The Iceberg Illusion
When we see someone being successful, we often forget how much work and how many years are behind that success. Persistence, practice and failure, sacrifice and discipline are all part of the journey, but often remain invisible behind a person’s success. People tend to share the positive and hide the negative. I call this the Iceberg Illusion. Success is only the tip of the iceberg – knowing what goes on beneath the surface can inspire you to move on when things aren’t going well for you. That’s why I’m going to tell you my Iceberg Illusion story.
The Journey Starts
On March 26, 2014, I sold my first hour of coaching for $180. Someone I didn’t know personally and wanted my advice for their business clicked the button on my website and bought. It’s the best $180 I’ve earned in my business. It could have also just been one dollar. It was more about what it meant to me than the monetary value. It meant success.
However, building my business wasn’t an overnight success. It’s taken three and a half years to grow it from zero to $1 million, and I didn’t start my business by making that first sale. I started way earlier, in November 2012, when I became unemployed for the second time in three years. I knew then it was time for me to finally start my own business. I had been thinking about it for years before, but losing my job for the second time in three years was the kick that I needed.
I had been running other people’s businesses for a decade and I decided it was time to run my own business. I also needed to make my health a priority after being unable to work for seven months in that period. The only possibility I saw to achieve this was to have my own business, but I didn’t yet know what my business should be about.
I had been a successful CEO for 10 years. I had an MBA and three other master’s degrees in other disciplines, and I was a certified Dale Carnegie trainer. The obvious choice, in hindsight, was to become a business mentor. But back then, I didn’t realize that.
Finding My Business Idea
In November 2012, I started selling Icelandic design online. For five months, I invested time and money and collaborated with two partners. I interviewed a lot of people in the industry. I put up a test Shopify site. I sourced pictures and designed objects, only to realize five months later that this business idea didn’t sit right with me.
I’m a decent photographer and I love to write, so travel books were my next idea. However, I soon realized that I wasn’t passionate enough about it. I wasn’t willing to put up a studio to be a photographer, and I knew traveling around the world and making pictures was probably not a profitable venture. Writing one or two travel books a year wasn’t going to pay my bills. I slowly realized that I was doing everything to avoid my zone of genius. For 10 years, I had been a CEO, I was good at this, and still, I was looking to do something else.
In September 2013, I started blogging because I thought it might help me find my business idea. I was getting tired of waiting for the perfect business idea to fall into my lap. It had been over a year since I decided that I wanted my own business. As I wrote a post about how to find your true passion in life and how to turn a passion into a profitable business, it hit me. This was my business idea. I was going to help people find their passion, start, grow and scale their business.
Testing What to Sell
To find out what exactly I was going to sell, I created a few courses and tested them. I asked entrepreneurs who had just started out themselves to have a look at my courses. In November 2013, I tested ‘Stay on Track’, an accountability three-week challenge pushing you to get more done than you’ve ever done before. In January 2014, I tested ‘Your Best Year Yet’, which today turned into my seven stages profit plan, a three-hour workshop that I run a couple of times a year. And finally in March 2014, I tested ‘The Passionathon’, a course that helps finding your true passion and the right business idea.
I created my first freebie in the beginning of 2014. It was based on my own experience of increasing my Facebook performance. My Facebook performance had been zero. I was able to increase my reach and engagement by 100 percent in three weeks. Over 70 people signed up for my freebie. I knew that finally, I was on to something. In March 2014, I created my website. It looked pretty straightforward, just like a LinkedIn profile. I added a button for my one hour of business coaching for $180, and the first person booked.
When I think back, I wish I would have consulted a business coach or joined a Mastermind earlier on. This would have helped me to get clear on my business idea and not waste any time. In the end, it had taken me one and a half years after deciding to start a business to finally have a business idea and have something to sell.
Go After Your 10 Percent
Growing my business took time. At the beginning, I had 11 people on my email list, most of them family or friends. A year later, after doing weekly webinars, I had 2,000 people on my list. By October 2015, I had doubled that number. Now, I’ve reached about 12,000 and made $1 million in revenue.
It took me three and a half years to make a million dollars. Essentially, five years had passed from the moment I decided to have my own business to get to where I am today. My business was no overnight success. When we look at other people’s businesses, we tend to look for their success. But reaching success is only 10 percent of the journey. What we don’t see is the other 90 percent of hard work and time people have put into figuring out their true passion and the right business idea, and building their business.
I’m sharing my 90 percent with you to inspire you to continue to go after your 10 percent. Everyone starts at zero. Everyone needs to do the work. The next time you hear a success story, think about the Iceberg Illusion and be inspired to go after your 10 percent.What you see is only 10%. What you don’t see is the 90% below the surface. - Sigrun
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Remember: you only see what people share and what you want to see.
- Of course you need time to figure things out, but you don’t need a lot of time.
- Every successful entrepreneur has had to put in hard work and make sacrifices.
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