17 Surefire Steps to be a Spectacular Failure

by Jason Gracia · 16 comments

How to Fail in Online BusinessEveryone tells you how to succeed. You know what that is? That’s just lazy. There are so many unique, exciting ways to fail, but they never get their due. Today that changes. Today we dive into 17 simple tips to help you become, not just a failure, but a spectacular one.

1. Never Actually Start

Thinking is so much easier than doing. Have you ever tried it? You just have to sit there, like a happy-go-lucky sloth, thinking about all the things you want to do without actually doing anything about them…and you can even do it with your eyes closed! What could be easier? If you’re truly committed to failing, be sure to think, hope, and dream, but never act.

2. Worry about Replication

Does someone already talk about your topic online? If so, get out. Now. Ignore the fact that it’s your personality, your stories, your experiences, and your unique approach that set you apart in your field. (And ignore the fact that when a person buys one cookbook, love story, or marketing course, they buy many, many more.) Tell yourself, again and again, if someone plays in your sandbox, it’s time to run for the hills.

3. Stop Learning

Enough is enough. You’ve already spent plenty of time learning, from your multiplication tables to the contents of Washington’s dentures (human and animal teeth, lead, and ivory). Whatever you know about your topic right now, don’t take another step forward. Don’t read another book, don’t follow another expert, don’t seek, don’t study, don’t solve. Just stick with what you know and relax in the warm embrace of looming failure.

4. Surround Yourself with Failure

Want to skyrocket your chances of disaster? Surround yourself with complainers, life-isn’t-fairers, blamers, and all around negative Nancys. Hanging around people who push you to be your best can be tiring. It’s much less daunting to stick with people who want the least from you. Stay in bed all day eating nachos and watching Real Housewives reruns? They’ll love it!

5. Rely on a Field-of-Dreams Mentality

Hear that whisper? If you build it, they will come. It worked wonders for Kevin Costner, and a true failure knows that it will work wonders for you as well. Build that website, build that blog, then let it sit there, patiently waiting for a stream of digital eyes to arrive at your doorstep. Costner didn’t use advertising or guest posts or killer content to draw an audience. Why should you?

6. Constantly Compare

One of the best ways to develop a mindset of failure is to compare yourself to others as often as possible. Obsess about their beautiful design, mass of followers, ever growing sales, and all their fancy projects like webinars, product launches, and masterminds. Ignore the fact that they’ve been at the game for years. Ignore the fact that they started with nothing and slowly worked to where they are now. Ignore all that and simply focus on the difference between your business and their empire. This will crush your spirit and erase your drive in no time!

7. Be Scammy & Spammy

I can’t tell you how much I love getting a good piece of spam. A Nigerian prince has $1.2 million for me? Where do I sign up?! A magic pill to boost muscle mass, popularity, and IQ? Yes, please! To fail with the best of them (at least in your soul), be as scammy and spammy as possible. Send offer after offer for untested affiliate products. Hit them with a one-time offer…multiple times. And please oh please tell them your inventory of digital copies is about to run out. We can’t get enough of that.

8. Never Measure Results

You know what’s more fun than bowling in the daytime? Bowling in the dark! You can’t see the pins, have no idea if you’re knocking anything down, and haven’t a clue about what adjustments to make. Can you think of a better recipe for failure? Me either, which is why I suggest following the exact same recipe for your online business. Never measure how well your landing pages or subject lines or sales letters perform. Just guess and have a great time doing it.

9. Teach What You Don’t Know

This is one of my favorite pieces of failure advice. To underserve a market, to really waste their time and lead them nowhere fast, always teach what you don’t know or haven’t done. Earned $3,250 last year online and want to teach people how to make a million? Have at it. Want to show people the path to happiness but are miserable six days out of seven? Sounds like a perfect match to me.

10. Ignore the Needs of Your Audience

Have you ever received an email from an expert asking what you most wanted to learn? Eww, right? Who has the time or interest to discover the actual needs and wants of an audience? You’ll be too busy failing to bother with any of that noise. Instead, write about only what interests you. Don’t worry if that comes anywhere near the questions your audience may have. They can get their answers from those ridiculous experts who actually listen to the people they serve.

11. Use Outdated Design

Nothing screams amateur like using web design from the 80s. Dancing hamsters, blinking lights, mind-numbing tunes that play on arrival…it doesn’t get any better than that. But if you must inch closer to the present, please retain an outdated, cluttered look and feel. Confusing is great, cheesy is better. With the raw power visuals have on a brand’s image, it’s vital to slap visitors upside the head with a website that looks like it was designed by your grandpa’s uncle.

12. Ignore Outside Advice

One thing I love about people committed to failing is their refusal to listen to anyone other than themselves. It shows true courage to make such a dumb decision. Why depend on the thoughts and ideas of those who have decades of experience solving the very problems we have and achieving the very results we’re after when we can toss all that aside and struggle from scratch?

13. Offer Recycled Advice

As a would-be failure, the last thing you want to do is actually help someone. That would defeat the purpose. This is why using rehashed advice is so important–it helps no one. Use the same old facts and figures, the same old insights, and, without a doubt, the same old cliches. Vague ideas and generalized information does the trick as well. Whatever you do, never share something new or useful. There’s no faster way to get thrown out of the club.

14. Never Be Human

Personal stories? Tales from your own experiences? Putting a face and a name and a personality with the business? I don’t think so. They key is to remain anonymous in all that you say and do. Strike that. Try not to say anything. Hearing your voice will only make you more human, which you can’t afford. Make the business cold and corporate, writing emails from “The Team” and shying away from any interaction with your audience. That’s a lifeless plan I can get behind.

15. Treat Your Visitors Like Wallets

It may take some time to master, but with enough practice you can actually replace the names and faces of your audience with dollar signs and credit cards. Every time Johnny sends an email or Lucy subscribes, the names will fade and $$$$ will dance before your eyes. It’s amazing. It’s also wickedly effective in driving you toward catastrophic failure. People love to be treated as living, breathing men and women with hopes and dreams and fears and feelings. The more you can ignore all that, the better you’ll fail.

16. If It’s Broke, Keep Doing It

Nothing fills my failure-seeking heart with as much joy as an expert who continues to use a system that clearly doesn’t work. It could be a landing page that brings in a smattering of subscribers or a sales letter that does a splendid job of turning away potential customers. It could be a writing style that leaves readers rushing toward the delete button or a series of products nobody wants or even asked for. Whatever the culprit, a respectable failure goes down with the ship (preferably a ship that was already sinking when they hopped aboard).

17. Look Down on Marketing & Sales

Marketing is evil. Sales is worse. These beliefs are the sword and shield of the perpetual business failure. Never be fooled into thinking that marketing (when done right) is a powerful and honest way to educate your audience and that selling (when done right) is a pure act of exchanging value for value in which both parties come out ahead. Those are silly notions of the successful entrepreneur. To fail, and fail hard, turn your back on both.

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I know what you’re thinking: Jason, will I ever be a failure? It’s a big goal, without question. Failing with the worst of them will take an enormous lack of focus, lack of will, and lack of smarts. But if you commit to following the terrible advice above, I promise you won’t just be a failure, you’ll be a spectacular one.

I wish you the worst of luck.

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