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Project ABC: The Evolution of A Business Idea

I joined Danny’s Audience Business Masterclass in 2013 which allowed me to create my own audience business empowering introverts, land an internship with one of my role models, and taught me how to stay disciplined. This post was written shortly after my internship at Quiet.

After a long day at Quiet I received an email from a subscriber: “When is Speak for the Meek launching?”

“2 weeks.” I replied.

That 2 weeks would never come.

There was no launch, just a broken vision of what could have been.

Speak for the Meek (my audience based business) was supposed to be a side-project during the school year and when I was interning over the summer. But each time I considered launching, I hesitated.

“I don’t like how my website navigates.”

“I just need to edit my launch posts some more.”

“I just need one more plugin.”

What was a dream of building a community for introverts to grow their voice turned into a nightmare for me. When people asked me how Speak for the Meek was going, I quickly changed the topic. Each time someone mentioned Speak for the Meek, it was a reminder of how I had let down my subscribers – as well as myself.

The problem wasn’t the Audience Business Masterclass – I will always attest that ABM has one of the best investments I have made. The knowledge I acquired from ABM helped me earn three internships, including the one I was working at over the summer.

Instead, low reader-to-subscriber conversion rates, ineffective guest posts, delayed launches, and inconsistent emails were all just symptoms masking a bigger, 5’6, 135 pound problem: me.

Finding the Root of the Problem

One night, frustrated, I tore out a sheet of paper from my work binder and started listing all the reasons why Speak for the Meek hadn’t launched. As I started listing them, I saw three common themes.

#1: I did more thinking than doing.

#2: I had no one to keep me accountable.

#3: I didn’t make time for Speak for the Meek.

After I saw my own list, I couldn’t bare to type in my own URL, let alone start to fix the monster of a project I had started.

Pivoting to a Solution

That weekend, I texted my friend Elena. Elena isn’t an entrepreneur, or even a blogger, but she is a supportive friend. A few dozen text messages and we had a solution. Instead of viewing Speak for the Meek as simply a failure, I would view it as a learning moment and take the opportunity to evolve my audience business with a new URL, a new approach to ABM, and a new chance.

The next week, I began reaching out other friends who had supported Speak for the Meek from day one and told them about my shift. They understood and were willing to continue supporting and helped me devise a new plan. Three Skype calls and four dozen suggested blog names later, Click With Anyone was born as the evolution of Speak for the Meek.

Defining Click With Anyone

As for my niche, I still cared about empowering others (especially introverts). After going back through my emails from subscribers about their problems, one of the biggest was forming meaningful relationship with people – whether it is with strangers, co-workers, or classmates.

My friends thought I would be great at teaching people how to “click” with others, but my mind couldn’t process the thought of writing new posts that were in any way related to the ones I made for Speak for the Meek. It would remind me that writing was a chore instead of something fun.

I wanted to make writing fun again.

I thought, maybe instead of telling my readers what they should do, I would show them. After more phone calls and lunches with friends, I decided on the idea that each week for one year, I would figure out how to get in contact with and connect with someone I’ve always looked up to; for example, my favorite entrepreneurs, bloggers, and writers. Each week I would document my successes, failures, and, importantly, lessons I learned in connecting with others.

Instead of repeating the same mistakes I made with Speak for the Meek, I learned from them. I changed how I thought about Click With Anyone.

Carrying Forward Lessons Learned from Speak for the Meek

#1: Click With Anyone Is The Highest Priority

Before, I only made time for Speak for the Meek once everything else in my life had cleared (hint: there is always other stuff to do). Now, instead of putting Click With Anyone at the back of my to-do list, I have put it at the beginning.

Just as I have time to shower and brush my teeth, I made Click With Anyone a task that required me to sit down for at least 1 hour a day and work on before I allow myself to do anything else (reading assignments, meetings, essays, and going out with friends included).

#2: I Found Someone to Hold Me Accountable

In my last Project ABC update, I mentioned I had formed an accountability group at school. Our group lasted until summer, when we were away from campus, each of us in different cities interning at different jobs with their own duties. We didn’t meet and I lapsed on my goal of guest posting at least once a week.

When restarting with Click With Anyone, I reached out to my network. My friend Eli, who lives 1000 miles away, responded and asked to be my accountability buddy. Since the first day I met Eli, he has always been supportive of my goals.

He decided that he wanted to take the challenge of connecting with one role model each week for a year together with me. We made our lists, set our meeting time, and started reaching out. Every Sunday, we get on Skype and talk about our progress. As with my previous accountability group, Eli and I continue to push each other each week. When Eli reads my posts and sees I didn’t put enough effort, he will call me on my lack of dedication.

#3: I Am Taking Imperfect Action

With Speak for the Meek, I was so worried that everything had to be perfect. I fell into the trap of creating more and more work for myself, and the launch looked further and further away. My layout was never good enough, my angle wasn’t clear enough, my pillar articles weren’t “meaty” enough, etc.

Suddenly, building a community was more of a chore than a passion.

With Click With Anyone, I made a simple design, wrote my first two posts, and immediately did a soft launch to friends. I realize my first post won’t be as good as my one hundred and first, but as one of my favorite saying goes, every pro was once an amateur. Each week I continue to improve my writing style and add small fixes to my site where I start noticing areas for improvement. I won’t be anywhere near perfect, but I am okay with that.

From Failure to Success: The Evolution of a Business

Two month is a short time for me to say I have turned a failure into a success story. In fact, my subscriber count at the time of this writing is only at 19. I am still pitching guest post ideas, and I won’t be producing any product anytime soon. but, I haven’t felt this excited about owning a blog since I published my first post on a WordPress.com blog, long before I met Danny and found the supportive Firepole Marketing community.

I am learning from past and taking the next steps to get closer to my dream of owning an audience business.

I am currently on Week 6 of my 52 week quest at Click With Anyone. Will you join me and keep me accountable?

Have you turned a failure into a learning moment? How did that change your life – or your business? Let me know in the comments below.

About Davis Nguyen

Davis Nguyen (@IamDavisNguyen) is an introvert on a year-long journey connecting with 52 role models he has never met and learning how to form deep, meaningful relationship with strangers. Ever wanted to learn how to connect with the authorities in your niche? Follow him at DavisNguyen.com.

38 comments

  1. Davis, thank you so much for your transparency. I felt uplifted and encouraged, and I’ve signed up to your blog. You know, ‘click with anyone’ feels like a very positive iteration. And also as if it touches a deeper issue – loneliness and feeling invisible – for more inwardly inclined people. You’re really onto something there. Seems like it was worth the wait …

    1. Hey Kathleen,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. You’re on a great mission yourself. I love your tagline: Less chaos, more fun. I am not a parent yet, but I know from my own parents how much chaos it can be raising a kid. πŸ˜‰

      You are too kind.

  2. Hi Davis . great article. thanks for the contribution, your top 3 blockages resonated with me. Plus (for me) have a credible plan you believe in AND create ‘team’. Regardless of age and experience, interesting that the tendency is to think only you is blocked whilst the rest of the world is cracking on. click with anyone is a great project, if you really click with them then the world is your oyster.

  3. Brilliant – both the learning attitude and the 52-week idea! The way you identify both who you have contacted and the lesson embedded in that contact are a super-useful way to organize the weeks as well. Well done! You are one of the great role models yourself πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you Dr. Karen.

      I am honored by your kind words. I wish you the best with Brain and Living (I love the home page, it is so peaceful and calm).

  4. Hey Davis,
    Great article! Thanks for sharing your struggles. I love your idea of empowering introverts. It’s a thought I’ve considered from the standpoint of helping them get noticed online with visuals – something that helps start the conversation, you know?

    Best of luck to you on your mission to connect – awesome idea!

    1. Thanks Louise!

      I love your idea of “how to” graphics. I was looking at some of your graphics. Very clever. Haha.

      I wish you the best.

  5. Thanks for this post Davis, and thanks to Firepole Marketing for bringing it to me. I am an author struggling to attract people to my books and, because I stand up and give talks to an audience, everybody thinks I’m confident. It’s hard to talk to people, especially about your own work.

    Good luck with your challenge! I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo right now, so probably won’t have time to try it, but I’ve signed up anyway to keep track of your blog posts.
    Best wishes
    Ann

    1. Hey Ann,

      Wow that is such a neat idea. I didn’t think about that. NaNoWriMo for your blog posts…that is such an interesting idea. Consider it down in my books for 2015!

      I wish you the best of luck with your writing.

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

      – Davis

  6. Hi Davis. It’s a small world, because I absolutely remember your other post however many months ago and was SO impressed with your passion. I’d forgotten about your internship, but actually just finished reading QUIET. I’m an ambivert with an introverted teenage son (whom I ADORE) and want to make sure our family affirms him. Now, here YOU are again.

    What I absolutely needed to hear was the importance of taking IMPERFECT ACTION. It took me five months to offer my first Free Incentive Offer when it should’ve taken only four – six weeks.

    I now have 700 subscribers. Since day one, I’ve kept an excel spreadsheet of their struggles and THINK I’ll be ready to launch a pilot product in the first or second quarter of 2015.

    That both thrills and terrifies me, but I don’t want to make that same mistake again of waiting for everything to be perfect. That day will never come. Inaction is the enemy. I just need to keep pushing forward with baby steps.

    1. Marcy..congratulations on your success!!!

      Wow that is such a great idea of keeping a spreadsheet of your audiences struggles.

      I wish you the best of luck with Mud Pie Writing. You’ve earned what you have (five months or five weeks – I am so excited for your first launch!)

      I can’t wait to see what you do next. Congratulations again!

  7. I needed this!!! I joined ABM at the beginning of 2014 but haven’t made much progress. I did start my own business of making organic dog treats and gift baskets about a year ago (which is finally starting to take off), but also wanted to have a blog that would dovetail with my dog-treat business and also engage subscribers to discuss dog care (natural and otherwise). I’ve been freelance writing a column (unpaid) for a local newspaper, so I have been writing, but for some reason, I’ve been putting ABM and my blog on the back burner for the past several months. I guess that I’ve lacked the confidence to actually make a run for it and the idea of inviting guests to post is intimidating to me.

    I think your post is the kick in the backside that I needed. In order to make this work (and make good use of the money I’ve spent), I must make ABM and my blog as much of a priority as my treat business and schedule time every day to work on them–and to not get so hung up on perfection that I don’t move forward.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Rochelle,

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

      I wish you the best in pushing forth with your dreams.

      If you ever want to talk about inviting guests to post, I’d love to help out where I can.

      davis.duong.nguyen (gmail).

  8. Thank you for this candid, honest, and open post. I really enjoyed the tips you shared about HOW you moved differently with Click with Anyone. I, too, am getting back some mojo and moving forward again with long delayed plans and tasks. Thanks for the inspiration! I will definitely check the site out.

    1. Hi Lynn,

      Thank you so much for your support. I wish you the best in your quest to building Thriveology (I checked out your site, I love the mission). Thank you for the inspiration YOU are providing.

      – Davis

  9. Davis, well done you and please accept my warmest thanks for such honesty and useful advice. I guess we are all on a spectrum of progress (I’m way behind you) but as long as we are at least trying to go in the right direction, we are OK.

    Thanks also to the rest of the community for their honesty, reassurance and advice.

    I look forward to following your progress and witnessing your success.

    1. Thank you Zara. I was pretty scared writing this because speaking about failure is such a taboo it seems, but I am glad you took it positively.

      I wish you the best in your goals as you move up the spectrum of progress. πŸ™‚

  10. Davis,
    Thanks for this kick-in-the-butt post.
    I joined ABM a year ago and I have to confess I haven’t made much progress.
    And the reasons are the same as yours, though the biggest reason is I couldn’t decide on a niche / blog topic.
    Anyways, I’ve decided to restart ABM from 1st Nov. in right earnest. (I’ve some other projects that I plan to complete by the end of this month.) Meanwhile, I’m following your advice and taking imperfect action.
    (I had subscribed to Speak for the Meek and I’ll subscribe to Click With Anyone.)
    All the best and thanks again.
    Rohi

    1. Rohi,

      Thank you so much for your support especially following me after the transition. I hope we will both be successful in our endeavors.

      – Davis

  11. Davis,

    Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve learned! Your three tips are right on for growing a business or for achieving any of our goals. I teach and counsel job seekers who are trying to get back to work and have been emphasizing the three actions you described.

    Sometimes, I think #3 (Taking Imperfect Action) is the most difficult. I know it is for me. We want it to be easy. We want someone else to do it for us. Or we work and work, but we never feel what we have is “good enough”.

    The better approach is to take action, get feedback, adjust, and then act again. Sounds like that is what you are doing. Congratulations! Best wishes as you grow Click With Anyone.

    1. Hi Dana,

      Thank you for your kind words. I know #3 is the hardest, but if we can overcome the mental block we can start doing (imperfectly) what we want to do. πŸ™‚

      I wish you the best in your teaching and counseling business for job seekers (I know job seekers need this -> I just came from job hunting myself for my first job after college).

      – Davis

  12. Kudos, Davis! What an inspiring journey you’ve been on (although I imagine it didn’t feel like it at the time ;-).

    All 3 of your points resonated with me – and all 3 are reasons I joined ABM.

    Best of luck on your continuing journey, and thank you for providing me with a few good reasons to take a long look in the mirror this morning – and then go take action!

    1. Hi Penny!

      Thank you so much for your support.

      I just checked out your website. I love the idea of copywriting for the horse business. I became a fan of horse racing this year and many of my friends are equestrians!

      I wish the best to both of your successes.

  13. Thank you Davis for the inspiring post. Any number of us have been in that place and to some degree still are. Your post serves to demonstrate the importance of refocusing, learning from the past, being accountable and most importantly being able to move forward. You are in a good space. All the best to you. Sandra Griffith

    1. Thank you Mary! One of my favorite quote says, “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.”

  14. Davis, I’m cheering for you – and for all the introverts out there!
    I fell in love with Speak for the Meak the first time I stumbled upon it – but with the mission, not the project! Maybe that project wasn’t the right katalyst for your mission.
    It’s all about striking a balance between respecting what you enjoy doing and at the same time pushing your comfort zone.
    A wise friend told me: you’re a fish in a pond. You want to grow out of that pond and then find a bigger pond where you can continue to grow – until you’re ready to face the ocean. But if you start by jumping into the ocean… – you’ll drown.
    Keep it up and let the good things come to you πŸ™‚
    Stine

  15. Hi Davis,

    I read your post and it’s scary, because it’s like looking into a mirror. I too find that my writing business is taking the very back seat when it comes to allocating time.

    I am a nurse and have my own private nursing practice. Sounds great, I’m already my own boss, but to me, it’s not an ideal job. I would much rather have a writing job. I have looked around and actually bought some copy writing programs from AWAI to learn the art of persuasive writing. I am actually so sorry that I have spent so much money on those, because now that I have discovered Danny’s Building the Audience program, I cannot afford it. (Unless I want a divorce) So I’m stuck. Well, it feels like I’m stuck.

    From reading your post, I realize that I do not put nearly enough time into my writing, to actually achieve something. So I’m just spinning wheels and this dream feels like it always is going to be unattainable. Especially, that I cannot even decide on my niche. It changes every week. Just cannot settle. Any brilliant advice on how you decided that you want to help introverts in business?

    Wishing you all the best in progressing in your writing. Angie Weiss

    1. Hi Angie!

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Like you I also dream of writing as a passion.

      That is an interesting question. I choose the mission because it was a problem I was facing and knew I had some answers to help others who were in the same position as me.

      I’d love to talk more about it if you are interested.

      davis.duong.nguyen(at)gmail

  16. Thanks for that inspiring post, Davis!

    I’m guilty of spreading myself too thin which leads to a lot of ideas, but minimal action. I’m evaluating my brand and focusing on the top three things on my list. It’s slow going, but I’m excited to see what the upcoming months will bring.

    1. Hi Elke,

      I just checked out your site! I love the tagline: Writing with Island Flair.

      I am rooting for you to find those top three things on your list and making this happen. Let’s succeed together!

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