It’s been over one year since John first told me about his idea to create The Freedom Journal, a faux leather, hardcover journal for individuals who are looking to set and accomplish their #1 goal in 100 days.
It was one of those ideas that, once he fully described what it would be – essentially, a daily and nightly guide and accountability partner to help individuals do what so many struggle with – I couldn’t believe it hadn’t already been created.
John sort of has a way with these types of ideas: ones that are thoughtful, ones that are created to serve, and ones that are straight up SMART.
Ideas are nothing without action
But ideas are the equivalent of nothing if you don’t take action to implement them.
Luckily, John is good at charging full speed ahead with his ideas.
That’s something that makes us such a great team: he has awesome ideas, and I’m pretty great at figuring out how to implement them.
Like his idea to create a podcasting community that would help those who wanted to create, grow and monetize their podcast.
We launched Podcasters’ Paradise in October 2013, and three years later we’ve welcomed over 2,800 members and netted over 3 million dollars.
Or like his idea to create and launch a mastermind for our community to help provide a platform where like-minded entrepreneurs could come together to help support and encourage one another.
After two years, Fire Nation Elite welcomed and helped support over 250 entrepreneurs, many of whom are running successful businesses today thanks to the guidance and support provided.
Or like his idea to create and launch a daily podcast interviewing today’s most inspiring and successful entrepreneurs.
Four years and over 1400 episodes later, EOFire is known as one of the top business podcasts in the world, receiving over 1 million listens every single month.
And most recently, like his idea to create The Mastery Journal – a journal created to help individuals master productivity, discipline and focus in 100 days.
What we accomplished in year four
These are all pretty great ideas, right?
But we can’t take all the credit.
Every idea for a product, service or community that we’ve created or launched in the past 4 years is thanks to the incredible feedback we’ve received from you, Fire Nation.
Without you engaging, sharing your struggles, and asking incredible questions every single day, we wouldn’t know what to create, and the ideas that I’ve mentioned thus far would have been much harder to come by.
Lesson learned: Building a foundation for your business and serving your audience have to come first.
Before we dive into some of our biggest lessons learned, we’d love to share some of the major projects we’ve either launched or started working on in our 4th year here at EOFire – all thanks to you, our audience.
The Freedom Journal
If you checked out our post reviewing our Kickstarter campaign, then you know exactly how we came up with the idea, prepped for, and executed our launch for The Freedom Journal.
If you haven’t check it out yet, you can do so here.
It’s not only the longest post I’ve ever written, it’s also one of the most content-packed and step-by-step-oriented posts I’ve ever written.
We hold nothing back regarding the steps we took to create The Freedom Journal, and the post is broken down in 4 phases to help anyone looking to accomplish something similar:
- Idea Phase
- Brainstorming & Planning Phase
- Hiring Phase
- Marketing & Launch Phase
Free Goals Course
In conjunction with the launch of The Freedom Journal, we also put together a completely free course on how to set and accomplish your biggest goals.
So if you’re fired up about doing just that, but you aren’t sure where to start, then join Free Goals Course and we’ll walk you through it step-by-step!
SkillsOnFire is something John has been thinking about for a while: an a la carte course offering to help you set your skills on fire in a specific area.
For example, the first SkillsOnFire course John launched is called SnapOnFire, and it’s a deep-dive on how to leverage SnapChat for your business.
John will be releasing new courses throughout the year, so be sure you to check back on SkillsOnFire.com to see what courses are coming up next!
The Mastery Journal
The Mastery Journal comes on the heels of The Freedom Journal and its a physical journal that will help you master productivity, discipline and focus in 100 days.
We received such amazing feedback from those who have purchased and successfully completed their Freedom Journal; feedback like:
- I’ve accomplished more in just a couple of weeks than I have in the past couple of months!
- The structure in The Freedom Journal has helped me become so much more focused on the task at hand!
- I finally realize that sometimes accomplishing a big goal is just about breaking it down into smaller steps.
- The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you have to TAKE ACTION!
After hearing a lot of incredible feedback, and after seeing success story after success story of how The Freedom Journal is helping thousands of individuals set and accomplish their #1 goal, John went back to the drawing board:
What other questions do I get from Fire Nation all the time?
What other struggles do I hear from Fire Nation that could be solve through creating a journal that can be their guide?
Well, turns out a lot people struggle with productivity, discipline and focus, which happen to be 3 of John’s biggest strengths.
To learn more about The Mastery Journal, and to receive updates on our progress as we head into our launch in February 2017, sign up here!
So wait a minute – this all sounds a little too easy, right?…
Why making assumptions is a waste of your time
Looking back over the past 4 years at the ideas John has thought up and the projects we’ve both started and launched, one might think we run a pretty tight ship – meaning, we don’t have bad ideas, or we don’t make mistakes.
Or maybe, if you read our income reports, you might assume that purely based on our revenue generated EOFire is somewhat of an “overnight success”.
I’m here to share with you some of our biggest lessons learned in business and entrepreneurship over the past 4 years, and I can tell you right now that a majority of those lessons have come from our biggest missteps – from the things we’ve gone out on a limb to test, but that have failed, along with the many things we’ve done wrong.
Because while I truly believe we can learn so much from the success of others, I also believe there is a story of trials and failures behind every success.
That’s why there is so much power in sharing both your successes and your failures – they’re synonymous.
In full transparency, sharing the every day struggles we encounter as entrepreneurs – ones that may not make it onto Snapchat or Instagram – helps prove that ideas, implementation, and success don’t come easy.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy
Being an entrepreneur requires that you make sacrifices, and sacrifices are one thing a majority of individuals aren’t willing to make.
Making sacrifices means continuing to navigate rough waters even when it’s windy, dark, and cold.
Like when John tried to launched IGNITE, his first idea for a mastermind community.
It’s not that his audience wasn’t interested, or that it wasn’t a good idea; he just didn’t have a large enough audience – or the bandwidth – to actually launch and manage it at that time.
Did he throw his hands in the air and say forget it?
Get frustrated by a lack of progress with monetizing and quit?
He continued talking about his idea with his audience until he was in the position to actually create and support it.
Without patience, the success of Fire Nation Elite – the success that was born from failure – would have never come.
Or when we spent dozens of hours working with a partner to create the Podcast Match Maker, which never ended up sticking.
Again, not necessarily a bad idea, but one that proved to be way more work than it was worth from an ROI standpoint.
The Podcast Match Maker was our attempt to get listeners more engaged with the podcast, but all the while we were spending our bandwidth in the wrong places. It should have been spent improving our systems – systems that today allow John to conduct a month’s worth of interviews in just 2 days.
We’ve learned this lesson over and over again, starting in 2014 when we took 2 weeks off to travel to Europe, completely unplugged from our business.
Lesson learned: Creating systems helps create freedom.
Not to mention the hundreds of hours we spent just a few months ago, in August 2016, cleaning up a disaster in Infusionsoft having to do with a merchant provider switchover gone wrong.
While I should have been taking ownership of one of the most important, foundational aspects of our business, I was busy trying to delegate it to someone else.
Major lesson learned here for me – one that has completely changed the direction of my focus in our business in 2016: take ownership.
Lesson learned: Take ownership and responsibility; no one cares about your business as much as you do.
We all make mistakes
Let’s face it: we all come up with ideas that – while they may not be terrible – just don’t end up working out.
And that’s okay, because if we didn’t make mistakes or try things that ultimately don’t end up working, then we’d never find the things that do work.
Podcasters’ Paradise is a great example of this.
John’s first idea for a platform related to podcasting was going to be called Six Figure Podcasting.
He talked about his idea openly, he tried to generate interest – but no interest came his way.
What did come his way as a result of talking about his idea was feedback – feedback from the most important critics of all: Fire Nation.
The more he invested his time one-on-one with members of Fire Nation, the closer John got to exactly what it was they wanted and needed.
When those one-on-one conversations started returning questions around how to create and launch a podcast, John knew that Six Figure Podcasting was too advanced. Those expressing interest in podcasting at the time hadn’t even started their podcasting journey yet.
That’s when he made a slight pivot, and he created PodPlatform, a service that would help podcasters upload and schedule their episodes.
He launched the site, and he heard crickets.
Back to the drawing board.
When he talked with those in Fire Nation who were interested in podcasting, and asked them why they weren’t interested in a service like PodPlatform, they said the same thing they had said before:
I don’t know how to even create my podcast yet.
Finally, the ah-ha came to him – a platform that would start at square one and provide the step-by-step tutorials podcasters need in order to create and launch their podcast first; then teach them how to grow and how to monetize their podcast.
Lesson learned: You won’t know what’s around the corner until you just start
This is probably one of our biggest lessons learned to date.
If you want to succeed in entrepreneurship, you have to take the first step.
Should you look to those who are where you want to be, and examine what it is they’ve done (or not done)?
But then you need to take action. Because what works for one business or individual isn’t necessarily going to work for the next.
Only then will you be able to ask for feedback from your most important critics: your audience.
Four years of growth
It’s been 4 years, and a lot has happened at the EOFire studios.
In fact, EOFire has moved 3 times since its launch, starting in the Old Port in Portland, Maine, then traveling cross-country to Pacific Beach in San Diego, California, and most recently to its new home just south of San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico.
We’ve welcomed a total of 10 members to Team Fire, 6 of whom are still with us today.
Speaking of team… hiring, on boarding, training and fostering growth within your team is really, really tough.
Firing is, too.
But none of what you see at EOFire today would be possible without Team Fire. Building a team is priceless and necessary for achieving growth, scalability, and freedom in your business.
Lesson learned: We wouldn’t be where we are today without our team.
Together we are able to create new products, engage with and provide support to our community, and continue to improve what it is we have to offer.
We’ve made tough business decisions – and tough life decisions – over the past 4 years.
I’ve cried and screamed plenty of times (no sense in holding the frustration in, right?)
We’ve laughed A LOT, too.
Another major lesson learned: all the magic happens outside of your comfort zone, so start embracing being uncomfortable.
Lesson learned: Being comfortable is never going to get you where you want to be.
But most importantly, we’ve followed our mission of inspiring millions.
Surrounding yourself with the right people
Through following our mission of inspiring millions, we’ve connected with some really amazing people.
On our journey we’ve been lucky enough to connect with Fire Nation virtually, via phone, voicemail, Skype, Zoom.us, Google Hangouts, Blab.im, Zencastr, WebinarNinja, others’ platforms (podcasts, webinars, and virtual summits alike); in person, at conferences, meet ups, and masterminds; and we’ve even connected with some 30,000 feet in the air.
We’ve built lifelong relationships, friendships, and mentorships.
We’ve watched others build their own dreams, launch their own products, podcasts, sites, memberships, webinars, and more.
We’ve watched others create freedom in their lives.
We’ve helped build schools in developing countries thanks to Pencils of Promise.
We launched the 6th most funded publishing campaign of all time on Kickstarter thanks to the support of our peers and so many members of Fire Nation.
Community is everything. The people you choose to surround yourself with is everything.
Lesson learned: Surround yourself with people who will support you and bring you up – not try to pull you down.
We’ve had a lot of successes, ah-ha moments, and we’ve celebrated a lot of wins.
But we’ve also struggled, wondered if we’re on the right path, and doubted our ideas.
Everyone experiences the imposter syndrome. Everyone feels fear, has doubts, and faces failure with shaking knees.
Tose who are growing their business, generating revenue, and making an impact have found ways to embrace that fear, those doubts and the nervousness that comes along with the responsibility of changing others’ lives.
Because that’s what you do as an entrepreneur: you live life on your own terms, you work as hard as you possibly can with continuous motivation and drive, and you do it all so you can make an impact – so you can see the ripple effect.
Lesson learned: Everyone feels fear and doubt; those who embrace it get to break through it.
Thank you, Fire Nation, for celebrating 4 years with us! We couldn’t have done it without you!