6 years ago, before I started my journey as an online entrepreneur, I remember my Mom telling me this:
“Thomas, I think you should stay at Panera Bread and work your way up into a Corporate job.”
By all accounts, her advice was solid.
Six years ago I made salads at Panera Bread. It was post-college, and I was making all of $9.00 per hour. As student loan payments breathed down my neck, I had to take a job SOMEWHERE, and I thought if I worked hard and showed initiative, I could become an Assistant Manager, then a Manager, then maybe I could roll up into Corporate one day and wear a suit and tie every day.
But I didn’t really want that. My immature 22-year-old self wanted to write online for a living. I loved writing. I didn’t care what it was about — craft beer, coffee clubs, real estate properties, or technology. I didn’t care.
So I completely ignored my Mothers advice. After a hellacious morning shift where my bosses threw me to the wolves without showing me how to do anything, I never went back to Panera Bread again.
I went AWOL on my next shift — which was horrible — but hey.
I wrote a 5,000 word ebook for a client that same day and made $100 for it. I made more in 5 hours than I would’ve made in 12 hours at Panera Bread. And I was in my pajamas, no less! I was ecstatic.
That one decision — leaving Panera Bread for the online writing world — eventually propelled me into being a full-time online entrepreneur who’s made over $250,000 online.
A lot of variables come into play when talking about “success.”
Luck, hard work, perseverance, timing, knowing the right people, etc.
But in my case there’s been a few “weird” traits that aren’t typically associated with success that helped me get to where I am today. Let’s get into them.
By all accounts it was a really stupid decision to quit Panera Bread. It wasn’t logical. It was my only financial lifeline as a recently graduated wet-behind-the-ears boy. What else did I have?
One contract to write a $100 ebook for someone? That was a one-and-done. What would I do when it was over?
God, I was stupid. That stupidity, though, set me on the path to where I am today. Without it I’d probably be in Orlando, Florida eating leftover pastries at Panera’s corporate office.
Stupidity leads right into my next weird trait for success.
Six months after I quit Panera Bread, I started dreaming of blogging for a living. I read a few posts by travel blogger Adventurous Kate and knew immediately this is what I wanted to do with my life.
I wanted to write words and travel the world. I wanted to be an online entrepreneur of some sort.
So I started a WordPress blog. It took me 20 hours to create it. Then I wrote 50-some blog posts over a 4-month period. I never got more than 10 views on any of them.
Then I did a 5-month road trip across the United States because you couldn’t be a travel blogger without traveling, right?
Then, 9 months after I started blogging, I began writing on this platform. It would be another year and hundreds more blog posts before I was able to monetize my blog.
Overall it took me somewhere near 20 months to be a full-blown blogger and online entrepreneur.
What’s the lesson here?
I was ignorant.
I was ignorant about how long this would take. I thought I’d be successful sooner. I thought it would take me MAYBE a year. That ignorance kept me going long after most people would quit. You need to be a little ignorant sometimes to the reality of what you’re doing and how long it will actually take.
Ignorance ties into delusion.
I’ve always felt God accidentally knocked the whole bottle of “Optimism” into my ingredient batch when he made me.
I believe I can do things that I see other people doing. If someone is a famous online entrepreneur, I believe I can achieve what they achieve.
You might call this optimism, but I want to introduce you to the other side of that coin: delusion.
I’m so optimistic that I’m delusional sometimes.
There are so many times in my blogging career where I’ve bitten off more than I could chew. I made two magazines for my publication a few years ago. I wrote, edited, designed, and ideated the whole thing. Both took me a month to create. I thought they would be my ticket to financial freedom. I thought I’d make thousands of dollars.
I was delusional. But sometimes, when we’re delusional, we accomplish amazing things. I made some great friends while interviewing folks for my magazine. In fact, a few people I interviewed bought my first online course. SCORE!
Many times when chasing after a particular goal that’s delusional, I’ve stumbled upon ancillary wins that help me immensely later on in my online entrepreneurial journey.
So dream big. Go for all the marbles. Do delusional crap sometimes. You never know where it might take you.
Along with being an eternal optimist, I think I’m also appreciative of small wins. Most people quit writing online after their first blog post because it didn’t get 100,000 views.
I see people complaining all the time about how they “only” got 30 views on their latest post, too.
When I got started on this platform five years ago, I was happy to get 20 views per post. I was ecstatic. I was over the moon. That appreciation for any progress was fuel for me to keep going.
Most people aren’t appreciative. They want more. When they don’t get more, they pack up all their toys and go home.
Be happy about what you DO get. Be encouraged by small wins. When my publication started gaining 20 followers per day out of nowhere in 2016, that was fuel enough for me to keep going.
The best online entrepreneurs appreciate small wins, which help fuel them into the future.
I’m paranoid my business will fail.
It sounds like a nightmare that would keep any online entrepreneur’s blood pressure high, but it’s actually led to a lot of diversification and covering-of-my-ass.
This ass-covering has allowed me to take deep breaths of relief when various blogging platforms decide to drastically cut their organic reach out of nowhere.
I’ve diversified into other platforms like Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I’ve also created numerous online courses that allow me to sell information about social media platforms that aren’t tanking.
It’s a good thing to be paranoid about where you are right now. There are no certainties about the future. You never know what’s going to happen. I see so many successful writers who do nothing to insure themselves against the possible failure of their one-dimensional side-hustle.
I don’t get it. They’ll get wiped out in one fell swoop if their one platform fails or cuts their organic reach.
It’s weird, but you need to also be paranoid to be a successful online entrepreneur.
What did you think of my list? Any other weird traits for online entrepreneurs worth mentioning? Let me know in the comments.