Starting the Solopreneur Adventure? CEO-Turned-Blogger Michael Hyatt Shares 5 Tips

You probably know Michael Hyatt as the “virtual mentor,” an executive-turned-blogger who teaches entrepreneurs, speakers and bloggers how build their personal platforms. But before becoming the New York Times best-selling author we know today, he was a literary agent; he owned and sold a publishing business; and he worked his way to CEO of Thomas Nelson, the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S.

As CEO, Hyatt worked with an entrepreneurial spirit, blogging at a time when no one quite understood yet what that was. His blog eventually led him to where he is today, with more than 500,000 subscribers, a top podcast called This Is Your Life with 300,000-plus subscribers, digital courses for aspiring authors and go-getters, and an online university for entrepreneurs.

I recently got to sit and peel back the many layers of Hyatt’s success in his brand new garage studio office in historic Franklin, Tennessee, and what he had to say about life, struggle and success was refreshing.

Thinking about trying to make it as a solopreneur? Here are just a few of the many valuable lessons we can learn from Hyatt:

1. Use what you have where you are.                                                                                                                                        

This seems like a no-brainer, but in today’s culture, it can be easy to compare your own story to the overnight-success sensation, leaving you wishing you had someone else’s advantages.

One such perceived advantage for Hyatt was that he had the power of the Thomas Nelson brand behind him when he started. But with each person’s advantage can come a liability, and Hyatt felt blogging as a CEO put him at a disadvantage. “How many CEO blogs do you read? None, because people think it’s just a PR stunt and that it’s not authentic,” he says. “I felt that I had to overcome that, and it was difficult.”

His advice to those getting started? Create compelling content right now, where you are. “People use all kinds of excuses for why they don’t succeed, but you have to use whatever assets you have.”

2. Be responsive.

I asked Hyatt about the keys to his success, and in a world that often equates success with busyness and inaccessibility, I found this answer surprising.

“I’ve been super responsive, so whether I get an email or a phone call, I get right back to people,” he says. “In this world, where so many people take forever because their inboxes are overrun, you can really stand out by being responsive.”

3. Commit and follow through.

When I asked what the “virtual mentor” looks for in a mentee, his answer was commitment. He explained that the people in his coaching group use their breaks between sessions as an opportunity to get on the phone and immediately execute what was just discussed.

Commitment and follow-through also sum up what he believes to be the definition of integrity in business. “Make your actions line up with your words. Do what you said you were going to do even when it’s inconvenient, even when it’s expensive, even when you wished you hadn’t made that commitment. ” 

4. Get comfortable with fear.

When he first took on the role of CEO, Hyatt felt like the role was too big for him, and he has had many a CEO confess to him that they felt the same. But he explains that fear is natural and can be an indicator that you’re on the right path. “If you stay where you’re comfortable, you’ll never grow.”

He quotes Dan Sullivan, who says “It takes a lot of courage to become successful, but if once you get there and you spend all your time removing risk, that’s the death of the business”—or the speech or the blog…

5. Get comfortable with discipline.

I confess I’m adding this to the list without him specifically mentioning it, but if you read Hyatt’s blog, his commitment to discipline is obvious. His schedule is carefully blocked, and his hobbies include reading, photography, running and golfing. And during our interview, he confessed he doesn’t watch TV, doesn’t eat candy and his favorite snacks are—wait for it—raw almonds.

Clearly, his discipline and commitment have paid off, because traffic to blogs is dwindling, yet Hyatt’s blog traffic continues to grow. His secret? “I start with the audience and think ‘What are the frustrations of my audience and how can I address those?’ Because people will go where you give them real solutions to real problems. Whether it’s in a keynote or a book or a blog. If you serve people and add value, you’ll be successful.”

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