The Geek Strips – and Leaves a Business Lesson You Can’t Afford to Ignore

I’m sure you read that title thinking, “what the…”, so let me just add to your wince with a nasty little stat that’s been haunting me since entertainment business grad school: the Small Business Administration reports that 3 out of every 10 startups die in their first two years of operation.

I don’t know about you and your business, but that bothers the fire out of me. Especially since I’m going into my second year.

No pressure at all, right?

Well, if you’re freaking out like I am, there’s one very simple way to beat that stat and overcome the panic, but you’re going to have to look over my broken model first to find it – warts and all.


Read on carefully and learn from my fail, okay?

 Here’s the ugly truth about me.

Your Geek dove into entrepreneurship back in June 2011 after quitting a job that was more demanding than an insecure boyfriend (and about as mean).

I was born a writer and knew that’s how I was going to make my income, whether in fiction or non-fiction (at this point both), so I quit and headed in that direction.

I made one fatal mistake, though: I didn’t plan while I still had the job. I dove into freelance writing cold turkey.

I spent my first five months (which is about how much money I had saved up to live on) researching freelance writing and writing in general, since I knew absolutely nothing of the writing business.

I only knew how to write and edit well – I’d been writing, proofreading, and editing people’s research papers for years with nothing but high A’s and glowing reviews. Surely I could make money with this, right?  


At this point, I can tell you business has been slow.  

Almost all of the writing gigs I’ve gotten so far have been from family referrals, which equals low or no pay, and the work has been painfully infrequent (remember that pipeline).

And of course, the bills (especially Auntie Sallie Mae) aren’t going anywhere.

I’ve battled self-doubt in having what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and in some extreme cases, even doubted my ability to write anything worthy of income.

So now I’ve finally grown tired of the slump, and the only way to fix a problem is, well, to fix it.

If your journey’s anything like mine, or if your startup is sluggish, here’s the one simple fix I’m making that you must, too.

Before even brainstorming a way to improve my freelance writing business, I had to find out my most fatal internal business flaw.

All the business improvement ideas in the world will be utterly fruitless if you’re in your own way. When you sharpen yourself, you sharpen your business.

My two most fatal flaws are having reasonable (as opposed to rock star, six-figure income) writing skills and inadequate exposure, so it only made sense to resurrect this blog in 2012.

(Yes, you read that right – I started this baby back in school and abandoned it for a year because I had no clue how to blog at the time. Plus that insecure boyfriend of a job.)  

Here’s what I’ve been doing to fix my flaws:

·   faithfully blogging (a.k.a. honing my craft) and improving with every post

·   attending webinars by pro bloggers like Danny Iny, Jon Morrow, Corbett Barr, and Carol Tice

·   learning more about guest blogging and actually doing it (I’ve already pitched two larger blogs based on Iny’s resources and submit my posts this week).

Once you know your fatal business flaw, search for the best tool to fix it.

An Alltop search in March led me to James Chartrand’s Men with Pens, which I’m realizing is one of the best resources for freelance writers on the web, offering actionable advice on blogging, copywriting, entrepreneurship, and even fiction writing.  

Right up my alley.

Chartrand sells four writing books on the site (all of which are extremely useful), but it’s her in-depth writing course, Damn Fine Words, that caught my eye, because it doesn’t just teach writing, but writing for business owners – a.k.a. entrepreneurs like you and me – and includes one of the four books, How to Guest Post Your Way to Success.

I finally found the best tool to sharpen myself. Score.

DFW yields the perfect five-fold benefit:

·     greater confidence

·     increased productivity (more clients)

·     more and better guest posting (greater exposure)

·     a stellar writing mentor (access to Chartrand herself)

·     and most importantly, increased value to you, the reader. There are over 181 million blogs screaming for your attention, so your time and knowledge are very important to you. The better I am as a writer, the more helpful I can be to you. The last thing I would ever want to do is waste your time.

Bringing clients the greatest value is every entrepreneur’s goal, including yours, or else you wouldn’t bother struggling with the rigors of being one – you would’ve hung on to your insecure boyfriend of a job, too.

So step your game up with me. And let’s give that nasty two-year stat the middle finger salute it deserves.  

What’s your most fatal business flaw right now? What have you done to fix it lately? I’d love to know in a comment below.

If you enjoyed this or think anyone else can learn from it, please share it. Thanks for reading!

Image source: Zawezome


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