What should we build together?
Also: how to run a business without social media
My friend Scott Dinsmore used to constantly repeat that Jim Rohn quote about “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.“
He really believed it, too, especially when it came to pursuing something new. Want to run a marathon? Hang out with other runners. Want to learn a language? Hang out with native speakers. Want to start a business? Hang out with entrepreneurs.
Scott loved to explain that by spending time with people who have already done something you want to accomplish, your mindset will go from “how could I” to “how could I not?”
When you start something new, your biggest risks of failure often stem from 1) not having the right knowledge, 2) not believing you can do it, and 3) giving up before you make it across the finish line. Spending time with people who are doing what you want to do helps mitigate 1, 2, and 3 with group wisdom, role models, and accountability.
At my last business Fizzle, we had a saying that people came for the content, but stayed for the community. We published tons of articles, podcast episodes and courses, but most of our longest tenured and successful members were active members in our community platform and on live calls.
Community can be incredibly powerful, when it’s filled with motivated, supportive, helpful people focused on accomplishing something important. Of course, you shouldn’t mistake social media for true community, as we’ll discuss below.
In the welcome post for this newsletter, I vaguely mentioned plans to launch some premium features for paying members. A private community will be one of those features. I’m also envisioning live Q&A / mastermind calls and other benefits aimed at helping you succeed as an entrepreneur.
I’d love your help in shaping which premium features are included for paying members. Using this nifty polling feature of Substack, could you answer the following questions?
Note: if you don’t think you would ever become a paying member, you can skip the questions (you’ll continue receiving free posts).
If you have other ideas / questions about how the community and live sessions would work, please leave a comment below or reply to this email.
I’ll be launching premium features for paying members soon. To join us, consider upgrading your membership today to be a part of the community from day one:
Question of the Week
question topic idea comes from Sarah Mackenzie of Read-Aloud Revival:
I loved the Fizzle reunion podcast episode. So fun to hear all of you together again.
At one point you mentioned that doing online business without social media seemed to be a running theme for seasoned entrepreneurs, and I would love it if you’d dig into that.
Despite having a thriving online membership business (I learned so much from Fizzle!) and significant follower counts on IG and FB, I’m sort of ready to burn down the whole social media piece of it.
So this is less of a question, and more of a suggestion for a future topic to explore. I’d love to hear from successful entrepreneurs who are ditching social media and finding healthier ways to grow and nurture an audience.
Looking forward to reading your upcoming newsletters!
Such a great suggestion Sarah! Thank you.
I have a feeling this will be a recurring topic here at Starting Things.
In 2020, I declared I was starting over online. I deleted most of my old content from around the web, and every social media post and every social media account (except Twitter, for reasons we’ll discuss in a later post).
The response was incredible. I knew people were fed up with social media, but I didn't expect to receive hundreds of responses. (seriously, here's a look at my inbox from the time)
Since cutting 95% of social media out of my life (Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.), I’ve felt so much better. My online life is less distracting and less cluttered. I have more time to think, and more time to think for myself. Also, it feels great not to be supporting companies that manipulate people and damage our social fabric in the name of profits.
Cutting out social media has so many benefits, and people are hungry to do it. But the question is: can you build a successful business without social media?
I think the answer is obvious, or at least it should be. Businesses have existed since the beginning of humanity, but social media is only ~15 years old. There are plenty of ways to grow a business online without social media, yet many of us assume we can’t succeed without it.
You mentioned ”significant follower counts on IG and FB” Sarah. I’d be curious about what business results you’re seeing from either of those sources. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the ”vanity” numbers (follower counts) even though they’re not leading to actual useful business results (product sales). If that’s the case, quitting social media is really more of a FOMO or ego question than it is a question of what impact it will have on your business.
If you are seeing business results from social media, the question is, could you replace that source of customers with something else, like email marketing, paid ads, a referral program, partnership, content marketing, etc.? Or, would it be worth hiring someone (or an agency) to run social so you don’t have to be involved?
If you’re really ready to burn down the whole social media piece of it, there’s definitely a way to do it that won’t harm your business. The right specific plan for you depends on many questions that I know I’ll be covering here in the months to come.
Thanks for the topic idea Sarah! Consider this the intro to what will probably be a frequent theme for Starting Things.
Got a question? Ask me a question for an upcoming issue of the newsletter.
I’d love to feature positive accomplishments that have happened to readers here in upcoming issues. Let’s celebrate all your hard work 🎉
Got a milestone to share? Crossed a revenue goal? Got acquired? Won an award? Share your milestone and I’ll include it in an upcoming issue.
Links You Might Love
Social Media Trends and Research (Pew Research Center)
Pew regularly publishes new studies about social media usage, behavior and trends. If you’re curious about things like why journalists use Twitter so much, which age groups use which social media apps, or trends among teens and social media, Pew has answers for you.
50 over 50 2022 (Forbes)
This feature from Forbes is great for two reasons: 1) it celebrates successful women (200 entrepreneurs, investors, creators and entertainers), and 2) it focuses on success after the age of 50 👏.
Podcasting Revenue to Double to $4B by 2024 (TechCrunch)
It may seem like podcasting has reached a saturation point after becoming a cultural phenomenon over the past few years (Only Murders in the Building anyone?), but there’s still plenty of growth ahead. After the US podcasting industry hit $1.4 billion in revenue in 2021, it’s predicted to reach $2B in 2022 and $4B in 2024. Plenty of money will be out there for shows that can reach a decent sized audience.
Best Advice Ever
“Don't compare your insides to someone else’s outsides and don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle.”
Until next time, thanks for reading. Don’t forget, you can comment on this post or reply to this email. I read/reply to all and love hearing from you :)