We all want to become successful. And most of us define success as making a full-time income. We don’t celebrate the income itself, but instead we celebrate the possibilities created by that income.
People get inspired to become successful and make a full-time income by thinking about the possibilities and reading the case studies. I’ll never forget when I first read Jeremy Schoemaker’s case study of going from broke to making eight figures with his blog. That case study lit the fire and made me realize it was possible for me as well.
In my journey, I encountered several obstacles. The largest obstacle I encountered in the beginning was my age. It’s easy to write off a 13-year-old who recently became an entrepreneur. It’s harder to write me off now. People won’t believe you in the beginning, so you have to rise above that.
The big barriers I am talking about don’t focus on the motivational side of success. You need to be motivated to become successful, but these two barriers can even hold back the most motivated people who strive to become successful.
These two barriers held me back until a few months ago. The interesting thing about these barriers was that I didn’t know they were barriers until I made it on the other side. Yes, the grass is actually greener on the side I’m on. These are the two invisible barriers:
In my opinion, I believe people know a lack of time is a barrier, but few people don’t understand the full scope of that. Just because you are productive for eight hours per day and never avoid burnout doesn’t mean you will be successful.
I normally compare busy work to productive work and say that busy work is just a waste of time. But nay, I’ve realized that being productive isn’t enough either.
That’s because we define our productivity. For me, following hundreds of people every day to grow my Twitter audience was me being productive. I gained anywhere from 300-500 followers per day, but by calling it productive, I couldn’t have been fooling myself more than I had.
Then I became a CEO. The simple version: I started hiring people.
Never again will you find me manually following hundreds of people in a given day. I have outsourced all of that work to a trustworthy employee. Never again will I create a picture for one of my blog posts. I hired someone who creates pictures that are better than my pictures.
I thought I was productive by following all of those people and creating pictures. I only saw how wrong I was when I jumped over to the other side. After jumping to the other side, I immediately questioned my productivity as a whole.
Was it productive for me to schedule tweets every day? Was it productive for me to edit all of those videos? Was it productive for me to schedule my blog posts? Was it productive to send pins and grow my Pinterest audience?
NO! None of those activities were productive. I understand if those four things don’t happen, critical parts of my business become obsolete. If no more blog posts get scheduled on this blog, then it’s only a matter of time before search engines stop ranking this blog high. If my videos don’t get edited, I can’t create Udemy courses.
I decided to change my definition of productivity. Productivity isn’t putting a lot of work on your shoulders–even if all of that work is vital for the growth and survival of your business. Productivity is identifying what you (and only you) can do and then outsourcing everything else to other people.
Here is the current list of things that only I can do for my business:
- Write blog posts (no ghost writers or contributions. I’ve written all of these blog posts since Day #1)
- Create videos (I can sort of outsource that when I create courses with other people. I’ll talk more about that later)
- Create slides for my presentations (I should know and create my entire battle plan for every video I do)
- Engage with my social media audience (that’s too important for me to outsource)
- Look at results (I only do this once a day just so I see what is working and what isn’t working)
The list looks like a decently sized list, but think about all of the things that did not make the list. This gives me more time to explore new opportunities and leverage what works for me. Once I created this list, I set my boundaries.
Any work I do for my business that does not make this list is unproductive. With this new definition, scheduling tweets is unproductive. So is scheduling blog posts. I don’t remember the last time I edited one of my videos. Someone else does that for me.
#2: Not Being In An Inner Circle
This invisible barrier is a barrier few people recognize. Part of that is because of the way we define an inner circle. To be clear, role models aren’t good enough. Role models create inspiration, but an inner circle is more valuable than that.
An inner circle that helps you thrive fits the following parameters:
- The people within the inner circle are doing what you want to do.
- They are more successful than you and/or possess expertise that you don’t have.
- You actively engage with these people and they actively engage with you back. You both get to know each other on a more personal level.
- You are giving back and providing value too. Let these people know what works for you and work together on some of the projects.
For some of you, school may have been a long time ago. Think about creating a diorama. The most successful diorama is usually created by the group with the most skilled students working together to achieve the same goal. They both bring different skills and work to the table, but both of them put in a lot of effort.
Then when they get the A, those students become best friends afterwards. They go on to create numerous dioramas throughout the year that make the teacher marvel.
That’s how the inner circle works in a nutshell.
Creating courses on Udemy taught me the power of the inner circle. I’ll never forget when my friend Jerry Banfield sent an email encouraging other instructors to make a course with him. At the time, I didn’t know him well on a personal level. I knew he was crushing it on Udemy (he makes over $1,000 a day from it), so I decided to create a course with him and see what I could learn.
We each approached the course with different skills. It was a course about how we write thousands of words every day. I personally prefer to type away, so I created videos that focus on the typing aspect. Jerry prefers using a dictation tool that lets him speak/write over 10,000 words in an hour.
Working together allowed us to create a valuable course that targeted multiple writing styles. Jerry provided insights that I wouldn’t have included and vice-versa.
I learned his approach to creating successful Udemy courses and saw how he promoted my course in an email blast. I got to see some of the methods that worked for him and how it impacted our course sales in the long-term.
After co-creating a course with Jerry, I decided to turn course co-creation into an integral part of my business. I saw that Jerry partnered up with other instructors. I decided to contact some of these instructors asking them if they wanted to create courses with me.
Joe Parys, another highly successful Udemy instructor, got back to me. I got to learn from him as we created a course on social media time management. We brought different expertise to the table which resulted in a better course.
The important thing to note is that creating the courses with Jerry and Joe wasn’t the end. We continue talking with each other to this day and thinking of different courses we can create together. Jerry and Joe gave my Udemy strategy a new level of accountability.
You need to have a group of people who raise you to the next level and have the proper expertise to do it. That’s what an inner circle is all about.
We see the visible barriers to success. We see that motivation is essential and that taking action is just as vital. However, we make barriers like these seem so big that we let the invisible (but often larger) barriers go unattended.
What are your thoughts on these invisible barriers? Do you think there are other barriers that we don’t give much attention to? Sound off in the comments section below.