How & Why To Kill A Successful Business (Part 2)

On July 31, 2011 at 6:15pm EST I deleted all the “buy now” buttons from my product pages for How To Live Anywhere and Mind Control Method, which were the two products I had for sale here. The only other product I have for sale right now is Luxury of Less, available exclusively on the Kindle. (This is called foreshadowing aka an open loop aka threading & weaving. Although I won’t close the loop today so you’ll need to subscribe for resolution.)

If you ask most people about shutting down a profitable business out of nowhere they’ll say “that’s stupid!” or something of that sort. And they might be right. (Just kidding, they’re not. Nobody knows what’s best for you but you.)

I’m not against selling products. In fact, I love business.

I was speaking with Markus and Nick separately about this recently. In the hours leading up to the removal of my buy buttons I was actually working with Nick on one of his businesses and we were having a grande old time. It’s fun to break down processes, build e-mail sequence story arcs (like a TV series, only real!), and get down & dirty with marketing strategy.

I love business so much that I know when it’s time to shut something down, refocus, and build something more congruent with my life. This isn’t the first time I’ve shut down something successful and it may not be the last.

How To Live Anywhere was created out of necessity. If you’ve been around a while you might know that story. If not, a brief recap: when I started RidiculouslyExtraordinary.com I had no desire to turn it into my main business, but I kept getting a deluge of questions about how to do what I was doing. It finally came to a head and I decided, “Alright, let’s do this!”

I launched the first version of How To Live Anywhere on March 5, 2010. It was a fun promotion. The first sale was 10 cents and it went up 10 cents after each sale. The first day brought in 132 sales which was almost $1,000 after expenses. I promptly sent all that money to Kiva.org entrepreneurs. I also sent everybody who bought HTLA that first day a postcard from India. I’m not sure the normal way to build a profitable business is to give away all the money and then spend 6 hours and more money to send postcards from a far off land, but you can ask somebody else about being normal. ;)

Mind Control Method was based on the article Mind Control For Fun And Profit! (or How To Brainwash Yourself). I got a lot of questions about it so I created a more in-depth course.

I hope you caught the lessons so far. If people are asking you to help you with specific problems you have the seeds of a business. Don’t ignore that opportunity.

You can even dig deep with your audience by conducting a free survey.

What’s next?

I’ve been experimenting with life lately. I’m essentially living my own version of Markus Urban’s Living On Impulse. I’ve written a few thousand words on this topic, which I’ll cover another time. (Subscribe here to get the updates.)

My impulse about a week ago was that I needed to shut down all the RidiculouslyExtraordinary products to focus on something else I’ve been working on. This something else has been consuming virtually every fiber of the business side of my brain. Well, almost every fiber. Although I know our brains can hold an endless amount of information there is also a lot of clutter in that gray matter. The best way I’ve found to clear the clutter is to – forgive me for being obvious – clear the clutter. The other products I had for sale were cluttering my thoughts so I got rid of them.

Other examples of business clutter:

A few years ago I owned over 2,000 domain names. Today I own 23. As fun as it was making a ton of money from those thousands of domains it was a chore as well.

A few years ago I poured over keywords and Google Adwords bidding strategies and was constantly on edge because I had campaigns that sometimes hit $10k/day in adspend. One small mistake in a situation like that could result in massive repercussions. Today I don’t touch any of that.

A few years ago all I cared about was the almighty dollar. Today money is secondary, tertiary even. Living my life costs money (of course), but when the focus of my life is money it’s a depressing time. That said, I’m not anti-money like I may sometimes come across. In fact, the less I focus on it the more opportunities come to me. It’s much more fun to have my pick of opportunities instead of chasing them. As much as that may sound hokey or new-agey (puke!), there is actually a solid reason for it.

When you’re focused on helping people and creating things that are a win/win/win/win there is no doubt you will be well paid.

When you focus on the money first and people second you end up in a vicious “I need more money!” cycle. There will never be enough. I call it “Not-enough-alitis” and I wrote about that in the Freedom Fighters course. $100k won’t be enough. $250k won’t be enough. $1 million won’t be enough. No number will ever be enough.

When you never have enough you’re never happy. What’s the point in living that kind of life?

Instead of going crazy doing something that doesn’t fit, sometimes starting anew is necessary. In business, in relationships, in life.

Even nature starts from scratch every once in a while. Forest fires have their place.

It can be scary. It can be difficult. But it can also be freeing, exciting.

There’s a reason the statement “light a fire under your ass” exists.

I’m not afraid to set my life/business on fire. (Metaphorically speaking, of course. I’ve already caught fire once and it hurts!)

Things are changing fast. Subscribe to follow along for the ride.

{ 19 comments }

Lindsey

I’m with you…really I am.

My only concern is how do people like us….no debt except medical (we have a child with a severe disability, and two other kids with medical needs not as severe)…how do we just do this? I am a freelance copywriter and while I LOVE my job, I’d like to quit worrying about making money to pay medical bills.

Sigh. Pipe dream. But I do live a very intentional life, and keep focused on the simple things. Not chasing the almighty dollar, just tired of the medical bills chasing me.

Karol

This was a very calculated decision. I’m working on things. I don’t recommend you just up and quit a business with no thought behind that decision.

Fabian Kruse

I like that foreshadowing! Looking forward to more Kindle sweetness! ;)
Apart from that, thanks for your statement concerning the money issue. I believe this way of seeing things needs to be spread wide and deep!

Karol

Thanks Fabian. We’re a small minority (those who know the truth about money), but I’m happy to have your support!

pea

At last a blogger who doesn’t pretend money or commerce is the evil issue, when rather their attitude towards it is.

Karol

My attitude towards money/commerce is evil? Weird! :)

pea

Yes it reads that way doesn’t it? No, I meant the FOLKS who avoid money like IT is the problem rather than their attitude towards it…oh dear…I’m going now… ; )

Nick

Karol,
I am 25 and I’m obsessed with creating a better life for myself, and online business is absolutely the only fit for me. Finding your site after your How To Live Anywhere was taken down is a bit discouraging, however, as I was really hoping to get started by following your advice (it’s also pretty scary how similar our philosophies are towards life). Are you planning on releasing anything that could help? Please let me know

Karol

Hey Nick,

Best advice I can give you: get started doing something right now. Today, not tomorrow.

As for if I’ll release something in the future: maybe. I’m working on a course that I gave as a bonus to everybody who bought Corbett Barr’s Traffic School through me, but I’m not sure I’ll release it publicly.

Karol

Lyssa

I love this sentence you wrote:

“When you’re focused on helping people and creating things that are a win/win/win/win there is no doubt you will be well paid.”

This is what I’d hoped and trusted would be true when I set off at eighteen to build my dream life, and I’m happy to say that it IS TRUE! Even when stuff gets difficult, or I begin to lose focus on my goals, all I have to do is think about how much I want to help others… and then my joy comes back. Thank you for the encouragement, Karol!

Karol

Isn’t it great how all it takes is focusing on what matters to make life fun?

Sal Greco

Hey Karol,

Stoked for your clarity right now! You say things will be changing fast, any details?

Surfs up,

Karol

Things are always changing fast. We’re in a constant state of influx. No details yet. ;)

Sage

Good to be reminded of the powers of focus and purpose. In Edinburgh, Scotland today in a bit of a state. A little sun, a glimpse of the castle and your words helped inspire a hunker-down focus and a much needed sprint to finish a project.
Well timed as always
~Sage

Karol

You got it Sage. Focus + Purpose = everything. The spring to finish a project may be one of the most important times of any project. It’s the point where everything is working against us and trying to keep us from finishing … pushing through is a must.

Lisa Sonora Beam

Karol, You are such an inspiration. Can’t wait to follow the rest of your story. I, too, love the freedom of being able to let go of clutter (even when it’s a profit center) and free of the mental and physical space to do the new work that is calling the entrepreneurial spirit. Yeah, baby, GO!

Karol

You are too kind Lisa. Thank you.

Annabel Candy

Hi Karol, just treating myself to some blog reading instead of writing. Love this and funnily enough I just posted on Successful Blogging about why I can’t focus on the money like we are supposed to and why I don’t card. People are what interest me. I prefer to focus on them. The endless sell sell mentality is sad. Glad I checked in and found a like mind:)

Karol

:) Thanks for your support Annabel!

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