I am a serial entrepreneur seeking personal freedom within one year. This site is about that journey.

The Dip


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Day 16 of the 30 days of hustle with Jon Acuff, and I need to admit that I have hit ‘The Dip‘, or at least I will be hitting it soon if I don’t see some measurable results in some areas.

  • Deepak, my champion for the WordPress Support Project has been in the hospital for the last week with back issues, and so that project has slowed to a halt and might not make release by the end of this month. I really would like to be more confident that there will be customers waiting for the service when it launches, but initial marketing efforts have not produced much in the way of leads, which is a bit disheartening, but I think once we get it live and start marketing it we’ll do fine.
  • I’ve been applying for jobs daily and have had an average of 1.5 interviews per week… but have not gotten a job. I’ve been tweaking my resume(s) and learning more about how to interview. This is tough for me because the jobs that I have had in the past have mostly been start-ups that I have built with friends, so interviewing is a bit new to me.
  • I’ve been calling prospective clients and have been sending an average of 2 proposals per day for work through various sources, but nothing has landed. I am not sure what’s going on here, but will continue to tweak things.
  • As part of my 1 year goal of personal freedom, I have been actively looking for a great project to work on in February, but have not found one yet, though I do have 2 possible leads that should hopefully follow up with me by next week on that front. I know that this is a slow process, I think I need to put myself in contact with more people with great ideas.
  • I’ve not been writing 500 words daily like I had intended. I’ve been having a hard time coming up with things to write about. It is honestly more difficult than you can imagine to write about personal freedom when you don’t feel like you have any. 🙂 … I’m really stuck on this one… any suggestions?
  • I have been working out daily with p90x3, and that is going well … but honestly only because my expectations are set so low as to not feel bad about not making it through the whole thing each time. I’m actually ok with this. Perhaps this is a lesson I should take for other areas?
  • I’ve been spending 2-3 hours daily educating myself using Treehouse, Lynda, CodeAcademy, and Udemy.
  • I’ve also been going through Stanford’s Technology Entrepreneurship Course online.
  • Melissa is at the end of her grace with her job and will either quit or be fired soon. At least she is no longer crying every night when she comes home.

So… Why am I doing all this?

  • I want the ability for my family to manage our own time in a way that gives us the choice of who we want to spend it with, when, where, and how we spend it.
  • I want my wife and I to have the ability to choose not to work for a living, but to instead work because we want to.
  • I want my family to have the resources to choose to give of our time and money the way that we wish.

Why am I telling you all this stuff? I’m hoping that you’ll help hold me accountable. I realize that the things that I am doing in these 30 days are mostly a numbers game… I just need to keep doing them!

‘We become what we repeatedly do’ – Stephen Covey

Cookie Carts and Business Strategy Part 3 (Value)


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In the previous post in this series, I wrote about the mindset that you need to cultivate in order to intentionally build your business with personal freedom as your goal. In this post, I am going to talk a bit about something that relates to mindset, and that is value.

If YOU are the only value that your business offers, it will be very challenging for you to ever reach your goal of personal freedom. When evaluating the products and services that your business offers, are these things that only you can fulfill for your customers? The self employed and professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc…) are especially challenged with this problem because they are usually stuck in the situation where they are trading time for money, and their skills are usually specialized. This is, after all why they are getting paid, right? It can be difficult to get out of this cycle, but not impossible.

Where does a hamster go for Spring Break? Hamsterdam!

Where does a hamster go for Spring Break? Hamsterdam!

If the only value that your business provides is the result of trading time for money, your business will forever be spending time to make money, and you will have a very difficult time creating scale because you will always be limited by the amount of time in any given day and limited by the number of talented people you have to fill that time. This is particularly an issue for businesses who require highly skilled individuals to perform the work. The more skilled the service you are offering, the harder it is to find quality people so that you are able to scale.

One approach that you can take to solve this problem is by developing value added products and services for your clients, focusing on those things that you are able to Delegate, Document, and Automate while pricing for value instead of by the hour. Here’s an example…

My wife went to a chiropractor for an issue that she was having with her neck and shoulder. A few weeks later, I went in with her to talk with the doctor, review her x-rays and evaluate our options. While I was in the waiting room, I watched as 4 or 5 patients sat on some kind of a chair that swivels. It was pretty funny watching them, as it looked like they were sort of dancing the merengue while sitting down. There were also people there doing various stretches and using all sorts of torture devices hanging from the walls and ceiling. These people were all there for more than an hour while we waited for the doctor to see us. When we went in, after reviewing her x-rays and talking for a bit… he explained his pricing plan … several packages ranging from $1200 to $5000. Included in some of the packages was the option of doing all these funny stretches and exercises for an hour every visit. An actual ‘adjustment’ is anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes long, and he also had a masseuse who comes in for patients with certain packages. This guy had delegated the work to his patients by documenting and automating a process that they could use in order to get well on their own… and he had also added value beyond himself by offering the services of a masseuse.

Petting is so pas·sé.

Petting is so pas·sé.

He also does not charge by the hour at all, but by the session, or rather by the package. Remember what I said about adjustments being anywhere between 15 minutes to 45 minutes? This is the actual time he spends with you. Each session cost might cost $125 but if he averages 30 minutes with you and the rest of the time you’re outside his office dancing in your seat, he is dancing all the way to the bank averaging $250/hr.

This is what is known as ‘Value Pricing‘. The entire time he was there, he didn’t mention hourly rates at all, he presented everything he does based on the value it has to us. Is it worth $5000 to get my wife out of pain? You better believe it.

Hopefully this post helps you on your journey to personal freedom and gives you a good start to exploring value pricing, and learning how to value your time in your business.

What steps are you taking to increase your value? Let me know in comments or else just say hello!

Cookie Carts and Business Strategy Part 2 (Mindset)


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Is that a bad thing?
In this series, I’m writing about how to build your business in a way that it will run without you around. The first thing that I want to talk about is the mindset that you need to cultivate in order to begin to either pull yourself out of your existing business or to intentionally build and manage your business with personal freedom as the goal.

First and foremost, you need to determine that you are a business owner, not a manager. What’s the difference? Glad you asked. A business owner works ON their business, a manager works IN their business. As a business owner, you may need to occasionally wear the manager hat … but your goals are usually different. You should constantly evaluate your business from the perspective of an owner looking at it from the outside.

Another way to think about this is that a business owner develops systems and processes that are then managed by roles (people) placed within them.

Any time that a task comes across your desk, you should be asking these questions:

  1. Am I the only person who can do this?
    If you are not the only person who can do this, why are you doing it? If you are the only person doing this, spend some time thinking if that is actually true… and if it is, why? Hire champions who you can trust, learn how to delegate and get really good at it. For the bonus round, learn how to train champions to train champions.
  2. Is this something that can be documented?
    I used to spend a lot of my time supporting clients and staff on things that they really could take care of themselves if they knew how. I have since gotten into the habit of saying ‘Please make sure to document this if it isn’t already’ when-ever I delegate anything. In some businesses a simple FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page will suffice. Other businesses use larger systems like a Knowledgebase or a Wiki. No matter what you use, make sure that your clients and staff know where they can find information that they need without asking you for it.
  3. Is this something that can be automated?
    9 times out of 10 the answer is probably going to be yes. With a little time and effort I am willing to bet that most things related to the daily support of your clients in your business can be automated. If you are in a service industry, you might not be able to automate the actual service … but I am confident that there are many things that can be automated surrounding it. As a quick example… I used to keep track of all the time I spent on every task manually, and then invoice my clients manually after pulling in all of those tasks as line items into invoices within QuickBooks. I have since automated that entire process so that when I start any task, the timer starts automatically. Timesheets are sent weekly to my clients, and invoices are created and sent based on those timesheets. This works for me as well as any of my staff with zero effort. I used to spend hours every week reviewing varied timesheets and invoices sent to me by all my contractors and then placing all that information into invoices to send to my clients. I don’t do that anymore, and now I have more time to focus on working ON my business instead of IN my business.

I hope that this post was helpful and begins to clarify the direction that I want to take you on your own journey to personal freedom! Stay tuned for the next post in the series, and please let me know in comments what you are using to help you develop a personal freedom mindset!

Find out more about projects that I’m working on here, and stay tuned for the next post in the series!

This month’s 30 Day Hustle project for January 2014


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wordpress-logo

If you use WordPress, this will be of interest to you.

As part of my 30 day hustle with Jon Acuff,  this month I am working with one of my partners and good friends Deepak Oberoi on a small project to be launched before the end of this month. It is a business setup to support the needs of those who use and maintain WordPress enabled websites and blogs. In addition to custom WordPress development, We are going to be offering the following services on a monthly, weekly or daily basis:

WordPress core, theme, and plugin updates
Wordpress Backups
Wordpress Security Audits and Intrusion Protection
Wordpress Spam prevention
Wordpress Optimization (speed, database, performance, and seo)
Wordpress Uptime Monitoring (Pro-active and 24/7)

This service would be great for an individual, business or organization who has a WordPress website and wants the peace of mind of knowing that it will be optimized, updated, secure and available. Anyone familiar with recent security issues with WordPress and various hacking attacks should totally understand how important a service like this is.

If this sounds like something that you could use, and if you would be interested in receiving a discount and a free gift when we launch, complete the form below so that we can send you more information when we are ready to go! Also… feel free to share with anyone else you think might benefit.

 

 

Cookie Carts and Business Strategy Part 1 (Intro)


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I had a friend named Evan who always used to say… “What happens if the cookie cart runs over you?”

Is that a bad thing?

Is that a bad thing?

It always got me thinking about how to continually look for ways to remove myself from my business. That sounds lazy… but it’s actually a LOT of work, especially in the beginning! Consider for a minute what would happen if you were to leave your business for a day. What about a week? A month? I would guess that most small businesses would not be able to survive without imploding much beyond a month without the owner at the helm. If you are like me, being self employed… there really is no such thing as a ‘sick day’. Sure, we have all sorts of flexibility with our schedules… until someone sets something on fire.

It's going to be one of those days.

It’s going to be one of those days.

Quite honestly, it can sometimes feel as though you are always working in the triage of an emergency room. If you are in a business that charges a premium for ’emergency room’ type services, that might be great … but most of us never thought that we would be in that type of business until years later and we find that all of our time is consumed with setting bones and plugging bullet wounds. The worst is when you are the only doctor on call with no-one else to turn to for help. Most of us dreamed of getting paid top dollar for expensive surgeries in a well structured operating room, not pulling marbles out of a toddler’s nose.

I learned it from you, dad!

I learned it from you, dad!

In this series, I’m going to teach you some of the methods that I have used to keep things moving forward in my business even when I’m not around. Your mileage may vary, and even though I’m going to try and keep it fairly generic, some of it might not apply to your business.

As always… please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts! I would love to learn what you are doing!

 

Continue reading this series here!
Cookie Carts and Business Strategy Part 2 (Mindset)

 

 

 

 

 


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