We made it. This is this the 3rd and final installment in this 3 part series, where I share with you some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about business over the last 8 years.
Let’s dive right in…
7.) Become A Ruthless Manager Of Your Time
Time truly is the most precious asset you will ever have.
The more money you make, the more you will realize this.
In the early days, you need to be 100% focussed on activities that will bring in cash right now. You need those funds to grow.
However once your business is established and churning out a profit every month, you’ll reach a stage where all your personal basic needs and wants are satisfied.
At this point, you need to start picking and choosing with a lot more discernment which specific revenue producing activities you’re going to give your attention to. You should look for the ones which will produce the quantum leaps in your revenue levels.
This could be launching a new product line.
It could be choosing to go after a new segment of your market you had previously not looked at.
It could be coming up with a clear and concise unique selling proposition that your business can become famous for (think Fedex: “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”).
These are the kind of activities which can pay $1,000 / hour, to $10,000 / hour. In some cases, a lot more.
But it’s incredibly easy to let the $50 / hour activities you get pulled into during the day rob you of those higher leverage activities.
So you must start to think in terms of opportunity costs.
You should think along these lines:
“If I give 1 hour of my attention to this task, what’s that going to cost me in relation to the amount of money I could make if I were focused on a high leverage sales or marketing task?”
You need to realize that each time you say ‘yes’ to doing one task, you’re saying ‘no’ to these other high leverage tasks.
And it’s really important you get good at saying ‘NO’ to most things.
I try to work on things which will offer a continual pay-off, rather than a one time pay-off.
For example – about 5 months back, I decided it was time to create an automated sales webinar to sell my Silver Masterclass product (which retails at $2,497).
The first thing I did was send out an email to a segment of my list, promoting a live webinar I was going to do in a few days. This created the deadline and public accountability I would need.
Then, I started working on the presentation slides. I had some help from a team member who is good at Keynote and design. My input was about 2 hours of moving slides around to adjust the structure, tweaking some of the copy, and mentally rehearsing what I’d say.
Then I did the live webinar, which went for about 90 minutes. I made a few sales, but that wasn’t the purpose of doing all this work. What I wanted was the recording, which could be turned into an automated webinar and played to a live audience every night.
After spending about 30 minutes editing that recording, my work was done.
All up a total of perhaps 6 hours of my time.
My tech team set up the automated sales webinar using webinarJam, and then we added it into the sales process for our main sales funnel.
Here’s the stats so far (again, it’s been about 5 months):
Live Attendees: 3,022
Total Sales (Including From Replay): 111 x $2,497 = $277,167
In other words, each of those 6 hours spent on this task, have produced about $46,000 in revenue each.
But it gets even better.
These Silver Masterclass sales then trigger another back-end sales process, where we offer my Titanium, Platinum, and Diamond Mastermind programs.
I’d estimate that at least another $500,000 in those programs were sold additionally.
Those 6 hours spent have had a remarkable pay off so far. And the value of those hours will continue to increase as the automated sales webinar continues to play every night, for years to come.
The question to ask yourself before committing time to a project is, “will I continue to receive benefits from this particular use of my time?”
If it’s a one-time-only pay off, then you need to minimize your time on that task. Or figure out how to turn that one-time-only pay-off task into an ongoing-benefits task.
For example most internet marketers will write a live broadcast email to their list, send it out, make some sales, and then never benefit from that email again. What a waste of precious time.
What I’ll do is take that same email which I’ve spent 2 hours writing, and then put it on my blog where it will stay forever to help build my brand, create good will with my audience, and bring me more sales.
It’s such a simple thing to do, yet so many people would overlook this.
Another example; if I speak on someones’ stage at a live event, I’ll insist on getting the recording for use in my marketing. Without that recording, it’s likely a waste of my time.
Learning to think of your time as the most valuable asset you have is not a natural thing. Especially when you’re not making much money (ever seen a homeless beggar on the side of the road operate with a sense of urgency?).
For most people, literally hours are wasted on Facebook, watching TV, sitting stuck in traffic and listening to music, checking and reacting to emails, sending text messages, and so on each day.
I’m guilty of wasting time on these things too – but I usually catch myself pretty quickly because I know it’s costing me a small fortune.
You must put a dollar value on your time, and it should be a combination of what your time is currently worth based on what you make, and what you want your time to be worth in the near future.
Right now I look at an hour of my time as being worth at least $7,000. If someone wants to meet with me and it’s going to take up 60 minutes of my time, then the meeting better have the potential to be worth a lot more than $7,000 to me, minimum. If it’s not, then I’m not interested.
A few more tips:
- You Control Your Own Schedule. Others Don’t.
As soon as you can, get an assistant. They are your first line of defense, and should act as a barrier for people to get to you and take up your time.
If you’re an overly polite person (like I often can be), then they also get to be the one who says ‘no.’ Polite people often don’t want to say ‘no,’ because they don’t want to offend anyone. So let someone else do that if you need.
When people do get a meeting with you which they requested, they need to come with an agenda.
You should know ahead of time what the main points are you’ll be discussing, and what the goal of the meeting is.
Are you trying to make a decision? Are you giving a final approval? Do they need to be shown how to do something?
If you don’t know the point of the meeting, then it will most likely drag on with no structure, and there will be very little implementation as a result.
- Work In Concentrated Blocks Of Time.
As I write this, I have my iPhone next to me with the countdown timer turned on and wifi turned off (also turned off on my laptop). I’ve given myself 2 hours to write this blog post.
As I’m writing, every 5 minutes or so my mind starts to wander. “I wonder if I have any messages on Snapchat…”
I’m tempted to check my phone. But then I see my countdown timer, and remind myself, “just 33 minutes to go. Focus.”
5 minutes later I have an idea – “I should go outside and get a coffee.” Then I realize I still haven’t finished the one on my desk, and it’s just my brain’s way of dealing with not wanting to stay focused on a high intensity task, like creative writing.
If you work in these 1 or 2 hour blocks of time, focused on ONLY one high leverage activity, with lots of little breaks in between, you’ll accomplish 3x or more in your day.
Most people instead ‘work’ in one long block of time with vague start and stop times. If they’re honest with themselves at the end of the day, they’ll see that very little truly significant work got done.
- Take A Serious Look At Your Work Environment, And Make Sure It’s Truly Conducive For Getting High Leverage Work Done With Minimal Distractions.
Most people around you are not going to appreciate time in the same way that a high-performance entrepreneur will.
This includes friends and family – so if you’re working from home, this can be a huge challenge.
In the early days of building my company I worked from home. It didn’t go so well.
I would be on the phone making a sales call to a lead, and have someone else get home, pick up the other phone in the kitchen, and interrupt my call at precisely the wrong moment.
Or, they might decide it was time to watch the news on TV in the next room, and turn the volume up really loud. Not only was there the volume distraction, but the temptation to go and watch.
So in 2010 I made the decision to rent a real office outside of home. Best decision I ever made.
For the first time ever I had absolutely zero interruptions. And when I arrived at the office each morning I arrived in ‘production’ mode. I was there to produce results, and for no other reason.
It’s hard to get in this state of mind when you’re working at home on the couch with the TV on, with Oprah re-runs playing in the back ground. Or when the dog is looking at you through the window, wanting you to come play catch.
My advice is to get out of your home as soon as possible and rent a small office nearby. It will do wonders for your productivity.
Down the line you will want to start hiring some staff to help you in the office.
I suggest you keep a separate office for yourself, and forget about having an ‘open door’ policy.
Otherwise you’ll be interrupted with ‘got-a-minute?’ requests all day long.
These days I actually have my office on a separate floor to the rest of my staff. This was done more by accident and not design. But it’s worked out well.
It’s extremely rare that anyone even knocks on my door without there being some pre-planned appointment, and it also ensures I don’t interrupt my staff all the time unless it’s something that’s truly important.
- Decide The Night Before What You’re Going To Get Accomplished The Next Day.
I don’t do this all the time, although I wish I did. When I do plan out my day the night before and force myself to stick to the schedule, I get a lot more done.
Here’s an example of my schedule today (I did not include times today because I wanted there to be more flexibility):
- 2 hours of writing this blog post
- 3 hours on reviewing the metrics of one of my main sales divisions, learning to use the CRM again, and (I’ll be taking over managing this division this week)
- 1 hour on reviewing the numbers on a real estate investment and putting together a letter of offer
- 1 hour on writing email copy for affiliates to use to promote a new front end offer, and sending an email to them about the contest we’re doing for it
- 1 hour reviewing our main marketing metrics for these past few weeks with our Direct Mail and CPA traffic
- 30 minutes on choosing tiles, paint colors, and other design features for our new resort in Costa Rica, then emailing those decisions to my manager on site
Total time: 8.5 hours.
8.5 hours of work might not sound like a big day.
But it is a big day when you factor in the hours of ‘in-between’ work which inevitably come up, like answering emails / Skype messages from staff, and responding to other surprises (Edit: I’ve already had one unplanned task come up. This morning I was meant to Skype in for 30 minutes to a live audience for an event we’re doing in Singapore. I ended up talking for 90 minutes, so now that’s an extra 1 hour of time gone from my day which I must make up for).
By deciding the night before what you plan to accomplish tomorrow, you wake up with a plan.
From the moment you sit down at your desk in the morning, you have purpose.
If you leave planning your day till the morning at your desk, it’s often too late. By that stage the Skype messages, emails, and other interruptions are already streaming in and can easily derail your plans.
8.) Foster A Healthy Degree Of Paranoia Towards Your Competitors, And Use This As Motivation To Never ‘Get Comfortable’ With Your Current Position
By nature I’m a fairly humble guy. Any ‘boastful’ marketing I do, is done more out of necessity to create effective positioning in the market place, rather than because I enjoy it.
I’ve always been aware of my many limits, and avoided thinking too highly of myself or my abilities. I know I’m just a regular guy who has worked very hard, and has done a few critical things right.
Being humble and aware of my limits has given me a tremendous advantage over the years.
I understand success does not last forever, and I’m conscious of the fact that everything can be taken away from me if I stop doing a few essential activities each day.
A lot of entrepreneurs are not like this.
Many experience success, and let it very quickly go to their head.
They become overconfident, think that what they’ve achieved is going to last forever, and as a result they stop innovating.
One thing’s for sure: where there’s money being made in business, there’s going to be competition.
And where there’s big money being made in business, there’s going to be a lot of competition.
Mark Cuban loves to talk about business as the ultimate competition, above any sport:
“I’ve said this to our players over the years, a game is forty-eight minutes. You practice, even if it’s five times a week, three hours a day, maybe you work on your game another hour or two a day, and you’re all in if you do that,” Cuban says. He continues, “In business, it’s 24 by 7 by 365 by forever, and you’re competing with everybody. Business is the ultimate sport, there’s nothing close.”
It’s important you develop a healthy paranoia and know there’s always someone else out there who wants to take everything away from you.
They want your customers. They want all your staff. And they probably want to see you go down in the process.
Speaking of competitors, never underestimate how low some of them will go.
I learned this lesson recently.
I had a competitor (who was at one time a former employee) copy my entire business model.
When I say copy, I mean literally copy.
For example, in a part of my sales process where I’m telling a personal story, I mention my birthday is in January.
In the exact same place in his sales process, he too mentions his birthday is in January.
Only his birthday is not in January.
There’s hours and hours of material which is a near replica of what I created in 2014.
I’m now in the middle of a multiple 6 figure copyright lawsuit against this competitor which has been going on for close to 1 year. The lawsuit I filed is over 1,000 pages long and documents every single copyright infringement. I intend to take them all the way through to trial, even if it costs me over a million dollars.
If that doesn’t work, I’ll consider other options like just going public with the whole thing and showing the world what a sham they are.
In hindsight, I made the mistake of underestimating how low a competitor would go. I didn’t think anyone would be crazy (or stupid) enough to copy literally word for word, image for image, slide for slide the entire main sales process I created. Surely they knew that would result in legal action?
With just a couple days of work they could have at least changed the source material enough for there to be a substantial difference.
I share all this with you because if you build a big enough company, you will face this kind of competition in some shape or form.
When it happens, you must defend yourself but ultimately your best defense is to just relentlessly push on forwards.
Outwork them. Outsmart them. Out-innovate them.
But never get comfortable with the position you’re in. You’ve got to keep that hunger you had as a start-up entrepreneur, when you were grinding away, putting in the hours and knocking on doors.
For some entrepreneurs who reach a comfortable income level, their focus goes from building and creating, to preservation.
Big mistake. These are the ones who soon lose it all.
“Business is just a series of challenges. You get paid to solve those challenges.”
One of my mentors loves to tell me this.
Most people will go right out of their way to avoid challenges all together. As entrepreneurs, we voluntarily choose a life where we are guaranteed to face challenges every single day.
Some are small. Others are catastrophic, and responding with one wrong move can bring your whole company crashing down.
In a given week a real entrepreneur will face and handle bigger challenges than the average person is confronted with in an entire year.
Those challenges never stop either – in fact, the more successful your company becomes, the bigger they get.
Rather than wishing they’d stop, you’ve got to learn to expect them, and always be ready to solve them.
You’ve got to learn to roll with the punches.
Here’s just a few challenges I’ve had to solve over the past few years to give you an idea:
September 2013: I was about to put on my first Titanium Mastermind at the Sheraton resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It had over 200 rooms, and in the contract I’d signed, I’d booked out almost every single one of them (and agreed to pay over $300,000 in the process!).
About 6 weeks to go before the big event, I realized I had a serious problem.
Even though we’d sold a lot of tickets in the prior year building up to this event, people were not registering. They were choosing to defer attending the event for a later one the following year. So only half the rooms were on track to be full.
And it was not like I could just pay half the balance for half the rooms. No matter how many people I got to show up, I was on the line for the $300,000 and at the current rate I was going to lose half of it.
Back then $150,000 was a lot of money to me (it still is a lot of money).
With just 3 weeks to go before the event and some panic starting to settle in, I decided to get creative.
I threw together a special promotion where I’d actually loan people the money for their flights (crazy in hindsight, but it worked), if they committed to getting to Mexico. It was a one time deal and would only be for this event.
The big risk was they might not pay me back. Luckily most of them did, and I filled up a lot of rooms with this strategy.
Next I asked myself, “would it be worth spending a few thousand dollars on room nights to invite top affiliates in the industry to come see this event on my dime, and as a result have them possibly decide to promote?”
It was worth a shot. So I started messaging as many of them as I could find on Facebook, not knowing most of them personally.
One of them was a young guy from London who I’d been introduced to before in an email. But we’d never met, and he was promoting a competing company.
Fortunately he said yes to my invitation, and showed up in Mexico. He later confessed to me he had no intention of joining my affiliate program, and only came to meet a lady he’d met online who lived nearby.
After seeing the event he loved what we were doing, and decided to promote.
3 years later he’s personally produced over $5,000,000 in revenue for my company, and introduced 2 other affiliates who have each done very similar numbers.
This will go down in history as one of my best investments of all time.
To fill up the remaining rooms, I put together a last-minute 3 week business coaching program which would be 1-on-1 with me, which I sold tickets to for $10,000 each.
I sold 3 tickets, and so including my own stay this accounted for an extra 84 room nights! (4 x 21 room nights).
After all was said and done, I ended up using every single room night in the $300,000 contract and losing no money!
Mid 2015: I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go speak at an event in the UK with over 2,000 people in a stadium, and sell one of my programs for a 50% split with the promoter.
If I sold well, this 2 hour time slot could be worth a few hundred thousand dollars minimum.
I made the commitment to speak, and started working on my sales presentation.
2 months prior to the event I realized I’d done something very stupid. I had booked my own 5 day Platinum Masterminds (which was being held in Malaysia) at the same time.
I couldn’t cancel the Platinum on such short notice, especially after some of my clients had booked their flights.
“Oh well,” I thought, “I just lost a few hundred grand because I didn’t check my calendar properly.”
But then I thought, “could I do both events?“
Turns out I could.
By rearranging the schedule on when all our guest speakers would speak, I was able to leave late day 2 of my Platinum Mastermind, rush to the airport, and fly all night to the UK (about 12 hours). I arrived 6am. got a taxi to the stadium was on stage at 9am in front of 2,000 people.
I ended up selling 72 units at $2,497 each (which wasn’t quite what I was aiming for, but still decent considering the circumstances), and then I was rushed in a taxi back to the airport, flew all night again back to Malaysia, and was on stage the next morning to speak for the final 2 days.
Those are just 2 examples of challenges, but there are literally hundreds more I could tell you about. Many of them did not have a happy ending, and ended up costing me major sums of money.
To survive and thrive, I’ve had to develop a very resilient outlook.
I constantly tell myself, “nothing can stop me. No matter what the world throws at me or my business, I’m going to find a way around it.”
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to have this kind of self talk.
You’ve got to view yourself as some kind of unstoppable force. No matter what challenges come up, you’re going to find a way around them. Always.
The good news is your ability to handle challenges will greatly improve as you get more experience. Through facing them daily, you’ll become much stronger, smarter, agile, and resilient than you are now.
“Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom.”
Jim Rohn got that one right.
All the way through you need to be 100% committed.
I’m not talking about some wannabe-internet-marketer who started last week and has an “I’ll try this out for 2 months and see how it goes” kind of commitment.
I’m talking about a “no matter what it takes or how long it takes, I’ll find a way,” level of commitment.
For myself, being an entrepreneur was never a side gig or hobby business; it was a way of life.
To make it big, you’ve got to be obsessed with achieving your business goals.
Last year on the website Quora.com, somebody posed the question of how they could become as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Sir Richard Branson.
You can see the question and responses here.
One of the best answers was from Justine Musk, ex-wife of serial entrepreneur Elon Musk. Here’s the main part of what she said:
Extreme success results from an extreme personality and comes at the cost of many other things. Extreme success is different from what I suppose you could just consider ‘success’, so know that you don’t have to be Richard or Elon to be affluent and accomplished and maintain a great lifestyle. Your odds of happiness are better that way. But if you’re extreme, you must be what you are, which means that happiness is more or less beside the point. These people tend to be freaks and misfits who were forced to experience the world in an unusually challenging way. They developed strategies to survive, and as they grow older they find ways to apply these strategies to other things, and create for themselves a distinct and powerful advantage. They don’t think the way other people think. They see things from angles that unlock new ideas and insights. Other people consider them to be somewhat insane.
If you’re not obsessed, then stop what you’re doing and find whatever does obsess you. It helps to have an ego, but you must be in service to something bigger if you are to inspire the people you need to help you (and make no mistake, you will need them). That ‘something bigger’ prevents you from going off into the ether when people flock round you and tell you how fabulous you are when you aren’t and how great your stuff is when it isn’t. Don’t pursue something because you “want to be great”. Pursue something because it fascinates you, because the pursuit itself engages and compels you. Extreme people combine brilliance and talent with an *insane* work ethic, so if the work itself doesn’t drive you, you will burn out or fall by the wayside or your extreme competitors will crush you and make you cry.
Follow your obsessions until a problem starts to emerge, a big meaty challenging problem that impacts as many people as possible, that you feel hellbent to solve or die trying. It might take years to find that problem, because you have to explore different bodies of knowledge, collect the dots and then connect and complete them.
It helps to have superhuman energy and stamina. If you are not blessed with godlike genetics, then make it a point to get into the best shape possible. There will be jet lag, mental fatigue, bouts of hard partying, loneliness, pointless meetings, major setbacks, family drama, issues with the Significant Other you rarely see, dark nights of the soul, people who bore and annoy you, little sleep, less sleep than that. Keep your body sharp to keep your mind sharp. It pays off.
Learn to handle a level of stress that would break most people.
I’ve not accomplished 1/1000th of what these entrepreneurs have.
But I can certainly relate to that line, “Be obsessed, be obsessed, be obsessed.”
When I’m awake, there’s not an hour that goes by where I’m not thinking about my business. And it’s been that way now for the last 7+ years.
It’s become one of the top priorities in my life. I don’t believe you can experience extreme success in business unless you’re willing to be extreme in your focus and determination.
It’s definitely not a life which most people would want. But for us entrepreneurs, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
So that concludes my 9 big lessons. They took a lot longer to write than I initially planned, but I hope you’ve got some real value here. Let me know in the comments section, and I’ll be back with another post soon.
– Matt Lloyd