You Can Too Part Two- Here’s how I know anyone can grow their business online

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So okay, here’s the situation.

(No my parents did not go away on a week’s vacation. But reply if you remember that song.)

nyc X boston May 2009

Image credit: Christian H.

In the last post I talked about how I got started messing about on the internet out of boredom at a cushy job, then owning a business on the web.

Before we continue, I have a confession.

I left a pretty big thing out of that entire story.

I wanted the focus to be on the fact that if I could leverage the web to sustain a poetry career over 14 years ago, there isn’t a business that can’t leverage the power of the web in some way to do more business.

But I’m stalling.

What I left out is that in college, I found out that the nonspecific back issue I’ve had since I was 17, could no longer be filed under “suck it up”. I have a condition called spinal degenerative disorder.

And I hate, hate, hate talking about it.

If you’ve ever read my newsletter, or been following my blog, you know I leave it out of my bio and only reference it when I have no other choice.

But it’s important to this part of the story, so here goes.

Spinal degenerative disorder is not a life or death condition. And my case is not severe- some people have to have a morphine drip embedded in their body because it’s that painful for them.

But my experience goes beyond the kind of pain you have when you throw out your back or pull a muscle in your back. Way, way beyond it.

Currently it’s daily, chronic pain (though it’s nothing Near as bad as before I had a series of outpatient procedures at the beginning of this year).

Not aches. Not soreness. PAIN.

I went for a year without treatment due to just generally being broke in 2007 after a period of what should have been unexpected prosperity. During the time I also developed nerve problems.

Since then the pain hasn’t been confined to my back. I get random pain signals all over my body for seemingly no reason at all.

For years before it got that bad, I just put on a brave face and tried to deal with the worse days with Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

But during those years before I’d lost my job, it really wasn’t as bad. I’d have bad days where I’d have to get off my feet and couldn’t work.

It’s not so much the pain anymore as how much it costs to lessen it

Health Care Costs

Image credit: 401(K) 2012 

Mostly, until I lost my job and health insurance, the pain I was in was just bad enough to be a nuisance some days.

I’d want to go out and at the last minute would have to stay in.

(Yeah, boo-hoo right? Seriously though, it does not make for great friendships to cancel half the time and not explain why. People stop inviting you to things.)

I’d set up meetings to meet with people I admired and have to bail at the last minute, too proud to say it was because it hurt to walk.

Back before 2002 when I lost my job at the International Monetary Fund, I was going through an endless cycle of doctors who could not help, who kept trying to give me drugs that would keep me from being able to think straight or work.

Which would then make it impossible to return to work. I couldn’t work in pain, but I couldn’t work out of it either. Surgery at the time was risky- the chances I could end up in the same or worse pain were greater than the odds that I would get better.

After losing my job? The problem became not finding a way to deal with the pain, but finding a way to pay cash for the easing of it.

Getting on federal or state disability isn’t as easy as you might think.

Right before I lost my health insurance, I was able to find a great chiropractor who was referred to me by the orthopedic surgeon I was seeing. Through them agreeing to work together on my issues, I’d found a combination of light medication, physical therapy, yoga and exercise that worked for me.

Back to our story

Library visitor

Image credit: umjanedoan 

I lost my job because I couldn’t work.

Losing my job meant as soon as I couldn’t afford COBRA, there went my health insurance.

No job and not being able to work consistently meant eviction after living off savings for a bit.

There seemed to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel when I was offered a job in Las Vegas. I lived in Maryland.

But I figured, hey I’m already getting evicted and my body responds better to warm weather. Let’s go already.

I got there only to find out the job paid 100% commission after training. I hung in there for a while, found odd jobs around the city, worked the help desk at MGM Mirage and a similar job at a company that makes slot machines for a while.

Then one day I thought – I can make more money going into business for myself. I had a skill after all- I knew how to make websites popular, and how to get good rankings in this new search engine called Google.

Google Classic: Please Allow 30 Days for your Search Results (Original artist unknown)

Image credit: Duncan Hull 

I started to hang around the lobby or bars in casinos when conferences were in town and meet people the one day a week I was feeling up to it.

Outside that I met people online. 50% of my leads came from me striking up a conversation with people in forums. I didn’t bid on proposals because I needed cash right away- my health problem was Expensive.

And after a while I couldn’t do public speaking to promote myself because I never knew if I would feel up to it the day of the event.

Then one day I couldn’t even manage the once a week trip unless I took the whole rest of the week off, which I couldn’t afford to do.

For the next three years, I got 100% of my leads digitally. I made a good enough living to rent a place to live, support one other person, and have a small office.

So what’s my point?

Odds are, you aren’t trying to start a digital marketing career. So why would I tell you about that?

Ironically digital marketing is one of the hardest things to promote online. Competition is insane. And if you can’t prove you know what you’re doing before someone hands you the marketing reigns to their business?

Finding someone who will is just a Google search – or social media click- away.

There are Lots of things my competitors can do that my situation prevents me from attempting. Things like what?

Sometimes I can’t meet people in person or networks, attend events or do public speaking. A hint to my point?

In those times 100% of my new leads come from the web. Sometimes “those times” are a few weeks. Once it was for over a year straight.

Yes, I have a newsletter now– so when I create new products I have a built-in test market.

But all of those people came from digitally fostered relationships as well. Instead of just broadcasting my links to social, I just talk to people like they’re humans. We follow up with a phone call and make agreements.

Then we get to work.

Except for selling products? That’s pretty much it except for the lovely referrals those folks make.

And I’ve helped businesses of every size.

Some of them deliver goods from digital stores.

Some of them have brick and mortar shops and need to come up first in mobile results.

Others want to reach more business owners, or specific types of consumers, and want to reduce costs by getting prospects digitally, but still close in person.

My point isn’t “look how much I rock” or “feel sorry for me because of my pain”.

My point is simply- with or without me, you can do this too

Golden Moment

Image credit: Craig Maccubbin


I don’t need anyone to tell me I rock. I have a mirror and a track record to reflect on whenever I might feel down on myself.

And I’d rather people Not feel sorry for me- that’s what took me so long to tell the “chronic pain” part of my story. If you met me in person at an event, you’d never know unless I needed my cane that day.

So what IS the point?

You, naturally.

As you might imagine I hear a lot of “I tried x and it didn’t work” when people hire me.

What I’ve found is that from my own experience, it’s usually either:

  1. It does work but not the way I did it,
  2. I’m using the wrong approach for my business, or
  3. It does work, but someone set my expectations for HOW it would work way above what I should be projecting.

That doesn’t mean you’re a failure. That means you need a little help.

So the next article will be about helping you get some more business exposure, as quickly as possible. I’m not going to ask you for any money. I’m just going to give you the foundation to a program that works and has stood the test of time.

I will only ever tell you to use methods I am using myself, at this site.

And you have seen what my daily obstacles are. So if I can do it, with my health constantly fluctuating, and spending the lion’s share of whatever I earn on whatever the health insurance I now have doesn’t cover?

You can too. You absolutely can.

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