Tim Ferriss has nothing on me. Well, I mean of course you have to set aside the 10s (if not 100s) of millions he’s accrued. And the empire. And the respect. Other than THAT STUFF he’s got nothing on me.
Because, right now, the majority of my income is generated by about 1 hour’s worth of work a week. The other 167 hours I’m either sleeping (56 hours), eating (14 hours), exercising/walking (12 hours) and working on ideas that are not yet making money (60+ hours).
Should I be proud of the fact that 1 hour pays for my life? It pays for the apartment, the utilities, the travel, the food, the equipment, the ex-wife, etc etc.
On one hand, yes, of course. It’s a major accomplishment.
But really, the answer is no – I should not be proud. The needle should be closer to the ashamed end of the spectrum. Because those other 60+ hours that I am spending try to find other ideas are not yet producing. That is a big problem.
I used to have annual mid-life crises. About once a year I would hit the wall. I’d be frustrated. Nothing was progressing. Money wasn’t increasing – sometimes it was decreasing. Projects weren’t escalating – sometimes they were crashing. In short – I was ‘crossing the desert’ as Key Person of Influence author Daniel Priestley would say.
But here is what I am really ashamed of: some of those past ideas and projects were good. They had potential.
But I gave up.
It’s not a good thing to admit: I am a quitter.
This one factor alone would doom me to failure and marginality.
Except that I know I’m a quitter. I would beat myself up later about it, until I realized something important:
“You Can’t Always Control What Happens, But You Can Control How You React”
I don’t know who said it first. It doesn’t matter.
My quitting things was always a ‘reaction’. Maybe I thought it was an ‘action’. But I was wrong.
I have finally (at almost 50!) reached a point where I understand about learning from my mistakes. And what a gift I gave to myself – I’ve made LOTS of mistakes, so lots to learn from!
So for now, here’s four mistakes.
Lone Wolf Syndrome
Usually it had to do with being out in the desert all alone – rarely did I have supportive (or any!) business partners. You can’t really run a business by yourself. You need either active partners or at the very least some kind of administrative support. The paperwork is depressing! And rarely is someone (i.e. me) capable of all sides of any worthwhile business.
Tip #1: Find a partner
Not enough customers
If you are a consultant you can’t progress if you don’t increase your number of customers. If you can only deal with 1 customer at a time then your a still just trading time for money. If your source of income is just a handful of customers then you’re probably just good at time management but you are still at risk. A ‘real company’ has a wide enough appeal that you can pull in lots of customers.
Tip #2: Bust your butt looking for customers
You can’t scale
Some people hate the word ‘scale’. But my experience is that you have to take scaling up into account from the first day. Pretend (yes, I know we’re adults, but we can still pretend!) that you have LOTS of customers. Pretend your 10 customers that you have right now are just 10 of 1000 (or 10,000). Can you treat 1000 people the same as you are treating your 10 just to keep them as customers? No? Then you are screwed.
Now I’m not saying to anonymize your earlier customers. Early customers are GOLD. They help you work the kinks out (unless your in the adult toys business, then they help work the kinks IN). But the day to day, minute to minute stuff that these customers are doing (i.e. USING YOUR SHIT) should pretty much run itself.
Tip #3: Make believe an empire and act accordingly
My business didn’t always just require 1 hour a week. It used to require LOTS more time than that. So over time I wrote software that automated as much as possible. I mean like 95%. The 1 hour I spend a week is writing Facebook posts (I like those to sound human) and dealing with ‘corner cases’ (or ‘edge cases’ – you want a nerdgasm? read this blog post! http://bit.ly/1Jy0OpG ). Time you spend (or money you spend, if you are outsourcing the development) on automation – or ‘systematizing’ – will come back to you many fold.
Tip #4: Computers are your friend.
Obviously I am still in the desert. I am not touring the world giving speaking tours or autographing best-selling books at a bookstore in Manhattan.
But I feel a corner has been turned. And unlike when I usually turn a corner, there is not a large truck parked there that I run straight into the back of.
The four tips that I list above are not the only ‘secrets’ to growing your business. They’re just the four secrets that today, right now, are at the front of my mind.
As always, if you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear them. If you need any help in YOUR business, I’m happy to talk it through with you. We’re all in this together.