Business Is a Social Game

March 3rd, 2014 by Steve Pavlina

If you want to be an effective entrepreneur, I’d say you should have at least 10 good friends who are already successful entrepreneurs. If that sounds like a lot to you, I’d say that something is very wrong with your mindset.

Few entrepreneurs succeed in isolation. Business is a social game.

I’d estimate that about half of the money I’ve made in business (and in my life overall) actually came from other businesses. The other half would be directly from consumers. That includes my computer games business. For my personal development business, a lot more of my revenue has come from other businesses.

While I like selling direct to customers, such as by selling tickets to my workshops, I’d need a lot of individual customers to match what one good business deal can do. How many individual customers would do more than $1 million worth of business with my company, even in a lifetime? I’d imagine not many. Yet I’ve done more than $1M of business with a few different business partners over the years, and I’ve done many other deals that have generated revenue in the $100K-$1M range.

Am I saying you can’t go it alone? No. You could do that. But the odds of success as a strict solopreneur who only deals with individuals are stacked against you.

Doing Business With Friends

Where do you find good business deals? Through networking. I hate that word though since it sounds too cold. A better term is friendship.

Business deals happen through friendship. At least that’s how it plays out with me. I meet another entrepreneur. We get to talking and realize we have compatible business models, attitudes, and values. We realize that in some particular area, our businesses could mutually support each other. We discuss possibilities. We settle on a deal that seems win-win-win: They win. I win. The customers win.

We do the deal. Value flows. Money flows.

If the deal works and everyone does their part honestly and honorably, and if the deal adds value and generates positive results, it strengthens the friendship too. Try doing a million dollars’ worth of business with someone, and see how friendly you become. More business will likely result.

Why Coaches Are Often Broke

I know dozens of life coaches. Most of them are broke. Why? They aren’t getting enough paid clients. Why not? Because they don’t have time to do quality coaching AND effective marketing simultaneously.

I also know coaches who have endless streams of new clients. Why? They partner with other friends in business who have lots of people who’d love coaching, if they could only get a referral to a qualified coach. That’s an easy win-win-win situation.

This is an overgeneralization to be sure, but it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the broke coaches try to do everything themselves, whereas the prosperous coaches invite and allow other partners to help them succeed.

Social Support in Business

It’s good to have friends you can turn to for help — not just for advice, but for doing some actual income-generating business together.

When I use the term “social support” in my articles, I don’t just mean Facebook friends that verbally encourage you. That kind of support isn’t particularly valuable unless you’re suffering from low self-esteem and need constant validation.

I’m talking about having friends with whom you can do mutually beneficial exchanges that generate real income. If someone is supporting your business, it means they’re helping you generate business.

How many of your friends have sent real business your way? How many of your friends are your paying customers?

I could probably list at least 50 entrepreneurs I know that I could call on the phone, propose a business deal, and within an hour we’ll have a tentative agreement to do something that generates at least $50K in extra revenue for someone.

Individual consumers normally don’t care about this B2B side of my business. The vast majority of them just enjoy my free content. Some of them wonder how I actually make money since I hardly have anything to sell to them. They don’t know that most of my income comes not from individuals or from visitors to my website but from other businesses.

What’s an example of a deal I’ve done with another business? One simple example would be my book deal with Hay House. I receive ongoing royalties as well as a share of licensing fees whenever they get the book published in another language. It’s been 5-1/2 years since my book came out, and this deal still generates ongoing income for my business as well as for Hay House. This was one of the smaller deals.

Doing Business Sideways

Do you have people regularly calling and emailing you with proposals that could generate extra income for you? If not then why not? Maybe it’s time to stop hiding behind your laptop, and start making some actual friends in your field.

I hit a major turning point in my computer games business when I finally realized that being socially isolated was hurting me. At first I couldn’t bring myself to accept that this was a problem, but I decided to take another entrepreneur’s advice and put myself out there anyway. I got involved in a trade association in my field, including serving as an officer for two years. It was a lot of work for no direct pay, but I made dozens of new friends in the industry. That made my life so much easier.

Within a matter of months, my income increased by a factor of ten. The friends I made turned out to be extremely helpful resources for me. For instance, they taught me how to do some pretty decent marketing from home and at very low cost.

Eventually I decided to suggest some direct business deals with my industry friends. My proposals were well-received, and shortly thereafter and for the rest of the time I ran that business, I earned thousands of dollars per month in extra income from those deals. Basically I began publishing other developers’ games through my games website. I offered their games to my customers and paid the developers a royalty for every sale.

If you have a lot of friends, sometimes they’ll help you in business purely out of friendship too, especially if it’s easy for them. But if no one knows who you are, good luck with that.

Work Together

Don’t mistakenly assume that you have to figure out every piece of your business puzzle on your own. That’s a newbie mistake. You’re not going to be great at everything. But where you’re weak, someone else is strong. Work together. This benefits everyone.

If you’re really good at coaching, for instance, but you’re weak at marketing, then you may seriously benefit by partnering with a business that has lots of potential clients for you but no coaching services to offer. You get referrals from them and split the money.

The best deals have a limited downside (low risk) and a very high potential upside. If they don’t work out, it’s not a huge loss for anyone. If there are few sales, well… at least you tried. Maybe you didn’t make money, but at least you didn’t lose much money to test your idea. However, when a deal really works, it could be a home run for all involved — the perfect match. And it could lead to many more similar deals.

Personally I love going into new deals not knowing what will happen. Some of them are disappointing duds. Some are delightful hits. Some are in between. I enjoy the discovery process of finding out. I never know if a new deal will only earn enough to pay for groceries… or if it will earn enough to buy a house. It’s a fun game to play when the downside is minimal, but the upside is potentially huge.

Another advantage of doing deals with other entrepreneurs is that these are often smart, fun, and interesting people to work with. While individual customers are the lifeblood of many businesses, dealing with normal customers and clients day in and day out can be a grind for anyone. A lively new deal with a creative entrepreneur can add some spice to the mix.

Make friends in your field. Propose some win-win-win deals. Do business with other entrepreneurs. This can spell the difference between dismal scarcity and delightful prosperity. And it can make business a lot more fun.

Steve Recommends
Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your results. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Feng Shui Fest (Free) - Alter your space to increase flow and peace
Site Build It! - Use SBI to start your own money-making website
Getting Rich with Ebooks - Earn passive income from ebooks
Lefkoe Method - Permanently eliminate a limiting belief in 20 minutes
PhotoReading - Read books 3 times faster
Paraliminals - Condition your mind for positive thinking and success
The Journal - Record your life lessons in a secure private journal
Sedona Method (FREE audios) - Release your blocks in a few minutes
Life on Purpose - A step-by-step process to discover your life purpose

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Be an Apprentice for 5 Months

February 27th, 2014 by Steve Pavlina

If the following four items apply to you, then you might appreciate this post, which is about a special coaching program. Otherwise, if you don’t qualify for all four, there’s no need to read the rest.

  1. You’d rather be self-employed than work for someone else.
  2. You recognize that you could significantly increase your income by improving your focus and efficiency.
  3. You care about following your path with a heart, so it’s important that you earn your money through meaningful, purpose-driven work that has a positive impact on people’s lives.
  4. You’re ready to invest in coaching from an experienced business coach for the next five months to achieve your goals faster, and you’re willing and able to pay a fair price for that help.

Again, if you don’t match all four of these, there’s no need to keep reading.

The Challenge

Since I’ve been teaching the “create and share value” approach for many years, I’ve heard from hundreds, if not thousands, of readers who’ve quit doing soulless work and started pursuing their paths with a heart. These ripples have now reached the point where I suspect that most of my readers don’t have corporate jobs anymore.

Consequently, most of the people I hear from today seem to be self-employed in some fashion, OR they’ve managed to find jobs they really like. I see the happy-with-my-job situation most often in the tech sector, where people find jobs at fast-moving, innovative companies and enjoy the ride.

The key is that people are saying no to mind-numbing jobs they’ve been doing mostly to make other people rich; they’re aligning with their inner truth instead of trying to suppress it. I know that this isn’t an easy path to follow, but it’s great to see these ripples happening more frequently than ever.

If you haven’t made this leap yet — i.e. if you’re still working at a job you hate — well… it’s becoming clear that your peers are waking up and leaving you behind. If you’re going to join them, you might want to step up sooner rather than later.

Getting onto the path with a heart is just the first step, however. Once you take that step, here are some of the problems you may encounter:

  • Not earning much money – Many new entrepreneurs have a rude awakening when they discover that it’s more challenging than they expected to CREATE and DELIVER value that a sufficient number people will pay good money for.
  • Feeling isolated – Being the only heart-centered entrepreneur that you know can leave you feeling isolated and alone.
  • Staying focused – With so many opportunities and so many distractions, how do you stay focused on your important core work and make real progress?
  • Marketing – If hardly anyone knows who you are, how will you generate business?

You can solve these problems on your own. That’s possible. The downside is that you’ll probably give up before you make it work. And if you do make it work, it will likely take you many years to figure this out. What many new entrepreneurs think they can accomplish in one year actually takes them five years.

The shortcut is to get some direct mentoring, coaching, and accountability support from someone who’s already dealt with these problems and solved them.

Have you read the book Mastery by Robert Greene? If not, I highly recommend reading it. I can save you some time by summarizing that book in one sentence: If you want to become a master within your field, become an apprentice first.

Greene discovered that the great masters had great mentors. They had people to show them the ropes. Part of this involved sharing advice. Another part involved accountability. Mentors held their apprentices to higher standards and made sure they got their work done, especially during the phases where motivation can drop.

I encourage you NOT to make the mistakes I did when I first started on this path. For my first five years in business, I lost money and sank into debt. In 1994 I began with $20K in savings. By 1999 I had zero savings and $150K of debt.  It wasn’t till my sixth year — and after a bankruptcy — that I finally had my first profitable year. After that I was golden, and every year since then I’ve made money. I’ve been able to draw a six-figure salary from my business for many years now.

If you want to model my approach, you’ll have your first profitable year six years after you begin. How does that sound?

So either you can follow my path, which requires extraordinary patience and tenacity, or you can take a smarter and more efficient approach — the approach that Robert Greene recommends in Mastery. Get mentored, and save yourself years of ignorant and naive mistakes.

What did I do differently during that sixth year? I reached out for help and got advice and wisdom from other successful entrepreneurs. I finally swallowed my pride, connected with other people in my field who were doing better than I was financially, and I learned from them. That made all the difference in the world. Beginning with that shift, I not only made more money, but I also worked fewer hours.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a Starbucks near Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. I’m enjoying a spontaneous one-week trip here — for fun, for variety, and to mix things up. Less than 24 hours after feeling an urge to take this trip, I was at the airport awaiting my flight. During my first five years in business, I NEVER did this sort of thing. The irony is that by taking more time off, my income went way up. I now earn more money during one night’s sleep than I used to earn in a month of hard work.

It always seemed counter-intuitive to me that taking more time off can significantly boost my productivity. That was a lesson I learned from other entrepreneurs. In his book The Success Principles, Jack Canfield recommends taking 130-150 full days off each year. A day off means no work-related activities whatsoever from midnight to midnight. No business calls. No checking email. No social media. Is that much time off unfathomable to you? It was to me at one time. But stepping away from your business completely and coming back to it with a fresh perspective is one of many strategies that highly successful entrepreneurs use. Since I’m working today by writing this, today wouldn’t technically qualify as a full day off for me. I’m nowhere near 130 full days off per year (I do a lot of partial work days, like today), but I’m seeing surprisingly good results as I move further in that direction.

Would you like to learn more of these simple productivity secrets?

The Solution

As it turns out, business coach Ryan Eliason is offering an in-depth coaching program to directly mentor people who are dealing with the challenges above. This is a very hands-on program with specific action steps for people who are ready to build a new business or improve an existing one.

Ryan’s 5-month (21-week) program includes:

  • 21 weekly coaching lessons (typically a 75-90 minute lesson each time)
  • 21 weekly live group coaching calls (2 hours each)
  • Step-by-step assignments to help you build and improve your business
  • Masterminding support with fellow entrepreneurs
  • Access to Ryan’s personal Rolodex of recommended resources (this could save you months of research)
  • 24/7 access to Ryan’s private forum for Q&A and additional coaching
  • Forms and templates for goal setting, accountability, and tracking your progress
  • Several additional high-value bonuses (see Ryan’s sign-up page for details)

Does it appeal to you to have an experienced entrepreneur and business coach hold your hand through the process of starting, building, and improving your own heart-centered business?

Since this is a group coaching situation, it’s a lot more economical than paying for one-on-one coaching. Solo coaching is great, but with group coaching you’ll save a lot of money. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of connecting with other entrepreneurs who are going through the program with you.

The Coach

The coach behind the program is Ryan Eliason. I connected with Ryan through our mutual friend Ocean Robbins. Ryan and Ocean started off in the non-profit space together about 25 years ago — a couple of heart-centered guys wanting to change the world for the better.

Eventually Ryan became inspired by the idea of using business as a vehicle for creating positive change in the world. With the right business model — which can be a tricky thing to develop — Ryan learned that it’s possible to improve people’s lives AND enjoy a financially abundant lifestyle as well.

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, then you know that this lesson is one that I had to learn as well. Ryan and I are on the same page in our understanding that financial abundance stems from creating and delivering real value to people. That’s a simple realization, but a profoundly practical one. In business it spells the difference between frustration and flow.

That said, creating value is only part of the path. Getting your value delivered is a whole different animal. Another step beyond that is learning how to create and deliver value that people will PAY GOOD MONEY for. And beyond that is encouraging those same people to REFER their friends, family, and co-workers to your business.

Again, you can figure all of this out on your own. Or you can save yourself several years and go the apprenticeship route. I recommend the latter. So does Robert Greene. Coaching is a high-value investment.

Your Tuition

Your tuition for this coaching program is $895. Or you can do an installment plan for $197 per month for 5 months.

There’s a 100% money-back guarantee.

If you’re interested, visit Ryan’s sign-up page to review the details and get enrolled. Hundreds of people have already paid to enroll in this specific training. Those people will be your co-apprentices as you experience this program together… or they’ll be the people leaving you behind when you see the new business ventures they create without you.

So are you going to continue slogging it out on your own, or will you swallow your pride, admit you could use help from other entrepreneurs, and enjoy playing the role of apprentice for the next 5 months?

Registration closes on February 28th at 11pm Pacific time, so you have about a day and a half left to decide.

The training begins on March 1st. If you’re going to do this, then do it.

Update: Registration for this program is now closed, but you can still get on the waiting list to be notified if a spot opens up.

Steve Recommends
Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your results. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Feng Shui Fest (Free) - Alter your space to increase flow and peace
Site Build It! - Use SBI to start your own money-making website
Getting Rich with Ebooks - Earn passive income from ebooks
Lefkoe Method - Permanently eliminate a limiting belief in 20 minutes
PhotoReading - Read books 3 times faster
Paraliminals - Condition your mind for positive thinking and success
The Journal - Record your life lessons in a secure private journal
Sedona Method (FREE audios) - Release your blocks in a few minutes
Life on Purpose - A step-by-step process to discover your life purpose

If you've found Steve's work helpful, please donate to show your support.

Get Steve's Free Newsletter to stay in touch and receive the newest updates

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