Monthly Archives: Jan 2014


19 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

It’s funny, when you reach a certain level of success, people assume you had an easy ride. I can tell you – it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Starting from my first venture as a 12-year old entrepreneur selling baseball cards via mail order – to where I am today – I’ve made more mistakes than I can count.

Now, what I’m not going to do is give you the same overdone quotes all motivations speakers do about making mistakes. Things like “well. Thomas Edison found 2,000 ways how NOT to create a light bulb”… or whatever that quote is.

Let’s just get real and cut the BS, shall we? Here are 19 real-world mistakes I’ve made over the years… and hopefully you can now avoid them too. Enjoy:

  1. Not raising my prices sooner. It took me almost 3 years to get up the nerve to charge more than $50 for a product. And the results with my very first product at $199 brought in $20,000 in 24 hours back in 2003.
  2. Infrequent emails. I used to only email once a month. Big mistake. You should contact your list at least once a week.
  3. Doing everything myself. Hiring Demetria over 10 years ago was the best decision I’ve made. You can’t do it all by yourself.
  4. Free event. I once did a big live in-person event and made it free. All it did was attract people who were not serious about their success. 
  5. Hiring a film crew without checking their references. They sucked.
  6. Not listening to my wife. She’s one of the smartest people I know… I should have brought her input into my business sooner.
  7. Traveling too much. I love speaking and while it helped my business, I can never get those days back with my family. It’s now been almost 2 years since I’ve traveled to speak at an event – and I’ve never been more content. 
  8. Stopped selling. For about a year, I stopped selling new products – and my revenue dipped. Duh!
  9. Hung out with wrong people. You have to surround yourself with not only smart, motivated people.. but people with a good soul. 
  10. Created generic product. Every product or program must have a good hook.
  11. Held onto grudges. One guy really screwed me over and I let the anger consume me for almost a year. When I let it go, I felt so much better.
  12. Didn’t test enough. In an effort to get out quickly, I put out a software program with a bug… and it wasn’t pretty.
  13. Tried to be too creative. Tried products that veered to far away from what was already proven. Instead, it’s much smarter to follow what’s already working – but just improve it.
  14. Expensive overhead. For three years, I had an office space that was way too big, expesive and unnecessary. It only subtracted from my profits.
  15. Went against nature. I’m naturally a “starter” but tried to be more of a project manager. Bad idea. Now I focus on my creative strengths and bring on people who are “finishers”.
  16. Working with sociopaths. Internet marketing.. ’nuff said.
  17. Not list-building. It’s about doing something to expand your reach, day in and day out – and I forgot that rule.
  18. No application process. I did a big-ticket mastermind years ago, and didn’t have an application process. Some of the members should not have been in there.
  19. Drank my own kool-aid. I started to think, “hey I’m Ryan Lee and everything I do is awesome”. Ummm,… I was really, really wrong on that one.

Really, I’m just scratching the surface.

Life and business has it’s fair share of ups and downs. And as an entrepreneur, taking some risks is inherent. It’s simply a part of the game.

And look, we all screw up and make mistakes. It WILL happen.

When you do make a mistake – you can get upset for a few minutes and then you must move on. But what you can’t do is lock yourself in a dark room for a month hysterically crying. And then never try again.

The real key to success is learning from your mistakes and NOT repeating it. Then, keep moving your feet.

And don’t let any setbacks stop you from achieving your dreams. Ever.


P.S. If this resonated with you, please like, share or tweet below.

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Live More

I’m often asked about the secret to coming up with innovative and creative new ideas. My answer… live more.

When Steve Jobs was asked about creativity, here was his answer, “A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences, so they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

How often do you try new things?

You must experience the world. You must experience life. You must experience deep relationships. 

Live more. Feel more. Touch more. Laugh more. Try more. Taste more. Cry more. Love more.

Spend time alone and leave your cell phone home. Catch a fish. Learn how to play the guitar. Go camping. Learn how to cook a really good meal (cereal doesn’t count). Try a food you’ve never tasted before. Build a fire.. and make s’mores. Go to the Opera.. at least once. Study a new language. Travel to a different country. Go to a comedy club. Try a new sport. See a foreign film. Read a really good book. Forgive someone. Tell the people you love just how much they mean to you.. every single day.

When you live. And I mean REALLY live, only then will you experience the breakthroughs you are searching for. That’s when the real magic happens.


P.S. If this resonated with you in any way – please like, share or tweet below.

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When Being Different.. is BAD (The Checklist)

Being different is usually good. 

Notice I said “usually”, because it only makes sense to be different if it’s better (or, at least, positioned as a benefit).

Here’s an example of when different is not a good idea.

Yesterday I did a coaching call with a really nice fitness professional. He has a successful fitness bootcamp program and wants to create a digital product to supplement his “offline” income. 

During our session – naturally one of the first questions I asked was, “how will your product be different from the thousands of other fitness products online”.

And he said, “The big trend now is shorter workouts… 20-30 minute sessions, so MY idea is to do longer workouts that are 90 minutes”.

I was a little confused and asked why would someone want to workout for 90 minutes when they can get the same results in 1/3 of the time?

He said, well, I want my workouts to be different.


Of course, I quickly corrected this and said “saving time is a huge benefit and it would be a big mistake to have the negative idea of a longer workout be your sole hook – so let’s dig deeper and find something else to separate you from the competition”.

We did dig deeper and came up with a killer hook (I can’t reveal it due to confidentiality – but it’s a strong one).



I’m not using the example to make fun of him – he’s a great guy and I give him credit for putting on his entrepreneurial cap and giving it a try. At least he is taking action and trying to come up with something to make his product different. Plus, he came to me for help.. so he’s obviously one smart cookie!

But the lesson is if you are going to be different – make sure it’s a POSITIVE benefit (or, at least, have the perception of a positive benefit). An example if charging more for your product and positioning it as a premium choice. Usually a higher price is seen as a negative, but it can, in fact, be positioned as a positive with the right copy.

Here are some ideas to position your product differently.. but in a good way…

  • Faster (if they offer 12 week programs, you can create a 4 week express program)
  • Laser-focused (if they offer general Facebook traffic program, you can create Facebook newsfeed training)
  • Less content (if they offer 50 hours of training videos, you can summarize it in just 2 hours)
  • Less expensive 
  • Digital delivery (if they offer DVDs, you can offer it as digital download) 
  • Physical delivery (if they offer digital downloads, you can offer as DVDs)
  • Free trial
  • $1 trial
  • Free shipping
  • Premium pricing (you can position yourself as the premium player in your category)
  • More options (if they offer one option, you can offer 3 different level of products)
  • Less options (if they offer too many confusing options, you can offer just one simple solution)
  • Payment plans (for big ticket, you can break down a $2k product to 10 payments of $199

As you can see, we’re just scratching the surface here.

Now get out there and be different.. but make it count.



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