Don’t Be Afraid To Fail And Focus On Fundamentals

Written by John Reese check out his blog

Some recent comments made on this blog reminded me of two very important lessons that I’ve learned…

1.  Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

2.  Focus On Fundamentals

One commenter reminded me that my recent car business, Samurai Speed, had failed.  I talk about the story in my Internet Marketing 2010 report published in a few posts before this one.

There were actually a few snarky comments in the post with the report about this failed business.  It seems like a few people took pleasure in the fact that I had failed — well in case they didn’t know, I’ve failed A TON OF TIMES.  (I’ll give you more examples of my failures in a moment.)

But to each his own, though.  It really doesn’t bother me for a very simple reason…

I know for a fact that you must fail, and sometimes often, before you can succeed.

There’s a reason some of the most successful people in the history of the world had some of the biggest FLOPS along the way.

No matter how great of a marketer you think you are, or how much you think you have a market figured out, or how great you think your product idea is, nothing is ever guaranteed to succeed.

In fact, once you’ve become a seasoned entrepreneur that has tried all sorts of projects you’ll come to realize that some of the ideas you never thought would turn into much end up being homeruns, and the big ideas you were so certain were going to be a smashing success turn into DUDS.

It’s just the way it goes.  That’s why many entrepreneurs say to learn to FAIL FAST.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of failures…

Just over 2 years ago, I launched BlogRush.  The little blog widget that I really thought was going to change the way bloggers syndicated their posts and generated traffic for their blogs.

The widget was adopted by nearly 50,000 bloggers in the first few months and syndicated several BILLION blog posts across the network.

From a technology standpoint it was an AMAZING creation.  My team did an awesome job at developing it. With all the heavy traffic it rarely failed.  It was a rock solid piece of software and server architecture.

But the service, ultimately, FAILED.  And failed badly.

People started to ‘game’ the system.  Others started burying the widget on their pages.  And the widget itself started to get ‘tuned out’ by visitors after awhile and the click-rates on the syndicated post titles plummeted.

All of this caused major attrition across the network.  Click-rates went down, users got less free traffic, and many users stopped using the widget — which lowered the traffic more and created a ‘reverse snowball’ of sorts.

It got to the point where the service needed to be shutdown.  Our company never even had a chance to monetize it.  It was a tough one to see fail.  It seemed like it had all the promise in the world.

But that is yet one of many failures I’ve had in my life…

As many people know, I created one of the first autoresponder services in the world in 1994.  I was a pioneer of sorts for the permission-based email industry.  And it was fun getting press in major newspapers and magazines.

There was only one problem… the service was before its time.

It became too hard to educate people why they needed to use it.  Some hardcore direct marketing people saw the value in it, but it was a tough sell to small business owners at the time.

So, ultimately, it failed.

But Wait, There’s More!

Actually I could probably write a book about all of my failures.  I have hundreds of them.  From building an instant messaging platform, to a free personals site back in the late 1990s (makes me crazy to see the guy from killing it today!  But good for him.) to a B2B supplier directory to a parenting portal to banner ad network and on and on and on.

And those are mainly ONLINE ventures.  I failed a ton offline too.

But again, that’s the nature of business.  I’ve also had my share of winners — (a photo hosting service for eBay users) was once a Top 500 traffic web site in the world.  Yes, IN THE WORLD.

Here’s an old page where someone had listed the Top 500 from 1999 — you’ll see MYITEM.COM on the list.

I was a very successful domain name broker as many people already know.  Even in 2001-2002 (after the dot-com crash) most thought the domain name “gold rush” had ended.  I started a new strategy to isolate lower-tier (i.e. cheaper) resale domains and ended up producing over $1 million in sales (mostly profit) in less than 9 months from that project.  I ended up with nearly 40,000 .COM domains at that time.  Crazy times!

I also did very well selling infoproducts to niche markets – like golf, parenting, karate, etc.

And I was (and still am) a successful affiliate marketer.  I was one of eBay’s top affiliates when they launched their affiliate program, and I was also a top affiliate for several credit card programs like Capital One and Next Card (old school net marketers will remember Next Card.)

But for every infoproduct (or affiliate market) success there were many failures when testing out markets and concepts.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet… business is very hit and miss.  And it has been for many of the world’s BILLIONAIRES.

So you can’t be afraid to fail.    The great book Think And Grow Rich has some amazing passages about failure being a part of success.  I highly recommend you read (or reread) that book.

You can’t get ‘married’ to your ideas.  Throw them against the wall and see if they stick.  If they don’t (after giving it a fair effort) MOVE ON.

There are a gazillion opportunities out there for you to build a success business with.

The 2nd part of this post is about something else…

Someone had posted and said they’d been working at Internet Marketing for years, and had bought many courses, but haven’t had success.  They even asked if they should buy one of my products.

My answer was NO, I don’t think you should buy it.

It has to come to a point when you stop buying more education and instead use what you already have.  If you have a successful business and you’re just looking for a little nugget here and there to plug into your existing business, then I DO recommend you continue to invest in training products.

The beauty of training products is that you get to buy the testing results of the author — you don’t have to invest the time, money, or energy it took to get the results.  You simply get to learn from it and hopefully get instant ideas for how to use it for yourself.

But if you don’t yet have something working, and you have purchased a few courses (or spent many hours online educating yourself) it’s almost 99% certain that you buying more marketing courses is NOT going to help you.

The fact of the matter is the bulk of online business success comes down to some basic FUNDAMENTALS:

1.  Finding a market to serve and provide value to.

2.  Making offers to that market (promoting affiliate products, dropshipped products, your products, etc.)

3.  Driving the highest possible targeted traffic for that market (Google Adwords).

4.  Building an email list so you can follow-up with prospects.

5.  Writing good content related to your market — on a blog, in articles, and when communicating with your list.


There are some ‘tricks’ for maximizing Google AdWords that Google doesn’t tell you, but you can still be very successful with AdWords just using Google’s free training.

But what about SEO?

SEO takes TIME.  And SEO comes AFTER you get AdWords to work.  The biggest mistake people make is trying to optimize the site for a keyword that they’ve yet to prove WILL SELL PRODUCTS TO THEIR MARKET.

So you need to BUY the traffic first to at least prove that it converts — even if you can’t make that specific keyword profitable.  At least then you’ll know what keywords convert so your time isn’t wasted on those SEO efforts.

There are also many strategies for using Social Media.  It’s a great way to syndicate that content and drive traffic.  But as I recently mentioned in my Internet Marketing 2010 report (in a few posts before this one) I also think Social Media can be a BIG WASTE OF TIME because of how most people use it.

Social Media is too easy to get caught up in like a chat room.  I think it’s important to use with an overall strategy but use it for a max of 1 hour per day (in most cases).


In the beginning don’t even worry about Social Media.  If you can’t start getting some success from the AdWords traffic then your project is doomed.

Think about it… the AdWords traffic is most ideal prospect… someone actively searching for exactly what you sell (or hopefully sell).  So if those people DON’T BUY from you then you certainly aren’t going to sell to less targeted traffic (like Social Media traffic).

That’s it.

Focus on the fundamentals.  Get busy.  Test, test, test.  And fail fast.

UPDATE:  I had some comments about AdWords… I’m not suggesting you rely solely on AdWords for traffic generation.  But it IS where you should start — even if it’s not profitable.  I teach a “sacrifice early profits” concept where you are simply just after metrics in the beginning.  Even if all the keywords are unprofitable, if you’re making sales you will see which keywords drive the best conversions; then you can consider an SEO campaign for those keywords and actually STOP paying for AdWords.  But AdWords is definitely the place to START (it’s the best targeted traffic) to validate the market and product being offered.