The Renaissance Guide to Creating a Wildly Successful Online Business

Renaissance Guide to Online Business, picture by Rodrigo Soldon

What does fifteenth-century Italy have to do with building a successful online business?

Quite a lot.

During the fifteenth-century, a banking family in Florence, Italy, called the Medicis, decided to fund artists, scientists, and creatives to come together to share what they knew.

They wanted to cultivate ideas, creativity, and innovation by bringing together people from different disciplines. This gave way to something we today call the Renaissance, one of the most innovative eras of history.

It happened because of what Frans Johansson calls the intersection of ideas in his book, the Medici Effect.

When ideas from different disciplines come together, magic happens, because sometimes the solution to a problem already exists, but not where you’re looking.

So I began to wonder, could this be applied to online business?

I turns out that it can.

Having many different passions is not a disadvantage, it’s an advantage, because it is what makes you unique, and gives you a fresh perspective.

I don’t just talk about online business on this blog. I also blend in my personality and love for personal development, because it’s a big piece of the pie when it comes to living a free, and happy life.

What Makes a Business Remarkable?

For a long time, I didn’t know what made what I did unique, and I still don’t know it all.

But what I’ve noticed is that I gravitate toward blogs and businesses that put their personality into what they do. They share their story.

An honest, relevant, and entertaining story gets my attention.

The more I share my story, the more I’ve found people connecting with me, and sharing my content.

It’s inevitable that I will exclude some people when I share my opinions, beliefs, and thoughts, but that’s okay. They’ll find a better fit elsewhere.

If you are afraid of sharing who you really are, you’ll have a tough time standing out. People want to hear your story, and learn from your mistakes.

They want to be taken on an adventure.

What is the Destination of Your Adventure?

This isn’t about randomly blending your passions and interests together to create a unique ball of awesome.

The focus should always be on your visitor/customer. What is the destination you are taking them to?

Imagine that you’re a travel company. You sell people tickets so they can go from zero to hero in whatever you help them with.

In my case, it’s lifestyle, personal development and business. My travel company takes you from a life you hate to a life of freedom, peace, and happiness.

Another example is Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness. He blends together fitness with “nerdiness.”

He takes people from flab to fit, but he does it in his own way. Each article he writes takes his audience closer to their goals. It adds to their life, while he throws in references to Star Wars and Superman.

What is the destination you want to take people toward?

When you have that, you’ll see how many of your passions fit in.

I could be a boring online business guy, but when I blend in my other passions, I create something that no one else can create.

How to Turn Multiple Passions Into a Lifestyle Business

When I started Wake Up Cloud, I was already making a living online, so I wasn’t in a rush to make money.

My goal was to create a blog that gave me as much wiggle room as possible. If you have time and money, it’s a fun way to experiment and see how things go, but make sure you avoid the most common mistakes.

My three main interests were:

  • Health/Fitness
  • Personal Development
  • Online Business

At first, I wanted to include health and fitness, but I decided against it, because it would dilute my focus too much.

And I knew I could always add health and fitness at a later point.

When I looked at what I gravitated towards in my life, it was always toward being able to do what I want, when I want, and from where I want, while feeling a sense of peace.

I’ve always wanted freedom both internally and externally. Most people only focus on the external, but that doesn’t guarantee happiness.

So I took both online business and personal development, and I blended them into what I do now. It may seem like this was the plan from the beginning, but it wasn’t.

I learned as I went along. I experimented, tweaked, had new ideas, and took action.

But before I started Wake Up Cloud, something stopped me for a long time.

The Biggest Obstacle (And How I Overcame It)

I spent a few years thinking about starting this blog.

I saw big personal development and online business bloggers already doing what I wanted to do.

“I don’t have anything to add. How could I top these guys?” I thought to myself.

But it isn’t about topping anyone, because when you blend your personality and weirdness into your what you do in a relevant way, it becomes unique.

Another thing I’ve noticed with my clients is that they expect to succeed on the first try, so they want to get everything perfect.

It isn’t happening. Give it up. Most Plan A’s fail.

The key is to take action, experiment, and course correct.

Sometimes you have to get so sick and tired of your own excuses that you take action. This is what happened to me.

I didn’t care if someone was better than me. I started anyway, because I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone stand in my way of doing what I loved, not even myself ;).

Are You Afraid of Putting Yourself Out There?

Most of my coaching clients have a habit of hiding who they really are. They are afraid of putting themselves out there, so they write bland articles and create products no one cares about.

People want to connect with a human being; someone that has fears, worries, and anxieties just like they do.

If you refuse to do that, you’ll drown in the sea of noise that is the internet.

I began by putting myself out there gradually. At first, my articles were somewhat bland, but as I wrote more, I put more of myself in my articles, and I discovered that the fear was just that, a fear, an idea in my head with no grounding in reality.

If you’re not absolutely determined to make this work, you’ll give up at the first sign of trouble.

I can usually tell when someone emails me if they’re determined. You can see it in the words they use, how specific they are in what they want, and how willing they are to take action.

I always reply, but I never hear from most again. What happens to them? Do they go off into their old patterns because they didn’t find a quick fix?

I don’t know.

I enjoy helping people who take action, but unfortunately, they are few and far between.

This isn’t about being fearless, because fear is a natural human emotion.

It isn’t going away anytime soon.

It’s about taking action despite the fear; learning to use your fear as your ally.

Being an entrepreneur and making a living in an unconventional way still scares me, but I love it.

It’s the fastest path to personal development.

The Art of the Panic Attack

Entrepreneurship constantly pushes you to improve and learn.

You have to learn how your mind works and get through whatever obstacle comes on your path, because if you don’t, you might as well apply for a job at McDonalds, and you don’t want that.

When you start out, you’ll hit what I call the freak out zone.

When you take action for the first time, all of your fears will come to the surface trying to pull you back to your comfort zone.

This happened to me when I started Wake Up Cloud, but I was determined, because I had failed so many times before.

I refused to stop. I took one step at a time, and I did my best, because that’s all I could do.

It turned out pretty okay, since you’re reading this. Maybe it’ll work for you, too?

I see this happen over and over again with my newer online business coaching clients.

We have our initial strategy session to see what’s going on and what’s next.

After that I usually get a very long email that goes something like this:

  • “I think I’ll wait a bit and take things slow, focus on design and improve my writing.”
  • “I’m not sure about the topic, so I think I’ll read books for a year and explore.”
  • “I don’t feel absolutely great about this, maybe this isn’t the right thing for me?”
  • “I think I’d be better at something else, so I’ll keep looking.”
  • “I don’t have the time. Maybe in a few years I can do what I love.”

And I know they’re freaking out.

This is where I slap them in the face (gently, of course), and get them back on track.

I look at what’s really the problem (fear, usually), and we handle it.

When you reach this space, it means you’re making progress, and that you’re about to break through, so your mind is trying to sell you lies to keep you stuck.

Don’t believe them.

Say hi to the fears and recognize that they are there, but do not fuel them.

Keep your focus on what you can do right here and now.

Magic Pills Sold Out

A wildly successful online business doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work, determination, and action.

If you take nothing else from this article, let it be this: blending together your passions and putting your personality into what you do is absolutely essential in creating a successful online business that people love.

And besides, it’s a lot more fun to piss off some people and fully express yourself. There’s no need to hide.

You didn’t come to this world to make excuses, seek comfort, and stability.

You came here to do something that sets your heart on fire.

When are you going to start?


How about now?

Photo by Rodrigo (CC 2.0)

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  1. You always have something in your posts for us to take away from. It is appreciated

    You give me hope, 2011 is a year that has not gone the way i hoped it would. but i have learned so much for it. Every disappoint has a lesson for me and that’s what i will take a way fro it. Thank you inspiring me and making me have the courage to go for mine.

    • It almost seems like life never goes the way it should, but somehow we still grow and move forward.

      Thanks Lisa!

  2. “Sometimes you have to get so sick and tired of your own excuses that you take action. This is what happened to me.”

    This, in my experience, is the single best motivator for taking massive action … like really massive action!

  3. I’m so glad I found you. This is exactly where I am and exactly what I need.
    Thanks for the little shove off the cliff!

  4. I think your comments really hit the mark for me too and what I have experienced. The trouble is I can be in the uncomfortable place for a while–even doing my work and I have difficulty sustaining that level and the consistency is what i also think is important. I am moving away from the idea that I need to be this writing guru –so professional–to letting my hair down a bit…and putting my 30+ years of experience into the writing–that I really like doing. Thanks Henri.

    • The good news is that there’s no need to dive into the discomfort and build a home there.

      You can dip your toes once in a while and it’ll still be enough. People want to see the real you (with hair down), so go for it!

  5. Henri:
    I like that phrase “The Art of the Panic Attack.”

    I’ve pushed myself by announcing to the world that my new blog launches on Monday, January 9, 2012. There, I’ve done it again 🙂


  6. Great article. You put much of yourself into this article. The Renaissance is a great example of expanding knowledge. Fear is a great divider between those that succeed and those that don’t. Learning the art of controling our fears is essential. Thank you for beinging up the topic of fear so that I can examine it more in my own life. You do bring up the issues that will really help a person in all aspects of their lives as well as on their sites. Thanks for the things to think about. I’ve set my older websites to the side for awhile and I’m now exploring a new more personal approach to writing on my new site.

  7. I think that adding in Health and Fitness will help your blog, Henri. Somehow it feels like this would be less a “blog” and more an expression of “you” if you did that. Less dry and businesslike, more real.

    I personally come to this blog to get a general sense of Henri-energy, if that makes sense. And I think a lot of people do.

    I was self-conscious for a long time about not having a niche on my blog. Still, I could never make a niche work. I finally got over that and I think it was one of the major internal blocks to pushing my blog forward.

    I know I have a few more, but I feel confident in the progress I’ve made, at least… 🙂

    • Funnily enough, I’m not interested in writing about health right now. Maybe in the future. Who knows!

  8. I’ve had many of these experiences over the past year of my blogging. After receiving some feedback on my blog I went through a re-branding process and did some soul-searching to figure out what set me apart and what I really loved about writing and helping others. I realized that I had still been hiding behind a corporate facade (I’ve been in the corporate world for over 20 years) and trying to be too generic. Once I focused on what I really love and expressing it in a way that’s uniquely me, my passion for what I’m doing jumped. Yes, I may not appeal to everyone but that’s OK. Actually, that’s great! By writing on a regular basis I’ve gotten over my fears of putting myself out there and I love it! Henri, thank you so much for acknowledging our “flaws and pitfalls” (aka learning experiences) as a necessary part of the process. This helps many of us get past our fears and do it anyway. The world needs each person’s individual expression of their unique talents and passions.

    • Doing it anyway is the “master” key, because that voice in your head isn’t going away until you’ve got proof, and you won’t get proof until you take action despite the voice.

      It’s a weird situation 😉

  9. Hey Henri,

    Thank you for your great blog post, your approach is the same that I practice 🙂

    Here the comment I wrote today on my Facebook fan page: “What I like about the blogs from that guy is his approach to life. He understood that life needs more than knowledge of its business. Indeed, personal development in all areas of life, are very important also. He knows very well mix these ingredients, so I encourage you to read more from him, you can subscribe to his newsletter or RSS feed to do so”.

    I have also published your post on my here:

    Cheers and keep up the great job.

  10. hi Henri 🙂
    It’s over an year since we have been communicating through e-mails and I have observed that with time you have got innovative ideas including this.You seem to grow bolder THAN YOU WERE BEFORE :). You’re so awesome in expressing yourself and that too in a simple way.You’re TRULY gifted MAN.I just LOVE writing and I KNOW I can NEVER QUIT it because I HAVE DISCOVERED that “EXPRESSING MYSELF MAKES ME FEEL FREE”.
    You ALWAYS said Discover your passion and “TAKE ACTION” .I didn’t REALIZE that you that you MEANT “blending together your passions and putting your personality into what you do is absolutely essential in creating a successful online business that people love.” I have heard and read “TAKE ACTION” many times AND I NEVER REALLY UNDERSTOOD that it could MAKE such a GREAT DIFFERENCE IN ONE’S LIFE.It’s your OWN personality that FLOWS through YOUR WRITING 🙂
    Thank you soooooo much for all those replies 🙂 and you were absolutely RIGHT about THOSE FEARS.THE PATTERN IS THE SAME and I’M WILLING TO BREAK THIS PATTERN.
    Lots of love,

  11. Hi Henri, I really liked your post. As you rightly stated, there are a lot of things that needs to be learnt along the way as we grow our businesses. I see business as a journey and you need to keep your eyes open and pick the pearls along the way as you walk. I thank you Henri for the information that you shared here.

  12. thank you for the great article. i really been wanting to start to do something that i really love …articles like these gives you a sense of push and its amazing thou we may not know each other personally but through your wisdom..i feel im on the right track…it is the kind of support you’ve been longing to have…when others dont seem to care about your dreams are..again…thank you and indeed you are a blessing..God Bless you and more power…

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