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Online Business 2017: The 5 Profound Shifts Online Businesses Are Making

Just 2.5 years ago…

… Murray and I were running our business from far-flung places like Bali, Thailand, Sweden. We were truly living the ultimate “Lifestyle  Entrepreneur” dream. And what’s more — I was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine in a story called, “Operating a Business Without a Permanent Address.”

So what’s the problem?

Simply put, in the past year, as our business hits the 5 year mark and crosses the multi-7-figure mark, what I’ve come to realize is that what got us here simply isn’t going to get us any further.


I realized that trying to run our business without a permanent address was actually limiting our growth.

Trying to outsource and subcontract everything was taking the heart and soul out of our business. If I didn’t even have a solid relationship with my team, how was I going to have a relationship with my tribe?

I looked around me and saw a range of businesses online…

… from hucksters pushing those “make money while you sleep” & “push-button automated passive income” promises…

… to successful location-independent friends who had hit the ceiling on their business, and realized that we could only go so far while living the la vida loca

… to the online business owners I admired who were putting down real roots, renting offices and building real organizations based on real relationships.

I could see that if I wanted to make a bigger impact and truly scale our business to the 7- and ultimately 8-figure-mark, have a huge impact, and build a real movement, then I needed to “grow up”, and get over the fascination that the Internet Marketing world has with attractive but ultimately flawed ideas like:

– The “4 Hour Work Week”
– “Lifestyle Entrepreneurship”
– “Make Money While You Sleep”
– Instant “Push-Button” Income (while sitting on the beach drinking cocktails)

So we made the decision to buck that trend and put down roots in Marina del Rey, California.  We took out a lease on a home office space, and now we have 3 employees coming in to work every single day and a team of over 20 around the world.

I’ve noticed that many of the top experts and entrepreneurs are also making the choice to leave “Neverland” and built real brands and businesses that are making a dent in the universe. That’s not to say they don’t still escape, run off to Burning Man, or take month-long vacations… the spirit of freedom is still there.

This “shift” I’m talking about simply changes what the rest of the year looks like.

In this post, I wanted to share a few of the shifts we’ve made at Live Your Message… along with the shifts I’ve noticed happening all around me as we enter 2017 and the online business world continues to mature…

Shift #1 – From Virtual Teams to Local Teams

People are realizing that you can only go so far as a fly-by-night virtual company with no phone number and no address.

While many online business continue to supplement their teams through outsourcing and subcontracting, more and more businesses are building local teams or bringing their global teams together in person more often.

Shift #2 – From Automated Sales to Sales Teams

While automated evergreen sales funnels continue to provide a powerful front-end to bring new customers in the doors, most 7-figure+ online businesses have sales teams that build a relationship with new or prospective customers and draw them into higher-ticket offers.

Shift #3 – From Information Products to Experience Products

As online publishing megasites such as Udemy, Clickbank and Coursera continue to expand, the street value of information products continues to drop — often to $200 or much less.

If you want to charge higher pricepoints for your work and avoid having your work pirated, then you need to make the leap to Experience Products, which are products that go beyond the delivery of information and provide engaging experiences that 10x sales and customer results.

One of the best ways to do that is to include some real-time delivery, interaction and engagement. (Related: My press release at

Shift #4 – From Email to Phone Calls, Text Message and Snail Mail

We just launched a new program with over 400 students and realized that some of them weren’t getting our emails… and, as will happen, some of the people getting our emails weren’t reading them…

So, instead of a “too bad for them” approach, we’ve started to incorporate phone calls, text messages and even postcards by snail mail into our customer retention efforts.

Yes, it costs more to do this, but after spending a huge amount of money to attract a paying a customer in the first place, losing them immediately to the “black hole” of email is a huge financial loss we’re not willing to accept.

Also, in a world full of companies that only rely on email, having a “no customer left behind” policy based on providing real-time support and interaction really stands out and sets you apart in a powerful way.

Shift #5 – From Global Audiences to In-Person Gatherings

While our global audience continues to expand and we have customers from dozens of countries, we’re seeing the need to bring our tribe together more often through in-person events.

In addition to the 1-2 big in-person events we do every year, plus the half dozen small events each year for our premium customers, we’re now building and gathering our local tribe together through monthly Meetups. It’s easy to feel alone as an online entrepreneur, and people need a community of like-minded peers now more than ever.


As the online business world matures and enters its second decade and many online entrepreneurs continue to zig, I believe it’s now time to zag.

I’ve personally felt the amazing power of what’s possible when you combine online with offline. The power of automating without losing humanity, or knowing when to automate and when to pick up the phone.

I’ve always said that “Before you can make money while you’re asleep, you have to be able to make money while you’re awake.” Now, I also believe that the only way to make big money and big impact is to build a real company and have a real relationship with your tribe.

So as you grow and build, which of these trends resonate with you?

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Ruth Glendinning Avatar
    Ruth Glendinning

    Great info, this is what we’re doing with Thriving Community Solutions. Through the EPM program, we’re creating an online platform for folks to meet and exchange knowledge capital to work together online to turn that into wisdom capital and then take it offline to their shared community to make it real. Thanks to the EPM program, this process is moving a lot faster!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Awesome Ruth! Sounds like the perfect time for that idea. Glad to help you bring that to life… 🙂

  2. Douglas Shoaff Avatar
    Douglas Shoaff

    I appreciate the balance you are proposing. The old, like post cards, have become new!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Exactly. As the Saudi saying goes: “My grandfather rode a Camel, my father rode a Camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a Camel.”

  3. Nick Avatar

    Great article. The freedom many seek can still be present with this new business model, because you don’t have a idiotic boss who you make rich and if run well you can achieve financial freedom allowing plenty of time to travel etc

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Spot on. Freedom does not have to be the childhood of not growing up. True freedom IMK is really the ability make choices AND commitments aligned with your goals and desires.

  4. Kim Avatar

    I REALLY love this article, and as someone who’s enrolled in EPM, I cannot wait to see what more you bring forward in the class. What I see here that particularly strikes me is something I’ve felt was a “reason for resistance” in the past with my business. Something simply didn’t feel right about the “make money from any where while you sleep” concept.

    I always felt the longing to bring people together more, have a significant local presence, and connect more with people in a “real” way…not just virtually. Yet so much online business training spoke of the importance to do things differently…focusing on line rather than in person, and quantity rather than quality. The heart has a much easier time getting into resonance with others in the same room than across a screen, and I also feel we can find a way to bring that heart to the online experience. Thank you for being such a pioneer!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      You’re welcome Kim! You can definitely do both and strike a balance that feels good to everyone while still allowing freedom. <3

  5. Catherine Lee Avatar
    Catherine Lee

    This is spot on. Just look at how the coaching industry is exploding right now. It requires people to act both online and off line to reach more clients. People are hungry to connect after years of downloading information in an empty room.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Yes they are Catherine! 🙂

  6. Randy Berg Avatar
    Randy Berg

    Totally , totally agree. It is nice to see someone break out of the mold. In many ways, as marketers and business owners we have not progressed at all with the introduction of the internet and the digital world. While our reach is almost infinitely larger, the personal touch and the trust factor is almost totally gone.
    We have become nearly faceless in our marketing and this is a positive step to they way that many of our fathers and grandfathers marketed… when they knew the clients and their neighbors knew them. The world… the elections and our news media bring that out daily. We long for the past and the personal tough…
    No one is telling us how to instill trust… This is a fantastic first step, Thank you so much.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      You’re welcome Randy! I agree it’s important to get to know your tribe well and love that I know the names and faces and stories of so many of mine… I think it’s possible to use the power of online without losing the connection of offline.

  7. Gail Farrow Avatar
    Gail Farrow

    I had thought about combining online with offline support but the marketeers were all about online. This had appeal because although I am able I am quite shy and also lose motivation myself as an ‘entrepreneur and when I get down I like to hide away hence the seduction of the other large programmes. I would like to use automation to ensure that I do keep in touch when I have those glitches but if I have more purpose then maybe the motivation will keep the whole thing flowing.

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      I’m not at all opposed to automation. We use a TON of automation in our business. I just don’t think it’s a replacement for real-time real-world connection. That’s one of the reasons why everyone’s email open rates are tanking… 🙂

  8. marieangili Avatar

    Spendid! Awesome! Finally here is THAT business and entrepreneur giving answer to the major shortcoming of all the hypeful practices of online business with REAL LIFE PROVEN methods that recognize we are wired as social creatures. I feel this human nature is ignored by all the overpriced online/home courses that leaves you to study on your own and not provide with any direct Tel. Nos or email address for support. This had been a long time issue for me. I’m a voracious learner who wants and needs her questions answer in an engaging way. For many online course author/entrepreneurs they see this as intrusion into the “Freedom of Entrepreneurial Lifestyle. “I only mentioned this because I had Tony HsieH (of Zappos) as my top model/hero to emulate in business. Tony in his obsession for customer service put his direst tel nos and email address very prominently on his company website for customers to call with any issue related to their customer experience. He gained world fame with this and had CEOs from all over beating a long line to his office for consultation. Then Marisa and this EPM come along … which is even 10X clearer, more strategic, concrete, 100% customer-centric & FUN FUN FUN. I feel Marisa you are led to this higher purpose of guiding thousands of us to our “True Promise Land …=… Our Dreams” Thanks again for this program. Cannot agree more with all the golden nuggets of wisdom you continue to shower on us in every step of the modules . I am loving this and grateful for it! 🙂 It would be great if the Mastermind Mind members are all open to building personal and business relationships with one another as one way of continuing the tribal community spirit and support … I think the FUN will continue that way. What do the others think?

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thank you Marie! It’s been an evolution to get to this point, but now I’m hyper clear about what I need to do and I’m shifting my business to do it. Even if it means lower profits and less “freedom”… the freedom I want to have is true freedom. The freedom to live my dreams and make an impact. Not the knee-jerk freedom of wanting to travel whenever I want to.

  9. Martin Messier Avatar
    Martin Messier

    Hey Marisa! Great article, and it dovetails with my own experience in the online space. Best wishes to you and Murray in your new stationed approach to online business!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Thanks Martin! 🙂

  10. Diane Avatar

    This is a refreshing perspective. It is easy to construct the Wizard of Oz sense of greatness from behind the screen of purely online enterprise. Being real and accessible offers accountability and allows one to feel the integrity (or lack there of) of a business. Putting your mission and purpose ahead of profit ensures that you are walking the walk. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Diane Avatar

    This is a refreshing perspective. It is easy to construct the Wizard of Oz sense of greatness from behind the screen of purely online enterprise. Being real and accessible offers accountability and allows one to feel the integrity (or lack there of) of a business. Putting your mission and purpose ahead of profit ensures that you are walking the walk. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      Totally. I think it’s mission critical to be in close contact with your tribe and not hide behind the screen as you.

  12. Avatar

    I found this very valuable and eye opening! Thanks!

    1. Marisa Murgatroyd Avatar
      Marisa Murgatroyd

      You’re welcome 🙂

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