222: Keep showing up

Every day, I write one of these Dailies... today I really don't want to.
I'm exhausted. I'm tired. And frankly I don't feel that I have too much to say...
But I committed to doing this, so I am showing up anyway.

I open up the text editor, and I just start writing.

Today may be no good, but it keeps the momentum going.
And that momentum will help me write something better tomorrow and the day after.

If you want to build anything great, you have to be persistent.

That means doing the work, even when you don't feel like it.

Keep showing up.

221: Be careful with your words and actions

As the owner of a business, anything you say or do leaves a massive impact on your team.

Any small idea or comment you make can send your team in the wrong direction if it's interpreted as a priority.

The mundane, non-important actions you do to occupy your time make your team feel they must do the same.

Whatever ideas and actions you put out into the world, your team will mirror those back to you.

So if you want your team to be focused,
then you must be focused with your words.
You must be focused with your actions.

When you get distracted and off track, they will follow.

To lead others you must first lead yourself.

220: Your stories are BS

For my entire life I told myself I am not a musician.
Yet in a matter of 3 months, I learned piano and produced my first electronic track.

All it took was for me to realize that my stories are self-made limitations that I put on myself.

These stories are rooted in your childhood.

When I was in middle school, I brought home a French horn and my dad got annoyed at me practicing. So I didn't practice and believed I was a bad musician.

Not practicing = Not playing well = A story I tell myself that I am not a musician

On the flip side, in high school, I had my first sales experience selling ads for my high school newspaper.

I walked into a few businesses and said, "Would you like to buy an ad? Here is a rate sheet."

They said yes because it was super cheap marketing.

Early first sales success = Confidence that I can sell = A lifelong strength as a salesperson

Those early experiences you have in your childhood define you.
The positive or negative feedback you experience the first time you try something sticks with you.

But regardless of whether your first experience was positive or negative...
It's all a story.
And you can change it.

219: Optimizing your team

For a service-based business, labor is one of your most expensive line items. Every other cost will pail in comparison to how much you spend on labor.

Yet, most companies spend too much time focused on trying to cut other costs. Saving $10 on SaaS here and there...

Instead, if you want to increase profitability, you should be focusing on maximizing your labor.

Figure out how to get more out of the team you have.
Improve your systems so they can do more in less time.
Find where there is excess and make the necessary cuts.
Educate and invest in your team so they can produce at higher levels.

This is hard for most service-based business owners to realize, but at the end of the day, your people are your biggest assets.

You need to invest in them.
But you also need to optimize them.

Your ability to maximize your teams output is the key to a profitable service based company.

218: Constrain yourself

When you are staring at a blank canvas, it's hard to even get started.
But it's harder to make something decent.

When the possibilities are endless, it's hard to know where to go.

This is true of writing, building businesses, or any sort of creative act.

To fix this, simply give yourself constraints.
Define your own rules.

For example, as I decided on what business model I wanted to pursue for Content Allies, I was very deliberate.

At first, I started with a blank canvas, and it was overwhelming...
Then, I narrowed down to an agency / productized service model.
Then, I narrowed down to content marketing as a realm of focus.
Then, I narrowed down to consultants- as a persona- to target.

Before I narrowed that down, I was paralyzed. I didn't know what to do.
But that narrowed niche gave me clarity.

The niche provided the rules of what we did and who it was for.

This made everything else easier.

Instead of a blank canvas, I now have a clearer vision and path to success.

Give yourself constraints. It will 10x your creativity.

217: Don't hire for experience

One of the biggest mistakes that I made early on in building was hiring for experience. Logically, it makes sense to hire someone with experience in your businesses area of focus.

You assume they will ramp up quicker.
You assume they will perform better.
You assume they are the best choice.

But rarely is that the case...

Instead, here is really what happens.

They fail to fit with the culture because you chose the experienced hire over the best attitude.
They have their own ways of doing things, and so they push back on your approach.
They have an attitude of superiority which creates a negative dynamic among the team.
And they tend to be more expensive...

So if hiring for experience is not the case for most hires, then what is?

Attitude & Culture fit.

If someone has the right attitude that gels with your culture, then you can lead them and train them on just about anything.

There are limitations to that as you can't just turn an admin into a designer overnight. But within reason, you can coach most intelligent people who have the right attitude into whatever role you need them for.

Hire for attitude, not for experience.

216: Consistency wins

Faster, faster, faster. That is the motto in today's world. Everyone is pushing for rapid results and overnight successes.

While you may have success with this path, you will also burn a ton of energy and create stress along the way.

There is another path.

Consistency.
Show up every day.
Do the work.
Learn something everyday.
Keep yourself challenged, but not overwhelmed.

But most of all, stay consistent.
Day after day.
Week after week.
Year after year.

If you can do that, then no one can stop you.

Consistency wins.

215: An argument for giving away your income

Recently, I had a conversation with Michael Thomas that floored me.

When Michael sold his first company, he donated 25% of the sale to a charity.
Afterwards, Michael started up a content agency where he donates 50% of profits to charity.

And Michael is not insanely rich... the sale of the company wasn't massive.

From what I read about his story online, I would estimate he sold for around $500k-ish.

So that 25% is a lot of money... but the remainder is not "never work again" money.

When I asked him how he thinks through this in his head, his response was amazing. He said:

"There is just so much research on the fact that more money doesn't make you happier. After around $75k per year, it just doesn't help.

While I could go buy nice cars, or expensive houses, I've chosen to keep my life at a modest level, and then donate the rest of the money beyond that.

I gain way more fulfillment from donating money to code school in a developing country than I do buying a Lamborghini."

--

Do you really need all of that extra money you are making? Will spending it really make you happy?

214: Make decisions quickly

Indecision... this will drain the life and energy out of you.

When an open decision loops, it eats up mental energy.
It consumes your brain... until you make a decision.

It's like like Parkinson's law... a decision will take the amount of time that you give yourself to make it.

And so when you don't make a decision, you halt progress.
You stop yourself from moving forward.
You exhaust mental energy on deciding... instead of progressing.

When a decision lands on your plate, take a short amount of time to think it through.
But keep it short.

Make a decision fast.
Even if it is the wrong decision, you will make progress forward and have more information to apply to your next decision.

213: Fix it now, not later

When I started Lead Cookie, there were some challenges I saw in the business model. The main one being the fact that our entire business model was built around LinkedIn which could change as a platform.

I knew this was a problem... but I ignored it and thought Oh, I'll figure out how to fix that later.

That was a silly mistake because 2 years later, it is still a massive problem.

If you have a flaw in your business model today, it will still be there 2 years from now.

So fix your business model early.
Find the gaps and the holes in it.
And be intentional about what you are setting out to build.

If you want your business to last for the long-term, then you need to have crystal clear intentions about what you are setting out to build.

If you know what you want, and you've fixed problems in the model before you started... then the rest is easy.

You just show up, do the work, and tackle small challenges as they arise.

Define the business you want today.
Then turn it into a reality.

212: Keep showing up

How did Seth Godin become Seth Godin?
How did Nathan Barry build such a success with ConvertKit?
How did Basecamp become such a successful company?

While you could point to millions of small factors, there is one consistent among them all.

They kept showing up.
They kept pushing forward and striving toward their goal.

At times, they may have lost sight of their goal, but eventually they found themselves back on track.

And their success didn't happen over months, or even a year or two...

It happened over years... in most cases, 5-10 years or more.

During the span of their career, thousands of copy cats sprung up, had a run, and gave up... but these icons still remain.

Stop dashing about.
Stop running from tactic to tactic.

Pick where you want to go and take a step toward that each and every day.
Stop rushing.
Aim for the long game and keep showing up.

211: Building an incredible life

Everyday, I wake up and strive to move forward.
I don't leap forward, or try to run a million miles per hour.

But I just try to go forward, in the same direction of the vision I have set out for my life.

I have a vision, and I work toward it each day.

For years, that vision used to change every month...
And every month I walked in a different direction.
So I never got very far.

But over time, as my vision for my life has become very clear, I keep moving in the same direction.

Step by step, day by day, I am moving toward the targets and the man who I want to be.

I'm not in a hurry.
And I'm not making massive changes to my vision, but instead small tweaks along the way.

Getting clear on what you want from life is key.
Then each day, take a small step toward it.

Strip away the things that don't serve you.
Double down on the things that do.

A simple path to building an incredible life.

210: Don't let others distract you

I pissed someone off recently... It was an influencer who interviewed me on their podcast. Then they started sharing my social posts.

They did this over the course of a few months as they built a relationship with me.

Then... they pitched me to be a guest on my podcast.

They did a great job with this. It wasn't a cold pitch and they had built a relationship. They had given before they asked.

And in that moment, I felt this gut reaction to say "yes" because they had put so much work leading up to this ask.

But here is the thing... It's a distraction.

That request is someone else putting their agenda on my desk.

I have a plan of action for my podcast, and I am in process of executing it. This request from this influencer does not fit into the agenda.

So I turned them down and that pissed them off because of "reciprocity."

Here is the thing.

You don't owe anyone anything.
Don't let people make you feel obliged to include them because they give first.
And don't let others distract you from your vision & plan.

Your inbox is a to-do list that anyone can add an item to.
Recognize that and don't let people distract you.

209: Your physiology leads emotions

For years, I did not connect the dots between what I ate and how I felt.

To some, this seems crazy but it is how I was raised.

Eventually, you begin to realize that your diet impacts your state of mind.

Your fitness determines your state of mind.

You happiness, sadness, anger, or depression can all be triggered by how you treat your body

Yet many of us don’t realize this.

We get angry and we blame others.
When in reality our own physiology is causing that anger or irritation.

Your physiology guides your emotions.
Your emotions guide your decisions.
Your decisions guide your life.

Be conscious of your physiology and how it impacts you.

208: Why are you irritated?

“The cause of my irritation is not in this person but in me.” - Anthony De Mello

How often do you find yourself frustrated with someone else?

Your spouse, a colleague, a client...

Always remember that they are not the cause of the irritation...

You are.

You choose to let them irritate you. You choose how you react to their actions.

Remember this and that your own emotions are within your control.

207: Build for profitability now

There is a mindset in the startup and entrepreneurship world that seems to make it ok to run an unprofitable company..

You sacrifice short-term profits in exchange for the opportunity to sell your business down the line.

While you want to think about selling your business early, putting that as the sole payday for you is a dangerous game to play.

What if the market takes a turn?
What if technology disrupts you?
What if you never get to sell your business?

Instead, you have to choose to make your business profitable now.

You must learn to analyze your finances.
You must make smart economic decisions.

And if you sell your business someday, consider that a bonus.
But in the short-term, build for profitability now.

If you build a profitable business today, it will be more attractive to a buyer.

Stop building for a future payday.
Start building for profitability today.

206: Stop overpaying yourself

"Why is it that I can never seem to get this damn credit card paid down?"

This is the question I kept asking myself with my business. Despite doing well and generating profits, it seemed like we never had the cash on-hand to pay down our credit card.

To be blunt, my knowledge of books and finances has been historically weak so this problem seriously plagued me.

Then eventually, as I really started looking at the books and modeling out our finances, it hit me...

I've been overpaying myself.

Not by a lot, but by enough that month-after-month, we would add to our credit card instead of paying it down.

I had been using the Profit First system, by Mike Michalowicz, but my percentages were just a bit too high.

As a result, I was taking a higher personal income that helped me pay down personal debts at a faster rate... all while increasing my business debts.

You need to learn your finances.
You need to master these skills.

Because there are so many things that are easy to screw up if you don't know how to manage your money.

For me, I learned to stop overpaying myself.

But the deeper I dig into financial management, the more I realize I don't know.

205: The lie of profits

"We make a 50% profit margin." - Sometimes you will hear entrepreneurs touting numbers like this.

This makes most other entrepreneurs feel like crap.

But what you have to realize is that those numbers are most likely distorted.

Are they telling you the Gross margin? (The amount of money they make after paying direct costs)

Or are they telling you the Net business margin? (The amount of money leftover after direct costs AND overhead)

Even if they are telling you their Net Margin, they could still be distorting the facts.

Are they factoring in a "salary" that they pay themselves for all of the work they do? Or do they pretend that they work for free and all of that money is profit?

This is the big lie that most business owners don't even realize they tell themselves.

About a year ago, I thought Lead Cookie had ~50% margins...

But here is the thing...

I was doing account management.
I was doing sales.
I was doing marketing.

Once I replaced myself in those roles, it became clear that we had nowhere close to a 50% margin.

Don't compare your margins to others. They most likely are inflating their numbers, even if they don't realize it.

204: Profits vs Salary

Profitability is something that most entrepreneurs fail to understand. I know because I failed to understand it for years.

For a long time, I would say things like, "We have a 50% margin."
And while in some ways that was true... it was also a lie.

It was a lie because what that margin failed to consider was that I was working as an employee within my own business.

I was closing the sale.
I was managing the client relationships.

Even though we may have only spent 50% margin servicing that customer, the truth is, we were spending more. I just didn't see it because I was paying myself for those roles.

It was hard for me to grasp this fully until I replaced myself in sales and client management.

Once I had two more people hired and in those roles, it became clear.

"Oh... we definitely don't have a 50% margin."

Instead, we had a much lower margin now that the full business cycle was being completed by someone other than myself.

The profitability of your business is different than your salary.

Ask yourself what it would cost to hire someone to replace each role you fill.
Subtract those numbers, and then you can see what your real profits are.

203: The map is not the terrain

You can spend all day planning and writing your ideas down on paper.
That is all good and nice... but at some point, you need to start the work.

Your plans on paper are just plans.
And it is not until you start trying to implement those plans that you will really see the obstacles in front of you.

And while the plan can provide a roadmap for your overall trajectory, it can't warn you of every obstacle in the road.
It can't give you the answers when a road is shut down.
It can't fix things when you realize the original route just won't work.

You can only learn that in the field.

So build your initial plan, but then get to work.
Dive in and get your hands dirty.
You will move 10x faster with a rough plan and actual movement than you will by overplanning.