You Only Have to Win Once


Sep 3, 2014
When you start out, the cards are stacked against you big time. In internet entrepreneurship, you're trading that stacked deck for the lowest barrier to entry ever in existence, even lower than getting a day job at Burger King. You don't even need a G.E.D. or high school diploma or pass an interview. You can get started with a $1 a month hosting package and a $9 domain registration for a year.

That sounds great, because that's all you have. Then the only currency left is how much effort you're willing to put in. And you're hungry, hungrier than anyone else alive right now. So you bust ass and bust ass and ultimately, after a year or two has passed, you realize you messed up the foundation. You did the wrong keyword research or none at all. You chose the wrong demographic. Your product has a fundamental flaw in it. You'd have been better off at Burger King.

That's a hard reality to face, and it's one nearly 99% of internet marketers confront.

But you persevere and learn from your mistakes. You finally get something decent going and start earning a little money. If you're smart you reinvest some of that. Maybe you get greedy and buy links: Penalized. Maybe you fire up a PPC campaign: Money Gone.

You learn a little bit more and start over, reiterating and getting better each time. You're finally not a fucking idiot and you do everything right. Then some dunce comes along with his crappy EMD & PBN backed site and does a full SERP takeover. Someone pays for Amazon reviews and outranks your FBA site. Someone jocks your Shopify product and out markets you. Maybe Google just refuses to favor your site. So you either keep this project and it's light amount of passive income or sell it for not-enough and move on.

You start over again.

Then you start over again.

Even now, you're beyond the professional level. You're a master of many crafts. But you aren't getting a break through. Everything is being done right, but luck isn't on your side. Meanwhile, complete dumbasses are getting big wins on their first go around. It's a rare event but it happens and demoralizes you more.

All of your buddies are making bank at their day jobs, going on vacations, spending time with each other and their significant others, having kids, living the life and you're spinning the same wheels and getting nowhere. Maybe you should quit. Because frankly, you could work for agency doing what you do and kill it. Maybe you should start an agency. Maybe you could take a day job and quickly climb the ladder, right after the boss promotes his nephew first. You'll get the next promotion next decade.

So you keep on keeping on. And suddenly it clicks. It took a decade, but all of your crazy knowledge and skills finally congealed in your mind and your brain snapped the puzzle pieces together. You get a new idea, you find a new place to market your wares, you finally understand landing page optimization, you tweak your monetization... whatever it is, it comes in a flash and you apply it in a flash.

Suddenly you're making serious money, enough to not feel like a fucking loser. You're tempted to keep as much of it as you can and call up the homies for a night out. Instead you reinvest. This time, you get a huge ROI. You keep shoveling cash into the furnace and the engine keeps chugging at full speed.

You hit a $30k a month revenue and liquidate the project for a clean $1,000,000. You dream about buying a $500,000 house, and $50,000 car. And then the taxes come, the broker fees come, the escrow fees come, the lawyer fees come. If you buy that house and car, you're left with nothing.

So you start over again.

Except this time you have funding. And once you have funding, you can afford a lot of mistakes. Except you don't make mistakes any more. So what happens is your next project is on the accelerated path. You get to the next $1,000,000 in a 1/3rd of the time it took last time. And instead of selling, you keep sucking down that $30k a month in revenue and grow to $60k.

At $60k you can liquidate for $2,000,000 and you do. Now you can buy the house, the car, and still be sitting on a million in the nest egg. You make some smart investments to secure the future, all of your big expenses are gone, and if you're not stupid you're now in the realm of "fuck you money." Welcome to retirement.

Except you don't retire. You start over again, because that's what we do. This time, though, it's fun. You only plan and hire out all the labor, you later, you sell for another $3,000,000.


That's a cute fantasy, except it's not a fantasy. There's a suspected 7.2 million households in the USA alone that have over a million dollars in the bank or in investments. That's 5.8% of the nation's population. Even if you want to be generous and subtract half of those people as coming from rich families, there's still 3.6 million nuveau riche in the US alone. You can't tell me 3.6 million people all got lucky, nor can you tell me they're all smarter than you or harder working than you.

I can tell you what they did do. They kept their heads down. They studied. They practiced. They iterated. They actively learned. They existed as their craft for so long that they internalized it. Their brains changed and became the task. And eventually, with blood, sweat, and tears, the puzzle pieces clicked. And then they continued to weather the storm.

Even after they were getting it right, it was still a grind and a struggle. Then they got the first win. And once you get the first win, you're over the hump. The money makes it easier and faster, with more margin for error/safety. Their parameters had a bit more wiggle room. The wins come easier, not only due to the starting capital but because they could now acquire assets, but most importantly because of the knowledge and experience they held. Knowledge and experience that they earned, forged in the fiery crucible of the grind.

You get that first win and some choices start to unfold before you. You can retire, or you can play ball on a bigger field. But regardless...

You only have to win once.
Apr 12, 2021
Really well-written and motivating story @Ryuzaki, I needed this.
All of your buddies are making bank at their day jobs, going on vacations, spending time with each other and their significant others, having kids, living the life and you're spinning the same wheels and getting nowhere.

And oh baby. This part was especially relatable.

This actually reminds me of a similar piece that used to exist on a website called Kratos Guide. It no longer resonates with me but really helped me when it did. I'm sure someone out there could benefit:

The Curse of Man

You wake up. The hour does not matter to you anymore, because you have nowhere to be, and nothing to do. This is the curse of man, you think to yourself, as you do every morning. Waking up. Consciousness. Death would be preferable, if only you had the courage to seek it out.

You stumble towards the kitchen and make a dull mockery of what was once known as breakfast. The less effort you put into it, the better. You make your coffee, without which you couldn’t bear to attempt the long walk between your kitchen and your computer room, and then you enter your prison.

8 hours later, you realize you’ve wasted the best part of another day. You’ve done nothing, attempted nothing, learned nothing. Deep inside of you is a man, a real man, a screaming person in chains. He hates you, and you’re afraid of him. You once wanted to be this man, but along the way, you decided his path was too difficult. You chose a different road, of safety, and comfort, and hatred towards those who do what you can’t. You followed this road as far as anyone can follow it and remain sane. And too late did you realize that it was a downhill road, covered with a slippery layer of frost, and the further you go, the steeper it gets. With every day you don’t stop, you make it harder for yourself to crawl back up the mountain. And it’s a long, hard crawl.

So you surrender yourself to the descent, letting it take you as deep as it can, and you ignore the desperate screams of the suffering spirit chained inside you, but ignore it as you will, its echo still reaches you.

“This is not the way that you’re meant to live.”

And then, one day, you stop. You stop long enough to appreciate the strength of will it takes to stop, and then you’re off again. You underestimated how hard it would be.

But even that little effort gives hope to the prisoner inside you, and hope is the only sustenance a man truly needs. You stop again and again, and relapse and fail, but every time you stop, you last a little longer, and the man inside you comes closer and closer to breaking his chains.

And then one of the chains breaks. Hope gives way to fury. You stop. But you don’t resume sliding. You begin the upwards crawl. The mountain still looms enormous, but now the man inside is breaking his chains in a demented rage and you feel his strength carrying you up. You climb, and climb, and then without expecting it, you realize the prisoner inside you has broken his last chain some time ago. You have let him take over, and you have become the man you had in you since you were born. And now you’re at the top of the mountain, fitter and stronger than you’ve ever been in your life, and you see that it’s only the first mountain in a range where each coming mountain is taller than the last. The range has no end, the peaks climbing eternal into the sky. Each one is a hard climb. Each one intimidates you. But now the man inside you is running the show, and the difficulty is a challenge you’re only too happy to take on.

You wake up. It’s 6am, and the hour matters. You wouldn’t sleep past 6 for anyone or anything. You’re out of the house by 7, fresh and clean and energized by a freezing shower and a well-made breakfast. You’re on the road, and you know where you’re going. Maybe to the field, to race against yourself, the most difficult opponent you will ever face. Maybe to the water, once again, to race against yourself. Maybe you’re on the bike, or on the rock, or on the mountain, or in the river. Maybe you’re in the air.

You know this is what you’re meant to do. This is living. This is courage. This is confidence. This is what it means to be alive.

At some point, however, you stop and ask yourself. Where is the coward? Where is the doubter? Where is that old deformed being who dragged me into the darkness and kept me in chains so long ago? Does he also exist deep inside me, a prisoner but still alive, still hopeful, still waiting for his return?

And the answer comes to you in the silence – you can’t hear him anymore. You haven’t heard him for a long time. You were sustained through the darkness by hope, and hope is a brave man’s mistress. The coward had nothing, and starved to death long ago.
Jan 13, 2017
Entirely relatable. I've recently been pushing the 1k/m mark and at the point where I'm just frustrated that I have to spend so many hours doing stupid pony shows for my corporate employer when I could be making real progress with my sites. The slowest part now is the uploading, formatting, and publishing.

Today is Sunday and I have a lot to catch up on. Visiting BoSu first was indeed a form or procrastination, although, like a well-implemented 301 your post has me off to my dungeon room to do battle with Wordpress. WH1000XM3s on, Above & Beyond blasting, strong cup of pu-er tea, no one can stop me!