As an entrepreneur, diving head-first into any industry or sector to simply "follow the pack" and continue the cycle is often the first step to failed expectations. There's no way to stand out if you're toeing the general, regular, and overstepped footprints, especially when the field is over-saturated with strong competitors.
For American entrepreneur, online business grower, and rapid skills acquisition expert, Hanson Cheng, waltzing into the online business industry to pick up the usual pace with paid ads, webinars, and overstretched strategies was never a part of his original plans. His vision was to differentiate himself from everyone else and he eventually recognised his passion for creating efficient systems to help other entrepreneurs scale their businesses. Cheng specialises in breaking down businesses into smaller and manageable processes, then automating these processes with software to become more efficient, essentially setting each business up to grow faster with fewer bottlenecks. They own and run multiple successful businesses in the seven-figure league while maintaining a hub for discussion and insights called Freedom to Ascend.
Cheng discovered his entrepreneurial inclinations as a kid growing up in Virginia. Unaware of what he was delving into, he became a resourceful bartering arbitrager as an eighth-grader, at the age of 13.
"My first 'bartering business' was tutoring kids in my neighbourhood in algebra when I was in the 8th grade (about 13-14 years old)," he said. "I charged $20 an hour, but I asked the parents of these kids to pay me in cartons of cigarettes (which was around $20 a carton at the time). I'd then sell packs of cigarettes to kids at my school for $5 each, which could net me a total of $50 ($5 x 10 packs of cigarettes). This was how I learned that you could actually trade UP and increase the value of goods or services by finding the right market of people to sell to."
Ever since then, Cheng has been hooked on building profitable systems and processes for scaling businesses at greater potentials.
Losing to win
Cheng has spent more than a decade working on creating a personal blueprint to distinguish his value. He found his true calling in automating the business scaling process into systems that make the transition from zero sales to exponential ROIs as seamless as possible for business owners.
"I found my niche is helping these entrepreneurs scale their businesses and taking an equal share in the upside," he said. "Most entrepreneurs in this industry are great on camera, can hustle, but aren't efficient or skilled at building processes or systems. They don't know how to hire people, and when they do, they hire a few VA's to do all the work which never works the way they want."
Like every other innovative proprietor, Cheng has endured his fair share of struggles and disappointing failures. However, he's grateful for the experience and describes it as "his greatest blessing ever". In the earlier years of his entrepreneurial journey, he admits to being carried away by the inflow of cash and returns, building himself up as an excellent salesperson rather than a great entrepreneur.
In 2014, Cheng invested in a bad startup idea that eventually drained all his finances. He realised that he had no real concept of how to properly run a business. The technicalities turned out to be a lot more complex than converting page visits to successful sales.
"I came to the realisation I could focus on making learning my superpower," he said. "I learned as many skills as I could, based on how interested I was in them. Then, I used my knowledge of bartering to exchange these skills for other people's skills or services to test new business ideas. This was how I improved my ability to validate, start and scale successful companies."
The atomic habits that drive real growth
Many branding specialists are often entirely concerned with growing followers on social media pages and increasing visibility, eventually missing the whole point of boosting a business to steady levels of progress.
"They don't realise that they need to shift from being a creator to a business owner," Cheng explained. "If you want to get to $1million in revenue, you can't do the same things you did to get from 0-$100k."
To effectively carry out his business scaling processes, Cheng spends a great deal of his time acquiring necessary skills by bartering with other professionals. For every skill he has ever had to acquire to fortify his business arsenal, Cheng has offered another service or skill in return. While the common option is to simply hire people to perform these tasks, an option Cheng actually uses, versatility remains the greatest weapon for any digital entrepreneur.
"You tend to build stronger and more solid connections with the people you barter with," he said. "These connections would definitely come in handy at several stages of your journey. I use bartering and arbitraging in every way I can. It's a much more fruitful way because you are developing relationships while learning new skills."
Cheng is also an expert in rapid skills acquisition. Most people are terrified of attempting to learn new skills because they are convinced it takes forever to truly master anything. Cheng was able to learn website SEO within a few weeks of bartering a service with an expert in the field. He taught himself to write creative content in 45 days by reverse-engineering content from Quora's top writers. His experiment was to boost his content views to seven figures in 45 days, and at the end of his target period, he'd hit one million views. Cheng learned a unique website growth model from another expert, Adam Enfroy, and within three weeks of working with Adam, he was able to grow his website's Domain Rating from 0-60 in four months, a process that normally takes years on the average scale.
Looking back, Cheng believes that a lot of his self-realisation followed after that massively disappointing failure. "Entrepreneurs would inevitably face struggles throughout their journey. Failures are part of the process, but what is not acceptable is quitting entirely and giving up on yourself. My story is the perfect example of the slingshot analogy where you can take a HUGE loss to catapult you forward with a ton of momentum if you learn from that loss."