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Senior Correspondent

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Business Is Not Kabuki Theater

Kabuki (definition): According to critic Suichi Kato, kabuki does not concern what is happening in the present as much as a “dreamlike time shrouded in mist but ever present in the subconscious.”

Day One

You’re in business.

You have a domain name and an idea.

You’ve read that you should pick something you already know about … or are passionate about. Your friends think your idea is perfect.

You are so excited; you can’t wait until your website is up. And until you start selling some of the books and courses you’re already writing in your head.

You’ve wanted to do this forever. “My business.” “I’m in business.”

You’ve invested in several online courses that have taught you the basics. Step by step; one, two, three. How to set up a site, what programs to use and the ideal social media to support your efforts. The best part is that it’s not so expensive to get a business going online …

You’ve even flown out to a few conferences and are building a bunch of friendships around this new adventure. (You don’t want to feel like the Lone Ranger, all alone in front of your computer.)

Month Seven

You’re building your different lists like crazy, future customers, no doubt. You have Twitter followers. Your Facebook friends list is growing. Your fan page is getting lots of “likes.” You’ve discovered Pinterest and have fallen in love with pinning and sharing images with friends and potential clients.

Between writing blog post articles, publishing ebooks, doing some video to market your services, tweeting, keeping Facebook active … whew, where does the day go?

And at night, you have those super important webinars and teleseminars to listen to. You have to stay on the cutting edge of what’s working. But why do they have to be over an hour long?

You are so busy.

But why aren’t you making any money?

Reality Check

• Your busy-ness does not mean you are in business.

• Rarely does a start-up business equal instant gratification.

• A business starts with a business plan, marketing strategy, budget and exit plan.

So What’s Gone Wrong?

Before the internet, starting a business meant renting physical space, paying deposits, getting telephone lines, buying equipment, printing business cards and letterhead, maybe even brochures.

It cost a bunch of money.

So before starting a business, people thought twice. They put together a plan and a budget. They tested the market. They talked to their accountant. Maybe they even took out a small business loan and had to justify the numbers with their friendly banker.

But those expensive (and inconvenient) barriers to entry have disappeared.

Today most people never bother to develop a simple business plan. They don’t think through their marketing strategy, including their competitive advantage. Forget actually putting together a budget. And an exit plan? One that ensures that the business you’re building today can be sold when you’re ready to exit? Who thinks that far ahead?

The True Cost

While the monthly costs associated with running a computer-based business may seem minor, what is not minor is the time and heart invested in something that faces handicaps from the outset. What’s worse, if not being run like a serious business, there are no metrics in place … no firm goals and objectives to know if you’re failing or succeeding. “I’ll just keep going one more month …”

The true cost? Not only are you not moving towards your long-term financial security. You’re possibly even going in the opposite direction: eating into savings … somehow borrowing from Peter to pay Paul … not even factoring in the value of your own time.

My No-Excuses Mantra #1

If you’re in business, be sure it’s a real business. If it’s not, accept that it’s a hobby. And go get a job.

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