A few weeks ago I shared about how my company just celebrated its 11-year anniversary. And many of you emailed me with some fantastic questions about running a business, etc.
So I’m wanted to answer a handful of them here. Let’s go….
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“What did you give up and what did you gain vs. a corporate job?” (From Brendon)
There were a lot of tradeoffs between my previous job (a marketing director for a large non-profit), versus my self-employed job. In the early days, my hours were still pretty crazy — it took me a few years to finally slow down, work reasonable hours, and to take vacation.
Financially, I was able to fully replace my previous salary beginning on day one. Back in 2011, my business made money from sponsorships, affiliates, and a paid membership access to my private podcast. Today we are entirely supported by our customers who buy our online courses and clients who hire us for coaching and consulting. (Though we do have something brand-new though that I’ll be introducing in June.)
Something else I gained by starting my own business is autonomy. There are pros and cons to this. It means I get to decide the direction my team and I are going. But it also means I have to define the vision for our company — who we are, what we do, etc. It’s an incredible privilege and after 11 years, I still love it and wouldn’t trade it!
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“Do you think present-you could have convinced just-starting-up-you to adopt the 8-week work cycle?” (From JJ)
I was nearly 6 years into running my business before we began testing the 8-week work cycle. Most folks focus on the week-long sabbatical break that comes every other month. But, that is only one element to the whole cycle.
The week-long break is there to help you stay on track during your focused work cycle, to celebrate the progress you’ve made during that time, and then to allow you you reset for the next work cycle.
So, don’t start by focusing on the break. Don’t ask this: “Can I get away with taking a week off every other month?”
Instead, ask this: If I were more focused and intentional, could I get 8 weeks worth of work done in just 6 weeks?
Think of it this way: If you could sit down with yourself on Monday morning and say, “Here is exactly what I need you to get done this week. Once you’ve done these things, then you are done for the week.”
Chances are very good that you would get your projects and tasks done well before Friday at 5pm. And here’s the wild thing: It’s actually easier to compress 8 weeks worth of work into 6 weeks than it is to compress 5 days worth of work into 4. Because the time window is so much bigger, you have a better chance at hitting your goal and you have the margin to work around bumps in the road.
As founders and leaders, we tend to go find more work for ourselves. It can be easy to feel that we are being wasteful or negligent when we aren’t doing something.
All that to say, if it were Present-Day Me trying to convince Just-Getting-Started Me in the value of the 8-week work cycle, I would focus on how much you can actually get done if you are focused. And then, instead of just adding more work on top — celebrate that progress by taking a break. This makes your work far more sustainable in the long run.
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“I am wanting to start a side business as a coach and advisor. What do you think is the best way to put myself in front of other creators?” (From Justin)
It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. There are a few ways to get started.. In no particular order, here are a few ways to begin getting traction:
- Show up consistently to an online / social space to begin establishing yourself as a trusted authority and to begin shipping your ideas. (Search YouTube for video tutorials that will teach you the basic strategies for how to grow your followers on whichever social platform you choose.)
- Get very familiar with the challenges, struggles, and pain points of your ideal clients.
- Reach out to everyone you know and ask them about their current system and approach; find out what is working for them and what is not; ask them what they are doing to solve the problems they have or where they go to get answers to their questions.
- Have a baseline product or service that you offer, that people can easily purchase and where they will know exactly what they are getting and what value / benefit you will provide.
Remember ABC: Action Brings Clarity. Get started to get started, and once there is movement you’ll get much more clarity about how to keep going.
Recommended book: The Snowball System. Mo has a fantastic framework for business development that is straightforward and works.
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“My productivity slows down when I have to sit down and write something. From a proposal to an email. What do I do?” (From Myles)
When a task seems very daunting and I just don’t want to do it, I will often just set a 5-minute timer and commit to working on the activity for the next 5 minutes. Then, when the timer is done I am free to quit that task and move on to something else. (Oftentimes, I get momentum going and end up finishing.)
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“How do you balance being generous with your work and making money?” (From Joschua)
Something I learned a few years ago was to stop trying to “balance” this. I used to feel that they were at odds with one another, but I now see how they go hand in hand.
The primary way I do both of these is with a dedicated checking account that gets money put into every month from the profits of the business. I use that account to fund non-profits, charity work, and giving to others. So, right off the bat, there is a baseline of generosity built-in to the way I handle my personal and business finances.
Secondly, I am very confident in the value and quality of the training that we offer. So I never feel conflicted in our pricing or in running a profitable business.