In this post, I want to share a few ideas that might help you overcome some limiting beliefs that could hold you back from building your business. This should be useful if indie hacking is totally new to you because you’ll have to work against some of the beliefs that have kept you on the journey you have been on until this point. You may also find this post useful if you’ve started on your indie hacking journey but have hit challenging times or, if friends and family are trying to get you to reconsider.

In order to be successful with your business, you need to constantly take action. To consistently act, you need to believe there’s got to be at least a chance of a desirable outcome, (often referred to as your vision). Consistently working towards your vision is challenging even at the best of times but is considerably harder when everything around you feels like you are being pushed in an alternative direction. For many of us, the alternative direction can look like parents telling you to become a Dr or Lawyer. Maybe it’s your spouse or debt collectors telling you to “get a real job.” These alternative options aren’t bad but, they might not be how you want to spend eight hours a day for two-hundred and sixty days a year. So, how do you stay focused on your business and your desired lifestyle?

Personally, I recommend taking two approaches to this…

  1. Contextualise what others describe as “risky”
  2. Keeping your mind open to novel lifestyles

Contextualise what others describe as “risky”

Firstly, what I am talking about here is that risk is often more about what one’s perception is, rather than reality. So it’s worth thinking about the ideas you accept without ever challenging them. Let’s take a look at commonly held beliefs that might be holding you back…

“Being normal is easier than alternatives”

When I say “normal,” I mean – going to uni, then getting a job, working up to middle management to pay a mortgage.

From my perspective, being “normal” is actually very hard. At the time of writing this, much of the media is focused on the pending recession. Home & rent prices are unaffordable. People are losing jobs. Inflation in the UK is reported to have the potential to hit 18% by the end of the year. If you are on an average salary – let’s say you earn £27k, the next few years are going to be a real battle – as if the last few years weren’t hard.

In contrast, if you had a number of income streams where you had the option to increase your sales and marketing efforts to drive more sales – maybe covering the increased costs of heating could be solved by increasing sales? Wouldn’t that be a less risky situation? Owning a business is more likely to give you options for increasing your income than having a full-time job where your employer dictates your salary.

“Running a business is risky when compared to a full-time job”

Many people who’ve not built businesses in the past or had a business fall apart, often believe owning a business is risky. I don’t believe owning a business is risk-free but, it might not be significantly riskier than relying on a job. Obviously, everyone’s situation is different so I am going to generalise massively here but, in many cases there are things that can be done to reduce one’s personal financial risk when running a business which can’t be done when you are an employee. For example, if you have multiple clients rather than relying on servicing one – if a client drops you, you still have other clients to rely on. In contrast, if you are employed full time, if/when your employer goes out of business or decides to fire you, your income stops. This could be a very difficult situation to be in if your job is your only source of income.

To build on that point – if you have a full-time job paying £30k a year let’s say, you might have an income that comes in every month which feels secure but, your income is capped. If you randomly get hit with a significant expense – an accident, significant damage to your home… you can quickly find yourself struggling financially or, worse. If you had a business your income isn’t capped. Owning a business often opens you up to many options for generating revenue. It’s simply more than conceivable that you can dramatically increase your income in a short space of time. This means you could be lowering your risk with each sale or, unlocking the next revenue goal. In short, getting a 100% salary increase within a year is almost unheard of but, with a small online business, it’s very achievable.

Moreover, when building a business you will be building your income and your equity in the business. This means you are not limited to whatever profits the business generates in a particular month, you’re also increasing the value of the business. Keep in mind, that businesses are typically sold at a multiple of their annual profits. This again has the effect of lowing your risk of being taken out by an unexpected event. You can also explore taking out a loan against your equity if you didn’t want to sell the business but, needed cash.

Finally, it’s worth noting that more and more jobs are being lost to robots and software. I could talk about this at great length, but probably best to leave this topic for another day.

Assuming I have been able to address the main points about risk, the next thing I would encourage you to do is maintain an open mind…

Be open to novel lifestyles & ideas

One of the things I have found most useful over time is spending time seeking out unusual lifestyles. That’s to say things that are novel to the people, places and things I am used to. This isn’t a new idea it’s one of the main reasons people love to travel but, what I am talking about here is slightly different. I try to concentrate on both new ideas and things that seem like they wouldn’t be possible to the average person working in a post-room.

For example, I look for inspiration in YouTube; a 21 year-old woman flying her plane to work, Andy To filming cinematic travel videos with his iPhone, or closer to the Indie Hacking community – a “solopreneur” who makes millions a year with no staff from a few websites.

I also spend a significant amount of time on Instagram saving or cataloguing things like expensive watches, clothes, beautiful women and experiences. I do this because I am constantly trying to influence my belief in what’s “normal.” I want to define my understanding or, shift my perspective of what’s “normal” rather than allow wider society or mainstream media to dictate it for me. You might say I am using Instagram as a vision board – an idea popular in the self-help community.

While I like the idea of the vision board, from what I understand, they serve a slightly different purpose than what I am trying to describe here. From what I understand, a vision board is more of a “shopping list”. It’s for capturing images of your goals or things you would like to achieve to help focus the mind. In contrast, I am trying to discover what is out there or what’s possible to decide on what I might like to choose from. I am also trying to keep front of mind that, what’s out there is a moving target. One of the ways I like to illustrate this idea is by asking…

“Do you like to fly private?”

I like asking “Do you like to fly private?” because most people have no idea of what the experience of flying in a private jet is like. When I ask this, most people start getting ready to share a negative response about how they hate rich people and that it’s a waste of money. Regardless of the cost and whether or not you agree with the environmental impact – those are different questions for another day, I am asking specifically – “Do you enjoy the experience of arriving at the airport, flying form one destination to another, then departing the plane?” For me, the answer is, “I have no idea.” I have never flown private. I have no reference points for most of the steps in the process. So, I feel it would be a lie to say whether or not I like flying private. The only thing I can say is those who can afford to often choose to do so. They are more familiar with the various options so I can only assume is they are choosing the “best” of the options.

Why does “flying private” matter?

For me, the “flying private” question is really important because it serves as a reminder that you shouldn’t take advice from people who have no experience of things that you want to achieve. Two things stand out to me in particular with this question – risk analysis and, group think. I’ll start with risk.

Can you objectively assess the risk?

Asking your friends who have always had low-paying or, “stable” jobs if you should quit your job to pursue a business is a bad idea in my opinion because they can’t objectively assess the risk. I learned this idea form Anton Kreil. I will talk about this in more detail another time but in short, someone who has never earned more than £30k in their life cannot relate to making a bet that could risk that £30k for the chance to make £1m. They simply would not have had the opportunity to take that kind of risk in the past so they lack the experience and, there will be too much at risk for them to make a non-emotional decision. Here’s the thing – is it worth betting £3 to have a chance at winning £100? …with a 10% chance of winning the £100? I think it is worth risking. Moreover, from my understanding of the point in Kreil’s video – most people are already taking that bet. By working a £30k job you have passed on the opportunity to spend the same 8 hours a day for 260 days a year, learning how to and, executing on making the £1m. I urge you to consider the underlined point.

Next, I will briefly talk about “group think.”

Are you thinking for yourself?

This is a topic that can be discussed at great length but to briefly cover before moving on my point can be summarised as – Most of the ideas discussed daily have been handed to the general public. (Of course, I accept this idea isn’t original. LOL) For example, the news reporting something akin to…

“…inflation being 18% is something we should be very worried about. 50% of the country has no control whatsoever over their circumstances, they are going to descend into fuel poverty and suffer. There is no way out, other than the government taking action. Ideally, capping fuel costs…”

(Example report from Channel 4 News)

The above is a set of ideas. Regardless, of whether it’s true or not for millions of people, it’s a set of ideas being handed to us. Without the news telling us inflation is at 18% most of us have no idea what inflation is at. Even if 18% inflation is the case, would it matter to you if you tripled your income from £30k to £90k in the same year? …would you likely need government support to pay your energy bill in that context? – Assuming your energy bill has gone up to £3k for this year – what if you created and started selling a digital course for £1k and sold one a month? …would you feel as hopeless? …probably not. To most of the people who follow Channel 4 News what I am saying will sound like an abstract theory but, there are thousands of people building courses and making an extra few thousand a year, on platforms like Udemy.

If you ignore what most people talk about and avoid adopting their fears, lifestyles, ideas and conversations you open up your time to alternatives. What if the Channel 4 views, shifted their focus from “What are the government going to do and when?” to “What can you do to dramatically improve your income in the next 12 months?” I suspect many viewers would get different outcomes.

In conclusion by using tools like Instagram (in addition to other tools and processes) to capture novel ideas and lifestyles, I am trying to influence what I believe to be possible. It strikes me as too risky to adopt “group-think” and be average. You need to escape “being average” by opening up your mind to new and useful ideas then, set goals that deeply resonate with you as an individual. At some point, you’ll have to work towards those goals too but, controlling your mindset is the key to both being able to start and maintain consistency along the journey.

Further reading & resources

Next: Set Clear Goals