SEO and marketing are two extremely valuable services to business owners. With SEO, you open the door to targeted buying traffic – traffic that’s already interested in buying by the time they hit your page.

And through internet marketing, you can acquire customers from around the world.

On top of this, although these two concepts are generally viewed as advanced, they’re relatively simple to get into. After a few years of using each strategy on your own, you may want to start offering it as a service.

In this article, I’d like to talk about a crucial lesson I learned through offering these types of services, and how I could’ve made my life a WHOLE lot easier by making some simple changes in the beginning.

Have a Plan

This is, hands down, the most important part. When I first got into the service business, I had no plan. I had a lot of great knowledge, but I didn’t know how to offer that in a way that would work with MY life.

Instead, I focused solely on the client. What could I offer them? How could I provide them with more value? What could I do to make their lives easier?

Of course, this is a great mindset to have, but never sacrifice your own sanity for the sake of the customer.

I found myself promising the world to my customers, and even though I could deliver everything i promised, what I hadn’t predicted was how much time and focus delivering that would take. I found myself SWAMPED with work. I was seriously stressed out, and my clients were expecting me to deliver… because I told them I would!

This put me in an awful spot, where I had to work around the clock just to deliver on the crazy promises I made.

Oh yeah – I charged pennies for all these extras!

I was so desperate to get my first client that I took on WAY more work than I could handle once I finally got them. As a result, the money I thought would be so beneficial coming from the client started to look like not nearly enough.

Here’s one example of how this came back to haunt me:

I was working with a client on a web project and was working with something I had never worked with before. Now, I’m a sharp guy and can figure things out pretty easily. So I went ahead and told the client I could do what they wanted at no extra charge – even though I had no experience with it before!

Well, I was able to deliver, but doing so took a HUGE amount of time and effort. There were multiple nights I stayed up just to get this done, and all for FREE.

If I had sat down and said “if the client asks me to do something brand new, I will charge them $X amount extra depending on the work” BEFORE I got involved with the client, I would’ve known exactly what to do!

Don’t let money blind you. Realize that no matter how much money you’re making, if all your energy and focus is being drained, you’re not going to care. Money is not a motivator.

So before you get into the business, decide how much work you want to do. Make a full outline of when you’ll work and for how long. Plan out exactly what happens if the client wants you to do something you didn’t agree on, or if they want something you’ve never done before.

That way, you’ll never be over your head. My problem was that I locked myself in with these clients. I had to deliver what I promised or my integrity (and business) was down the drain.

However, if I had presented them with an outline of a plan, I could’ve easily kept my integrity, business and sanity without worrying about failing to deliver.

Having a plan puts you in control. If you plan out every aspect of your business and THEN launch, even if a surprise comes, you’re prepared for it! As a result, you won’t be forced to stress out over it and spend all night worrying… unless that’s in the plan!

It’s about control, and without a plan, you have no control.

Think Outside the Box

What if I told you business and making money is easy? You’d probably give me a blank stare. And so would the millions who have tried to start their own businesses and failed (although there’s really no failure in business).

Easy? What do you call 18-hour workdays, easy?

Sometimes, actually. If all it takes to make a significant amount of money is a few 18-hour workdays, that’s a lot easier than working eight-hour workdays for a lifetime. 

But here’s what I really mean. There are billions of untapped ways to make money. All it requires is a little outside-of-the-box thinking.

There’s that phrase again, “outside of the box.” It’s a phrase that’s commonly used and 95% of people who use it don’t have a clue what it means (yeah, I made that statistic up). Funny thing is, by saying “think outside the box,” it almost encourages thinking inside the box of thinking outside of the box.

Don’t Limit Yourself

You could do a Google search on how to think outside the box right now and you’d probably get a bunch of results. But I doubt any would really tell you how to think outside the box. Because thinking outside the box isn’t really an action – it’s the mindset.

I’m going to do something incredible in this article. I’m going to give you a mindset you can use to think outside the box. Brace yourselves…

All human fear comes from uncertainty. Your house creaks at 3:00 AM. Could be perfectly normal. Or it could be a crazy psychopath murderer about to violently destroy your essence. And even though logic tells you the odds of a murderer being in your house are next to nothing, you still fear it.

Why? Uncertainty.

You could get out of bed and check, but that makes it worse. Because if you don’t find the murderer, it doesn’t mean he’s not there… no, he could just be fantastic at hiding. 


Now think of starting a business. What stops people from starting a business? Uncertainty. Sure, it sounds like a great idea to quit a nine-to-five job and start a business. But what if it fails? What will the children eat? How will you survive?

Uncertainty stops people from starting businesses.

Now think of this. Have you ever come across a problem, tried to solve it then given up, viewing the problem as unsolvable? This is true for a huge number of people. In fact, we’ve gotten to the point where very few people are actually “problem solvers.”

It’s easy to look at this and say, “wow, we’ve gotten lazy.” But I say it’s not laziness that stops us from solving problems. It’s uncertainty.

If we’re uncertain a problem has a solution, we’re not going to work very hard at it. We’re going to do a certain amount of work, then when nothing works, give up. And it’s not because of laziness, it’s because of uncertainty. We don’t want to spend all our time on a problem that is unsolvable.

Here’s how you think outside the box

View every problem as solvable. Every. Single. One.

This does something remarkable to your mindset. Instead of thinking, “I’ve tried everything, this can’t be solved,” you think “I haven’t solved it yet, there must be something I haven’t tried.”

This makes ALL the difference. This is how people come up with ridiculously crazy and innovative ways to solve problems. They realize since a problem exists, so does a solution… somewhere. 

So they keep working at it. They don’t give up, ever. If something’s not working, they try something else. They attack problems with the attitude of creativity, with an “anything is possible” mindset.

I’ve got a friend who wanted to get into major events for free. That was his problem, “how do I get into major events for free.” The solution? He created his own media company and messaged promoters for tickets.

He’s never been denied free tickets.

When any problem is viewed as solvable, outside-of-the-box thinking comes naturally.

 Forget “Business Plan” – Think VISION

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “I really need to get my business plan in order, then I can start!”

It’s a common excuse used by wantrepreneurs (thanks for the word, AppSumo) – people who say they want to start a business, but when it comes time to really get down to business, they never take any action.

You don’t need a business plan. You need a vision. There’s a BIG difference. One is worthless while the other practically guarantees success.

Planning Does Matter

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying planning doesn’t matter. In fact, I’ll even go as far as saying that once you get business fundamentals down, planning is the most important part of the process. 

Because you can get to the point where you plan something out and it actually works the way you planned it. Of course, if you’re a business newbie, it’s very unlikely a business will work exactly how you’ve planned it.

So instead of a plan, think in terms of a VISION. 

A vision is a passion. They are practically inseparable. This is why even writing the phrase “business plan” feels stale… it doesn’t mean anything, it lacks passion! Vision, on the other hand, immediately evokes feelings of passion.

When you first want to start a business, instead of thinking about how you can write your business plan, think about your VISION for the business instead.

How? Why I’m glad you asked!

Forming a Vision

A vision is formed when a business (or another idea) meets two qualities:

1) It provides you massive value

2) It provides everyone who will be affected by it with massive value

Think the lightbulb. “If I invent the lightbulb, I’ll be filthy rich! Why? Because BILLIONS of people benefit from the lightbulb!”

This is something you can really get passionate about. And that passion is absolutely necessary because it will provide the motivation you need to get through the “I don’t know what to do” blues.

The Good News: Chances Are, You’re Not Lazy

I have a lot of friends who are working on a business or are interested in getting into the business.

One of them in particular is very hard on himself. He’s into real estate and is doing a fantastic job. But he’s always talking about how he could probably make more money quicker in an internet business (he’s right).

So I tell him to make an internet business! He always tells me, “I can’t, I’m so lazy!”

Is he really lazy? I don’t think so. I just don’t think he’s found his vision yet. See, a business does require passion to be successful. No, this doesn’t mean you have to be passionate about the business itself… you can be passionate about the process of doing business. But you do have to have passion, or else you’ll never make it through the significant workload.

Therefore, if you’re stuck on the “I don’t know what to do” portion of the business journey, first off, don’t be so hard on yourself! Chances are you’re not lazy.

Trust me… I was “lazy” before I started making real headway into the business. And now that I’ve found my vision, I enjoy working! I do it all the time, every day, no breaks. And that’s how I prefer to live my life.

Instead of being self-doubting and calling yourself lazy, reframe your situation. Frame your life as a search (at this point) to find what you’re passionate about. Instead of spending time grinding in a new business venture that you hate, spend that time accumulating business knowledge and keeping your eyes out for any opportunities.

As long as you’re diligently working at getting real knowledge (this means reading, attending seminars, finding mentors… mainly, doing whatever it takes!) and keeping your eyes open for opportunity, sooner rather than later, you’ll find your vision.

The problem with many beginning entrepreneurs is they don’t know enough to find a good opportunity even if it’s right in their face. With the right knowledge, you will start to see opportunities everywhere. At this point, you can use your knowledge to really start providing value – both to yourself and to other people.

And that’s when you’ll get that vision and passion!

Good business requires focus – 100% of it. If you want to be successful, no matter what you’re working on at any given point, your focus needs to be business.

For me, that includes keeping an eye out for everything that’s going on in the business world. What are other people doing? What’s working? What isn’t working? How can I use someone else’s ideas to improve my own business?

“Buy something, get a free gift card!” 

The promotion is simple: buy two medium pizzas for $5.99 each and get a “free” $5 gift card.

I needed dinner but wasn’t sure what I wanted. I went to Domino’s website and got an eyeful of the promotion. And just like that, I was ordering Domino.

This is the first part of the promotion. The gift card incentive converts customers who would’ve been on-the-fence otherwise. I didn’t want to get Domino specifically… I just wanted food! But Domino’s offered direct value to me, making me want to become a customer.

Here’s another benefit to the gift card model – in my head, I included the gift card in the FIRST purchase.

I was thinking something like this, “wow, if I buy two pizzas, it’s basically like buy one, get one free!”

But it’s not! Because Domino’s knows full well that many people who order through this promotion will never use the gift card – especially because with this promotion, you had to use the gift card within 7 days!

So with the mindset of “oh, it’s buying one get one free”, I bought two pizzas, when originally, I may have never bought one in the first place!

It gets better.

What’s a $5 Gift Card Really Worth?

We’re talking about Domino’s here. Basically, the cheapest meal you can get is $5.99. Therefore, a $5 gift card doesn’t even get me the smallest possible meal!

What does this mean? I need to go back to Domino’s within 7 days AND give them more money to make the gift card worth anything!

I was on the fence about where to get food. Seeing the promotion, I decided to go with Domino’s, even though I didn’t really care where I got food from to begin with.

The $5 gift card made it seem like my meal was half off, even though I was actually ordering double!

In order for the gift card to be effective, I had to go back to Domino’s within 7 days!

The gift card wasn’t enough to buy anything of substance on the menu. Therefore, not only did I have to go back to Domino’s, but I also had to give them more money!

Thanks to this promotion, I went from someone who just wanted food to someone who gave Domino’s over $20. Because yes, I did end up going back to Domino’s! Because the gift card did give me value, and since I was hungry, why not?!

Domino’s wins on all counts here. They win customers over who may have not gone with them in the first place. They get customers to spend more money initially due to the “it’s $5 off!” illusion. They get customers coming back to spend even more money later, due to the gift card.

Now, it’s important to realize that this promotion works so well because Domino’s is giving value. I’m a satisfied customer, because I got plenty of food and a discount. I would’ve bought food anyways, both times. But for Domino’s, it makes all the difference, because instead of not getting a customer at all, they got a customer who paid them more than what the average customer would pay.