3 Ways Aspiring Entrepreneurs Can Crush Self-Doubt

This is a guest post by Derek Doepker

The biggest killer of entrepreneurial endeavors isn’t just poorly designed products or services, bad marketing, or even naysayers. While all of these can derail an entrepreneur, most endeavors die before they even get started–and the killer is often self-doubt.

Have you ever thought, “Who’s going to listen to me?  What if I go broke building this business? What if this is all a waste of time? I don’t know enough.” If so, welcome to being human. Having doubts is natural and, in moderation, actually healthy. The key to overcoming this doubt is to learn why it’s showing up and then transforming it into a force that actually propels you forward.

To do this, there are three specific processes that, when combined together, will make you even more unstoppable in your confidence, courage, and determination.

Process 1: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is the feeling a high-achiever gets when they don’t recognize their value and own their awesomeness.

In my case of starting my authorship journey, I questioned, “Who am I to write a book and why would anyone listen to me if so many others are talking about these things?”

What turned it around was looking at my own experience. I realized I wasn’t just buying the information contained in books, more so, I was buying the perspective. In other words, it wasn’t just about what an author said, but how they said it. I thought of all the authors, podcasters, and bloggers who had a style I resonated with even if they were sharing things others have talked about. I felt how it was their delivery, not their ideas, that made a connection and impact.

Even though I started to intellectually appreciate the idea that we all have a unique style and therefore I may have something unique to offer, I still needed to do one thing to internalize this feeling. It was to share with others the impact they made on me.

For instance, I reached out to a podcaster and shared something along the lines of “I’ve heard a lot of people talk about this topic, but it was your unique delivery and style that resonated with me. It’s not your credentials, but the way you put things that finally made it click for me.” Read more ›

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A Better Way to Book Gigs, Travel, and Make Money Online

My time here in London–and Europe in general–has been fantastic. I’ve spoken at some cool companies, done some touristy stuff, and run other parts of my lifestyle business. I’m here in Europe for two months as a part of a six-country consulting tour. This year, consulting work will take me to four continents.

As I’m sitting here in a Starbucks and writing, I’m thinking about opportunity. Every day, I get messages asking how someone can live this kind of lifestyle. How to write for large publications, book paid speaking and consulting, and how to travel the world. There’s a lot I can and have told you about the how to of this, but the main lesson is what I want to talk to you about today.

GO Mainstream

There’s a lot of same audience syndrome in the online space. A lot of people consume the same content in the same places and are being sold to by many of the same people. It’s hard to get new business because a lot of people are tapped out and tired. You don’t want another course that doesn’t answer your specific questions. You don’t want any more talking head videos. You want practical and actionable training that you can implement right away.

If you’re trying to build a business in the online space, it’s harder these days. There is another space, the mainstream business space, where there’s an untapped opportunity to make money and help business owners. I’m talking about your local businesses that have an owner. The local restaurant, coffee shop, small tech firm, local gym chain and so on. You have the opportunity to take the skills you use in the online space and sell them to mainstream, everyday business owners.

There is MUCH more opportunity and money in this space. In fact, that is how and why I’m booking these consulting gigs all over the world. I’m consulting for very large mainstream businesses on four topics: the entrepreneurial mindset, the leader’s mindset, branding, and digital marketing. I’m getting paid $10K-$20K per training plus all of my expenses are being covered. Read more ›

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The #1 Reason Self-Published Authors Don’t Sell Books

There is so much information about self-publishing online that it could make your head burst if you kept consuming it. Everyone has some special way to self-publish and a lot of it is based off of what they’ve heard someone else teach. There are things you can do to sell a few books, get spikes, and/or become a “#1 Amazon bestselling author,” but these strategies won’t help you sell a consistent and decent amount of books. The stats say the average self-published author will sell less than 250 books. From what I’ve seen, this tends to be true.

I wanted to self-publish my first book in mid-2011. I had a service business in the vendor industry for 12 years and I wanted to write about what I had experienced. I studied all of the information I could get my hands on. I followed all the steps and put together a professional book. When the book was published, I was SUPER excited. I told anyone who would listen that my book was live on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. I tried hard to “market” the book to the almost zero audience that I had. No one bought the book. I sold five copies in the first six months.

When I thought about why my book wasn’t selling, the answer became crystal clear: I had no audience and no one knew the book was alive. I then spent most of my time building my audience. Here’s the thing, most authors don’t sell books because they have no audience. They think that being on social media is enough and that’s how they’ll market their book. It’s always difficult once you realize that social media isn’t enough. The organic reach of social media is nothing and it’s hard to get people to care about your book. You need much more than social media to build an audience. Your main audience are the people on your email list.


I started building my email list at the beginning of 2012 and that was the “missing” piece of the puzzle. By the end of 2012, I had an email list of 6,500 people or so. I had sold 45,000 copies of my two books through my email list, social media, guest posting, getting interviewed on podcasts, and speaking at events. To date, my books have sold over 100,000 copies. They have hit major bestseller’s list and brought me other business. The books continue to sell through the passive efforts that I make. Read more ›

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Here’s a 6-Figure Service Business You Can Start for Under $100

As you go about your grocery shopping, focused on the items that you need to get, you probably don’t realize that there’s an incredible business opportunity right in front of you. Some of the people you see stocking groceries on the shelf work for that particular grocery store. There are others, however, who are stocking the shelves but they don’t work for the store. They are called “vendors.”

Some of these vendors work for large companies, such as the people who deliver and stock Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Frito Lay and so on. There are another set of vendors who aren’t employees of the companies whose products they are delivering. They are independent contractors and, essentially, entrepreneurs. The company they deliver for provides them a certain percentage of their sales and a territory to deliver within. These entrepreneurs have to buy into the business and, depending on the company, that cost anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000.

Some companies that use these independent contractor entrepreneurs are companies that you don’t even realize. A few of them are Bimbo Bakeries, Snyder Pretzels, Little Debbie Snacks, Pepperidge Farms and many more. Since these independent operators are not employees, the main company they contract to doesn’t provide them anyone to cover their routes for them to go on vacation. This is where your potential business can be started. It’s one that I operated for over 12 years.

Six-Figures at 19

When I was 19, I worked for Sara Lee Bread. Every day, I saw independent operators delivering Arnold/BrownBerry Bread for Bimbo Bakeries. One day, I asked one of the drivers to train me for free and I would do a good job running his route. Since these entrepreneurs invest so much money in buying into the business, they are very leery of letting anyone operate their business. It takes a lot of trust. He trained me and I did a good job for him several times. He then told others in his warehouse about my business and services. Two months after getting trained, I had a full work schedule for two years. I had independent operators beating my door down trying to get me to cover their routes.

The business model was beautiful. I used their trucks, their computers and all of their equipment. The only expense I had was the ink and paper to print the invoices to charge them. Since they are independent operators, they pay directly. There is no need to be involved with the main company. Read more ›

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Here’s What You Need to Know About Approaching the Media

You don’t have to be some well-known entrepreneur such as Elon Musk; Richard Branson and so on to make an impact on the world or build a business that supports the kind of lifestyle you want to live. In fact, there are many businesses and entrepreneurs that the mainstream public doesn’t know about but are still accomplishing as much as some famous ones.

You could be a rock star at what you do and in your industry, and have the right people know about you. The thing to understand, however, is that what you’re experiencing in your industry doesn’t—and often—translate into mainstream media exposure. Unless you are a better-known entrepreneur—such as the ones that I mentioned—you won’t be able to approach a journalist, contributor, or publication in the same way you would the ones that know you in your industry.

Understanding the media. 

At least a few times a day, I’m pitched a story to cover or by an entrepreneur (or their publicist) that’s looking to get featured in one of the publications that I’m a contributor for. In three years of writing for several large media publications, I’ve only covered a few stories and those were ones that I specifically sought out.

I say no 99% of the time. Most people understand why but a few get angry. Most journalist and publications also say no and it causes entrepreneurs to get angry. I think it’s because there’s a little misunderstanding about what a contributor is.

A journalist is normally someone who works for a newspaper or publication and covers current events, profiles interesting people, and gets paid to write content for that paper or publication. They are normally on staff and that’s part of their job.

A contributor is normally someone who contributes content for a publication but they aren’t on staff and most don’t get paid. There are a few exceptions when it comes to a specific publication or specific type of contribution. Most contributors write for a publication to build their audience, brand, build social proof, and parts of their business. Read more ›

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Stop Trying to Make Money From Your Lifestyle Business This Way

The first time I heard about making money online, I was very skeptical. I didn’t know anything about it so I told myself I would keep an open mind. I started to listen to podcasts and my mind was blown. These Internet dudes were operating businesses from home and all over the world teaching and doing what they loved. I wanted that to be my life so I became a serious student of online business.

When I first tried to monetize something, it was a flop. I made $4.97 the first month my product was launched. I felt like all of this Internet stuff was a scam and cried myself to sleep more than a few nights that month. I was so crushed that I had invested so much time and it didn’t go anywhere. I  licked my wounds and tried again several times with a bunch of different ways of making money.

After that flop, I made a mistake that I see a lot of lifestyle entrepreneurs making every day. I tried a lot of different ways of making money and offered several kinds of services that had nothing to do with my core message and the ultimate business goals and dreams I set for myself.

Don’t Be The Jack of All Trades

I started my lifestyle business in June of 2011. I didn’t make any real money until about a year later in mid-2012. I was launching my second self-published book and had lined up a bunch of guest posts on better-known blogs. I had a guest post for Michael Hyatt during the launch and ended up selling 3,346 copies of my book at $4.97 a book. When that money was deposited into my bank account from Amazon, I was crying happy tears.

After that first taste of real money, I wanted to figure out how to make more of it. So, in desperation, I started doing things strictly for money. I hired myself out as a virtual assistant, I started doing websites for $300, I pushed affiliate marketing, I signed up for freelancer websites, I created low price (and low quality) products and pushed them hard. And, I tried to work for other successful online entrepreneurs. All of these efforts got me further away from what would actually make me money.

I see lifestyle entrepreneurs doing this all the time. They try to work their core message for a period of time. When their efforts don’t produce income, they turn to what does. You can make some money for awhile at the random stuff, but it takes you farther from your goals and what will make money in your core business. The thing that gets you to income is clarity, practicality, and tangibility. Read more ›

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Unless You Have a Plan Free Public Speaking Won’t Lead to Paid Gigs

Public speaking is an act that terrifies a lot of people and excites the heck out of the rest. As entrepreneurs — and particularly lifestyle entrepreneurs — getting paid to travel the world as a public speaker is a dream and a goal. The thought of getting on a stage in front of thousands of people and sharing a message that could help someone’s life is exciting.

Many first-time and even experienced speakers start out the same way. You are taught that the way to paid speaking gigs starts with speaking at events for free to pad your speaker’s resume. You’re told that you can speak for free but can get business at the event, which justifies speaking for free. The problem is that you’re not guaranteed to walk away with business because there are so many other entrepreneurs going after that same business.

You can speak for free for years at all kinds of events, but none of it will lead to paid gigs if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are some better ways to get paid speaking gigs that don’t involve you using your time and money on a strategy that’s 50 percent at best. Free speaking is not always the best path to paid speaking. Here are three better options.

Speak at your local chamber of commerce or Rotary Club.

In every city, there is a Rotary Club or chamber of commerce. These are business organizations that bring in speakers once a month to speak on various topics. These organizations are very approachable and a good place to naturally start your paid speaking career. You are speaking to business owners and, if you do a good job, you are far more likely to walk away with business because you’re the only expert/speaker speaking to that group of hot leads.

Get video of yourself speaking, which is important to have on your website to show event organizers. You can network to make connections that could lead to you speaking at some of the business owners’ companies or an event they host. These organizations are a great way to help every part of your speaking business. Read more ›

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6 Mistakes to Avoid When Pitching Large Media Publications

It’s exciting that we live in a time where you can get your content featured in front of millions of people, but it’s not easy. Don’t get me wrong, you can do it, but only if you approach editors and the publication in the right way. As a former editor for The Good Men Project, I saw some great pitches and some that had me shaking my head.

Getting exposure through large publications is a killer strategy for building an email list, your business, and creating opportunities. The key is to get in and that has to be done with some finesse. Here are six mistakes to avoid when pitching. These mistakes have gotten many-a-writer rejected.

1. Don’t feel or come off as entitled.

One of the biggest turn-offs for editors is when someone approaches them with an entitled attitude. You may be some super entrepreneur who has done great things—that doesn’t matter or impress an editor. It’s all about the article.

Check the experience at the door and approach an editor from a place of how you want to make a difference on that publication. The credentials are great, but not necessary if you’ve done your homework researching what articles work for that specific publication. Check the tone of your email and DON’T make assumptions.

2. Fix the grammar and formatting.

This is an easy fix, but one that keeps too many writers from getting accepted. You should submit your final version and that version should be as grammar free as possible. Use an amazing tool like Grammarly to correct most mistakes.

Also, the formatting in your article should be solid. There should be no awkward spacing, one space after the period, your main points and the title of the article should be bolded, and don’t go nuts with bolding throughout the article. If an article looks like it will be too much work, an editor will reject it.  Read more ›

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Large Publications and Booking Paid Consulting

The very first consulting gig that I booked at a company was here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (where I am now). I didn’t know much about any one topic, but I was broke and needed to make some money quickly. I had studied Internet and social media marketing and felt I had just enough knowledge of truly connecting with people on social media to teach it. The problem was that I didn’t know how to book consulting gigs and there wasn’t/isn’t much information about it online.

This post is not meant to teach you the ins and outs of booking consulting gigs. What I want to do is show you is how I started and what helped me get to the level where I’m at now. If you don’t know me, I consult at companies in 15 or so countries every year. Many people see me now but want to know where this all started. I want to show you how I booked gigs in the beginning even though I was delivering bread to grocery stores. 

I had done some smaller paid speaking gigs locally but KNEW there could be some serious money in consulting. Events are limited by their budgets and they have to pay a bunch of speakers. Companies have tons of money and they normally only bring in one consultant at a time. I knew this would be a great additional income source to my lifestyle business if I could crack the code.

The First Gigs

I started by placing ads on Craigslist. I figured maybe some company person would see it and respond. I DID get a couple of hits but they tried to low-ball me into doing some freelance work—not consulting. The thing to understand is that consulting is NOT done-for-you services. That’s what a freelancer does. Consulting is you training a business owner or their team how THEY can do the actual work. You are just the trainer. You get in, train, and get out.

Next, I went to websites such as Monster.com and LinkedIn and looked for companies that wanted to hire a social media person for a staff position. I would email the person listed and send them a direct pitch. I explained the benefits of having a consultant versus an employee they would have to pay years of salary and benefits to. The math made more sense to hire me.

I got one my very first consulting gig from this strategy—it was a $500 contract to train a local McDonald’s franchise owner and his online staff on how to use social media. I went to their corporate office and rocked it. Read more ›

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Large Publications, Travel, and Paid Consulting

Today’s post is a collection of three VERY actionable tips you can use this week. These were originally shared on my Facebook page. When you use these and get a win, please come back and let’s celebrate together.


Paid Travel Pro Tip. It’s a dream for many to travel the world and do it for free and/or get paid while you experience new countries/cultures. There is a ton of misleading info talking about this. In today’s tip, I want to give you four ways to travel for free and/or get paid to travel.

1. Travel Hack

This is where you use credit cards from the airlines, hotels, and other offers to get points and miles. People who travel hack get up to 10 credit cards through different large point/mile offers from the credit card companies. These offers can literally give you hundreds of thousands of miles/points to use for free flights and hotels. You need decent credit and be responsible enough to pay off the balances.

2. Freelance

You can get work (mainly online) through a variety of industries. You do this work remotely. Some of the work includes website stuff, social media management/marketing, design jobs, teaching a specific skill, life and/or business coaching, or you can even have a job that allows you to be remote.

3. Teach English

Many places all over the world are looking for people to teach English and you don’t need a degree. There are programs/groups you can join that will train you on the basics, then you can start looking for gigs. You can even post ads on Craigslist and other places to get gigs on your own.

4. Book Paid Speaking/Consulting

This is how I travel to 15 countries a year and make some decent money doing it. Companies pay me and cover all of my expenses to come in and train on digital marketing, branding, or how to have an entrepreneurial mindset.

You can train at companies or speak at events on a variety of topics but anything related to market/digital marketing/social media marketing is going to be hot. Start with a website like lanyrd.com to find events all over the world. Go to that event’s page and see how to apply to be a speaker. For consulting, look for large companies in a country you want to go to and pitch. You will get the gig based off of your social proof as an expert and how good your pitch is.

That’s it. I hope this helps you travel to a cool country this year.

Read more ›

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