“I was so inspired by your presentation! Now I finally understand what I need to do to start my own business,” Cynthia said.

This was just one of many comments I heard after delivering my presentation at the 2010 Glazer-Kennedy Info-Summit.

My presentation was called “Perception vs. Reality: Year One in Business.” My goal was twofold — to share with the audience the reality of starting (and running) an information publishing business, and to eliminate the pervasive business lies that set fledgling entrepreneurs off on the wrong track… and even put their success in jeopardy.

Let’s start with the biggest falsehood of all.

Critical Business Lie #1: You can make millions instantly with an online business.

You’ve heard the claims — boasts like the following from certain infamous marketers (who shall remain nameless here):

“I just made $5 million this week on my killer launch. So now I am going to hop in my Lamborghini, drive down to the pier, board my yacht, cruise down to the Islands, and bury my money.”

$5 million in a week? This is not real life or real business. The numbers are exaggerated or distorted (or they’re straight-out lies) in order to get wannabe Internet entrepreneurs excited… and ready to spend money.

I call this IMM or Internet Marketer Math.

Reality #1: You can NOT run your business with IMM. You must run your business with real math. Real dollars in the door minus expenses like:

  • Refunds
  • Affiliate payouts
  • Copywriting advances and royalties
  • Product hard costs
  • Content development
  • Employees’ salaries and benefits
  • Travel expenses
  • Consulting fees Office rent and utilities
  • Etc.

Bottom line: You do not put IMM in the bank. You do not even put gross revenue in the bank. You put profits in the bank and invest them back into your business.

Critical Business Lie #2: The planning stage of an Internet business begins when you decide to start the business.

Reality #2: The planning stage of any business begins long before you ever dream of having your own business. Years before “entrepreneurship” becomes a part of your vocabulary. And this stage lasts through every single day of your professional career.

Every relationship you develop… Every client you meet… Every project you undertake… All of it affects your business even before your business exists.

This means that everything you do now counts. And I mean everything!

  • Every e-mail
  • Every phone conversation
  • Every missed deadline
  • Every deadline made
  • Every rude remark
  • Every insightful comment
  • Every time you dismiss someone as being not as important as you
  • Every act of respect
  • Everything!

I have written before about how relationships are your most important asset in business and how relationship building is the most important skill you can master (in every area of your life). Yet many people fail to see how a small action now can affect a partnership or investment in the future.

It repeatedly surprises me that so many entrepreneurs are so unconcerned about burning bridges. This is particularly upsetting because not only is relationship building the foundation of a business, it really is one of the easiest (not to mention most fun) parts.

Having people who wanted to help me — people with excellent contacts and dependable resources — was a tremendous asset when I was starting Working Moms Only. I had built my “Braggable Network” long before I ever dreamed of Working Moms Only.

Critical Business Lie #3: To develop a network of people who can help you succeed as an Internet entrepreneur, all it takes is meeting or speaking with the industry Big Guns. Period.

Reality #3: You do not develop a Braggable Network by meeting people at a conference, taking photos with those people, and posting those photos on Facebook. It does not develop because you attend teleseminars and ask experts questions on the phone. Nor does it develop when you send experts e-mails praising their work.

When people claim that an expert they met once or spoke to in passing is part of their network… it drives me crazy! Because at that point, all they have done is gained an introduction to that person.

A Braggable Network is a group of people who would gladly speak to you any time, night or day. They are people whose trust and admiration you have earned by CONSISTENTLY delivering extraordinary results.

Don’t get scared off when I say “extraordinary results.” Here’s the deal…

Ninety-five percent of people are ordinary. So if you’re trying to be ordinary, you’ve got a lot of competition. But when you strive for extraordinary, you actually have less competition. This gives you the opportunity not only to achieve better results but to stand out and be recognized.

Take a look at the three Critical Business Lies we’ve uncovered today. You’ll notice that they have something in common: They make success as an Internet entrepreneur seem effortless.

The reality is that you must expend effort to succeed.

And why wouldn’t you want to? This is, after all, your dream. Your name. Your reputation. If those things aren’t worth working for… what is?

[Ed. Note: MaryEllen Tribby, ETR’s former publisher and CEO, followed her lifelong dream and started a new company, Working Moms Only, to help women balance work and family life. Keep an eye out for her columns in ETR on the challenges facing working moms, on marketing, business building, and more. And check out the Working Moms Only website and sign up for MaryEllen’s free e-letter. ]

Mary Ellen Tribby

MaryEllen Tribby is a business consultant and coach to entrepreneurs in the information publishing and digital marketing arena. She led Early to Rise from May 2006 to January 2010 as Publisher & CEO. She has also served as President of Weiss Research, managing divisions of Forbes, Globe Communications, Times Mirror Magazines and Crain’s New York Business. She currently heads up The CEO's Edge and WorkingMomsOnly.com.

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