to be in. Once that was framed out, I realized what was important in order to achieve the end goal. A slight reverse engineering of the system…
My awakening:
1. Outsourcing is your friend and done right delivers high value ROI
2. Stop being a perfectionist (if your stuff is gorgeous but not in the market you can’t make a sale)
3. Leverage your time on projects that can scale
4. Make sure the process is repeatable
5. Learn how to drive traffic (Derek nailed the FB paradigm)

Never written here before, but felt compelled on this one.
Derek this is one of my favorite blogs – thank you.

Belinda miller

how to find new customers is my dilemma.


The thing I need to stop doing: letting the time I spend on each of my ventures overlap. I need to be clear with myself about what business I’m working on and when, so I don’t develop one at the expense of the other.


Great post Derek, the part about focusing on things you can control really resonated with me.

To answer you questions:
One thing that doesn’t matter: worry
One thing that I don’t control: my inner critic/voice


Sooo much wasted time on Facebook. You nailed it for me on that one. Now I feel “guilty” (I know, ridic!) about shutting it down. Just being on Google brings in way, way more business. In retrospect FB was a foolish and expensive risk to take. We all knew that FB would eventually make us pay. And why not? They’re a business not a charity. “Free and always will be” my behind 🙂

Geniece Brown

I don’t think its been benefiting me to spend money on local advertising for my business. I think the money would be best spent marketing online. Excited to hear the rest you’ll be sharing this week Derek.


Creating additional products/services instead of ramiping up what is selling easily!


Thanks so much for writing this Derek! I know I’ve read this advice before but I don’t think I was ready to let it absorb until now. I pretty much can throw away my entire To Do list because it has involved a lot of spinning of wheels.

Not important: social media #’s, organic reach, perfect systems, perfect “look & feel”, spinning wheels around the details, fearing I’m not good enough (or my content won’t be good enough)

Must focus on: creating consistent content, actually promoting it, engaging with those that connect with me, and finally putting my services up on my site so people know how to work with me.

    Chuck Gilmore

    Love your Summary, Jessica. I’ve just cut and pasted it to my Evernote planning page.

Scott Tiffamy

Thanks for the great article. Great timing. You nailed it as my wife and I had this conversation just this morning. I am the CEO of newly launched digital magazine. We have a great staff that puts out solid content, and we are seeing good traffic (over 100,000 unique users last year), but our advertising is soft. As the key sales person, I get distracted on many “opportunities”, that suck my time away. With more focus and saying no more often, I should be able to fix this problem, as that is an issue I can control. Keep up the great work.


Time waster: Trying to get things perfect as I build my own website (not experienced so learning by trial and error) vs just getting something functional out there and running.

And I agree, Facebook has become a time waster and non productive. Countless hours wasted trying to build anything there.

    Cathy Sirvatka

    Erin, as a web designer, I know there are so many wonderful WordPress themes out there that are easy to use. You don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with them all now. But by just adding your own content, logo and some images, the website becomes yours. If you already have your domain name and hosting, then it’s just one-click to install WordPress and spend at most $58 at ThemeForest on a theme that has a high rating. WordPress installs the theme and off you go.


I get overwhelmed at points…and when this happens, I tend to focus on the EASIEST thing- which is often Facebook (and honestly, even then not very often). I know I need to work on my own website content (besides products), but I constantly flip-flop on how the voice.

Lawrence Yu

Im a co-founder at a design/software development consultancy and your post is perfect in describing biz priorities. Of course I would go farther and say there is really a balance in managing all the pieces of the pie.
I would say the top item i should not be doing right now is commenting on this post:) but in all seriousness, getting distracted by busy work. (cleaning inbox, refining documentation, reading to many blogs, “research” etc)
One thing I wish I had spent less time on because i had no control over was stressing over things that already happened. (eg. we missed a deadline, its all my fault, i then dwell on it = two major nervous breakdowns, divorce, and being in dark dark places in the last 4 years) Once i realized that there is no good or bad, just that life happens and you try to move forward with the best intentions, outlook totally changed! Daring Greatly by Brene Brown really helped with this “pop!”

    Lawrence Yu

    btw, I really do love this blog! Part of the core blogs I read and try to implement.

Bob Moore

That was a very powerful message for me to hear right not at the beginning of the new year. It is tempting to think that the next bright shiny objective will the the key to your fortune when in reality it could be what prevents it from happening. Thanks,



I must admit I’m guilty of what I like to call ESOS (Entrepreneurial Shiny Object Syndrome) 😉 I’ve spent time chasing ideas, thinking I can “get ahead” and create something that customers want, only to realize it’s taking me away from my core purpose. I’ve also been tempted to spend time comparing myself to other people – their list sizes, their following, their offerings – but I don’t control what other people do, and I’m only as good as the consistent content I put out there. Thanks for another great article Derek!


    Wow, I’d say I am a card carrying member of ESOS too. 🙂 And you’re so right about where our focus should be.


    I can certainly relate to that – I’ve got a number of drawings and partial prototypes that I killed off once I realized I was committing product line inflation. Once I clearly defined my core I found it a bit easier to stick within the boundaries, but for me it takes a ton of discipline. (squirrel!)

Meredith Laskow

One of my original websites from 2003 is unwieldy ( I can only edit in IE, ugh) and super annoying (pop up ads). It actually comes up in the first few pages of google search for several categories, but I don’t get much business possibly because of the annoyance factor. This is the year I stop wasting time on that horrible website and move to somewhere more user-friendly. I’ll leave up the high-ranking pages and just point them to my new site.

Alexander Heyne

Wasting time on:

Answering emails.

Focusing on low dollar value programs (continuity), versus high end premium programs and coaching (10-20x dollar value/month).

Design/split tests/optimization.


What a great read for me, a newbie. thanks for this insight to a newbie.

Vincent Nguyen

My daily goals:

Write down 5 potential clients

Pitch AT LEAST 2 of the above or from the viable clients list

Doing the above regardless of how busy or tired I am. I managed to cut out a lot of the junk that didn’t matter and I’m ramping up the above numbers fairly often.

Everything else is gravy. 🙂

Bruce Campbell

Great post, and one that many people need a wake-up call about!

One thing I do that doesn’t really matter? Too much research, not enough action.

Things I don’t control? Pretty much anything to do with other people. All I have control of is when I need others to deliver things.

Gregor Kelt

What takes a lot of my time and generates no result, and doesn’t really suck is the design and perfectionism I try to put into everything I post. I am going to consistancy and leave my perfect or imperfect at a side, I can always do some cosmetic surgery after I get some sales 🙂

Thank you Derek

Dave Nevogt

Derek – We spent a lot of time in 2014 figuring out how to scale content that in the end we didn’t control 100% because we were allowing others to post. In 2015, we are going to develop this content ourselves so that we can distribute it easier. So your post really hit on our exact problem. Thanks


Derek, I feel like you somehow have been watching me because boy did this post speak to me TODAY! Thank you for the kick in the ass I needed to focus on what matters as I begin building my health and wellness business on line. Content creation is my forte and yet I have been spending time on EVERYTHING but that!


Spending way too much time second guessing the value of the products I’m developing. I have more development projects in-progress than I can shake an entire tree of sticks at, most at the >80% complete stage, but I get bogged down in making comparisons to competing products and things grind to a halt until I can “perfect” them (analysis paralysis maybe?).

I have a hard time getting over the hump once I’ve decided in my mind that no one in their right mind would buy what I’ve designed and manufactured. Does that qualify as “Things that don’t matter” or “Things I can’t control”, or another unknown category yet to be explored in your blog?

    Derek Halpern

    Yes, partly. Because you’re telling yourself no instead of letting your prospects tell you no.


Thanks Derek! My question mirror’s Nick’s.

I find I am spending considerable time, money and willpower on manual processes between WP, my blog, e-mail and just keeping the “back end” running. It’s killing my productivity while the expenses keep racking up each month.

My niche is very specific and technical – regulatory compliance. Expert content and wooing overwhelmed avatars is where I need to spend my time.

I seriously considered moving to a more integrated “system” platform – when and how should a newbie do that?

What can I do that will allow me to focus on producing & distributing value-adding content…which will lead to more prospects/clients?

Thanks! Deb


Derek – Thanks man! You’ve got a great attitude and a unique ability to boil it down to critical elements of bizdev. Cheers!


You nailed it. I have NO idea where to begin to fill my pipeline let alone keep it full.
Nothing matters but using the right tools to make that happen.



    What really helped me figure out how to find my ideal clients was to do some “sleuthing”. Eleanor Strong provides some great “how to” resources with very specific & detailed steps on how you can A) find your ideal client, B) figure out what they need the most, and C) create value & provide it to them in a way that creates engaged & eager prospects. Truly invaluable (and free).

    This has been a challenge for me too! One that I haven’t completely mastered yet, but it is my #1 focus for this quarter. 🙂


Thanks Derek! My question mirror’s Nick’s.

I find I am spending considerable time, money and willpower on manual processes between WP, my blog, e-mail and just keeping the “back end” running. It’s killing my productivity while the expenses keep racking up each month.

My niche is very specific and technical – regulatory compliance. Expert content and wooing overwhelmed avatars is where I need to spend my time.

I am seriously considered moving to a more integrated “system” platform – when and how should a newbie do that?

What can I do that will allow me to focus on producing & distributing value-adding content…which will lead to more prospects/clients?

Thanks! Deb

    Derek Halpern

    How much time could this really take? By inputting things into wordpress and emailing it out? This is bare bones and it’s enough to get started. I suspect you’re spending more time on other things – or getting bogged down with one specific instance.

      Cathy Sirvatka

      Derek, this comment right here helps me. It’s not necessarily that I should remove anything I’m doing per se. HOWEVER, I definitely get bogged down in details of most everything I do. So maybe I need to not worry about trying to make things as perfect as possible (which can prevent me from moving on to other things), but get things done in a good manner and move on.

        Scott Rogers


        I would also get bogged down on detail. BUT, the real secret is that you probably shouldn’t be doing most of the activities that you are doing. You need to get others to do almost anything that you do not have to do, like technical stuff, ‘back end tweeking’ and so on.

        You need to be doing whatever it is to ‘grow’ and nurture your business. Most people miss this point.


          Thanks Scott. I actually do get the point. All of us are here for different businesses. I am a web designer/front-end developer. My main thing would be to be able to hire people to do some simple stuff like basic site editing, admin stuff, etc. I have just “hired” a contract employee to do the basic editing stuff. But beyond that I don’t have the funds to hire others for “almost anything” else. That hiring was my ONE thing to do that would make a big change for my business. It’s the first time I’ve ever hired anyone (other than just for specific projects).


        Done is better than Perfect. and Ship 1st, tweek as you go. sorry can’t remember where it’s from. it’s been seriously helping me, so easy to use perfection as a procrastination tool. 🙁

Chuck Gilmore

Hmmmm. Scarey. I submitted a plan to a mentor for a new online business I’m just starting in 2015. He gently said, in so many words, “you have the cart before the horse”. I was planning on developing courses to sell. He pointed out that if I have no subscribers with no engagement, I could spend the next 3 years building 100’s of courses and still have no one interested in buying. Why? No subscribers. He suggested I create a new plan focusing on ways to build followers and subscribers with a plan to engage them via content.

That seemed like a good idea. Any thoughts anyone?

    Cathy Sirvatka

    Chuck, thanks for your comment. I know I’m not making the most of my time, but I was struggling to think of what I’m doing that I don’t need to do. Everything I think about, needs to get done. I think. Anyway, your comment about getting subscribers is where I need to be too. I have just a handful of subscribers which means when I’m writing my blogs (which I just recommitted to doing), very few people are reading them. Pat Flynn also talks about how he regrets not starting his list building earlier. However, now I have another thing I think should top the list. Gotta really spend time to think what can go to the bottom.


    Chuck, I suggest that if you’re interested in building followers through a blog then you definitely need to check out Daren’s course: http://blogthatconverts.com
    It’s an awesome course that guides you through how to build a blog that attracts followers, subscribers and then convert them into customers by selling your course(s).

    Other methods of building a following:
    – Start a podcast
    – Create a lead magnet (something that’s free and valuable that people will sign up on your email list for) and then write guest posts on blogs with traffic and social engagement.
    – Write a Kindle eBook (or series of eBooks)

    Pick one method and stick to it.



      Thanks Jared, I’ll check it out.

      Chris S

      Great course by Derek


    I guess I’m confused – for what purpose would you tell future customers that you want to collect their contact information when you’re not offering any product at that time. I’d be very wary of someone that basically presented with “hey, I might want to contact you later when I have something you might want to buy – can I have your email address?”.


      I can understand your confusion if all you were asking for was just an email and then crickets until you launch a product.

      However, you can grow your list by providing valuable content in other ways. Just like what Jared posted below. So instead of trying to get a bunch of online courses completed to sell, instead focus on creating consistent valuable content for your audience (like what Derek is doing here). You’ll be able to connect & engage with your audience & get them excited about working with you in the future.

      That way when you have your online course ready to go, you have an eager list that can’t wait to buy it.

      But it does require that you are regularly giving/connecting with them prior to launching a course.



    I read somewhere that one can expect about a 3% conversion rate when you’re launching something. For some it may be more, for other’s less. That isn’t a lot.

    If you want to get 3 people to buy something, you have to get in front of 100 people with your sales message.

    When I saw that number it really put things into perspective. It really does need to be about growing your list. But it isn’t just a numbers game. You need to build your list with the right eager & engaged prospects so that your conversion rate is even higher.

    That’s the challenge. I’d say our mentor gave you some great advice.

    Another added benefit of taking that advice: polling your audience for what they most want and need & then building content based on that. It will be far easier to sell a course people are pestering you for.

    Good luck!


      Thanks very much Jessica. Your comments are very helpful.

Lisa Olie

Super smart and just at the right time, too.
Thanks Derek!

Christopher Solimine

I’ve recently buckled down and decided it was time to effectively manage my resources. What good is an e-mail service that drains time and money? It’s not. If you have your own system that works, use it! Thanks for a great read, Derek.


Great reminder for the newbies in here! There are so many offers and things out there that sometimes it’s hard to keep the focus. Thank you!


Filling my day with stupid activities that reap no results whatsoever. It’s easy to get distracted. I now use block time and it really helps me stay focused on what matters most in my business.

Chris S

Hit it on the head with this one. And to now surprise: things that don’t matter: Social Media Followers. Things I can’t control (especially with the new Twitter analytics tool) – Social Media Organic Reach.

As you say: Loyal Subscribers outway anything especially when they Opt-IN to the e-mail list.


Hi Derek,

I really loved this article.

Katie :=)


Worrying about creating a membership site when I don’t even have a mailing list yet. That’s putting the cart before the horse.

    Melanie James

    Love it! Did the same.. silent lol xD
    Realized it was just me procrastinating and being scared of finally putting my site out there.

James Artre

“When you want to build your business, you MUST focus your time on things that you control 100%.”

Very well stated!

Nick Diliberto

Derek, you nailed it!

Quick question…

Was the “top tier email service provider” you were considering infusionsoft? I make over 6 figures with my three online businesses and was considering eventually moving over the infusionsoft.

Seems like a lot of big names use it.

But I notice you don’t (that actually sets me at ease)

The problem is that it takes a massive amount of setup time, which might go against your two main points (which by the way I soooooooo needed to hear today).



    Nick, I am pretty sure that Derek DOES use InfusionSoft. Oddly I happened to see the actual words in the changing URL when I clicked the link in the email to get to this page. Then I saw that you mentioned it. . . . Just sayin’

    Derek Halpern

    No. It’s something more high end than that.


Doesn’t matter: developing a passive self-serve program right now. Better pay for my one on one clients; need more.
Don’t control: Anything related to Facebook

Stephen Fiser

Thing that doesn’t matter: Trying to make everything on my website (design, copy, etc) PERFECT at the expense of actually creating consistent content.

    Arthur Palac

    I’ve wasted months trying to find the perfect design and WordPress theme. Then I realized what’s the point without great content provided in the right context.
    Big learning experience for me…now my main focus is on content and connections.

    Jonathan Reitz

    This one kicks my ass too.

    Regie Bariuan

    Same here! I struggle on wanting everything to be perfect instead of just focusing on the more important things.

    Derek Halpern

    That’s a perfect example of something that doesn’t matter – especially in the beginning.

    Hadarah BatYah

    Yeah I struggle with the same thing too.

    Nina Reed

    Glad to hear I’m not alone on that one..

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