Debt is one of those seemingly evil (yet often necessary) things in life that weighs us down so heavily. Consumers and businesses alike use debt everyday – and it can be a very valuable tool that allows us to purchase items that we otherwise would never be able to afford. Unfortunately, people can get carried away with it, and soon find themselves buried by it.
Today’s interview features Tal Gur – an online entrepreneur whose journey began when he was $34,000 in debt. Not only was his credit maxed out, but he could barely afford life’s basic necessities.
This is a great story because it shows how someone with the right motivation and determination could take such a dire situation and turn it into a successful outcome. By being goal-oriented and taking lots of consistent action, Tal has been able to build a debt-free life as an entrepreneur, with the ability to travel the world. In addition to sharing his story in this interview, he talks about how and why he was able to really turn his life around and find success.
If you’re in a similar situation, or just need a good kick of motivation, this is a good read for you.
Tal, I’m a big fan of your site, Below Zero to Hero. In many ways, you’ve done what I intend to do with The Daily Interview – feature many inspiring journeys to help motivate people to accomplish their goals (both personally and in their businesses). I know you’ve been around the world and have seen a lot, but tell us a bit about your background and journey. What allowed you to have the freedom to quit your 9-to-5 job and travel the world? What do you today for an income?
In my past life I used to work as an IT manager in a financial company. It paid well but I kept going further into debt because of my lavish lifestyle and excessive spending. On April 14th, 2008, I hit a financial all time rock bottom – my credit card limit had been reached and I could not pay for basic necessities. My bank statement showed a total debt of ~$34,000.
At that very moment I decided to turn my life around and create financial freedom for myself, step-by-step, from the ground up. I gave myself exactly one year and publicly announced my new financial freedom challenge on a new blog called Below Zero to Hero.
My plan was simple: I would build informative and useful websites that generated automatic advertising income. At the time I already owned one website which had a small, yet steady passive online income, so I figured I could duplicate my little success into other areas to multiply my earnings.
It worked, and in a little bit less than a year, I was financially free. This new freedom meant that I didn’t need to look for a job upon my return to Australia. In fact, I didn’t even have to go back to Australia. I could choose to go wherever and do whatever I want on any given day, which I did.
These days, you could label me as an online entrepreneur. I have multiple online income streams such as advertising, eBooks, subscription, coaching, freelancing, online courses, and recently software.
What do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far with your blog and/or business?
I believe my greatest success is connecting with so many incredible movers-and-shakers and establishing a network of inspiring individuals through my Below Zero to Hero blog and its interview series.
From my perspective, building and nurturing strong relationships is far more effective way to build/grow a business than hard-sell tactics and short-term marketing efforts. One key relationship, for example, can transform a lackluster business into an impressive story.
Essentially, all businesses (even those built online) are human enterprises – owned by people, managed by people, designed to serve people. It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers game and lose sight of the people behind those numbers.
I’m sure things haven’t always gone so smoothly. What was one of your most significant failures along the way, and what did you learn from it?
Mmm.. the most significant one.. I had many ‘failures’ throughout my journey but if I had to pick one it would be failing to delegate my work more effectively and hiring the wrong people.
However, as I’ve learned over the years, often times what we consider as ‘failures’ are simply blessings in disguise and opportunities for us to learn and grow. Nowadays I have much better processes in place in relation to delegation and hiring.
Lots of people dream of creating their own business(es) and becoming successful entrepreneurs, but for many of these people, it simply remains as a dream. What are a few strategies you’ve found that have helped you (and others) get out of your comfort zone and actually pursue these more challenging goals?
The main strategy I use is quite simple: consistent action in one direction. The emphasis is on the word ‘consistent’. As long as you are consistently taking action in some way, each and every day, it will soon become a long-term habit rather than a short-term effort.
This is an important point, because habits mean less reliance on motivation and willpower which are by their very nature, limited. After working with dozens of coaching clients over the past decade, I can confidently say that the number one reason why most entrepreneurs fail is not because of lack of information (there’s actually too much of it these days), but due to lack of consistent action. Building a successful business and earning income online takes time but if you consistently stick with it, the rewards will be lifelong.
Another important strategy is to spend some time identifying your target market (e.g “your niche”). Picking the right niche can save you a heck of a lot of time down the road. I actually wrote a short eBook about it and you can download it for free here.
You’ve managed to build an impressive audience with your blog. What do you attribute this growth to? For someone just starting out today, how would you recommend they begin building an audience?
This may sound like a cliche but useful content is crucial to online success. That’s what readers are after in the first place.
What’s more, these days, search engine optimization (SEO) efforts have become more content oriented than before. You need create high-quality content that is genuinely share-worthy in order to rank high in the search engines.
If you had to take your best advice or inspirational thought for people who want to accomplish a BIG dream, and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be? Feel free to use your favorite quote, if you don’t want to come up with something yourself.
The journey itself is the goal, so never stop. As long as you’re on a journey you can’t fail. [Click here to tweet this]
What are your favorite online resources or tools – ones that you simply couldn’t live without?
The one tool I use everyday is a simple online habits/goals tracker called Goals Software. I created it for myself during my financial freedom journey and nowadays it’s openly available for anyone to use.
Basically, it allows me to track all my goals, habits, and tasks in one place and have a visible feedback of my progress. The cool part is that it provides me with a daily score so I can measure my consistency and productivity over time.
There is nothing like seeing progress in changing numbers! It creates a motivating feedback loop which in turn creates momentum – a critical component for success.
Finally, where can people find you online (blog / social media)?
Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Tal!
What are your thoughts on this interview with Tal? Do you have a story about emerging from debt becoming successful? Leave a comment below!
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