Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marisa Murgatroyd, Founder of Live Your Message, located in Austin, TX, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

At Live Your Message, we get people so excited about changing their lives that they stop dreaming and start doing. We do that through what we call choose-your-own-adventure business training, which helps our students build a successful and fulfilling business by finding their personal path of least resistance and greatest reward. We work with both emerging entrepreneurs and global thought leaders who are developing online businesses focused on their mission, vision, passion, and expertise.

We support our students through the entire entrepreneur life cycle — from just having the inspiration to become an entrepreneur, to developing their products, programs, and services, to getting their first customers, to leveraging their time, scaling their marketing, and becoming global thought leaders with their own million-dollar businesses.

Tell us about yourself

I started my career as an artist who was told by my father that I had no marketable skills… I figured out how to build a multi-million dollar business anyway and have shown over 10,000 students how to succeed online — many of whom also felt like they had "no marketable skills."

I still remember the day it all began... I was hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains on a hot summer day when my husband Murray turned to me and popped the question. Not the one you're thinking...He asked me: "Why don't you create an online program?"

I was drowning in my service-based business, and he wanted to spend more time with me, so he thought if I created a program, I could get out of working with people 1:1, leverage my time, and make more money…

The first words out of my mouth were: "But who would want to learn from me?" Followed quickly by: "What could I even offer?" The irony is that we were hiking to the Hollywood sign -- that symbol of fame and fortune. And even though I was within spitting distance of that iconic sign, inside, I felt FAR from successful. So I resisted, and I resisted, and I resisted -- for over a year... before I finally created my first online course. And it sold ZERO. Zip. Zilch.

I just didn't get it. It was such good stuff. Why weren't people buying? So I did what any self-respecting entrepreneur would do. I created another program. This one did better… I sold a handful -- not a lot but some. But I had a different problem...

But I had a different problem that almost no one talks about:

Very few of the people who did buy made it to the very end… so my business wasn't really growing, and I found myself getting more and more frustrated… I had a great product -- some people were buying it, but they weren't really consuming it.

Out of desperation -- I went up to a colleague and asked, "Are you finding people buying your program and not finishing it?" And she looked at me and said something that changed my life forever; she said: "Marisa, maybe some people just aren't meant to succeed…." That felt like a punch in the gut because I believe that every person is meant to succeed. That every person given the right education, the right advice, and the right support is meant to succeed. So I set out on a mission to discover why this was so common and what I could do about it…

I was shocked to discover that, on average, traditional online courses have a massive 97% failure rate. That means that, on average, 97 out of every 100 people who buy a traditional online course or information-based product will give up before they complete it. Only 3 out of every 100 people who buy A TRADITIONAL online course are ACTUALLY able to persevere for long enough to get through it and get the results they were promised. When that happens, it's catastrophic for both your business and your confidence.

Most people create online courses to make a difference, so when you're struggling to make sales or making sales only to realize you're leaving your students behind, it's enough to make you want to give up. So the thing you need to understand is that none of us are ONLY competing against other businesses like us anymore. You're not just competing against the other people who are reading this article... Our competition has quickly grown to include Silicon Valley's tech companies who are so good at getting our attention and keeping people engaged, hooked, and, for better or worse, addicted.

Whether it's posting on Insta or conquering the next level of Candy Crush -- the mobile app and game industry have clearly figured out something the rest of us HAVE NOT about how to get people excited, engaged, and investing HUGE amounts of time and money. And until you start fighting fire with fire, and UNTIL you start to understand AND USE these techniques in your courses, you stand LESS AND LESS of a chance of competing on today's internet, because your clients are just going to find something that's easier and more engaging somewhere else.

That's why I've spent the last six years analyzing great apps and games to figure out EXACTLY what they were doing behind the scenes that worked so well to "hook" us in, hold our attention, and motivate us to invest so much of our precious time; and experimenting with how to apply this to online courses — with extraordinary results. My students see 10-30x more student engagement and success in their courses when they apply The Experience Formula methodology I developed through this research, which means they can finally make the difference they intended.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I've taught over 5000 people how to design and launch what I call "Experience Products," which have, in turn, changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of students (while bringing in millions of dollars in sales). As I like to say, I get people addicted to transformation!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

As a business mentor, I often see my students, customers, and clients make the fatal mistake of thinking that they are their business… and their business is them. When you make this mistake…. every failure can feel like a blow to your self-worth. When failure is not an option… every decision can start to feel so much bigger than it actually is. When every mistake becomes a strike against your honor, your integrity, or a reflection of your value as a human being… every action and decision starts to feel like a big deal. And that can quickly make your business feel scary and even paralyzing.

When I first got started, I used to agonize for hours and even days over emails and blog posts and for months over products. I wanted everything to be… perfect. I desperately wanted to help and be of service...

And all those good intentions made me take my business WAY too seriously. When we'd receive negative feedback or criticism, I'd get defensive and take it personally… but, but, but, they don't understand! And when we received praise? I felt like I was on top of the world… So it felt like I was a yo-yo being pulled back and forth… without feeling like I was in control of my emotions or destiny.

After a couple of years in business, I learned how to let go by repeating a simple mantra: My Business Is Not Me. It Is Simply An Expression of Who I Am. This has made it possible to work on my business with perspective and objectivity. It's helped me realize that there are very specific things that the business needs that are different from my own needs. For example, money isn't even in my top 5 motivations. It's not a core value for me at all. But money is absolutely essential to make a business go round. So in order for the business to be successful, it needs money to function, just like I need oxygen to breathe. Because I now understand that while my business is an expression of who I am, it’s not who I am…

• I'm able to separate my needs from my business' needs
• I can give my business the SPACE it needs to really thrive
• I'm able to take a step out of my business and work on my business with perspective and objectivity… and,
• I'm able to let go, delegate and hire a team to support me without feeling like I'm handing over my baby
• And everything has become a whole lot simpler and easier, even while my business has gotten busier and more complex.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Small is the new big.
    As major corporations move 57% of their ad budgets online, it's shifting supply and demand, and the "little guy" can no longer compete. Ad costs are skyrocketing, and more and more small businesses are being pushed off Facebook and onto smaller platforms and into smaller markets. The easiest way to compete (or at least get started) today is through micro-niching and micro-targeting -- or finding smaller and smaller segments of the market to serve. Gone are the days of trying to "reach the masses." Small truly is the new big.
  2. The Micro-verse is just as important as the Meta-verse.
    With all the talk of Facebook changing its name to Meta and the rising Metaverse that will consume all of our lives, I'm also seeing a return to the small and local -- or what I'm calling the Microverse. Regardless of how immersive the Metaverse is, humans just aren't designed to spend all their time online. While COVID-19 caused the biggest migration online in the history of the world, it's also causing an equal and opposite effect -- the desire for real, in-person connection.
  3. Get obsessed with giving your customers what they want (rather than focusing on what you want).
    So many people get obsessed with what they do and not obsessed enough with who they serve. I like to say that "customer success is the new marketing." When your customers win, you win too.

      Zig Ziglar famously said, "You can have everything you want in life if you'll just        help enough other people get what they want." I believe that 100%.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

The fastest way to gain momentum is by taking action. Even if it's just one small step at a time. Most people stay in what I call The Stuck Cycle, where they have an idea, then they proceed to overanalyze that idea, which leads to confusion and ultimately procrastination, so they stay stuck on the same idea — until they break that Cycle.

A surefire indicator that you're in The Stuck Cycle is if you find yourself saying, "I'm stuck." Or "I'm struggling." Because the truth is that you're not stuck, and you're not struggling. You're simply feeling stuck at the moment. You're having a moment of struggle. And you can shift that in an instant by taking action because the action takes you out of The Stuck Cycle and into The Iterate Your Way to Awesome Cycle, where instead of overanalyzing that idea, you take action on that idea. This leads to clarity, which leads to momentum, and a better and better idea that you take even more action on to gain even more clarity and momentum, and so on.

Clarity doesn't happen in your head; it happens in the world of action.
When you take fast action, you'll quickly discover what works and what doesn't. This means you may "fail" just as often — if not more often — than you "succeed" But, as they say, the road to success is lined with failure because every "failure" gives you valuable insight. As Thomas Edison famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." All it took was finding one way that did work, and Edison changed the world forever with the electric lightbulb and the other 1,092 patents he filed over the course of his career.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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