Just Get Started

I’ve read several great things over the past 24 hours that, for me, all tied into the most important factor in making money online: just getting started.

In what may be the best thing I’ve ever read from QuadsZilla, he writes yesterday:

“How do I ride a bicycle?” Thatís what I hear when people ask me how to make money on the web or to rank in Google. The best way to learn is to get on the bike and start peddling. Youíll fall at first, but eventually you should get it. I can describe the basics and warn of some pitfalls, but in the end you gotta just try it to learn how.

Well, don’t I need to plan first?† Yes, but only a very little.† Seth gives an example of way too much planning:

He’d already decided to launch a project. To make it a non-profit. To build it on a scale of a million dollars a year. To do projects that would involve certain types of growth but avoid others. To include primarily live events instead of online or media properties. He’d also decided not to create a self-propelling movement, not to be tribe-focused and not to be huge (or tiny).

That’s a lot of decisions to make before you start.

Because in the end, successful businesses don’t need to be complicated:

[M]any of the mistakes people make when trying to make money online are because people over complicate things.† The easier the business, the more effective you can be at doing the things that actually make money. If you are so caught up in complicated technology or constantly trying to be innovative and cutting edge, you will be stuck in a never ending rat race.

My life is a perfect example of that.† Sahar and I had a good conversation in the comments of my article Here Come the Developer Armies, and one of the main things it helped me realize was that people often shoot for very different targets when developing a site.

I build what I call “content sites” — real websites with good content (not build-it-and-forget-it “niche sites”).† Others, though, aim much higher, as Rand describes today in The Vast, Pacific Horizon:

February of 2008 and some early testing gives us a roadmap, but it’s an expensive one and it’s going to mean tying up nearly all of our dev resources for 6 months (and adding a handful of pricey, new talent to the team). That means virtually no new tools, no new projects, no time to patch up the parts of the SEOmoz site that aren’t scaling so well. Big risk could spell big rewards, but only if everyone in the SEO world thinks this product is as amazing as I do. Otherwise, the burn rate is going to catch up too fast, and that means… Well, it won’t be pretty.

There’s no right and wrong here.† Some people are Big Idea people.† Others just want to make enough money to have the freedom to do what they want, when they want.

Want to retire rich?† Before you’re 30?† It can be done easily (I know people who have done it), and you don’t have to invent the next Google to do it — as long as your idea of rich doesn’t venture far into eight figures.† If it does, then yes, you’re going to have to do something a little more complex than creating a basic mortgage comparison site and figuring out how to get it ranked in Google.

If you’d be happy putting $5 million in the bank and having the freedom to decide whether to try to do it again or retire to the beach (or both), though, don’t get so caught up in the planning.† Just get started.† There’s no possible way to learn all you need to know just by reading; you have to do it.† It’s in the doing that the real opportunities start to present themselves, and then you just might find that you’re onto the next Google.

Quit waiting on the perfect opportunity and just get started.

Photo by Bruce Turner.


  • Matthew

    August 27, 2008
    at 1:42 pm

    Shane, I couldn’t agree more. I have a lot of friends that always ask me or tell me they want to do something online, and then, they proceed to ask me how. The reason they ask me? You and I both know it’s as simple as this: because I got up and just tried it myself (on the job training if you will to be really simplistic on the subject).

    The riding a bike is an excellent example. I remember when I was 5 in kindergarten, I was with my friend and his dad – there was a bike just laying there while we were out playing one day. I picked it up and started riding it. (Years later my mom tells me this part of the story) – My friend’s dad says to my parents – “I didn’t know Matt knew how to ride a bike” – their response – “we didn’t either” – no one took time to teach me how to ride a bike, I just did it.

    There is no substitute from just doing it – just like investing – you can read books all day long but until you invest $25K of your own cash into a stock, you’ll never really know what’s it’s like to invest on your own.

    Going out and doing will teach you way more than just sitting and reading a book on something… just my .015 – Swanzi


  • Shawn Yurkanin

    August 27, 2008
    at 4:38 pm


    As someone who has been developing an “idea” for the past 6 months I can say without a doubt, that I would be further down the road to riches had I done just what you say. I think a lot of people can let themselves get hindered by over-thinking in the early stages. I think they call it paralysis by analysis.

    Thank you for all your help.



  • Thomas

    August 28, 2008
    at 8:19 am

    Dear Shane,

    interesting post again and thanks for your emails. I really appreciate your thoughts. I just wanted to add one perspective, since the idea of “just getting started” or “just do it” is very often mentioned amongst entrepreneurs.

    And once you start you definitely should stick with it for a while. Having the courage to move through all obstacles along the way is mandatory to become successful.

    what about “Knowing when to stop?”. Don’t get me wrong here, it does not always mean to stop being an entrepreneur but to stop and maybe restart.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on this.


  • Shane

    August 28, 2008
    at 8:28 am

    That’s an excellent point, Thomas. Look for a post on that soon!


  • Trey Anderson

    August 28, 2008
    at 6:16 pm

    Wonderful post. You would be amazed how much a post like this can motivate a person to jump in or keep pushing through when things look down. Good job.


  • Go Deep » Ask Shane.org

    September 2, 2008
    at 7:54 am

    […] first key to making money online is to just get started.† You can read until you’re blue in the face and not learn 10% of what you will be just […]

  • […] as much as you would in just a week of actually doing it.† That’s why I say that you should just get started.† And not only are you learning, but building or refurbishing a site requires you to develop a […]