The cat herder mentality: How I lost over $20,000 in 8 months

 

What is the cat herder mentality?

 

I define it as…

 

Wasting time chasing new fads, ways to make quick money, and looking for shortcuts in business and life that lead nowhere.

 

I did these things for a long time. And it cost me money and time (and a small piece of my sanity!) in the process.

 

I’ve learned that without a clear focus on your goals and taking the time to find what motivates you to create a successful existence, you’re really just wasting your time.

 

So let’s dive into my biggest 4 failures of the last 8 months. And this will give you a better idea of what I’ve learned along the way.

 

(My first failure) In the past year I spent over $10,000 (usd) on a website that returned less than $1000 in revenue.

 

Why?

 

Because I assumed that I could just buy a website and kick my feet back as the money rolled in.

 

The previous site owner had created a travel blog/magizine with a social media following that was doing pretty well. He was netting about $4000 a month in revenue from it.

 

I figured I could just buy it from him and ride on the coat tails as I collected my cheques every month.

 

Boy was I wrong.

 

The first cheque I received after I bought the site was not bad (about $750), but the money dwindled as time went on and I lost interest in the website.

 

I didn’t have the same know how that the last owner had and I found it difficult to maintain and grow the site. (I had no web experience at all!)

 

In fact, this past month I got a cheque for a whopping $25 from the site.

 

Who do I blame? 

 

Myself.

 

You can’t just buy an income stream without putting some of the work in to sustain it and increase it’s value.

 

The website was in a niche I didn’t particularly have interest in and I worked half heartedly to create content that no one wanted to read.

 

 

I just saw the potential dollar signs…

 

As the site went downhill, in desperation, I slapped a couple of cheesy articles on the site and spent hundreds of dollars buying traffic and directed it to those articles.

 

I then threw up some Clickbank products on there that I thought people would like, hoping to get a commission from the affiliate sales of those products.

 

But after all of this I still had zero sales, and zero interest in my website.

 

It was a mess.

 

Why did this happen? 

 

Because I wasn’t putting in the effort required to build a successful business.

 

I was expecting a free ride.

 

Instead of creating awesome content and building an audience. I was trying to buy my audience.

 

And I quickly learned that it doesn’t work this way.

 

This site still sits on the internet with no visitors, day after day.

 

(My second failure) Shortly after the demise of this website, I created another website in the personal finance arena.

 

This website didn’t cost as much as the last one due to the fact that I’d built it from scratch.

 

But I still lost some money on it.

 

In the first few days of launching the site I had no traffic. Because I was impatient and wanted to see immediate results, I quickly tried to gain some interest by hosting a giveaway on Facebook.

 

I paid for a Facebook ad and created a giveaway for $250 to launch the beginning of my personal finance website.

 

It got some interest because, well, who doesn’t like free money right?

 

But it didn’t quite work the way I’d planned.

 

Even though thousands upon thousands of people saw my ad for a free giveaway of $250, less than 30 entered.

 

I’d expected thousands of entries and a booming start to my new site.

 

But I had dismal results.

 

The only thing I could attribute this to was the herding cats mentality, once again.

 

If a cat doesn’t trust you, it’ll never come to you. And I hadn’t built an audience who’d trusted me yet.

 

With all the internet scams and frauds that people succumb to, why would anyone trust a random ad giving away $250?

 

I can just picture people looking at the ad and wondering to themselves –

 

What’s the catch?

 

To make things even worse, when I randomly picked someone as a winner to my giveaway, they didn’t even want the money! Well I shouldn’t say they didn’t want it. They just didn’t trust that I was legit. I guess even though they’d entered the giveaway, their skepticism got the best of them and they opted not to accept the money transfer.

 

Now that I think about it, would you trust someone that you’ve never met before trying to hand you hundreds of dollars for nothing?

 

If you were walking down the street and a random guy in an alley approached you and told you he was going to give you $250 for nothing, would you take it?

 

Most likely not. As a matter of fact, you’d probably clutch your purse or bag tighter and get the heck outta there as fast as humanly possible.

 

and, for some comic relief…check out this video on cat herding…

 

 

The reason I’d failed in the above attempts can be attributed to the fact that I wasn’t taking the time to build a level of trust with my audience. And I wasn’t putting the time and effort into creating something that had longevity and creativity. 

 

I was chasing dreams without putting in the effort to see my vision through to the end. I wanted results today!

 

And that’s just not the way it works.

 

A smart business man once told me, “You can never start at the top (unless you were born into royalty), but you must build your business up from the bottom. And expect to hustle for 5-10 years before you see the real results you’re looking for.” (I wish I had this advice before I started these ventures. But I guess I had to learn somehow…the hard way.)

 

Of course there are exceptions to every rule and 5-10 years doesn’t have to be the timeline for success. But I understand where he was coming from when he said this. Results don’t happen overnight. It’s like starting a new workout regime and expecting results the next day…it just doesn’t happen.

 

(3. My third failure) Another cat chasing tale involves the online retail giant Amazon. I’d taken a course on selling on Amazon and before even taking the time to finish the course, I jumped right into the business without any reasearch into a particular niche or product.

 

I spent thousands of dollars on wallets from China (I still think they are decent quality) and slapped them up on Amazon, hoping that the sales would rush in.

 

I don’t know why I chose wallets. I guess I figured that all guys need a wallet, so why not purchase one from me?

 

Well the sales didn’t rush in…I actually didn’t even get one sale.

 

I didn’t even take the time to perfect the look and feel of the wallet. I just went with whatever the company from China had sent me and put it on Amazon.

 

Well the wallets ended up on the millionth page of Amazon and didn’t get any exposure.

 

They sat in a warehouse as I continued to pay storage fees and make no sales.

 

It’s not Amazon’s fault, its mine.

 

Once again I tried to beat the system.

 

I chased down the next best thing, without taking the time to build something that people would actually be drawn to and want.

 

I didn’t try to create value. I just tried to gain a quick buck.

 

These wallets still sit in my basement to this day.

 

(4. My fourth failure) People like designer clothes right? I mean, who doesn’t like a new Tommy Hilfiger jacket or Polo Sweater? (This is where my next frivolous chase for success comes into play)

 

I quickly purchased thousands of dollars worth of overstock designer clothing items from a wholesaler in the hopes of selling them for a profit.

 

I figured it was a no brainer.

 

People have to wear clothes, so why not buy desinger clothes from me at a discount?

 

The clothes ended up costing more than I’d anticipated when I got a call from the USA border letting me know that they had 3 beat up boxes for me and that it was going to cost $1000 for them to clear customs. (That sure hurt any profits I was hoping to get).

 

I’d already paid over 3 grand for the initial order (for about 200 pieces of clothing).

 

So I was already in at over 20 dollars per piece of clothing in expenses before I’d even sold one item. (And little did I know at the time, most of the clothes were selling for no more than $15 online already). I guess I should have done more market research before I bought these clothes.

 

Well, the clothes finally came and the boxes were full of mix-matched and triple XL pieces of clothing that couldn’t sell on department store shelves).

 

I slapped a few of these items up on eBay and sold one piece of clothing in a 2 month period. And I even lost a couple of bucks on the sale.

 

The growth was painful and pretty much non existent for my new business venture. And I realized that most of the clothing I had, no one wanted and I would have had to sell them at a huge loss.

 

So much for my designer clothing business. (These boxes of clothes sit in my basement collecting dust as well)

 

When I look back at this ordeal I realize that I don’t even really like designer clothing.

 

How could I try to sell something that didn’t even like myself?

 

I just bought what I thought people would want.

 

Once again, instead of looking for a business opportunity that created value, I chased a quick buck.

 

***

 

In the book, The Millionaire Fastlane, MJ DeMarco has a great analogy:

 

“Money is like a mischievous cat; if you chase it around the neighborhood, it eludes you. It hides up a tree, behind the rose bush, or in the garden. However, if you ignore it and focus on what attracts the cat, it comes to you and sits in your lap.”

 

I chased around cats for about 8 months and lost about $20,000 in the process. Yep, you heard that right, $20,000.

 

Those cats ran away and I’ll never get them back.

 

Instead of focusing on practices that build a profitable and healthy business, attract people, and create value in their lives…I focused on shortcuts and chasing frivolous ideas.

 

And I quickly lost money, time and opportunities.

 

***

 

Why do I tell you all of this?

 

Because I know that there are people out there that are chasing cats like I did. But maybe this article will save them time and money. Rather than making the same mistakes that I’ve made.

 

I rushed into every new venture without even thinking about it for a second…there’s nothing wrong with acting fast…but not hastily…there’s a difference.

 

Work hard and smart…and look to create value before anything else. Then you’ll start to see some rewards start to filter into your life.

 

Now, I focus on what other people want, what attracts people to me, and what I can do to make their lives better.

 

And it’s starting to pay off…slowly but surely…

 

Another thing I can say that I did learn about this whole process is that it taught me a whole lot about myself and what I need to improve on.

 

It also taught me that there are no shortcuts to success.

 

And the quicker I learned that, the less time I spent chasing cats down dead end alleys.

 

Chasing the money got me nowhere fast, and it’ll do the same for you, if you let it.

 

Embrace your failures, stop looking for shortcuts, and build success in your life, one methodical step at a time. 

 

And stop trying to herd cats!

 

 

(P.S. –  This was an incredibly hard post to write because of all the embarrasing failures that are contained within it. The one thing that I’ve found that heals failures is to share them with others and then move on (for more on embracing rejection and failure, read this).

 

The more I read about others failures, the better I can relate to those people and understand that we aren’t perfect beings with horseshoes stuck up our butts. Even though some people may seem as if they’re always “lucky” in finding success, if you dig deeper you will see that their pasts are peppered with failure. And this is a huge part of why they’re successful today. They learned from their failures.

 

When you share your failures, it heals you and actually works to put them behind you.

 

If you have an embarrasing story or failure you wanna share, hit us up at lindsay@everydayharts.com or add it to the comments below!