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March 19, 2019

Walmart and the most important freelancing skill you can learn

Sam Walton started in the first Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas.

If you look, today, the population is about 66,000… but back then it was just 5,700. And, he did this despite the prevailing wisdom at the time that a mass retailer needed to be started in a big city, otherwise it would fail.

But, Walton actually listened to his customers.

He knew that consumers in rural areas often bought in larger quantities because they had larger families and took fewer trips to the store. The result is, of course, the largest retailer on the planet, today.

Listening to your customers/clients is important.

But, that’s often not the road-block.

Let me give you another example.

Back in the early 2000s, about 3-4 years before Groupon launched, I was just getting into web development, but still working my old job at a local pizza chain in Iowa. And, I had this idea.

I noticed how effective coupons were at getting customers in the door.

And, I’d built a coupon membership site for the company I worked at. We advertised in on the local radio and built up a membership of about 500 people. Which, for that town, was about 5% of the population.

And, once a week or so, we’d send out a new coupon.

And, it’d bring people just flooding in.

It was kinda crazy how well it worked.

Anyway, after a few times of doing this, I thought “I could do this for all the local businesses around here.” And, I started building a whole new website that I’d planned on pitching to those companies.

I never finished it.

Doubt started to creep in.

There were a few technical problems I had to figure out.

And, eventually, I just gave up on it.

Imagine my horror a few years later when Groupon blew up. I thought of that first! But, they executed on it. And, that’s the lesson, today. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Listening to your clients is great.

Coming up with new insights and ideas… awesome.

But, it’s doing it that actually matters.

And, quite often, that comes down to trusting your gut.

Imagine if Sam Walton, knowing everything he knew about rural America’s buying behavior, had decided to ignore his gut and just go with the prevailing wisdom. Would Walmart even exist, today?

We’ll never know.

Because he did and it does.

Anyway, this is the most important thing you can learn how to do as a freelancer… hone your instincts and learn to trust them. And, you do that by getting out of your head, trying new ideas and letting the chips fall where they may.

Not being afraid to fail. Not substituting other people’s thinking for your own. Sure, learn from others. But, always, trust your thinking over theirs until you’re proven wrong by your own action. Then, adjust.

Do that… and eventually, you’ll figure one thing out.

Then another.

And another.

And, before you know it, you’ll have a whole system for getting clients, delivering, repeat business, referrals, all of it. That’s what I did starting 15 years ago… and what’s lead me to where I am, today.

Having worked on projects for people like Tim Ferriss…

And, Inc. Magazine.

And, dozens of others.

In any case, if you want a jump-start and want to fast-track that learning curve by learning what I picked up over all those years and experiences, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course.

All the details on the course and how to get free access are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/freelance

Later,

John

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