Learning from mistakes is the most effective way to learn. These are seven of the biggest screw-ups in my career as a marketer. I hope you learn from my mistakes. I sure have.
You Can Be as Big as You Believe You Can Be
When I was 20, my goal was to make $5,000/month and that’s how much I started making two months after I set the goal for myself. About three years later, I found a mentor who told me I wasn’t making more because I didn’t want to. “That’s ridiculous,” I said. “Of course I want to make more.” But he was right. I was setting my own limits. I needed to dream bigger. My mentor recommended a book called The Magic of Thinking Big. Read it; it’ll change your life. It sure changed mine.

Integrity Doesn’t Have Grey Areas
You either do the right thing or you don’t. There aren’t grey areas. Your reputation is the only asset you can’t recover once you’ve lost it, so think twice before you do something that could compromise your integrity.
I know what you’re thinking, “I never cheat.” But, integrity is a lot more than not cheating. One time, when I was 17, a guy called me and wanted to buy a product I knew wasn’t right for him. But he wanted it so I sold it to him anyway. I shouldn’t have. I should have told him that the product he wanted wasn’t going to help him. Sure, I would’ve made $50 less but I would have earned his respect, he would have trusted me and recommended me to his friends. And, even if none of that had happened, it was the right thing to do. This is the most valuable lesson I learned in my life.

Systems Are Everything
My first companies were a big mess. We didn’t have any systems. We just took care of stuff as it came along and we put out fires as they appeared. Now we have systems for everything and our company is a much better place to work. Everybody is happier, things get managed and done, and the best part is that because we have systems in place, we can grow our business without having to work harder.
If you still don’t see value in creating systems, think about how McDonalds works like a Swiss clock with-low qualified, minimum-wage employees. That wouldn’t be possible without the most effective systems in the world.

Breaking Even Is Good
We’re all in business to make money. But, there’s a lot more you can get from your business:

  • An education you couldn’t get anywhere else (not even in the best business school in the world).
  • Life skills that you can’t learn any other way (persistence, communication, empathy, etc.)
  • Connections (that you’ll be able to leverage later in your life).

Keep working on making more money but if you aren’t profitable yet, appreciate all the other great things you’re getting from your business.

Happiness Is More Important than Profits
Last week I read a book from a guy who claimed that profits are everything and you should be willing to sacrifice everything, including your own happiness, to increase profits as much as possible. I feel sorry for that guy. I really do. There’s so much more to life than profits!
A few years ago I was making a lot of money doing something that I hated. I was miserable. I used to wake up sad and was always stressed. Then a friend of mine said something interesting: “you should follow your passion.” My passion was marketing, so I opened a marketing agency and I now love my work so much that I would do it for free. Seriously.
I was lucky, though, because passion is not the only factor you need to consider. There are two more very important factors:

  • Skills: are you great at what you do?
  • Demand: do people want what you have to offer?

If you love what you do, are great at it and people want what you have, then you have a winning formula.