You Read the 4 Hour Work Week. You Failed. Here’s What You Can Do About It.

As many of you know the 4 Hour Work Week was a huge inspiration for me. I read the book a few weeks after it came out and literally started my business the very next day. I even printed and filled out a dream line as advocated in the book.

In retrospect the book hit me at a great time. Although I was making what I thought was excellent money, I hadn’t really ramped up my commitments or my lifestyle requirements. I didn’t have a family. I didn’t feel I had tons to lose.

How much do you have to lose? Take a look at the guy 10 years ahead of you. Do you want to be that guy?

So I wasn’t yet locked down to the traditional American dream. That said, I wasn’t fresh out of the kitchen either. I was far enough along in my career to have some real business chops to draw on. I knew growing a business was going to be tough.

Because of my pervious business experience, I didn’t read the 4 Hour Work Week with rose tinted glasses. I knew intimately from having run a business that the stuff Tim was talking about was difficult. Many people who read the book simply aren’t aware of the realities of growing a business– and that’s not all bad. Sometimes a little bit of “f it I can do this!” is a powerful thing.

There is no question that Ferriss glorifies the benefits of entrepreneurship– and he should. The benefits are insane.

But so is the amount of work you’ll need to do to reap them.

The “I’m sold on the lifestyle now what….” comes up for a bunch of readers. After a few years of helping people through this stuff, here are some of the most common missteps I’m seeing in getting their 4HWW business off the ground.

  1. You don’t take it seriously that entrepreneurial skills and experience are the #1 way to achieve a location independent lifestyle (read: own/build valuable stuff). I can understand this one is tough to start to hack away at, and that’s why it’s first on the list. The absolute best way to learn entrepreneurship is to go work for an entrepreneur who you admire. This is surprisingly easy to do, especially if you employ Charlie Hoehn’s brilliant approach (and justification for) “free work.” I wish I could make a time warp so I could have watched that video when I was 22. This is truly one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard from anyone in a long time. If you know anyone in college, recently graduated, or even if they are older and exploring new career options, I strongly encourage you to share this video link with them.
  2. You are continuing to seek permission from your friends, family, and professional colleagues. Those closest to you will generally not understand or care about all the new entrepreneurial stuff you are excited about. Even worse– many will feel threatened by your new passions. Lifestyle design fundamentally forces people to ask some hard questions. Further, you are amplifying your problems by rattling on about your projects, it’ll make you less likely to execute on them (listeners of my podcast will for sure recognize this one!). Those closest to you are often those who feel like they have the most to lose if you do manage to make a big life change. Expecting your friends and family to sign off on your new life is asking too much. Worse– it has a high probability of derailing your plans.
  3. You are unable to create meaningful relationships with other entrepreneurs. Don’t try to do this thing alone. It takes forever and you are going to want to have some fun in the process. Ever hear the one about being the average of your 5 best friends? It can be tough to “friend up.” You’ll do it by building out a particular expertise, focusing on doing great work, and reaching out to people. When you do, for bajezuses sake don’t try to metaphorically sleep with them on the first friend date. Check out this fantastic post by Tynan about contacting and developing relationships with influencers. I think his advice is spot on. Most people are too insecure or uncaring to follow it. If you are one of the few who understands what he is on about, and is able to embody it, you’ll be able to improve your network fast.
  4. You don’t know what a business idea looks like. Here’s the outline: Solve a simple problem. Articulate what you do in one sentence. You should be able to create your prototype product, service, or land your first client within 8-12 weeks. DO ONLY THAT. Do it often. Figure out if it’s going to work ASAP. Try not to blog too much in the process. Please don’t give me projections. Drop your business plan. One URL. One employee. One product. One sale. THEN we’ll talk scale.
  5. You refuse to use a phone to get clients and business. Seems innocuous at the beginning. You chose to avoid telephones because you want to travel the world. This has the potential to be a disastrous mistake. I believe it’s a very real possibility that I would not have a business right now if I would have relied solely on my online shopping cart for sales and Google Analytics for customer data and perspective. In most businesses, and in particular at the beginning, the phone is the absolute best way to acquire customers, users, sales, and information. I’m serious about this one– a phone isn’t just a matter of maximizing profits, it could be the difference between having a business and having a job.
  6. You don’t work very hard. Many people I meet underestimate the incredible amount of effort required to get a business off the ground. If you aren’t clear on the effort required, me quoting you a figure would probably make you uncomfortable.
  7. You focus more on business gurus than you do on potential customers. If you’ve never had a customer, you don’t need a guru. Trust me on this. You need to work your tail off, find some problems that are interesting to you, and sell your solution to somebody. Learn from the process. Treat your potential customer like the guru. If you aren’t interested in asking them endless questions about what they want, you are probably in the wrong market.
  8. You don’t really want to be an entrepreneur. I see this one a lot– the spoils go to those willing to do the hard work. It’s not a disgrace if you aren’t willing to hustle up business, cold call prospects, teach yourself difficult programming languages, sell stuff to people, deal with customer service, work your ass off for years on end, compete with others, hire and fire employees and contract workers, manage people, lead people, clean the bathrooms and anything else that comes down the pike. If you are failing it could be you are over focused on the spoils and not on the process. Find me somebody who says building a profitable lifestyle business is a walk in the park, and I’ll subscribe to their blog. :)
  9. BONUS POINT: YOU HAVEN’T REALLY FAILED. It’s never too late to start over. It’s never too late to learn more. When you start to seek out failures for the information they give you, you are thinking like an entrepreneur.

Good luck, and let me know if I can help.

Cheers from Bali,


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