Hang on tight I’m about to wow you with some deep logic…
The hardest thing about starting something is… actually starting! I warned you it was going to be deep! Seriously though, think about it… Thinking about starting a business? On Day 1 of starting a business, there are a thousand things to do, usually only 1 person to do it, and no money coming in to make anyone feel warm and cozy. It’s the practical explanation for why “an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted on by another force” (aka Inertia). How about getting in shape? On Day 1 of starting a workout, you’re the most fatigued, you get the most sore, and you look the worst. And a new diet? Day 1 involves grocery shopping and cleaning out the pantry… What about first dates? Lol no explanation needed… And what about creating online content? On Day 1 of creating content you have no fans, no experience, and a big giant Internet that seems to be mocking you with how polished and popular everyone else is while you have nothing to your credit. The hardest day of any new journey is the first day… which is why so many people just never start. All of those examples of starting things are things I’ve personally experienced, but the one about creating content (specifically social media content) is the one I want to talk about because it’s the most recent and frankly was one of the scariest experiences of my life.
In September 2018 (about 1 year ago) I had my “Jerry Maguire moment”. If you haven’t seen the movie… it’s about a sports agent that “freaks out” and strikes out on his own… even though he has no clients. My “freak out” came from realizing that because so much of the promotion of my online business was controlled by affiliates I had lost control of the message and the brand. (In case you aren’t familiar – “affiliates” refers to independent 3rd parties who were promoting my business and earning commissions on referral sales – just like Amazon, Ebay, and Wal-Mart all have affiliate programs…) Now don’t get me wrong. I love affiliates, I am grateful for the business they bring (and I love paying them well for it), and affiliate marketing is a subject I teach on often. But a business that aspires to grow beyond a certain point and build a really powerful brand HAS to be in control of its own message.
I realized I could never build the company and have the brand I wanted unless I wrestled back control of my narrative and built my own direct relationship with my audience.
(Imagine if big mainstream brands like Target, Nordstrom, and even marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk or Grant Cardone – all of whom have online affiliate programs – stopped doing any of their own advertising and put 100% of their marketing into the hands of affiliates… that would be crazy! But that’s where I found myself…)
I knew that social media (primarily Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram) were the most powerful tools that had ever existed for doing that, but honestly I had a bunch of BS stories in my head.
A few of them were…
“I’m too late, I should have started 5 years ago.”
“I’m too old… all the online influencers now are under 30 (and seem to look 18!)
“I got my start online in a direct sales company so the Internet will label me as an MLM-er.”
“I don’t have time… most influencers don’t have 4 kids.”
“I live in too small a town… to be taken seriously I should move to New York or LA.”
“I have a weird body.”
“I’m too long winded.”
“My teenage kids will be embarrassed by their Dad being on social media.”
“No one will like me.”
“A crazy Internet stalker will come to my house.”
And so on…
Everyone one of those is a real reason why I didn’t do for years what I knew I should! I seriously could have written a book called “Why I haven’t started…” And I’ve coached enough aspiring entrepreneurs to know that book is all too common. Sadly, we all have that book inside us. Imagine… A bookstore that carries that title only. 7 billion single edition books with 7 billion authors in hundreds of languages. A massive, depressing bookstore with only one, interminably long shelf. And above it a sign.
Something had to give. I knew I was playing small. In September of 2018 I became determined to change my narrative, my business, and my life. I knew that taking back control of my brand online was what had to be done. It was the only way to avoid ending up with a book on that shelf, and a company in tatters because I let affiliates and other non-vested parties decide who the market thought Jeff Lerner was. So I did the terrifying thing… I started. It wasn’t pretty or smooth. It actually started with a video of me driving and pretty much yelling into the camera about how fed up I was with this and that… That video ended up being called “Let’s Get Extreme” and really was my Jerry Maguire moment (and though now it’s easy to look back and smile at how it started at the time I was literally shaking when I posted it). I had made videos before for online sales funnels and trainings before but there was something so vulnerable and terrifying about what I was now doing…
See a year ago I had no real online following so the people that would see my videos were primarily the people whose opinions I cared about the most but who understand what I was doing the least – friends and family. *Note my wife is the exception to that statement… she understands me better than I understand myself and “got it” right away. But I just had to start. It got to the point where not starting was more unbearable than starting. I was throwing away my potential by the day by not starting and I knew it. Even if no one liked my videos I knew that I needed to become a person that could be seen for who he was and be unafraid. I was bullied as a kid and I realized I still carried that fear and shame and now as a man and a husband and a father with a calling to build an awesome life for his family I was letting old shit hold me back. It had to stop. So I freaked out. And filmed it. And posted it. That was a year and several hundred videos ago. Let’s Get Extreme has almost a quarter million views… Since then I’ve developed an online following over 10,000 strong (#ENTREnation!), my videos have had tens of millions of views, and I am inspiring hundreds of people a week to pursue their own version of excellence through entrepreneurial education with ENTRE Institute. It’s been an amazing journey so far and is still in just the beginning phase. At the rate we’re going and growing we will impact a million lives and beyond. Including, I hope, yours. And it all started because I started.
What are you starting today?