I Lost $37k And An Entire Year Because I Neglected This 1 Fundamental Business Principle

7 months ago   •   2 min read

By Ernesto Gutierrez, MD
Photo by Vitolda Klein / Unsplash
Table of contents

In the first year of my online business I lost $37k and a whole lotta time…

It was 2019 and my family and I had just arrived in Spain, and since I couldn’t practice medicine upon arrival, decided to go full-time on what was my part-time gig until then: coaching doctors on how to launch online side-gigs. Now it was time to productize my knowledge and build a business around it.

However, I made the same mistake I helped clients avoid, and spent 99% of my time in busy-work instead of valuable work.

I should’ve followed Jim Rohn’s advice: “don’t major in minor things”.

It’s easy to fall for the seemingly urgent activities while neglecting those that move the needle in your business.

In my case, going back and forth with a graphic designer creating a new logo, colors, and fonts. Or outlining a course, building the website, reading every review of online marketing platforms, and automating processes I didn’t yet have… And yes, all of these things sound important. Crucial even. But they’re not.

If I could go back to 2019, this is exactly what I would do instead:

Identify money-making activities from everything else.

Your number one priority when starting a business, is getting some cash.

If I was coaching the 2019 version of me, I’d recommend starting with a group coaching program around the topics I knew my target audience could benefit from. The goal would be at least 5 students and at most 10. They would meet over zoom once a week for a few weeks, and I’d make sure they get the results promised even if took longer or more time per call. Enrollment would be priced between $500 and $1k.

Doing this would generate some cashflow and, more importantly, get me a group of satisfied clients who’d show me any holes in the content, what was important, what wasn’t, and exactly what students needed to succeed.

Ship simply. Complicate later.

One of my biggest time sinks was trying to automate everything before I even knew what the processes should look like.

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all" - Peter Drucker

If I went back, I’d do a lot more manual, un-scalable, activities. Activities like engaging in 1:1 conversations over DMs or even over zoom. Getting on sales calls. Sending back and forth emails.

Just like before, this information is invaluable in order to learn and eventually automate processes.

Track and schedule money-making activities

My mentor often said to me: “What you track, improves”.

Identifying money-making activities is not enough. Every solopreneur agrees making more sales is great. But when asked “how many sales call did you have this week?” the answer is often none. I’m as guilty of this as the next person.

Which is why scheduling and tracking money-making activities would be at the top of my list if I had a chance to redo the first year of my online business.

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