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Choose Your Path, Then Choose Your Guide
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Crys Williams from Big Bright Bulb. It's a reasonable mistake to make at the start. A lot of folks did it...including me. You're launching a business and need someone to point the way across unfamiliar territory. So you pick someone who has what you want: A large home, a life of travel, a short work week, or maybe a book deal.
And why wouldn't you? It makes perfect sense to seek out the successful when you're seeking success.
You might figure: I'll do what they did and get what they got.
Sensible. Logical. Wrong. For one thing, you could do precisely what they did and not even get close to what they got. There are too many variables to predict or guarantee an outcome, as every fine print disclaimer will tell you. For another, are you sure about what they've got? How are you sure? Would you bet your business on it?
Don't choose a mentor based on their apparent results.
Success breeds success, as the saying goes, and many who are successful with their business are also in the business of appearing successful.
What we see posted on their blog, website, Twitter, and Facebook may be entirely true and yet they're just small, filtered - and sometimes strategic - snapshots of the truth.
Look at evidence of success with healthy skepticism.
Here's what I've noticed in four years as both student and instructor, providing and receiving services, coaching and being coached:
Their big and beautiful website may not yield a big and beautiful income.
Fancy websites don't make money. Relevant services that are right-priced and clearly presented to people willing (and able) to pay are what make money.
A price tag is evidence of what they'd like to earn, not what anyone has paid.
No matter how high or low the price tag, it is not proof of sales. Neither are testimonials.
Glowing testimonials aren't always from satisfied, paying clients.
Sometimes they're traded with colleagues, sometimes they come from friends who sampled the offer for free.
Followers, likes, and subscribers aren't a measure of popularity.
Engagement is a truer measure. Just because they're talking to a crowd doesn't mean anyone is listening. Are they often retweeted, liked, shared, or quoted?
Followers, likes, and subscribers aren't a measure of revenue, either.
I know someone with 15,000 followers who makes $45,000 per year, and someone else who earns five times that with one-fifth of the following.
Earnings aren't profit.
They say they earned six-figures but how much made it to their pocket? Virtual assistants, designers, webmasters, and transaction fees gnaw at many online empires, and some get bitten right to the bone.
Luxuries may be evidence of earlier success...or someone else's success.
Their lifestyle may be supported by their spouse. Their business may be funded by savings accumulated while in a corporate job. That beach house may be on loan from a generous friend. You can determine only so much from their outside, so start with knowing yourself on the inside.
Choose your path, then choose your guide
Look inward with that same curiosity and clarity. Avoid illusion and aim for insight. Think---
What kind of lifestyle do I want?
How do I work best?
What's my personality like?
How much do I need to earn?
Because if you're a laid-back loner, a Type-A mentor whose success depends on a large staff isn't a good fit.
If you're a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, you won't be comfortable with strategies offered by a card-carrying extrovert. If you're single and need to earn a full-time income for yourself and your two kids, someone who's childless and primarily supported by spousal income won't share your outlook, priorities, or urgency.
See what I mean? You don't need a model or mentor that's a carbon copy, but you'll want one you can work with in harmony. Choose a guide who aligns with who you are, how you work, and what you need, not just what you want. (Click to tweet.) Choose someone dissonant and your entrepreneurial journey will be painful trudge up a steep slope. You'll labor over every step, need more rest more often, and arrive somewhere you don't want to be.
But choose someone resonant and...wow. What an easy climb. It will be an effort, sure, but not toil. You'll enjoy the view as well as the work, and you'll be thrilled - maybe even surprised - with where you end up. About the Crys: Crys Williams' clients love how her brain works, and come to her for brainstorming, concept clarifying, idea wrangling, and problem-dissolving. She loves the pioneer spirit they bring to doing business online. Crys writes, works, and plays over at Big Bright Bulb.