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When To Break The Rules And When To Stick With What Works

In the online business world there are a lot of coaches who talk about “breaking the rules” in business. They advise people to think outside the box, colour outside the lines, follow their hearts and most of all – do it their own way.

Let’s face it, who likes rules? Being a rule-breaker is fun, just like the idea of entrepreneurship. We all want to do it our own way.

I believe in choosing a business that lights you up and being true to yourself.

But as for breaking all the rules?

Maybe not. At least, maybe not AT FIRST…

When to follow the rules…

I think lots of us glamourise the idea of being a rule breaker. It’s sexy and dangerous.

But is dangerous really what you want when you’re starting a business? I’m thinking probably not.

More likely you want clients and income and rule-breaking in the sense that you don’t have to go to work, not flailing around in experiment after experiment because you’ve been advised to ‘do it your own way’.

When you are starting out, honestly, it’s just not the time to be wildly experimenting.

I know, I sound so boring. In fact I desperately want to sound more glamourous right now but that’s not going to help you start your business.

The thing is maybe you’ll be the one in a million where it works out, but the odds really are stacked against you. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so sexy right? Ouch!

You only have limited time and resources starting out and you want to be taking the minimum number of risks at that point. That is how I get people started – by using a framework that works AND allows people to be themselves and start a business they love. If you’re interested to learn more I have a free training you can access here.

I’ve talked before about how it’s better not to have a totally new idea – because putting your own spin on a proven business model is a much stronger, safer strategy.

Starting a new business is hard enough without adding a level of complexity by flaunting what we know to work at every turn.

But, that’s not to say you should never experiment. Not at all. Now to the fun part…

…and when to break them

Once you get going and have proven that you can get clients and make money in your business, you reach the “know the rules so you can break them” level. That’s when you can start trying out different things, bending the rules, and even breaking them.

I wrote an ‘epic blog post‘ a little while back and it was an experiment for me.  It required many more hours than my average blog post to reach out to experts, collect tips, and then write, edit, and format it all. I met some really cool people in the process.

It was an experiment. It might get me a lot of traffic in the long term, it might not, but I am in a position to be able to try these things and many others. Some of them will pay off.  Some of them won’t. But experimenting this way won’t hurt my chances at succeeding in business, because I’ve already reached a level of success to work from.

At the moment I am in New York and I’m trying some new strategies in my business. Will they work? I think so, but I wouldn’t have wanted to risk it a couple of years ago.

Ultimately, when you start out in business, my best advice to you is to do what works.

Many people have worn the path before you. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Doing this will help you avoid the early pitfalls and traps that cause so many businesses to fail early.

Once you’ve proven that you know the rules by gaining some success in your business, then you can start to strategically experiment, bend the rules, and even wildly break them. Just make sure you have the basics down pat first.

Innovation is fantastic – just not at the expense of your business!

I want to hear from you

How do you feel about this topic?

Are you a strict rule follower – or a rampant rule breaker?

Or how about somewhere in between?

Let me know in the comments below…

 

2 Responses to When To Break The Rules And When To Stick With What Works

  1. This is a great post Cat. I also believe that being a rule breaker for the sake of it can often at times, do more damage than good. Rules are there for a reason and they can serve a purpose and I agree as you become more established, by all means, experiment to your heart’s delight.

    Where I see breaking rules being relevant is copying all the things the “successful people” are doing. Like most people when I started out, I followed all the formulas and prescriptions to a T but now that I’m more established and confident, I rely less on the “word” of successful people and try my own stuff. Hope that makes sense.

    Also I’m a massive believer in doing the things that make you stand out. If you do stuff that everybody else around you is doing, you blend in and don’t stand out. That’s why I’m a big advocate of power pages and long form content marketing because noone is doing it. This stuff takes effort and time and most people make excuses not do this stuff because it’s hard to scale. To me that spells opportunities for me and my clients because we invest in the activities other people rarely do. One rule that I know to be true through experience and wisdom is the stuff that is harder to scale, are often things that you should be focussed on (and often create the best relationships and connections in the first place).

    • Thanks for leaving such an insightful comment Shae. It is so confusing as a newbie to figure out the ‘right’ way to get ahead. Plus there are a lot of people saying ‘do what I did and you’ll hit 6 figures’ and often these methods may not be suitable for you. I think the point I’m trying to get to is – don’t break the business model. Certain business models work, so stick with them, and by all means add your own flavour and uniqueness so you do stand out. The key is to not be ‘doing it your own way’ to the point that you are trying to reinvent the wheel and making it way too hard on yourself.

      Great comment. Also, I should let you know I had a few people mention my power page at the event. It’s working!

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