AMY PORTERFIELD: “No matter where you are in your business, you're always going to be looking for a new project. Maybe once a year you start a new project; or for those of you who are still in your nine to five and your big project is starting your own business, there's some questions you have to ask yourself, such as, Am I willing to be a beginner? Am I willing to start from scratch? Another way to look at that is start over.
“Even with my coaching program, I feel like I'm starting over because I could launch a two-thousand-dollar digital course all day long. That is what I do best. I have perfected that over fourteen years. The way you launch a ten-thousand-dollar coaching program is different than a two-thousand-dollar digital course. I've learned that quickly. And so now I'm like, ‘Holy cow, this is a different ball game.’”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: I need to tell you about a podcast that I love. It's called Imperfect Action, it's hosted by Steph Taylor, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. And it's a bite-sized online-marketing podcast for business owners. So Steph is going to answer all of your business-marketing questions and deep dives into all things online marketing, content marketing, social-media marketing, and marketing strategy for business owners. So if you love Online Marketing Made Easy, I think you're going to love Imperfect Action as well. I loved her recent episode about how to turn your audience into paying clients. Uh, yes, please. And she talks about how to use better call to actions, streamline your sales funnel, and so much more. You can listen to Imperfect Action wherever you get your podcasts.
Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy.
I hope you are having a wonderful day. And I always know that you have so many options for listening to people's podcasts, and the fact that you chose mine means the world to me. So thanks so much for tuning in. I never take that lightly.
So today we're talking about your capacity for zero. So if you're listening right now and you already have a business, you are going to get so much value out of this Shorty episode if you are going to be taking on any new projects this year. Like, in the next year, if you're taking on any new projects, you're going to love this episode and get a lot of value from it. Also, if you are still in your nine-to-five job and you're thinking about quitting your job and starting your own business, you will absolutely walk away from this episode with immense value. And so basically, no matter where you are in your journey, this one's for you.
And it's basically, what I'm going to talk about, some new content that I created during my book launch. I don't talk about this concept in my book, but it came out of the hundred-plus interviews that I did for my book. And so it’s this concept called capacity for zero. And it's, essentially, looking at, how willing are you to start from zero? How willing are you to say, “I'm not an expert. I don't have a lot of clout in this area. I do have to start from the ground up to make this work, and I'm willing to put my ego aside and start from scratch, not knowing if it's going to work out or not”?
Now, that is very real for anybody listening now that’s still in a nine-to-five job and wants to start a business, but it's also very real for you if you are starting a new project. Like, in my business, this year we kicked off a one-on-one coaching program that I have very big hopes for. I really do believe it's going to become a huge piece of my business in the next few years. And there's so much work I need to do in order to figure out the perfect coaching offer as well as the really, you know, most strategic way to market it. I have never, ever had a one-on-one coaching program in my business in the fourteen years that I've been around. And so, I really do believe when it comes to selling a high-end coaching program, I am starting from zero.
And also, I've talked a lot about my book on this podcast. You know, when I look back now, it's been over a month since my book came out, and to say that I have a New York Times’ bestselling book still blows my mind. To think that my book and my photo was in New York in Times Square on a huge billboard, yeah, that still blows my mind. Never in a million years did I think something like that would happen. But the thing is, I had to be willing to literally have no idea what I was doing, and I had to be willing to fail, willing to say, “That didn't work out as planned.” I had to be willing to say that or to be honest with myself that this might not work, but still do it.
And that is not easy, because the truth is that all of us—you, me—we come with success to the table. And what I mean by that is if you're still in your nine-to-five job, you actually have clout in your business. You know what you're doing. If you're still in your nine-to-five job, you showed up for work this morning, and you felt fairly confident that you were going to crush it, right? You know what you're doing in your job. If you've been there for a while—
I was just with my high school best friend this weekend. She retired at forty-five from her marketing job. She, like, had a big-wig marketing position, but she was with the company for twenty-two years. It was her only job she's ever had. It was her first job out of college. She stayed there for twenty-two years and rose up the ranks and left at forty-five. And the reason I tell you this is she had a lot of confidence in her job. She had a lot of clout in what she did. So if she were to leave that job and start a business, some of that clout goes away. She now starts from ground zero. No email list, no social media, no one knows who she is online. Like, a lot of the stuff that might boost your ego in your nine-to-five job is no longer there when you start your business. You have to have a high capacity for zero in order to put that ego aside.
Or let's say someone like me. So I'm starting this one-on-one coaching program, and it's, like, a ten-thousand-dollar offer. I have never offered anything more than two thousand dollars, and I surely have never put together a coaching program, and I have to be willing to say, “This might crash and burn.” And that is a bruise to my ego. Because I've had so much success in this business, I have to be willing to say, “I don't know if promoting it this way is going to work.” And quite honestly, we've done a lot of testing over the last year, like, under the radar with this coaching program, and I've tried many things that have not worked out as I thought they would. And so we've gone back to the drawing board to talk about the coaching program in a different way, rework the coaching offer, talk to our students who didn't buy it. Like, there has been a lot of trial and error. That feels scary to me. But my capacity for zero, meaning starting over, is very high because I want it really bad.
I really do think that one-on-one strategic-marketing coaching is the next direction for my business, and that doesn't mean that I'm not going to have my digital courses and my membership; I just mean it is going to be a new vertical in the business that I think are going to help people's businesses explode. But I have to figure it out.
And so I want to put out there that no matter where you are in your business, you're always going to be looking for a new project. Maybe once a year you start a new project; or for those of you who are still in your nine to five and your big project is starting your own business, there's some questions you have to ask yourself, such as, Am I willing to be a beginner? Am I willing to start from scratch? Another way to look at that is start over.
Even with my coaching program, I feel like I'm starting over because I could launch a two-thousand-dollar digital course all day long. That is what I do best. I have perfected that over fourteen years. The way you launch a ten-thousand-dollar coaching program is different than a two-thousand-dollar digital course. I've learned that quickly. And so now I'm like, “Holy cow, this is a different ball game.”
I have to create a webinar to launch the coaching program. That webinar looks nothing like a webinar to launch a two-thousand-dollar course. And so I've got to figure it out. I've got to watch other people's webinars. I'm calling my friends, asking for advice. I am hiring a coach to help us. Like, I'm doing all the things that you do if you're starting from scratch.
Now, I've got privilege here. I'm well aware I have money to invest in learning this, and I have some knowledge that I'm going to pull from, of course. But it is a different ball game here, so I have to be willing to be a beginner.
But I think that is easier said than done, because for a lot of people, including myself, when you've succeeded, when you've achieved, let's say if you're still in your nine-to-five job, you've achieved a lot of professional success, it can be really hard to go back to square one. So if that sounds like you and you're considering, let's say, starting a business—for those of you who are considering starting a business, you're still in your nine-to-five job—or you're trying to start a business right now and you're really struggling, I really encourage you to ask yourself, Am I willing to be perceived as an amateur when I used to be a pro? Am I willing to start from zero when I've been a legitimate authority in my field for so long? Am I okay with not getting any recognition, or even being criticized, as I figure this out? Am I willing for it not to work out over and over and over again until it does?
And if you're struggling to answer yes to any of these questions, it's important that you start strengthening your capacity for zero, because the higher your capacity for zero, you're more likely to take risks, more likely to put yourself out there, and you're definitely more willing to fail. And the more willing you are to fail, the more likely you are to eventually succeed.
So, one really great example of someone super successful, who has a strong capacity for zero, is Oprah. Now, Oprah is one of the most renowned TV personalities in history. But when she first quit her talk show and started OWN, her television network, the ratings were terrible. After twenty-five years of being number one, I mean, Oprah was on top of the daytime-television circuit, right? She was the number one. She knew success. She had it every day. She was the pro. She didn't fail. She was tested, tried, and true. And she had a really strong stance in where she was. So when she started her network, she had to dig deep to get comfortable with being new at something. She's talked about this publicly.
She also had to work really hard to figure out how to make this network work. Not only was she starting something she had never done before—and you could argue, “Yeah, but she had so much success, so much knowledge, so much skill, such a big team, she could figure it out.” Of course, she could figure it out. But she still had to start from zero in terms of never having done this before. And it was really hard.
There's so much media about how it was a failing network. Like, right out of the gate, it did not do well. And there was so much question, like, is this going to fail? Is Oprah's next big thing not going to work? And I can imagine how hard hearing all that media would have been, seeing it and hearing it. Like, there's no way Oprah just, like, brushed it off. It had to hit her hard. She's human, right?
And so for us, we don't get, like, all the media saying, “Oh, my gosh. Amy's coaching programs, it's not going to work.” Like, I'm not at that level, right? But I still have all those feelings that come up with what if this doesn't work?
So during that time when Oprah's network was struggling, this is what she said. She was quoted as saying, “You can't even think about quitting. You have been in cruise control. It's going to turn around, and you've got to do the work.” That’s what she said. She said, “You've been in”—and she was talking about herself, like, “We've been in cruise control.” And that's what a lot of us have been in in our nine-to-five jobs: cruise control. You show up at work today; you know what you're doing; you have confidence. That cruise control—boom—turns off the minute you decide to leave that nine-to-five job and start an online business. There's no cruise control happening in starting your business. Or for me, that cruise control of launching digital courses—boom—totally turned off the minute I tried to launch this coaching program in kind of the same way, and I didn't hit the goal that I thought I would hit right out of the gate. She says, “It's going to turn around, but you've got to do the work.” And when I read that, I was like, “That's it. It's doing the work.”
So here's a good way to think about it. Imagine the numbers one through ten, all listed in front of you. Number one represents where you are now. Maybe you're working a corporate job, or you're just getting started with your online business so you're, like, at a two or three. Or for me, I've never launched a high-end coaching program. I feel like I'm at a one in terms of one to ten. So number ten represents the business you want or the success you want with a project, and number one is, “I am just starting out from scratch.” So ten, you're making great money, calling the shots, being the boss. One is, “I haven't made a cent with this yet, and I'm very, very new to this project or going out on my own,” or whatever it is.
So if you want to go from where you are now—let's say number one—to where you are crushing it at number ten, guess what’s in the middle. A lot of work. There's a reason why they call it the messy middle, and it's because there will always be challenges, setbacks, confusion, and overwhelm when you're trying to do something you've never done before. Why would you expect this to be easy? Why do you think it should come together quickly for you? Why do you think it should be working right now? Like, if you're multitasking, come back to me, because I think that's such a great question, and it's one that was recently asked to me.
So when we beta tested the coaching program, it did really well. But when we put it out in kind of a different way, kind of under the radar—many of you didn't even see how we did it—but when we did it to a small group, it didn't do as well as I wanted, and I felt really defeated and disappointed. And I went to a lunch with two of my friends here in Nashville that are kind of in the industry with me, and one of the guys said to me, “Why are you disappointed?” Like, “Oh, I just, I didn't hit the goal the second time out.” And he's like, “And why did you expect to?” And I said, “Well, I've had a lot of success in my business.” He's like, “In coaching? Like, for a high-end coaching program?” kind of with a smile on his face. I'm like, “Well, no, but I've done other things.” He's like, “Amy, this is different than anything you've ever done before. This is literally dramatically different than anything you've ever done before. Why are you expecting to hit a home run on day one?” And he's totally right. Like, I didn't even give myself time to figure it out.
And here’s the beautiful thing. We've been working on this for a while. And because I didn't hit my goal that, like, kind of second time out, we changed some things to make the program so much better. So anyone that's in my coaching program right now, just for the record, my defeat turned into something so amazing that you're a part of right now. I wouldn't have even gotten to where I am now. And it's just a little baby step. We launched it to a very small group, and there's people in my coaching program getting great results right now, and I'm so excited. But we wouldn't even get that far if I didn't have those setbacks in the beginning. And I know I'm going to have more setbacks to make the program even better. Like, I see this as a very long journey for me.
But I love that he said, “Why did you even expect it to be a huge success?” And I realized, oh, it's because I've been successful at other things. It doesn't matter. This is new, this is different, and you have to give yourself grace.
And I think the setbacks that we all experience allow us to build something that's very meaningful to me. I feel very invested in this brand-new coaching program that I'm building, because I've worked at it so intimately with my team and with my students that are a part of it. I feel very connected to it, and if it came really easy right out of the gate, to be quite honest, I wouldn't have felt that way. I just know it. It wouldn't have meant as much to me as it does, because I wouldn't have had to work so hard at making it right.
So, let’s say that you’re willing to start from scratch. You are willing to do the work, and you're all in with, for those of you who need to start a business, starting your business. So one other thing you can do to strengthen that capacity for zero, even though you're like, “I'm all in,” sometimes it will help if you create a Plan B, so that way, if you do something and worst-case scenario happens—meaning whatever it is you're trying to do, it crashes and burns, like, if it doesn't work out—you have a backup plan.
My friend Jenna Kutcher, she talks a lot about this, having a backup plan, like, when she left her nine-to-five job. “If this all doesn't work, here's what I can do instead to get back on my feet.” Well, I love that. And you can do that with any project you're working on. And so for me, like, this coaching program, really, the Plan B was that we would literally all go back to the drawing board, my entire team; we would scratch what we did; we would come up with another plan; and I'd be willing to hire a business coach to help us.
Now, again, I'm very fortunate because I have money in the business, so I can do that. So you can't judge my Plan B with yours. We're in different places, perhaps. But I knew that I had a Plan B. I could ask for help. I could get a coach. I could come back to the drawing board and start over, that we were giving ourselves time.
That was another part of my Plan B: let's just give ourselves some time to figure this out. It doesn't have to be a home run. So once I talked to my friend, I was like, “Oh, I'm expecting a home run, even though I've never done this before. What if I gave myself some more time? And worst-case scenario, it doesn't work. What can I do to actually come back to the drawing board?”
So, I just wanted to share this with you, because the higher your capacity for zero, the more opportunity you have to win and to succeed. So it means we have to take our ego out. It means we have to be willing to be a beginner or an amateur and not a pro. We have to be willing to say, “That didn't work,” and “What can I do instead?” You have to be willing to take risks and go back to the drawing board and throw it all out and start all over. You might not need to, but you have to be willing to do that.
So, we always say that so much of being in entrepreneurship is your mindset, right? And this is absolutely a mindset shift. Your capacity for zero: the stronger it is, the more willing you are to stay in the game and to make it work, which means the closer you are to success.
So, here's what I want you to do. I want you to strengthen your capacity for zero. You're going to need to come back to that again and again. So ask yourself some of those tough questions I asked earlier and, like, Are you willing to start from zero? Are you willing to be a beginner or an amateur? Are you willing to crash and burn and get back up? And then, I really want you to think about that, because this by no means is an exercise to discourage you from starting a project or starting a business; it's an exercise to help you become the best you can possibly be at no matter what it is that you're going after.
All right. I hope you love this Shorty episode. And maybe if you have a friend that’s starting a business or a brand-new project and they're struggling, maybe you can grab the link to this episode and share it with them, because my goal is to get these episodes out in front of as many people who need them so that we can all have thriving businesses where we call the shots and we work exactly how we want to work in our business.
Thanks so much for tuning in. And I know I'm going to get questions about this. Our coaching program is not currently open, but if you want to get on the wait list, amyporterfield.com/coach. Amyporterfield.com/coach.
All right. Thanks for tuning in. I'll see you Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness. Bye for now.
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