BY TJ Walker
We live in an exciting time where the opportunities for idea entrepreneurs, gurus and experts have never been so plentiful. This is wonderful and great and liberating.
Unfortunately, it’s also a trap that many intelligent, passionate and well-meaning would-be gurus can’t figure their way out of. Today’s technology and communication choices are inexpensive and virtually unlimited. This means, however, that there are now an unlimited number of opportunities for aspiring gurus to waste their time and spin their wheels.
Everyone has heard of synergy, the idea that the sum of the whole is greater than the parts, especially when it comes to media and communications companies (See the history of AOL-Time Warner if you want a horror story of monumental proportion). The problem is, synergy doesn’t really work most of the time, and it especially doesn’t work if you don’t have at least one strong financial driver.
So how does this mistaken notion of synergy infect would-be gurus?
Sally A is a fledgling life coach guru. Here’s how she spends her time in a given week:
10 hours creating and marketing a new audio CD base on her insights.
10 hours a week distributing her new eBook on life coaching.
15 hours a week adding new content to her website and marketing a premium membership portion to her site.
5 hours per week pitching big New York publishers on a book.
5 hours a week doing a free speech in order to market herself as a paid speaker.
15 hours a week on twitter, Facebook and YouTube connecting with people and promoting her eBook, CD, membership site, speaking practice.
5 hours a week writing, editing and distributing her newsletter that sells and promotes a weekly free/paid teleseminar she is doing.
5 hours a week email, correspondence, and administration.
5 hours a week hosting an Internet talk radio show with the long-term plan of selling ads on her show.
Add it all up, and Sally has put in 75 hours for the week. That sounds like a lot, but wow: she has 7 revenues streams: 1. Audio CDs, 2. EBooks. 3. Regular books. 4. Membership websites. 5. Speaking fees 6. Teleseminars. 7. Internet talk radio show advertising.
Wow, this looks great, and half of these produce passive income—the best thing ever! Right?
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Sally actually made $0 this week. OK, maybe she made one $9.99 eBook sale and one $20 registration fee for her teleseminar. So if you assume she has zero expense for the week (a faulty assumption), then Sally made 40 cents per hour for the week (Welcome to the Third World!).
So where did Sally go wrong, exactly?
There is nothing in Sally’s inventory of 7 revenue drivers that really make any revenue to speak of. She’s not established enough to make more than an occasional token fee as a speaker. Here database of newsletter readers is too small to generate any substantial sales for her eBook or audio CD. Her fan base isn’t strong enough to generate paid attendees to her teleseminars in a world where every day there are more and more free teleseminars given out. Her radio audience is so small that she can’t sell any ads to sponsors.
In short, Sally doesn’t have a large enough following in general to make any of these potential revenue streams pay off—there’s not enough juice or momentum behind any one of them. Sally can’t decide if she’s going for a consumer market or a corporate market. At times she wants a corporate market, but then she wastes time and fritters away her credibility by trying to sell a $9.95 eBook to General Electric. At other times she is trying to market herself to a mass consumer audience, but since she only gets in front of a few thousand people’s eyeballs a week from all of their combined marketing, media and social media efforts, the numbers don’t add up and she makes almost no sales.
Sally is spinning her wheels—she’s busy, busy, busy, but it’s not adding up to anything and it never will at the rate she is going. Sally needs to eliminate 6 out of the 7 so-called revenue drivers she has and focus on one and only one thing that will help her make money and build an audience. In Sally’s case, she might be a lot better off working as a full time middle school guidance counselor for the next three years, thus freeing herself from immediate financial pressures, and then spending every moment of free time blogging on her subject area and developing a large mass following. Then and only then can she possible find a second revenue driver to complement her guidance counselor salary.
Remember, just because you can do a new 30-minute podcast each week or Twitter 29 times a day doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes more really is less. Until you find one true, rock solid way to make money, forget all of the other so-called revenue drivers.