Jeff Bezos, the sometimes world’s richest man, is not unfamiliar with screwing up.

Leaving his recent personal slip ups out of the list, here are but a few of his 8 and 9-figure blunders:

  1. The Fire Phone: A $170 million write-off
  2. Junglee: Jung-what? Exactly. Another $170 million mistake… this one made in 1998
  3. Living Social: Not only did he lose $175 million on the initial purchase, but he also dumped another $56 million into it… proving that even the “smartest guys” will throw good money at bad investments.
  4. Pets.com: Yes, THAT Pets.com … $50 million

But here’s what Bezos said about this list, “It was like getting a root canal with no anesthesia. None of those things are fun. But they also don’t matter.”

His net worth has increased nearly 10 fold since making those mistakes, and in this year’s letter to Amazon shareholders he said, “If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle.”

So listen, you and I (and the errors of our ways) are in good company.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve built five 7-figure businesses, written a Wall Street Journal best-selling book, accumulated over 13 million views of YouTube videos, shared the stage with Tony Robbins, and connected with some of the most amazing and inspiring entrepreneurs in the world, all while creating a budding Empire that will one day impact more than 100,000,000 lives.

But along the way, I made nearly every mistake in the book (except for Pets.com, even I saw through that one, Mr. Bezos).

I’ve lost more money than I care to think about, destroyed a couple of amazing relationships, and allowed my own ego and insecurities to sabotage my potential.

Luckily, I’ve also learned from these mistakes and made (often painful) changes in my life to overcome the obstacles I was facing and grown into the Empire builder I needed to become.

And today, I want to share some of the biggest mistakes and lessons I’ve learned both from my journey and from the journeys of the hundreds of entrepreneurs I’ve coached over the years.

If you will take action on what I’m going to teach you today and avoid these mistakes at all costs, you will set yourself up for massive success in 2019 and lay the foundations of a lasting Empire that impact millions and make you a fortune.

Let’s dive in.

1. You’re Going All in On Someone Else

One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs, especially young entrepreneurs, making is that they go all in on a business partner too quickly.

And, on the surface, it makes sense.

Having a business partner, even in the absence of leads or sales, makes your business feel more legitimate. You get to say, “Oh me and my business partner were at dinner last night and talked about xyz.”

It makes the entrepreneurial journey feel less risky. And you assume that, because you have someone with whom to share the burden, you’ll be able to move far faster.

But I’m here to tell you…you are WRONG.  

Going all in on a business partner is 99 times out of 100, the wrong move.

When you have a partner in your business, you are not only giving up profits, you’re giving up control. If you have someone else who owns 50% of your business, then they have an equal say in the vision and direction of your company.

And if you don’t trust that person with your life and know exactly what to expect from them, you are setting yourself up for failure and heart ache.

They may decide to take the business to the left when you know it’s better to go right. They might set this amazing shared vision and then leave you to do all of the work (while still expecting their share of the profits).

I’ve worked with dozens of entrepreneurs stuck in miserable business partnerships, handcuffed to someone who owns 30-50% of their company, but provides less than $3,000/month worth of value.

Now, a lot of you reading this might think, “But Craig, aren’t you business partners with Bedros Keuilian?”

Yes, but here’s the thing. Not only had Bedros and I knew each other for years before we decided to become partners in the Empire podcast and mastermind, but we were both experienced entrepreneurs with multiple successful businesses that we were running.

And even so, we aren’t really partners. We both are growing our own Empires and only then did we decide to collaborate on a side project that happens to make money.

At the end of the day, most of you reading this should not have a business partner and, if you have one right now, you should do your best to get out of that relationship now, on good terms, so that you can maintain autonomy and authority over your Empire.

There’s a reason that none of the greatest dynasties or empires of the last 2,000 years were run by two rulers.

Partnerships don’t work.

Go all in on yourself and keep a tight grip on the reigns of your empire. Because, at the end of the day, it is your Empire.

2.  You Make Decisions that Kill Your Credibility

One of my favorite lessons from Tom Bilyeu, the co-founder of the billion dollar company Quest Nutrition, is that the key to self confidence is maintaining self-credibility.

Listen, if you want to be confident, if you want to have that unshakable inner belief that you can achieve all of your big goals, build an empire, and leave the legacy that you want to leave, it all starts by building massive amounts of credibility with yourself.

When you tell yourself, “Tomorrow I’m going to wake up at 5 am, go for a run, and immediately get to work,” and then hit snooze until 5:32 am, skip your run, and screw around on social media until 7 am, you just lost credibility with yourself.

You have told your subconscious, on no uncertain terms, “I am not someone who keeps their promises–my word means nothing.”

When you don’t believe that you are a credible person, when you don’t have integrity with yourself, you cannot have high levels of confidence.

And here’s the thing. You can keep all of your promises to other people. You can over-deliver for your clients, show up to date night, and meet your buddy at the gym every single day. But if you break promises to yourself, then none of those things matter.

No matter how much integrity you have with others, it cannot compensate for a lack of integrity with yourself.

My challenge for you, then, is very simple. Over the next week, I want you to write down all of the promises you make to yourself.

Every workout session, every deep work block, every commitment to eat or live in a certain way…everything.

Then, once you’ve written it down, ask yourself two questions: 1) Is this promise worth keeping (don’t make the mistake of losing credibility with yourself over counterproductive dogma–like going to the gym six days a week when you only need to go three) and 2) Am I really willing to keep it?

If the answer to either of those questions is ‘no’ then don’t make the promise. Mentally release yourself from the commitment and move on.

But if the answer is ‘yes’, then I want you to do everything in your power to keep it.

Because when you have credibility with yourself you will have confidence in yourself. And this is when success really starts to happen.

3. You’re Leaving the “Goodwill Bank Account” Empty

Let me tell you something that really annoys me.

Before I had a team of assistants and a super secret personal email in place, I would receive dozens of requests each and every week for two things:

  1. Guest post opportunities
  2. Affiliate marketing opportunities

People I’d never met, didn’t know, didn’t like, and didn’t trust would ask me to share their content with my followers and for what? An article I could have easily written by myself or 30% commission on a product I’ve never tried?

You see, so many people forget that business is, first and foremost, about relationships.

And when you reach out and make an ‘ask’ before building up your goodwill bank account, before providing value and building that ‘know love trust’ factor, you’re actively overdrafting this account and ruining your chances of future success.

Unless I know someone personally or am already familiar with their brand, I’m not going to publish their content or promote their product simply because they asked me to.

First, they need to build the goodwill required to make me want to promote their product or publish their content in the first place.

If you want to build an Empire, you must STOP leading with an ask and start leading with the giving hand.

Before you ever think about asking for favors, give favors. Network your butt off and leverage every opportunity you can find to build goodwill with other high-achievers and offer value now.

Let me give you a great example of this…

A few months back I had two young men reach out to me on Instagram with two very different messages.

The first young man said, “Craig. I’m young and broke. Give me your coaching for free because I can’t afford it.”

The second young man said, “Craig. I don’t have the money to invest in your course, but I love what you teach and I would like to be a part of your mission. Please give me the opportunity to work for you for free.”

Can you guess what happened next?

I didn’t respond to the first young man and, to be blunt, will likely never respond to any of his messages in the future.

However, not only did I give the second man the course for free…but I actually hired him to come and work for me.

The first one built no goodwill, made an ask, and received nothing in return.

The second, built goodwill, made no ask, and received exactly what he wanted and more.

To build your Empire, first build massive amounts of goodwill with the people around you. Then, one day, when you need it, you will have earned the right to ask for the favors that will take you to the next level.

4. You’re Expecting 7-Figure Results with a 5-Figure Lifestyle

Without a doubt, the biggest mistake that stops entrepreneurs and high-performers from evolving into Empire builders and legacy makers is that they have a 7 or 8-figure vision…but a 5-figure lifestyle.

Listen, you cannot expect to earn 7 or even 6-figures when your thoughts, actions, and beliefs are all at the 5-figure level.

If you say that you want to scale your business to $100,000 a month but you sleep until 10 am, watch three hours of TV a day, and allow yourself to get distracted by social media, guess what? You will never break out of your 5-figure income because you have 5-figure habits.

The same holds true in any area of your life. You can have a 7-figure vision for your body or relationships, but if you still show up day in and day out with 5-figure habits, that vision will never be realized.

Remember, the results you achieve are a byproduct of the lifestyle you live.

It doesn’t matter what you want or how much you ‘desire’ to build your Empire. Results follow action and action only.

Take an objective look at your life and ask yourself, “Where to I have a 7-figure vision but 5 or 6-figure habits?”

What are the specific thoughts, actions, and activities in which you engage that are holding you back from the success you want?

Are you hitting snooze in the morning? Skipping your workouts? Working when you should be spending time with family, and thinking about family when you should be working?

What are you doing that is preventing you from achieving the results you want to achieve?

Identify the top three things and then go out and get the accountability you need to change them this week.

Whether you have to write a post on Facebook, text someone, or send $1,000 to your best friend and tell them to give it to a charity you hate if you fail…do whatever you must do to upgrade your habits and lifestyle to be at the same level of your vision.

5. You’re Selling Soft Advice

This one gets me every time.

I work with dozens of entrepreneurs who have amazing wisdom and knowledge to share with the world–lessons that can truly make a difference in people’s life–but they are marketing it as ‘soft advice’ and hearing crickets.

No one out there cares about your confidence coaching or mindset management or chakra healing. Those things can all be great, but they aren’t what your customer really wants to buy.

They want a hard offer. Something that solves a big problem in their lives.

Specifically, they want you to help them:

  • Make more money
  • Change their body (lose weight, gain muscle, reduce pain)
  • Have more sex

And, as a future Empire builder, it’s your job to learn how to tailor your offers and marketing to meet those hard offer needs.

Listen, in my business eighty percent of what I teach to my coaching clients revolves around mindset, confidence, and self-management. But I know none of my clients are interested in those things. They want the result that will come from those things. I.e. they want to make more money.

And that’s how I market and package my offers.

I don’t sell “Entrepreneurial Mindset Coaching.” I sell business coaching where I help clients double their income while working less (which directly helps them make more money, change their body, and have more sex).

But what about you?

How can you position your offers to speak to the outcome your clients are really after?

For example, if you run a men’s fashion consulting company, you aren’t offering style consultations.

You’re offering to help men look their best so they can attract their dream partner.

Or, if you run a nutrition coaching company, you don’t sell meal plans and intuitive eating secrets.

You teach people how to get the body of their dreams while eating food they love.

Take a few minutes right now to look at all of the offers you have and the copy/language you use to describe them. Are you making hard offers? Or soft offers?

Let me know in the comments below.

6. You Aren’t Making the Ask

The final, and most damaging mistake that future Empire builders make on their journey is that they don’t make the ask.

If you have put in the work to build goodwill, both with your network and your audience (through valuable, purposeful, and shareable content that illustrates your expertise), you not only have the right but the obligation to share your offer and make an ask.

No matter what business you’re in, your #1 job is to help people solve problems.

And if you have the ability to solve someone’s biggest problems and help them transform their lives and you don’t offer that to them…you’re not only missing out on profits, but you’re doing a disservice to the people you say you want to help.

What you have to offer is valuable and people need the solution that you provide. And it’s your job to give them the opportunity to get that solution.

In every piece of content you create, I want you to include a simple call to action where you tell your audience three things.

  1. What it is: Explain what your offer does, how it will change their life, and what specific problem it will solve.
  2. How they can get it: Do they click a link, send you a message, share their email address? How do they take action on your offer.
  3. Why they need to get it now: Do you have a limited number of spaces available? Are you almost out of inventory? Will their problem be worse tomorrow than it is today if they don’t take action? Why does your audience need access to your offer and why do they need it now?

If you will answer these three questions at the end of every blog post, Instagram story, and YouTube video, not only will you make a lot more money…but you’ll be able to impact more people.

Make the ask. Give people the opportunity to change their lives. And then deliver on the promises you made to them.

That is the formula for building a lasting empire.

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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