When you first get started building a platform for your business, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time and energy without getting much (if anything) in return, in terms of income. But in doing so, you’re building an asset that’s eventually going to work for you. During 2013, my business earned its first one-thousand dollars and in 2014, I’m looking to see exponential growth. Here are the 10 the biggest impact things I have done and/or continue to do and recommend doing to earn your first one-thousand dollars with your new business:

Woman Hands Typing on a laptop with Red Mug

1. Think Long Term

Getting a business up and running, or just making $1,000 outside of your job for that matter, is not going to happen overnight. My first one-thousand dollars finally came in after doing my thing online for almost two years. Of course, the timing will vary from one person to the next, as it will depend on whether you’re selling services, products, advertising or affiliate’s products. The important thing is to have patience and understand that in your case, this could take longer than the time it took many “gurus” out there to do it. In my case, it took quite a while. Patience and long term thinking is crucial here, otherwise you’ll give up and quit.

2. Stick to Your Values

I rolled my eyes every time “ethics” was mentioned back in school. In the real world, it’s more about values, because let’s face it, most of us have values that are far higher than societies standards of ethics. Things go on all around us every day that are “perfectly fine” in society’s eyes, but make me sick to my stomach. So forget “ethics”, it’s my values that I pay attention to.

I even get mad at myself for holding these values sometimes. I often times look around at others who are “gaming the system” and making the “bling bling” and get pretty darn down about it. Here I am struggling to squeeze $1,000 in revenue here and there from my business and others are making the “big bucks” by doing things I could be doing but am not. What to do, what to do… Sometimes, I’m upset about missing out, but overall I feel good believing that I’m doing the right thing by doing this all according to my values. When you stay true to your values, you’ll feel good about what you’re doing and that will help drive you to do bigger and better things. Best of all, others may even notice and look up to you for it.

3. Build Relationships

I believe building relationships is the single most important thing you can do to build a business. Without relationships, you have no business. Obviously, we all have relationships with others. If we’re not online, we likely don’t have many relationships with people outside of our local area. That’s fine, if your business is a local restaurant or corner store. But, if you want to help others master their Photoshop skills, get their personal finances in order or teach people how to throw a curveball, you’ll likely want to get online so you can connect with others all over the world.

In 2014, you don’t have to physically be at the same location as others to build relationships with them. There’s Skype, Google Hangouts and Webinars today that, along with a webcam and mic (which both come with most laptops today), you can get to know others right from your living room. All it takes is a simple email to others to ask if they’d like to have a call.

In the last two weeks alone, I’ve had close to 10 video calls with others all over the U.S. One of them alone brought in two sales of my new Create My Independence with Blogging course. Another laid the foundation for a new partnership that could end up being game changing in my business. The others have helped me in countless ways as well. On Friday, I’m looking forward to my bi-weekly mastermind call where I always get new ideas and feedback to move forward as well as get the chance to help others too.

Relationships are HUGE. As your relationship network grows, so will your income. It just works that way.

4. Build Your Skill Set

Two projects in particular that brought in income for me over the past six months both had to do with blogging and the technical side of it. Two years ago, when I started writing about my personal finances, I barely knew what a blog was. I learned slowly as I wrote close to 200 posts (200,000 words) about my journey. With constant learning and experimenting, I figured out how to build an email list and deliver free goodies to my new subscribers, how to completely redesign my site, how to back it up, how to secure it, how to build additional sites and eventually how to build an online course (also, sign up here to get my free video series on how to start your own blog). Whoah, looking back, I can’t believe all I’ve learned how to do all that.

And as it turns out, I have more knowledge on this stuff than many of my readers do, so when the opportunity to help them learn this stuff too came along, I jumped on it. First, by offering free help in hopes of earning their support through affiliate sales of the hosting company I use, Bluehost. Second, through the step-by-step online course on how to build a blog, that I recently launched (sign up here to learn more about it).

I continue to focus on building my skill set. I think that’s where the opportunities are. When you know how to do something that others don’t, BAM, that’s where you opportunity is to create a business. Don’t let your learning die. Keep learning and it will pay off.

5. Stay Focused

I have a really hard time staying focused. In the past 6 months, I’ve had countless ideas on directions I’ve wanted to go. All the way from doing consulting with small businesses on CRM software, to creating a Mint.com tutorial website and then to creating an online course on blogging, I’ve been all over the place. Recently, when mentioning one of my new ideas to my girlfriend, she did something very smart and told me to stay focused. I think I have ADHD or something, because focus is hard for me. But, it’s important because if you’re drifting from this thing to that, you’ll never follow through to the end of each project to make sure you finish it and get the full potential value from it. In my case today, now that I’ve gotten my course done, my plan is to follow through on getting it out there to the world to fully capitalize on it’s potential value.

6. Be Realistic

Having realistic expectations is important as well when getting your business off the ground. Sure, there are others out there (and you hear about them ALL THE TIME), who are making big bucks super early in their business’ life. That COULD happen, but likely isn’t going to. We all are unique and we have to find what works for us and heck, what our place is in this world. And that takes time.. and in many cases.. money too. So be realistic and understand that this whole process could take months… or even years to get off the ground. And you’ll have times when you want to give up too. Don’t expect this to be easy. I don’t care how smart you are or how much “experience you have”. It’s not going to be easy.

7. Identify a Need

When what we offer can fill a need that someone else has, we’re likely to get paid for that (if we can communicate our value properly). I know that if someone can help me accomplish what I want to accomplish, I’ll happily exchange my hard earned cash for it. Here are some examples of what I’ve purchased in the past 6 months that I believe are helping me achieve my goals:

  • The AWeber email marketing service
  • A new microphone (for podcasting)
  • A media hosting account (for hosting podcast episodes)
  • A new Macbook Pro (to record and process HD videos)
  • An online course on how to create online courses
  • A wordpress membership site software plugin
  • A ticket to (and hotel/travel expenses to and from) the Financial Blogger Conference

I spent close to $4,000 on my business last year. Coming from a guy who spends less than $25,000 per year on his living expenses, I’m willing to pay money to those who can help me accomplish my goals. That’s how business works. If you and I can help our audience achieve their goals, there is a piece of the pie for us as well. It’s all about identifying what the needs of our audience is and how we can fulfill them.

8. Give A Lot Away

I’ve found that every time I’ve had inflows of cash in my business, it came as a result of giving a lot away first. I believe that giving away your knowledge and helping others first, without asking for something in return, is a great way to build credibility and trust. Once people see that you’re the kind of person who gives great stuff away, you’ve instantly got credibility. Oh, and they know that you know your stuff too.

This has proven to be true over the past year with all of my endeavors:

It’s the strategy I believe in the most. First, giving away, and then giving people an opportunity to get more value by offering a premium product or service for sale.

9. Learn to Accept Failure

At some point early in our lives, we learn that failure isn’t allowed. When we get an “F” in school, that’s unacceptable. It means we get grounded and can’t see our friends. It means we have to move down into the “special” class. It means we are just not as good as others.

But failure when trying to get a new business off the ground is totally different. Failure in this case is not only a good thing, but it’s necessary, in my belief. I’ve failed many times at many things throughout the past year or two. I’ve failed to write good stuff here and often enough. I’ve failed at growing my traffic to this site over the past year. I failed at SEO for this site (it basically is nowhere to be found these days). I’ve failed at writing about topics that will get the most views and shares. The failure has been constant.

But, BOY have I learned a lot from it. Thomas Edison said it best, when he said this:

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

I’m learning to look at failure in this way. When something I’m doing isn’t working, I remind myself of what the lesson is here, which is that I’ve found one more thing that doesn’t work. I believe this is how we should all look at failure (or when something we do just doesn’t work how we wanted it to).

10. Just Ship It

My final tip is to just ship it. If you’re planning to put out a new e-book on how to create a budget or how to write a Photoshop action, you’ll never get it perfect. But when it’s done and you are proud enough of it to put your name on it, then it’s time to get it out there to the world. Ship the product. Tell your audience it’s there and what it can do for them. And finally, get a PayPal button on your site so that people can pay you already.

PS: I think I need to take my own advice on some of these points…

PPS: My new step-by-step digital training course on how to create a blog that helps you create independence is now available. Click here to get your invitation!