How I Slung My Final Latte, Built An Online Business, And Travelled The World
You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to be able to hit publish on an article to this effect.
Exactly 368 days I ago, I took a massive leap of faith, slung my final, perfectly poured latte at Starbucks, held a ceremony for my green apron, and dove into the world of building a self-sustaining business that would grant me the freedom to do whatever the fuck I want, when I want.
Because in my world, freedom is the value that drives me to do what I do.
368 days removed from serving that final, perfect latte, I’ve been quite literally making everything up as I go. Somehow, things are rolling along smoothly (for the most part), and my business has been consistently growing across every key metric month after month.
It may be a slow climb, but it’s a steady, upward climb nonetheless. I can’t ask for much more than that.
Without dragging this post into an essay of big wins from the past year, I’ve put together this gorgeous, chronological infographic to summarize the key events, and biggest wins.
Not included in the above are smaller, but equally as satisfying trips to LA, Austin (twice), and New York City.
To say it’s been quite the year would be a massive understatement. If I was the type to take a moment to sit back and revel in what’s been built thus far, there’s a lot to celebrate. For better or for worse though, that ain’t me. While I’m proud of all that I’ve accomplished over the past year, constantly looking forward is what got me here, so continuing to look forward is exactly what I’m doing.
With a few hefty investments made into growing MASSthetics over the past few weeks, I cannot wait to see what the coming months bring.
With that being said, I want to draw your attention to the weeks and months that passed in silence between each exciting moment. It’s during those down times were I’d sit at my computer for hours on end, turning down invitations, and questioning whether or not what I was pouring my heart and soul into was ever going to pay off.
Those are the chunks of time that will make you want to say “fuck it,” and throw in the towel.
As cliche as it is, I find it amusing to have fought tooth and nail to be able to quit a job where I worked 40 hours per week, and trade in a stable paycheque to work for what was easily at least 70 hours per week, with no guarantee of any reward.
Such is the life of working towards something big, bold, and beautiful.
The writing of this marks the realization of a dream I’ve had since I was a freshly minted 19 year old. # That dream? # To travel. To experience new cultures. To dive into new environments. To taste new foods (of course). All while still earning an income and doing that which brings myself, and others value. # It hasn’t been an easy road getting here. Months of my life were spent working at Starbucks – a job that didn’t mesh with my values or goals in the slightest – and trying to figure out what the hell I was chasing. # I’ve lost friendships and turned down opportunities for new ones. And on the flip side, I've forged incredible new relationships with people dotted around the globe. # The relationship I was in for over 2 years was stretched, pushed, and tested one too many times. Because, to quote one of my favourite writers, Mark Manson: # "Love isn’t always enough." # And that's okay. Because, it was an incredible experience, and I was able to learn a thing or two about a thing or two. # Building MASSthetics has been a labour of love, a mentally exhausting passion project, and the focus of all my goddamn life-force rolled into one. # I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to take the plunge. To see if I can live up to the dream I've pictured so clearly, for so long. # I sold, passed on or parted ways with 90% of my belongings, my flights are booked and I’m en-route to stop number one. New York City. Which, seems like the most fitting city in the world in which to begin this journey. # The coming months are sure to be an adventure. I still have a business to build and take to new heights. I still have Nationals next July to improve for. I still have items to check off the list. # To those who have supported me, helped me grow, and allowed me the opportunity to chase what I’ve dreamt of, I cannot thank you enough. # You know who you are. # I cannot thank any of you enough for the support, encouragement and guidance. # If there's one if there's one thing I'd love for you to take away from this. It's that you you truly are capable of whatever you envision.
The six actions responsible for the past year (and how you can replicate them)
I may only have a year of experience with this whole business thing under my belt and while MASSthetics is relatively small, the concept has been proven, and I’ve learned countless things (from people much smarter than I) about building a successful business that I want to share with you.
What you do with these bits of advice is up to you, but I’ve harvested the majority of my fruits off the back of doing what follows. It stands to reason that you can to, if you’ve got the balls to saddle up and go for it.
1. You must differentiate yourself from the rest of your market.
The online fitness industry is one hell of a crowded market.
Every overworked personal trainer and their slowly dying cactus (no? was that just me?) wants to capture the vision of trading in 5am starts, dead afternoons, and 9pm finishes six days a week for being able to help people change their life, and transform their body from the relative comfort of their laptop.
While it’s much, much easier said than done, the tantalizing possibility of doing so has spawned exponential growth of the online industry, and trainer after trainer to throw up a website and offer online coaching.
Knowing that, as well as understanding the basic principle of needing to have a USP (unique selling point) to build a successful business, I poured a ton of time and energy into finding *my* own angle.
Which I’ve certainly found within the halls of MASSthetics, and by speaking to people who want to get jacked, shredded, tanned, and are fed to the gills with spending hours in the gym, only to see no results.
If you don’t inject your personality into everything you put out into the world, speak to a specific sect of people, or stand by your guns, your business will go down in flames.
Precisely as Alex Mullan Fitness Systems did after a lacklustre 7 months of imperceptible existence (a tale for another day).
2. Talk to your clan (or whatever you want to call your following) every single day.
If there’s one lesson in particular that I wish to impart after one year of being entirely self-sustained by the internet, it’s that the growth of your business and the impact you have on others is a by-product of the relationships you build.
Whether those relationships are with your paying clients, new email subscribers, or peers in your industry, it rings true for all.
Making a concentrated effort to bond and connect with your potential customers is a surefire way to bring people into your circle, build trust, make sales, and grow a business.
I love writing, and that makes email marketing not only powerful tool for me, but one that I genuinely enjoy using. It allows me to talk to people who like what I have to say every single day, and build a deeper bond with each passing email.
Now, imagine what would happen if you applied that same principle to other areas of your life…
3. You must be a consistent, stubborn motherfucker.
People won’t come into your world if you don’t do anything to attract them.
When I first thew MASSthetics out into the depths of the internet, I made a commitment to myself that I would publish two new pieces of content every single week for the first year, no matter what.
I knew from day one that this was an ambitious target, and that I’d reap the rewards if I could pull it off. The first three months of this commitment were by far the hardest, as I was still working at Starbucks 40 hours per week (usually getting up at 330am to open the place), and decided to throw contest prep on top of it all.
Nearly every night I’d be up until 11pm, putting the final touches on articles so that they’d be ready for my content release days of Tuesday and Thursday. Yes, I bought into the narrative of sacrificing sleep over all else, and I did pay a price for it.
4. “Content is the vehicle that will drive your business forward.”
Poignant quote courtesy of friend, wordsmith, and biz wizard, John Romaniello.
Way back in the way back when I threw Alex Mullan Fitness Systems out into the wild world of the internet, I was foolishly operating under the impression that if I had a website and offered coaching, the clients would come. I had no traffic, no email list, no clients, and no strategy to fix any of the above.
This time around, the story couldn’t be more the opposite.
Having your content published on popular websites where you know your ideal clients hang out is a powerful way to establish yourself as an expert, drive traffic back to your site, and capture emails from which you can build a relationship with people.
For me, choosing the sites I wanted to be published on was easy. Knowing that I wanted to work with guys and girls who enjoy training, and the thought of building an impressive physique, I set my sights on the all the sites I read when I was first falling in love with bodybuilding.
T-Nation, Roman Fitness Systems, JMax Fitness, Bodybuilding.com, EliteFTS, and soon to be the membership site of my bodybuilding coach, The Muscle Bank (quite proud of this one).
One by one, I did whatever needed doing to ensure I had multiple posts published on each site.
My email list grew organically, my traffic rose each month, credibility soared, and life rolled onward.
5. Put your business on a pedestal.
Knowing what you want to accomplish, baring your teeth, and not letting anything stand in your way is something you’re going to have to come to turns with.
I sacrificed date night with my then-girlfriend (imagine that), I rarely watched movies or TV, I turned down invitations to be a normal human and socialize, I stopped buying new clothes or things I knew I didn’t need, and re-invested every spare coin back into MASSthetics. All I kept for myself was enough for food, a couple supplements, rent, zero calorie vitamin water, and a little weed.
I fucking hate this quote, but it speaketh the truth.
“You have to do what others won’t, so you can live like others can’t.”
Nonetheless, having a clear, defined mission, and putting that sucker on a pedestal is one of the most powerful things you can do. No matter what you’re trying to achieve. Because being clear and confident on what you’re working towards will help guide every decision you make, and keep you focused when you’d rather throw your laptop into traffic.
5.5. Until you’re genuinely comfortable with the health of your business and your income, you need to keep investing back into your business (if you want it to keep progressing).
Some people set personal rewards for when they make a sale, land a big win, or hit a new income threshold.
Much of what I’ve achieved over the past year has come from not rewarding myself when there was an influx of cash, but from rewarding MASSthetics. By that I mean that whenever I had cash that I didn’t need for the essentials above, I would find a course, mentor, coach, or product related to an area of the business I wanted to improve, and do just that.
Courses on Facebook advertising, copywriting, determining and launching offers, books, consults with entrepreneurs several leagues above me, and most recently a coach to improve my writing as a whole (in celebration of being free from Starbucks for one year), and fine-tune my systems. Those have been the rewards for pushing this thing forward, not fancy shit (that’ll come in a few years 😉 )
6. Get every single client you work with the results they came for.
You can’t build a service-based business on the back of shitty and/or no results.
Meaning that every single client I worked with got my full attention (rightfully so), and I did everything in my power to support them, and ensure they get the results they came looking for.
Fast forward a year, and carrying that mentality into every coaching relationship that begins with someone new has had a profound impact on my top line, and the life of those who come through the MASSthetics Coaching Program.
The three most powerful business lessons learned in the past 12 months
If I had a gun to my head and was told to boil everything I’ve learned and experienced over the past year down to three thoughts that you can carry forward, the following would be it.
#1. Show up every single day, and stick to your word.
If you say you’re going to publish one new article each week, post on social media each day, and talk to your list daily, you better be prepared to do it, no matter what life throws at you.
Not for a couple weeks, not for a month, but day in and day out until such a time where that strategy makes less sense.
#2. People need to want what you’re offering.
The fact that you think something is a great idea, product, or service doesn’t mean that others will. You are not your market, and your market has the final say on what they want, what they buy, and at the end of the day, the livelihood of your business.
#3. Know what you’re trying to achieve, and make sure that all your actions align with that vision
To get a little woo-woo on you, you need to have clarity on your vision. If you don’t know what you’re trying to build or achieve, your actions will be all over the place, and your piss-poor results will reflect that.
This is one of my favourite spots in my hometown. Coming here in the mornings with a cup of coffee to listen to the waves, think, and enjoy the scenery, is something I deeply enjoy. # Alas, this morning was the last time I'll be coming here for a long while. Let it be told that I will not return here–no matter what–until I've doubled MASSthetics, and brought a coach into the ring with me. # Because goals, intentions, world domination, and all that crap. #thethickening #roadtonationals #thewanderingmeathead
The final reps
At the end of the day, this piece isn’t meant to impress you.
It’s meant to show you that if building a business is something you’ve been entertaining:
1. Doing so has the potential to completely transform your life.
2. You better be damn well prepared to put in more work than you ever have.
3. By the sweat-soaked gym Gods presiding over us all, it’s damn well worth it.
And so it is.
PS. 4 out of 5 lifters will let their rationalization hamster run wild. Convincing themselves they’re making progress…yet you build no muscle, and burn no fat. The 5th lifter joined the MASSthetics Clan and put the information within the (free) Hypertrophy Handbook to good use. He no longer has to rationalize his progress. He simply is. Click here to become the 5th lifter, and let me know where to send the prestigious Hypertrophy Handbook.