Phlearn Turns Two Years Old We’re Only Getting Started: Come Join The Fun
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Phlearn turns 2 years old today.
These last two years have been the most important years of my life. I have learned more than I ever thought and I have failed at almost everything I have tried. I even failed at giving up, and that is the only reason you are reading this right now.
I know that a lot of you are either running your own business or contemplating becoming a photographer and working for yourself. I want to share with you some of the things I have learned over the last couple of years of building Phlearn from day one when we had 4 visitors to where we are now.
Over 250,000 unique visitors a month, 50,000+ Facebook fans, over 18,000 PRO Tutorials sold and over 450 FREE videos on Photoshop and photography. We have a staff of 9 amazing people, we just built out an amazing new studio in Chicago and we are growing at 20% a month.
None of this came easy. In fact it has been the hardest two years of my life. I did nothing magical. There was not one single action that sparked success. There was no ad campaign or video going viral that resulted in our success.
Here is the key to success in this industry. Follow your heart and do what you know is right, then do it over and over again.
Starting a business is like trying to cut down a redwood tree. The first thing you are going to need is the right tool for the job. You can work very hard trying to cut down a redwood with a gummy bear but you would be much better off using an axe. Once you have the right tool you can’t take one swing and expect the tree to fall. It is going to take hitting your axe against wood many times.
Finding the right tool isn’t usually that hard when it comes to business. Following your gut is important. You have probably had tons of great ideas that could change the world. The key is to trust yourself and believe that your ideas will work.
The hard part is swinging the axe at the tree over and over again. The first couple of strikes are fun, the next few are ok, but by the time you have tried hundreds of times you start to wonder if you will ever succeed. This is when most people give up.
They were doing the right thing. They just didn’t do it for long enough.
Photo by redwoods.info
Here is the secret about chopping down a giant tree, you don’t have to get all the way through it. If you can get about half way through chopping eventually the weight of the tree will do the rest of the work for you.
Building a business works in the same way. In the beginning you are going to work incredibly hard and you will see almost no return. As you keep going you will question if you are even doing the right thing because your efforts are not paying off. If you keep on going beyond that step then the chopping will get a bit easier. Then all of the sudden one day you are going to see that all of that effort is starting to pay off. Then comes the boom. Everything you have worked for is now working for you. The business powers forth and you are just trying to steer it. The tree falling from it’s own weight is like the momentum you have put into your business.
The last part sounds great, but unfortunately you can’t get to the last step without going through the ones before it. Let me tell you, cutting down a redwood by hand is not easy.
When I founded Phlearn and started making daily videos we made no money. In fact I was loosing money at a rapid rate. After a year of making free videos I had lost about $40,000 of my personal money. Did I think about giving up then? Every day. Every damn day. My life had become one big existential crisis and I felt like I was drowning. Literally the only thing keeping me going were self help books and my mother.
I was working 16+ hour days 7 days a week and going through the emotional turmoil of a 14 yr old girl whose mother won’t let her go to a party. When I say it was the hardest thing I have ever done, this is by no exaggeration.
How did I get out of it? I kept chopping. I had to believe that if I kept chopping eventually the tree would come down. There are no guarantees out there so if you are uncomfortable with risk you will need to face that fear early on. You have to believe that if you keep chopping, eventually you can cut down the largest tree in the forest.
Phlearn turns two years old today. I have been chopping non-stop for 730 days. I wake up every day and grab my axe and chop my ass off.
Guess what. The tree is starting to creak. Soon this mother is going to fall down. I will be the proudest man on earth.
When all the dust settles and the celebrations are over I grab my axe, find a bigger tree and start chopping. This next one is coming down in half the time.
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