I think many find it so difficult to start a business online because they feel like it's so new and different from anything they've done before. This unknown feeling makes the process scary and impairs progress.
The following is a story about how my cat was kidnapped and sent to kitty prison. After it was all done with I needed to mentally review what had happened so that I could try to look on the positive side and learn from the experience.
I'm sharing this story because I realized that it was an exact mirror of what I'm doing with my business online.
The story of Maji's disappearance
My fiance, Mark, and I have two cats. A large male named Maji, a stray who adopted us 9 years ago, and a female named Luna who we adopted after she was left in a box with her litter-mates and no mother in a friends driveway.
Last Saturday we let Maji outside at about 10 pm. This is very common for us, he has always been an outdoor cat, and usually comes back inside in an hour or so, no big deal.
After a while we began periodically checking the door and calling for him off the porch.
By 1 am something seemed really wrong. We live in an apartment complex on a secluded road and he stays in our little area. So we walked around our neighborhood calling for him.
At 4 am we did another circle around the neighborhood. No kitty. We went out again at 7 am. No kitty.
We stopped maintenance to see if they had picked up any hit cats. I checked every tree in the area to make sure he didn't get stuck on a branch. I looked in every single dumpster and recycling bin. I even followed any tracks that I could find (there was snow on the ground).
I think it was between 9 - 10 am I started talking to anyone who was outside; mostly people walking dogs.
Apparently my cat is a great networker. We call him Maji but he's also known as Grimmie and Spookie; and at least three other people feed him.
We felt that he must have gotten trapped somewhere and couldn't get to us.
All day long I would go out and come back. Then my fiance would go out and come back. Walked next to every single garage door in the complex (20-30 of them) and called for him hoping to hear a meow for help.
At about 1 pm I drove up and down the street that goes past the complex looking for hit animals. Though I was relieved to not find anything, I sat in the car and cried because I had no idea where my pet of 9 years had gone.
By late afternoon I had dozens of people out looking for my cat. Our neighbor actually went out with cat treats looking for him.
Mark went out an hour before sunset on Sunday for one last circle before we lost daylight. He talked to some of the many people who knew we were looking for him. People leaned out their windows with tips and well wishes.
By now the entire neighborhood knew that we were looking for our cat.
Finally we catch a break
Mark was told that someone saw a black cat near a dumpster. It was a different cat but that sent him in the right direction. Finally some woman came outside and said "I know where your cat is."
Apparently between when we let him out (just after 10 pm) and no later than 11 pm, Maji had "followed" her into her apartment. (By followed I mean she invited him...)
She immediately called animal control on him. He was picked up at midnight on Saturday.
I wont rant on this but I really do not understand why this woman did that. We had no time at all to try to find him.
He went out at 10, between 10:30-11 he went into her house, she held him captive while we were calling for him between 11-12, and he was already with the catcher before we started walking the roads at 1 am.
Like I said I just don't understand what this woman was thinking and it's why I phrase this as a cat kidnapping (catnapping?).
When we called the animal control officer she told us that she knew it was a pet (because he was so friendly and healthy) and was relieved to hear from us. She had tried to get the neighborhood woman to put him outside, however Maji was freaked out by the attention and ran back into the woman's house and the catcher legally had to take him.
The catcher even tried to open the shelter for us (it was 6:30 on a Sunday by then) but management wasn't available.
Suffice it to say we were at the shelter before it opened the next day to pick him up.
What does this have to do with success?
Lets compare this to online business as that's what we deal with here. This story parallels everything about being successful in business (or really successful at anything).
In business you have a product or a goal. In our case bringing home our beloved pet is our goal.
So how do we achieve that goal?
By talking to people walking their dogs we were networking. People were genuinely sympathetic to my cause and really tried to help us. If we hadn't been talking to people all day, we wouldn't have run into that woman.
In life you can not do anything significant without help from other people. If you want to write a blog or sell a product you have to network with people in your niche. You need teachers, mentors and friends to live a fulfilling life.
Even if you wanted to become a hermit and live in the woods, you will eventually need help from someone even if it's just medical assistance. There wouldn't be 7.046 billion people on the planet if we weren't meant to talk to each other.
I can promise you that now the whole our neighborhood knows that the big black cat is not only owned by someone, but that his owners are relentless. I talked to dozens of people multiple times. They also know that he lives in a specific building and are likely to come get me if they find him.
I now have a reputation as a friendly, caring (possibly crazy) cat owner.
I'm sure you know that you have to build an online reputation to be considered a reputable source. Why would I read your blog unless you have a reputation for knowing more about a subject than I do. Just make sure that it's a good reputation.
We were using word of mouth to advertise (talking to people) and audio advertisements (yelling "Maji" at the top of our lungs) to advertise our lost kitty.
I also had a poster ready to print but Mark asked me to wait until Monday to hang them. I think posters made him feel like it was more serious and we were still hoping that he was just asleep in someones apartment and would be home soon. However if we had hung those posters sooner, we may have gotten a response sooner.
Use multiple forms of advertising until you find the method that reaches your audience. Eventually that method will be your email list but until you build your list you should reach out in more than one way.
Set a deadline.
One of the reasons we were so desperately looking for him was because the temperature was going to drop soon. We live in NY, aka a frozen wasteland in February. Setting our "deadline" for sunset made us act more urgently and it's actually what got Mark outside at just the right time for the woman to hear him calling for Maji.
If we had just said, well maybe he will come home on his own so we will call for him once and wait for tomorrow, we may not have found him.
Similarly in business if I were to write one blog and say, well no ones really reading it maybe I'll write something next week... Your not going to get any readers and you're not going to make any sales.
Instead if you say, "I'm going to earn my first $1 this month", as the month goes on your going to act more urgently, write more blogs, advertise on more channels.
Do not set deadlines just because you don't have a boss leaning over your shoulder.
Remember your why.
Our why was Maji himself. We wanted him home more than anything.
Because of our why we were able to walk 5-6 miles each, even though we hadn't slept and were exhausted. I was ready to spend money on color copies and hang hundreds of posters. I started conversations with complete strangers even though I'm shy.
At that moment I would have walked 100 miles and not slept for a week to get my cat back. Really I would have done more.
Whats your why and what you'd you sacrifice to get it?
Never give up or your goal dies.
That sounds horrible but its true.
Maji is at least 11 years old. He's also male and black. Plus with spring (kitten season) around the corner, the chance of him being adopted was pretty slim. Sending him to the catcher is sending him to be euthanize.
Did you know that statistically black cats are adopted less than other colors? Its sad but true.
If you give up you will never reach your goal.
You will get no results for a while, but when you finally find traction, results come faster.
We receive a lot of false hope because there are at least two other black cats in the neighborhood. They have white dots on their chest so they were easy to distinguish once we saw them. Besides that every bird sounded like a distant meow; every sound sounded like a scratch at the door.
We received a whole lot of nothing until finally, we got an answer.
When it comes to online business you're going to have to do a lot of foot work without any results. But when those results finally start coming they come faster and faster.
This is often compared to a snowball rolling down a hill because it starts very small and builds at faster and faster speeds.
I feel this is true except you have to imagine that its difficult to get the initial snowball going. Maybe the snow doesn't want to stick together so you have to give extra attention to forming the ball. Then when it finally catches, its rolls itself into a bolder.
Learn from everything.
We learned that in situations like this we need to act immediately, and advertise. We need to network with as many people as possible because someone knows something we don't.
To translate that into business reach out to people in your niche. Network and find a mentor. See what they are doing and lean why it works. Then apply this to what you're doing.
Learn something new every day.
There will always be trolls.
As much as I really want to have a conversation with this woman about what she put our family through, it wouldn't do any good. For whatever reason she felt that she could judge an animal that she had known for less than an hour and send him to kitty prison.
Similarly on the internet there will always be someone who leaves that rude comment. They feel that they know you because they read a 600 word blog. You can't give them power by yelling at them because then they will lash out again.
Yes I could stew over the fact that some person decided to do this. But what good would it do? None. It would just bring us more stress.
And possible legal action if I tried to do something about it....
Instead we are printing posters letting people know that the black cats have owners and to please not bring them into their house. Also were buying a nice bottle of wine to thank the neighbor who went to look for Maji.
Try to look in the bright side and let karma take care of the people who do harm.
So whats the moral of this story?
Well first of all, if you see a cat that's healthy, please leave it alone. Do not bring it into your house. Someone could be desperately trying to find their beloved family member. A dog may need assistance but cats are pretty self-sufficient.
When it comes to your life goals, remember the above rules:
- Build your reputation.
- Advertise in multiple ways.
- Set a deadline for your goals.
- Remember your why.
- Never give up.
- You will get no results until you finally get real results (i.e. When it rains it pours).
- Learn from everything.
- Haters are going to hate.
- No matter what, show gratitude!
Do you agree? Leave a comment below.