171: Lean into what you avoid

In your business, there is something you are avoiding.
Something that you know you need to do...
But you just aren't doing it.

This is the key.

Because whenever you are avoiding something, that is the sign that it is the thing you actually need to focus on.

For example, I avoided looking at my bookkeeping for almost 18 months after I realized I had a problem. I hired a crummy bookkeeper, and I knew we weren't in a good situation.

But despite knowing that I was avoiding it, I just kept not looking.

Then one day, everything blows up.
The bookkeeper leaves.
It's tax season.
I bring someone new in.
They don't work out.
The books are in chaos.
And tax deadlines are looming...

This thing that I avoided became a massive problem that cost me thousands of dollars and countless hours of wasted time.

If I had simply leaned into what I was avoiding, it could have changed everything.

When you catch yourself avoiding something, pay attention.
That is often the source of massive problems.

170: Stop trying to be right

There is a difference between being right and making the best decision.

Yet most people cling to this idea of being right.
They reject the viewpoints of others out of pride and ego.

Small volumes of "trying to be right" may lead to a few bad decisions.

High volumes of "trying to be right" leads to a close-minded individual who holds their ego above what is actually the best decision.

Instead of trying to be right all the time, open your mind to the viewpoints of others.
Specifically, others who have demonstrated expertise in the area in question.

If you disagree with them, don't spend your time arguing your point.
Instead, listen and try to understand their viewpoint.

Disagreements are not a time where you need to get defensive.
Instead, they are a great time to learn the perspective of another invididual.

Stop trying to be right all the time.
It's holding you back from making the best possible decision.

169: Stop tinkering with your business

Entrepreneurs like to tinker... and often that can be disastrous for your business.

You see, as a business owner, your goal is to get your company to a point where it can run without you. Yet most entrepreneuers will struggle to actually let that happen.

It's scary for them to not be working on something.
It's boring for them to not be producing.
And it's foreign to have the business NOT be dependent on them...

So what do we do?

We tinker.

We throw ourselves back into the business and find something to mess with, some new thing to improve. Yet in reality everything was working just fine without you.

Your goal as an entrepreneur is to build a business that can run without you,
not a business you can tinker around with all day.

When you remove yourself from your business, you must find other creative outlets for your energy.

Write, create, start another business... do something.

Because otherwise you will find yourself creating more problems for your current business than you will be fixing.

168: Money back guarantees

"That's so risky. How do you offer a 30-day money back guarantee?"

This question has come at me again and again with Lead Cookie. People are baffled at the idea that we would offer a money back guarantee on a service that can cost up to $1,500 per month.

Yet we have offered it since day one, and it is one of the best things we have done.

Guarantees are powerful for 3 reasons.

  1. They force you to sell only to customers who you can actually help.

  2. They reduce the risk for good buyers and make your sales process easier which increases your sales call conversions.

  3. If you sign good customers as outlined in #1, and they sign due to reduced risk in #2, then the benefits of the money back guarantee will far outweigh the costs of offering it.

At Lead Cookie, we gave a LOT of refunds in our first 6 months. But that was our fault. We didn't know who would work well with our service and who wouldn't.

Today, we give 1-2 refunds per quarter. And it is nearly always our fault for signing a poor-fit customer.

Yet in a given quarter, I will have 10-15 people say, "Well, you guys make it a no-brainer with the money back guarantee so let's do it."

The benefits of a money back guarantee far outweigh the rewards.

167: Focus on one creative project at a time

When you are building a business, your time will be split in two ways.

Maintenance work.
Creative work. 

Maintenance is everything that you do to keep the business running- Taking sales calls, handling clients, meeting with team members, etc. 

Creative work is every time you build something new- Launching a new marketing channel, building a new service feature, building new marketing assets.

If you want to get stressed and overwhelmed, try to tackle multiple creative projects at the same time... 

It's nearly impossible while trying to balance it with all of your maintenance work. 
And even if you do it, the quality of the work suffers.

Instead, tackle one creative project every single week.
Focus just on that one project, and do it extremely well.

This will minimize your stress and maximize your output.

Over a year, you will complete 52 projects that will level up your business every single week.

Don't try to do too much. You will burn out and the quality will suffer.
Focus on one creative project at a time. 

166: Choose your own path

"What the hell am I doing here?" - That was the thought that entered my head as I sat in a meeting with some healthcare executives, wearing a suit, and covering up the tattoos on my arm.

Several years ago, after I left my first agency, I tried to start a healthcare company.

The business concept was decent. I had some initial traction, but then the whole thing failed because I quit on it. 

And the reason I quit...
I hated working in healthcare.

You see, at the time I was young and naive, and when I left my first business I was trying to figure out what to do next. 

But I was too young to know to follow my own voice, so instead I followed the voice of others.

Everyone else in Nashville was running healthcare companies, so I started one too. 

I did it not for myself.
But I did it to seek the approval of others.

And it took 9 months of me sitting in rooms wearing suits and ties to realize This is not who I am.

When faced with choices in life,
stop for a moment and listen.
Listen to the voice inside of yourself.

It's often quiet and drowned out by the crowds of voices of those around you.

But it's there.
Listen to it and choose your own path. 

165: Don't overthink it

I used to take pride in "thinking critically." For every major decision I faced, I would draw out mind maps and pros and cons lists.

For every project I embarked on, there would be countless planning documents on what I was going to do.

But eventually, I fell into a trap... I spent all my time thinking about what I was going to do and not enough time actually doing it.

This is a dangerous trap for the entrepreneur, the artist, the creator... you can spend all day thinking about what you are going to do... or you can just do it.

Today, my output is 10x what it once was.
The difference now is that I don't overthink it.

Instead of intellectualizing, I take action.
Instead of thinking, I take first steps. 
Instead of pondering, I just start.

Sure, there needs to be a healthy amount of strategic planning in the mix. But beyond the high level planning, you don't need to spend the rest of your life in thought.

Instead of thought, favor action.

Don't overthink it.
Just do the work you were meant to do. 

164: Don’t get distracted by hacks

At many points along your journey to success in business, health, or your own growth, you will encounter the promised “hack."

These hacks always promise big results.
And sometimes they may actually produce real results.

But the problem with hacks is they are short-term. 

They are not sustainable and they don’t offer real long-lasting results.

Today, I read an article all about how to “hack LinkedIn’s content algorithm."

It was a waste of time.

While those hacks may provide short-term wins, they distract you from the real focus which is creating great content worth sharing.

Don’t get distracted by hacks. 

163: Stop comparing yourself

The other day someone approached me and was in marvel at the quick growth rate of Lead Cookie.

Yet I found it ironic because at times I find myself marveling at the rapid growth of my peers around me and feel like I come up short.

This comparison is unhealthy, even if businesses look similar.

Other LinkedIn lead gen companies have reached out to me as they are starting up and want to know the secrets.

And the truth is, part of it was timing. 

When I started Lead Cookie, I could find a total of 7 other done-for-you LinkedIn services... today there are countless.

I hit the market early, rode a wave, and established us as a market leader.

If I tried the same thing today, it wouldn’t have the same results because I would be behind the curve.

Yet people try to replicate other businesses, and then compare themselves when they fall short.

When in reality, timing, market conditions, and industry trends are fluid and make it impossible to replicate.

Yes. Model after others.

But don’t get lost in comparisons to someone else who may have just nailed the timing and faced different market conditions than you.

162: You can have balance

“Get ready to work 80-hour work weeks for the next 6 months.” - Advice from an unnamed business coach whose name I shall hide to protect the guilty. :)

This mindset of work, work, work, hustle, hustle, hustle... it’s bullshit.

While I admit, a lot of "wantrapreneurs" could use a bit more hustle in their life, most entrepreneurs who start seeing any success swing too far the other direction.

80+ hour work weeks become the norm and we start wearing that as a badge of pride.

Consider an alternative.

Consider giving up short-term profits to hire more help. 
Consider growing slowly, instead of at rapid speeds.
Consider that work should serve your life, and not the other way around.

Working 80+ hours per week is a choice, not a mandate.

You can still build an epic and amazing business working the standard 40. 

Sure, you may have some intense weeks, but it doesn’t have to be your norm.

You can have balance.

161: Anxiety is not productive

As entrepreneurs, there are times when things just stack up. Item after item piles up.

Or as the saying goes, "When it rains, it pours."

During these times, it's easy to get anxious and overwhelmed. Your mind starts running like crazy and you become afraid of falling behind. 

But the truth is, anxiety is not productive.

In fact, when you let your mind get into an anxious state, you often turn problems into things bigger than they need to be.

But worst of all, anxiety wears on you. 
It fatigues you. 

And that fatigue impacts your decision-making.

If you let this anxiety run for too long, you start making bad decisions.
Those bad decisions lead to more chaos.
And that chaos leads to more anxiety.

When you find yourself feeling the anxiety, step back. 
Get your mind right.
Take a long weekend or vacation.

It seems counter to do when things are in chaos.
But it is the most productive thing you can do. 

160: Managing creatives

"I'm just blocked and getting in my own way." 

Recently, I heard this statement from one of my new writers at Content Allies. And it was quite a different management challenge for me.

At Lead Cookie, our team is built of doers. There are set tasks that need to be done, and we dive in and do them.

But at Content Allies, 90% of the work we do is content creation which is a much more creative task. 

And I've come to learn very quickly that it requires an entirely different management style.

For the doer, it is simple. You must give them clear instructions, expectations, and standards. They execute and deliver. Other than the occasional challenge, there is not much of a "qualitative" aspect to the work.

For the creative, it's different. You must coach them, encourage them, train them, and motivate them. 

Because their work is "qualitative," you must give feedback and help them improve with each iteration so that they can produce their best work.

The doer wants clear systems and deliverables.
The creative needs support, feedback, and encouragement.

Don't manage a creative like a doer. 

159: Decisions through principles

"I'm trying not to bug you but I don't know how to handle this."

One of my team members recently opened up a Slack message thread with this header. What followed were some screen shots of a conversation between two team members.

He asked how he should handle this and mediate the conflict. 

I looked at the situation for about 30 seconds and said, "Be direct. Don't sugar-coat it." 

This is one of the principles that we have which goes along with our values.
And in this situation, my team member was afraid to engage in conflict and the other two team members were being afraid to collide with each other.

3 people were sitting around building up stories in their own heads about the situation.

When my team member brought this to me, I didn't make the decision of what to do. I simply pointed him to our principles.

Because as a team grows, you can't make every decision. 

You can only give your team guidelines and principles to make decisions without you. 

158: Don't be cheap. It all evens out in the end.

"Oh my god. This is a freaking nightmare."

This is the conversation that I was having with my COO over the past few months as we worked to clean up our books. 

For two years, I had hired a cheap bookkeeper. His rates were unbeatably low, so I went with him to save cash. 

In reality, I probably saved $150 per month hiring this guy over the standard bookkeeping rates in the market. So over two years, about $3,300 in total.

For the past 12 months, I knew I needed to fire this guy. But I kept putting it off and avoiding the problem.

And then BOOM! Explosion. 

We finally ended the engagement, and when we looked at what we actually had, it was horrifying. 

3 months of books not even done... And two years of absolute chaos and laziness. 

This resulted in thousands of dollars of consulting to help us get this fixed, along with countless hours of work on behalf of my COO to go in and fix the issues by hand because only he knew the transactions. 

If my COO was charging me hourly, this would have easily cost us $5k of his time to fix. Instead, it's more than $3,300 in consulting costs and a massive opportunity cost of a distracted COO.

Don't be cheap. 
You will end up paying the price in the short-term, or the long-term.
It all evens out in the end. 

157: Become the best

Whenever you seek out to start a business or build a career, there is one thing you should ask yourself.

Am I the best in my area of focus? Am I #1?

Today you probably aren't, but I challenge you to figure out how you can become that. 

When I started Lead Cookie, I set out to create the #1 Done-for-You Linkedin Lead Generation service.

Over time, we succeeded at becoming this.

Now with Content Allies, we are focusing on creating the #1 Linkedin Content service. 

But we aren't close to being #1 yet. In fact, we're kind of amateur still...

So everyday I wake up and learn how to get better. I study the writing and work of others, and document all that I learn.

Then I teach this to my team so they can become better as well, and build processes around producing consistent deliverables.

Over time we will become the #1 Linkedin Content Service in the market. But it starts by first identifying that goal and then improving every day until you get there. 

156: Get to the root of the problem

Whenever we come across a problem in business, we immediately want to jump in and start providing solutions. 

"Problem > Solution"

And while in some cases that may work, that can often miss the mark. Because sometimes what we see as a "problem" is actually a "symptom" of a greater "root problem". 

And so if we just look at the problem in front of us, we may come up with a short-sighted answer that helps a little bit, but doesn't really solve the problem at hand.

Instead, we need to follow a different path. 

"Problem > Identify root cause > Propose solution" 

When we dig one layer deeper, we often find that the problem we are dealing with is often part of a root cause that is much bigger. A cause that may be creating many problems. 

If we just look at the surface, we only make small progress.
But when we look deeper, we can fix the real issues that will move us forward at a rapid pace. 

155: Take care of your mental health

Growing up we are taught about “mental health” like it is some sort of disease like cancer that just “happens to people”. 

Yet, the reality is that mental health is quite different.

Stress, anxiety, compulsive thinking, panic attacks, depression… these aren’t things that just “happen to people”. Instead these are things we let happen to ourselves because we don’t take care of our mental health.

Just like we must workout to take care of our body, we must workout our brains. 

Therapy, meditation, journaling. These are all simple habits that can seem trivial, but are essential to protecting your mental health. 

Because when you let a mental disorder creep in, it starts to impact you.

It impacts your decision making.
It impacts how you show up for your team.
And eventually, if you don’t get it in order, it will impact your bottom line.

Take care of your mental health. It’s essential. 

154: How you do one thing is how you do everything

The other day I was talking with an entrepreneur who has sold multiple companies for tens of millions of dollars. 

On the call, he shared one of his values with me which I loved.

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

From the gym, to business, to your marriage, and your friendships.
They all are tied together.

If you don't push yourself in the gym, then you won't push yourself in business.
If you treat your spouse poorly, you will end up treating your team poorly as well.

Everything in our life is connected and our success in business is much deeper than just the tactics of the business itself.

Our success in business is tied to who we become as a person. 

So the next time you find yourself slacking or cutting corners in any area of your life, just remember this phrase and hold it close.

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

153: Learn every day

"Do you write all of those posts that go out on social?"

I get this question often. The answer...

Every single one. People ask me how I do this, or why I do this, and so let me share a story...

When I was early in my entrepreneurial career, my learning path was ad hoc at best. I would read a full book in a weekend, and then not read for 2 months. Or just consume random podcasts when I had the time.

But I had no ritual of consistent learning.

That all changed when I came across an idea called "Discover & Declare" by Garret J. White. 

Every day, I started to study something new. 
Every day, I would write up something I learned and teach it to others.

Slowly and steadily, I began to evolve.
Not through some single book that changed everything.
But through the compound effect of everything that I learned day after day.

One time, I even remember a small sales tactic I learned that literally helped me bump up my close rate by ~30%.

Small tweaks, day after day, lead to massive changes over time.

Make it a habit to learn something new every day.
It will change your life.

152: To scale, you must advertise

"Paid ads just aren't my thing. I prefer to focus on other growth channels."

This is another one of those stories that I held in my mind for many years. I was really strong at channels such as outbound, content, and thought leadership. 

I had looked at paid ads as just another channel that you can use to grow.

But over time, my mindset around paid customers has changed. 

I've begun to realize that if your intention is to really scale up and build something sizeable, then paid ads are a must.

Why you ask?

Paid ads are the only channel where I can say, "I will put in $1,000 and get out $5,000."

And once you prove success with putting in $1,000, then you can scale that up to $10,000... Or $100,000.

While you can ramp up content, outbound or conferences and put a lot more effort behind them, virtually nothing other than paid traffic can become a lever that you just push on for growth.

This is why all massive startups invest in paid traffic.

Now, I'm not saying that paid traffic is the holy grail or that it's the only way.
I'll admit, I still haven't taken the plunge to start running paid ads because I still have so much to learn.

But I recognize that if I want to scale, then I must learn to advertise.