Are you a loser if you can’t “make it” as a domainer?

By , July 23, 2010

I wanted to circle back on Rick Schwartz’s near rant against people who can’t seem to follow his advice and “make it” in the world of domaining. In fact I’ll cite the exact same quote as I did in my earlier post about the .CO launch:

I think all these bozos are about to be schooled. Yesterday EVERY domainer had the EXACT [same?]  opportunity to speculate and win or lose. All the big mouths will have their jaws dropping soon as they watch folks manufacture money from thin air. This proves they have no talent and just whine. Losers in every sense of the word. While others are enjoying success and creating even more, they will still be saying the same crap or sitting on the sidelines spewing hate instead of jumping in and do what a true domainer does and have the balls to speculate. If they can’t make it in domains which is a gift from the heavens, they will make it in nothing.” (emphasis added)

It’s a pretty stern assertion out of Rick, which I took to mean: If you can’t make it in domains, you can’t make it anywhere. I find that a very puzzling stance to take.  [ This sentence was reworded after Rick’s comment – M]

It runs contrary to what I’ve always thought, which is “If it was truly as easy as people make it sound, then everybody would be doing it, and everybody would be rich”. Where “it” is any field being discussed. Usually by somebody trying to sell you some information product on how easy it is to succeed in a given field (indeed, Rick Schwartz has a going concern running domainer conventions, so it follows that he espouses that anybody can succeed at it).

The best anecdote I can relate about who should or could succeed in any given field I learned from Tim Paulson and Joe Polish in their “Barracuda Marketing” course I bought a few years back. One of those guys was a penniless carpet cleaner, and he had an opportunity to go golfing one day with A Rich Man. He seized the opportunity because he was dying to ask The Rich Man the following question:

“What business should I go into?”

The Rich Man asked him, “What business are you in now?”

To which he replied that he was a carpet cleaner. The Rich Man then asked him “Are there any wealthy carpet cleaners?” and was told that yes, there were.

Then The Rich Man told him the most important piece of advice:

If that’s the case then it doesn’t matter what business you’re in. If you want to be rich and you’re not, the problem is YOU, not your line of business.

After that, the recipient of this tidbit reinvented himself and his carpet cleaning business. Within a few years, he was a wealthy carpet cleaner.

I think this is the single most important piece of advice you can give to anybody who seriously wants to improve his material circumstances. Sure, there are always those stories you hear: the bricklayer who starts daytrading his way to millions, the accountant who decides to flip houses instead. But those stories are outliers. For every success story like that, there’s about a hundred others who tried it and went bust.

Realistically, people don’t go from rags-to-riches by entering some alien terrain from the outside and start slamming home runs out of the ballpark. More often they do it by working within what they know best, usually by making some critical insight on how to do it better, or by leveraging one’s own experiences and knowledge within that field.

This is known as one’s “Circle of Competence”. Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger always stress that investment success occurs within that circle. Everything I’ve discussed in this post is meant to drive that point home. If  you approach any attempt to better your lot in life or achieve financial independence from within that circle, you vastly improve your odds.

To be fair, pretty well anybody can learn domaining. But pretty well anybody can learn just about anything. Success depends on the person more than the field. Domaining isn’t for everybody and if the only reason you’re going into it is because somebody else tells you anybody can get rich at it, you’re chasing the equivalent of a “hot stock tip” (probably the singular most guaranteed method of capital evaporation known to man).

Pioneers have the luxury of being in the right place at the right time and they end up inventing the circle of competence. Frank Schilling originally went to the Caymans to start an online casino and started experimenting with domain names. Next thing he knew, he was an expert in the field, and extraordinary wealth followed soon after.

But if you’re an out-of-work janitor and there are no major tectonic shifts occurring in the economic landscape that you understand and can capitalize on as a pioneer, then you have a better shot getting rich starting a cleaning service, or a cleaning supply company than you will domaining. Maybe you will leverage the internet and a domaining strategy to build up your business, and that’s fantastic. Maybe by the time you finish that, you will know enough about domaining to enter the field in a more generalist sense. That’s called expanding your circle.

Google Analytics Alternative