Just recently, particularly after reading The 4 Hour Work Week again for about the third time, I've been weighing up doing too much work vs. too little work and how many projects you can really take on at one point in time.
For the past couple of years, my biggest project and focus has been developing an internet marketing business. The reason for this focus is simple: to have flexibility in when, where, what, why and how I work. Originally my thought was: if I can develop an online business, then it will give me the freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want, which is kind of cool. Additionally I don't have to worry about too many expenses, like staffing, rent, etc.
However, anyone who has looked into this industry at all knows that there are so many areas where you can get bogged down and try to do too much. This is really where I want to focus my attention today, because yes, there is always the risk of doing too little, however for many entrepreneurs like me, the risk of doing too much is usually a lot higher.
If you too are looking to get into internet marketing, or hey, starting any business for that matter, your number one priority must be 1 project, at least during the initial stages of development. For a traditional business, this is usually not too much of a problem, however for internet marketers this can be a massive problem, because the perceived cost of changing from one project to another or not seeing a project through the initial development phases is low. This factor is one of the primary reasons why internet marketers don't succeed, i.e. they don't see a project through to completion, or they don't stick at something long enough to see it succeed.
Secondly, education is a massive focus when you're beginning in internet marketing, i.e. what do you learn and who do you learn from? The bottom line is that a majority of people who fail at internet marketing try to learn too much or pay too much attention to too many people. My number one recommendation here is that you need to plan before you learn. That is, don't learn something for the sake of learning something – learn something because you want to integrate it into your internet marketing and begin to APPLY it immediately.
It's very easy to sit back and read blog posts, or to go through training after training trying to get on the newest and best traffic generation strategy. The problem is, when you do that, you can have the switching cost involved again. In other words, the time and money you spent learning the strategies you are now going to abandon to pursue the new strategy. This switching cost can really be applied to any business, strategy, or project that you are involved with, which is again where so many people do fail.
Don't get me wrong, I don't recommend you follow a business or a strategy that is not getting you results. What I do recommend you do though, is clearly analyze why you're starting this project or training, what you are abandoning to start this new project, training or strategy, and whether the results you will get are likely to be dramatically improved by abandoning whatever it is you are abandoning. If you don't think you are abandoning something, then look again, because what you'll find is that you'll generally have to give up something to do whatever it is you are contemplating doing.
Once you have chosen a niche or a target market for your business or project, the primary thing that you need to do is to start building a database of these people. Your initial focus should always be using one or two key marketing methods to develop your database. If you can successfully do this, then you can successfully build a business around this niche.
One big mistake is to spend massive amounts of time planning and developing your products. However the key thing you need to understand before you can do any of this is what your prospects are looking for. This can be done while you're building your database.
So for any entrepreneur considering multiple projects or businesses my recommendation is to have a clear and simple focus and consider what time you really have available. I highly recommend just focusing on one new project at a time, because there is a lot of time spent in finding out what works, getting that business to meet its costs, and giving you an income for your time as quickly as possible. This obviously takes time, so before you diversify, I would recommend you achieve this.
This principle of simplifying your focus isn't just applicable to multiple businesses, but even functions within a business, e.g. websites, products, and even where you concentrate your marketing efforts. So where you have many choices in any aspect of your business, choose one or two and work consistently on them to produce the results. Success is usually due to a concentrated effort over a long period of time on a single business or strategy.
Mark Blomeley is the founder of Social Media Branding Australia, a company that specialises in training business owners and managing social media campaigns for small, medium and large businesses. Read more about Mark here.