A few weeks ago a client brought me two domain names and asked which one he should choose.
Both names were perfectly fine – one was a little more geared towards SEO keywords, and the other leaned towards being better for personal branding.
Which one to choose? What choice would give better results?
The answer is: It kind of doesn’t matter.
A common cognitive bias that we all experience is to overestimate the importance of a single decision. We like to believe in the power of fate and how one specific choice determines how everything else plays out.
It’s the same thinking that makes people say “Damn, I should have invested in Apple 20 years ago.” As if that one decision would have made the rest of their lives wonderful and okay and perfect.
(They usually forget that 20 years ago, they were sitting in a dentist’s waiting room reading Wired magazine and agreeing with the “Apple is Dead” cover story. But I digress.)
One choice does not determine your destiny.
When it comes to how things turn out for your ittybiz, your life, your kids, whatever, what matters most is the choices you make after you make any one particular decision.
In other words, your domain name doesn’t matter that much. 99% of your business success is going to be a result of all the decisions you make after you register it. There’s no magic in the name. There’s magic in the marketing, and the brand development, and the product offerings, and the customer service, and all the other things you do to actually build your business.
One choice can certainly affect your destiny – if you choose to start a personality brand versus a non-personal resource website, you’re embarking on one of two very different trajectories.
But one is not more likely to be successful than the other. Trader Joe’s is a supermarket with a whole lot of personality. Publix is not. They both seem to have grown pretty well despite the difference.*
One choice can affect your destiny, but it doesn’t come remotely close to determining it.
When you should believe in magic, and when you shouldn’t.
It's tempting to cling to the belief that a single “correct” choice will give us enough leverage and power to cement our chances of success. Not guarantee it necessarily, but at least give them a foundation of safety.
That’s human nature. There’s a reason the expression “Looking for Mr. Right” is an expression that everyone’s heard of. We like to believe that there is a safe decision that will make everything okay, just like magic.
That kind of magic doesn’t exist. Never has, never will.
But there is a different kind of magic. It’s a magic that happens when you get completely behind what you’re doing and hustle to make it happen. When you decide that you’re going to brave the hard parts of your business and figure it out as you go along instead of sitting around Looking for Mr. Right Marketing Decision.
The magic is in the hustle. The desire to keep going. The ability to take risks, and stay within your own values, and decide that you’re going to make this thing work.
But the operative word there is work. Not magic. The magic comes as a result of the work.
99% of your success will come from what you do next, not from what you do now.
Sometimes a client will ask me whether this business or that business is the best one to go into, or whether this product or that product is the one they should launch next.
The answer, again, is it doesn’t matter that much.
What matters is what you put into your business, or your products, or your growth strategies. And that hasn’t happened yet, because that’s all going to happen next.
Apple didn’t grow because the name was catchy. It was ridiculous at the time. It didn’t grow because Steve Jobs was magical. He got booted out of his own company decades ago. It grew because Steve and a lot of other people decided to keep hammering at it and doing the thing that needed to be done next. And next. And next. Whether things were going right, or whether they were going horribly wrong.
Your business is like that piece of workout equipment that you bought off of a commercial that one time. Was it the right choice? Should you have bought the treadmill instead?
It depends on what you choose to do with it.
Remember that next time you’re feeling stuck at a crossroads.
* Please remember that I’m a Canadian trying to use American brands, so for all I know, the CEO of Trader Joe’s has just been taken down for insider trading and the heiress to the Publix empire has been adopted by Bill Gates. They’re just examples.