Do you think coming up with a good idea for a product or learning the skills to build it is hard? If you've tried launching your own product or service before, you know that there's one thing that's even harder: shipping it!
We're here with a brand new podcast series that we named "Your Job Is To Ship".
As the title says, in this series we're discussing why shipping is the most important part of your business, why so many of us fail to do so and leave projects unfinished, and, most importantly: what you can do to get better at shipping quicker.
It's time to take that unfinished book out of your drawer and stop abandoning projects that you've been meaning to finish.
In the first episode of this series, Shane and Hanne are talking about how you can stop always going for the newest, most attractive tools, products, information products that keep distracting you from focusing on your goal.
Listen to this episode to get our six, tested and highly practical action steps.
Listen on the go! Subscribe to the ActiveGrowth Podcast using your favorite app:
Shane Melaugh: Hello, and welcome to Episode 7 of the ActiveGrowth Podcast. Today we are starting a new in-depth content series and the title of this content series is ...
Seth Godin: That what you need to do is realize that what you do for a living is not be creative. Everyone is creative. What you do for a living is ship.
Shane Melaugh: That was Seth Godin, and it's from a talk he gave a few years ago, which was important and influential for me. So much so, that I've named this entire series after it: Your Job is to Ship.
Seth Godin: When you run out of money or you run out of time, you ship. And if your mindset is that I ship, that's not just a convenient shortcut. It's in fact an obligation and you build your work around that obligation. That instead of becoming someone who's a wandering generality and someone who has lots of great ideas and if only, if only, if only you were someone who always ends up shipping.
Shane Melaugh: We're doing a series of podcast episodes on this topic because this failure to ship, this failure to finish and deliver products and projects, and even content, this entrepreneurial procrastination is a very common problem. A lot of entrepreneurs struggle with this and a lot of businesses and projects and ideas stay forever unfinished because of our failure to ship.
In this talk, Seth Godin talks about how it's the part at the very end that's the most difficult. That's where we fail. It's not coming up with a great idea and it's not even putting it into practice. It's not even implementation. Working on your business, working on your content, building things. Not even that is the most difficult part. Most of us are pretty good at doing both of those things: coming up with ideas and working on them. The thing where we fail is the thing at the very end, where you have to say, "Okay, this is finished. Here it is." You put it out into the world. And, this podcast series is about this problem and how to beat it. It's about how to become really good at shipping.
This one phenomenon of failure to ship of entrepreneurial procrastination has many faces and many causes. It can be chasing after bright, shiny objects and constantly being distracted. Jumping from one thing to the next all the time and never finishing something. It can also be a result of the way you set goals, the way you visualize your business and your mission with your business. If you set goals the wrong way, if you think about where you want to get to the wrong way, it sets you up to fail and it causes failure to ship. In some cases, it can also be about perfectionism. It can be procrastination by perfectionism, a fear of failure when we do publish something. In some cases even a fear of success if we do publish something. And sometimes, it's maybe a lack of motivation, a lack of discipline and work ethic, and just not having the right habits to facilitate shipping things.
And so, because there are many faces and many causes, and many solutions, this is what we have focused our episodes around, because this is one of the problems about a topic like this. It'd be easy to basically philosophize about this and be abstract and conceptual and talk about, "Oh, this the problem. Here's the mindset. Here's the other thing. Here's the way you should change the way you think about things, change the way you work in a very conceptual way." But that's not very useful, because sure, this Seth Godin clip, that, by the way you can see in full in our show notes, was important and inspirational to me.
Somehow I saw this message and messages like it often enough that it influenced me. It influenced my way of thinking. Somehow I saw this message and messages like it often enough that it influenced me and I internalized these ideas. I internalized the importance of shipping, and I somehow changed my behavior and made it one of my strengths that I am good at shipping. But that's not really very good advice. What if I tell you, "Hey, here are some ideas and here's some mindsets. Now, maybe, I guess internalize them somehow and change something about the way you do ..." That's not practical advice, and that's not what we're about here at ActiveGrowth.
So, what we're going to do instead is we're going to anchor all of our episodes and all of our content here around practical action steps. The majority of the time we're going to be talking about things that you can actually do, and these things come from our own experience. They come from research that we did into the psychology of procrastination and interesting research on startups and entrepreneurs, and we've also talked to several psychologists and experts in this field to help understand what causes this problem. Most importantly, what are practical, immediate things you can do to solve this problem.
The show notes for this episode, including a bunch of resources we've put together for you, as well as this clip of Seth Godin that you can watch in full, you can find all of that at ActiveGrowth.com/7 to get all the stuff that goes along with this episode and also to send us a message or leave a comment. With that said, let's start the episode.
I'm Shane Melaugh.
Hanne Vervaeck: And I'm Hanne Vervaeck.
Shane Melaugh: And this episode, Your Job is to Ship series, is about bright, shiny objects syndrome. One of the most common afflictions among entrepreneurs, I would say. This is for the kind of people who have, like, a hundred e-books and PDFs of online marketing strategies and things on their hard drive. Maybe subscribe to a whole bunch of marketing tools, or especially if you own access to a whole bunch of marketing tools that had, at one point, some kind of a low price, get a lifetime account for one time price launch offer. And you've bought all this stuff, you've downloaded all this stuff and, realistically you're not using most of it most of the time.
Hanne Vervaeck: And, let me just say: guilty. 'Cause this is definitely something that I have done and I have a ton of seven dollar e-books somewhere on my hard drive, and a ton of tools to make mobile apps and Facebook cover images, and other stuff that we're launching so I absolutely needed it before the price went up to 297. Yeah, been there, done that.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, I'm not entirely guilt free here, either. I never was in a total WSO buying craze or anything like that, but ...
Hanne Vervaeck: Lucky you.
Shane Melaugh: Certainly, I think I just caught it early, because it happened to me as well. I remember having this impulse where I discovered this low-priced "How to Make Money Online" type of e-books and I bought one. I read it. I was like, "Mm, that was a bit rubbish." I bought another one. I read it. Again, like, "This is rubbish." Pretty soon, I caught in and was like, "You know what, this isn't working for me." But, at the same time I also have to say, with the Thrive Themes marketing team for example, we own at least two or three tools that we bought because it seemed like a good offer and then we ended up not really using them, or they weren't really important, that we'd basically just bought them because they seemed like a good idea at the time. So, certainly I don't think anyone's immune to this problem. Right? You see a great offer, you're convinced by some good copy, and you make a purchase of something that you don't need. The problem is that if it really becomes a habit, and it can be extreme, right, because like I said it's actually not an exaggeration to say that some people have hundreds of books and resources and tools that they never use.
Hanne Vervaeck: Oh, I think I have, the beginning of my story is pretty relatable to people because I was looking for a way to make this whole online stuff working right. And, one of those things was I started to make some money online, and so people actually paid me through PayPal. I was buying those WSOs with PayPal money. I didn't realize how much money I was spending, because everything was just virtual. I was using PayPal money and it never went through my banking account, so it's just like, "Okay, click of a button. Got something new to read," which usually I would come into the office ... And, this is really bad ... I would come into the office and the first thing I did was open my computer, buy a new WSO, and that would be what I had to do during that day. So, yeah.
Shane Melaugh: Right. Well, I guess the first lesson of the podcast is don't treat PayPal money as if it wasn't real money, because it is actually real money. So, in case anyone wasn't aware of that, that is real money. Now, this problem also has other faces. We're calling it the bright, shiny objects syndrome and one of the ways in which this manifests is this kind of via buying too many things, chasing after ... It can even be without the buying. It can also be that you constantly read the latest blog posts on twenty different blogs to try to stay up to date on marketing techniques you'll never use. That's another facet of this.
Another way this manifests is as the too many projects problem, right? Where basically, you're writing your book for self-publishing a Kindle book one week, and the next week you're trying to set up a drop-shipping Shopify store, and the week after that you're building out a blog for an authority site. You're never doing enough of any of these things to get results, right? You're never finishing any of these things, because every time a new opportunity comes along you're like, "Oh my God, I gotta do this now," and you abandon everything else, and you start the new thing. And of course, another form this takes is basically getting caught up in the make money online space, getting too many emails from people constantly promoting the latest and greatest thing, getting caught up in the launch hype of new stuff, which is also a way to just get distracted. It's easy to always be chasing after the latest exciting thing, and it doesn't leave you with enough time to actually do anything and actually work on your business.
If any of this resonates with you, or if you're the kind of person who always has a million ideas but not enough time to execute any of them, then this episode is for you. And, like I said in the intro, we are not going to theorize about this a lot. We are going to go straight into actual implementation, like what can you do to fix this problem. The one thing I want you to consider before we start looking at our solutions is, take a moment to think about what would it mean for you and your business if you got really, really good at shipping, right? If you got really good at finishing, seeing projects through and publishing your work, whatever form that takes, right? Publishing content, publishing your store, launching new products, whatever form shipping takes for your business. What would it mean if you got really good at this? I don't just mean this in terms of, "Oh, I have a bit of problem with being distracted," and, "What if I had less of a problem?" What if you really focused on becoming really good at shipping? What would that mean for your business?
Hanne Vervaeck: Think about the compound effect of actually having a blog post out there every week or having a new product and being able to have multiple products that you're actually selling. Or, everything just adds up, and so, if you become good at this shipping thing it will make your business so much better.
Shane Melaugh: Products are a great example here. I recently published a post about what I call "revenue engines," which is basically what you can do in your checkout processor in your funnel to generate more revenue. Almost all of these revenue engines involve multiple products, right? It's the typical ... a very simple one is an upsell, right? So, you buy something and then you see an offer in some form, maybe on the cart page, maybe after you make the purchase, whatever. In some form you see another offer, which says, "Hey, you bought this. You might also be interested in this." And, almost all of these revenue engines involve multiple products.
They're called revenue engines because they add revenue to your business, and one of the things that makes this easy is if you're really good at shipping products, right? If it takes you forever to create just one product then finally sell it, it'll take you again forever to add a second product to make a special offer, or a bundle offer, or an upsell or something. If you're really efficient at shipping, you can create your product, create the upsell, create another thing, and it just grows your business so much faster.
Hanne Vervaeck: And in the end, it's basic math, right? For those who don't know, I like math. I'm one of the weird people who actually geeks out on numbers. When you look at it, you have one product and you sell 10`q products a day. You add a second product. You will have more sales. It's just logic, and it's just math. So, the more products you have, the more sales you will make in the end.
Shane Melaugh: Yet, some degree it is a numbers game. So, with that said, this is why we are talking about shipping. This is why we are talking about solving this problem of entrepreneurial procrastination. So, let's just right into our interventions. The things you can do to solve this problem and get really good at shipping.
So, the first one ... If you've been following me for a while you've probably already heard me talk about this ... And, I used to talk about this actually more than I do now ... I call this the "guru inbox." I'm sure you know the kind of thing where you have internet marketing gurus who launched their super expensive products and are constantly promoting other products, right? If you get on their mailing list, you might get daily emails of special offers you just have to buy right now. Everything is limited, everything is last minute, everything's a special offer that's never gonna come back, and just every day there's a barrage of these emails. A lot of online marketing people, a lot of people who are entrepreneurs end up on many of these mailing lists. And, it's just a barrage of, "You must buy this thing now" messages.
I also like how there's also a marketing technique involved here. I'm gonna call out Ryan Deiss as being someone who's extra guilty of this, right? The Ryan Deiss marketing method is always to say, "Hey, listen. Everything you think you know about online marketing is about to become obsolete," right? Whatever, maybe Facebook is changing their, whatever. He's basically saying, "Listen, it's all gonna end. Everything ... forget it." You know, "Your business is doomed unless you open this email and listen to me." He does that every single time. I've never seen a Ryan Deiss page that doesn't go like that. But, of course, it works, right. He's good at getting your attention by saying "Listen, forget everything. Forget [inaudible 00:15:59]." You know, "The Titanic is sinking. This is the end unless you pay attention to me."
You get tons of messages like that, that are always trying to give you the signal of this is more important than whatever else you were doing. It's just impossible to work like that because it's too difficult to ignore this, all this urgency signaling. So you end up looking at them anyway and then they're really good copywriters, and they're really good sales videos, and you get pulled into the hype, and you're like, "Oh my God, I need this." You change your mind about what your business should be, and so on, right.
Now, the guru inbox idea is just that you have a separate inbox somewhere that you use for all of these types of emails, right? If you do see something where, you know, this is very internet markety kind of thing, but I do want to check out whatever they're doing right now, so I'm going to get on their mailing list, but I don't put this in my personal inbox. I put this in a special inbox that I basically almost never go to see that I use just to sign up to stuff.
Hanne Vervaeck: An inbox that you're allowed only to look at when you don't have your credit card next to you.
Shane Melaugh: Yes, that's ...
Hanne Vervaeck: So yeah, actually, you can look at it from maybe a copywriting perspective, or maybe seeing what's going on in the market, but you can't buy anything at that point.
Shane Melaugh: Yes, that's a good rule.
Hanne Vervaeck: If you're not really sure which emails would go into that category, then you can do a quick search and everything that has JVZoo or Clickbank in the email, those are typically the emails that you do not have to read. Those are the platforms that are just having this new, seven dollar product only for three days and the emailing marketing gurus ... I don't even want to call them gurus ... 'cause, it's like the affiliate marketers, right? That's what they do every day. They go to JVZoo, they take the one that's selling the most, and they send that to their email list. So, yeah. Do a little search in your inbox for those two words and unsubscribe from those emails.
Shane Melaugh: That's such a great filter. I've never thought of that. That's such a great filter. I think also, in general, obviously, if you're listening to this you might have gotten an email from me about this. Obviously, I do email marketing and I'm also on email lists, and I think there is value in being on email lists in some cases. I think, what's very important is to look at, am I actually getting value here or am I only getting pitches? I don't think you need anyone to send you a bloody pitch every day. If someone sends you actual useful content that helps your business, if someone provides actually value and then maybe every once in a while they have a special offer or something, then that's an email list worth staying on. If it's literally just buy this new thing every day, you don't need that in your life.
Apart from having a guru inbox, I think you should also have a discipline of unsubscribing. Just get used to, you see this, "Oh, this is the third special offer in a row and I haven't gotten anything valuable from this person," well, it's time to unsubscribe. Just get rid of that. What you shouldn't do is just tell yourself, "I'm fine. I'll just ignore it." Because it doesn't work.
Hanne Vervaeck: And, you might notice that's one internet marketing technique, right? Where they will first give you some value, send you their offer, and then if you don't receive their offer you go up on the affiliate's marketing list. This is something that you actually have to be aware of all the time, because, at one point even somebody who was sending you more valuable content in the beginning might be in the bucket where you might end up in their bucket of being in their affiliate list, and so then you start receiving those offers. So, it's really something that you have to continue looking out for and have to stay vigilant in your inbox, basically.
Another thing that I used as an intervention to actually counter my WSO buying frenzy was, I starting writing down everything that I bought. I put it in an Excel spreadsheet, and that's the moment that I noticed how much money I actually spent on this. Because, like I just admitted, right, I was spending seven dollars a day for weeks, and then it slowly went up, because then it's nine dollars and then, "Oh, it's only seventeen dollars." I think the moment I bought something that was 297, so it became a higher price, and, like you said, Shane, it was kinda crappy. I realized that I just spent 300 bucks on something pretty crappy and that I've been doing this for a while.
And so, I made this spreadsheet. I counted everything together, and I was blown away, and not in a good way, by the money that I spent. And, that kinda healed me pretty immediately. I think this is something that you should do not only with the information products that you're buying, but also with, for example, monthly software. Because many people don't seem to realize that if you buy something and you pay a monthly fee for it, that you actually at the end of the year paid a lot of money for it. A tool that would cost you 20 bucks a month, you might be like, "Oh, yeah, twenty bucks a month. That's-that's not that much." But in the end it's, do you really want to spend 250 bucks, 240 bucks a year on that tool, and do you really need that? So, I think calculating the real price of stuff is very valuable, and not putting your head in the sand, and being like, "Oh, I just bought this one little thing and this one little thing," because in the end, it really, really adds up.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, it's a good way to put it into perspective. Especially, it's maybe fine to have the one tool that costs 240 dollars a year, but then you also have the other one, the next one, and the third one and, before you know it you actually have really high running costs. I experienced this as well before ... Obviously now with Thrive Themes and now with the business, of course we track all of our expenses, we track our revenue, we even track revenue in analytics and things like that. This isn't like the point where most people start. Obviously, it's ideal. Ideally, you can basically track every cent of expenses and every cent of income, where does it come from, what's the ROI and everything we do. That's the ideal end goal, but you're not gonna start there. Having just a spreadsheet, a simple spreadsheet, where you track what are you paying, and also track how much are you making can be super helpful.
For me, when I was still a solopreneur and I was doing niche sites in affiliate marketing, I also had this problem where doing SEO stuff I was paying for some SEO services. I was paying writers to create content. I was paying for some rank tracking tool here and there. These expenses were just all over the place, and it's easy to be like, "Well, you know, yeah, I'm spending money here, but I'm also making money here. I'm guessing it's fine, right?" As soon as I actually put this stuff in a spreadsheet and I was like, "Okay, this website has made this much money this month. This website has made this much money this month. Here's what I'm spending on my rank tracking tool. Here's how much I spent on content. Here's how much I spent on back linking services," and so-on. That just totally changed things. It totally changed things, because first of all I was suddenly much more aware of "Oh my God. These are my actual expenses. I wasn't ... I didn't realize."
But I also started seeing where my money was well spent and where it wasn't, right? I saw things like, "Oh, there's this one site that I've invested a lot in and it's actually making very little money compared to this other site where ... yeah, I should put my money there, right? There's another site that's actually doing way better. If I put content on there, I get a much better ROI." It just makes your business so much better and it kind of fixes this problem of just kind of mindlessly spending on things.
Hanne Vervaeck: For me, the two filters are really how much does this cost a year and how much is this actually gonna bring in? Like you said, it's not super easy to get the exact ROI on specific tools, but I remember seeing this hype around a Twitter automation tool. Basically ... And it still exists by the way ... It would post Tweets and go through your old content and continue posting Tweets. This software was 40 bucks a month, so the real question is, do you really want to spend 480 bucks on Twitter? Do you get that money back from Twitter? The same with webinar software. If you do one webinar a year, probably paying 300 bucks for a webinar software, not the best investment.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, I think actually for me, the social media example is also extreme because, if you're doing few webinars but they're sales webinars, and you get good conversions and so on, you can actually make your money back on that, right? But, with something like a Twitter automation tool, if you actually look at ... And this is also something that I've done at one point ... Calculate the cost per click, right? So, you have some Twitter automation tool; it posts stuff on Twitter. Actually track how many clicks am I getting, and then look at what am I paying per click. This can be shocking from social media where the click-through rates can be super low and you might find out that you're actually paying something like five dollars a click for Twitter clicks. You wouldn't pay that for an ad, right?
That's another way where it can kind of give you this reality shock, and really help keep spending under control The action step here is super simple: if you don't have it yet, create a spreadsheet where you just write down every single thing you spend and once a month update how much you've earned. By the way, if you're only starting out, every month put a 0 in that column. Track you're not making any money yet. That's important.
Hanne Vervaeck: I was just gonna say don't fool yourself.
Shane Melaugh: Yes.
Hanne Vervaeck: Don't fool yourself, like really put everything in there, even if you're kind of embarrassed to admit.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, absolutely. Alright, the next intervention, the next action step you can take is to start using what I call a "goal filter." This is a simple idea, where you set yourself a goal, or you say, "This is what I'm doing in my business." Let's say you've decided, "My product is going to be an e-book. I'm going to write and sell an e-book." Then you focus everything on that goal. So, if you get an email saying, "Oh my God, check out this latest thing," you ask yourself, "Does this help me in my current goal of writing, publishing, and selling an e-book?" If yes, then it deserves your attention. If no, just ignore it. This goes ... And I think that important thing is this just doesn't just go for tools and special offers and stuff you can buy ... This also goes for information, right? If my goal is to write and publish an e-book, then the latest post about how to get more Instagram followers just has no value for me. Even if it has a really catchy headline and it's written by someone that I love to follow and so on, it's just a distraction. Use the current goal, be very clear what is it I'm doing right now, and use that goal to filter out all information that comes in.
Hanne Vervaeck: I actually use this principle. I just gave it another name. In my mind it's called "just in time learning." When I made that spreadsheet with those e-books, I was seeing that I was learning about Google+, and I was learning about SEO, and I was learning about other stuff, and I didn't implement any of these techniques, because I was in learning frenzy mode. It's one of those very attractive things for me, and I think for many entrepreneurs, to learn as much as possible and it feels productive to learn something new. Then, when you actually put in that same spreadsheet, how did I implement what I learned, and you come to the conclusion that you have not implemented anything of the 20 items that you bought recently, you're doing something wrong. That's when I decided that I was only gonna apply just in time learning. It's exactly the same as what you were saying, Shane, about the goal filter. If my goal is to write an e-book, I would only allow myself to learn about writing an e-book. I could only learn something new when I implemented what I learned before.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, so, you actually take this a step further as well, where you really break it down into smaller steps and say, "While I'm doing the writing, I'm only gonna learn about writing, if anything."
Hanne Vervaeck: Yes.
Shane Melaugh: And, once I've finished writing, then I'm like, "Okay, how do I publish an e-book?" Then you can start learning about that, so I think that's great. I never did it to that degree, but I think that's great. Breaking it down even further, basically means you have even more focus even if your excuses ... And, I highly recommend doing that.
Hanne Vervaeck: And I keep doing that up until today. This is not something that I only did when I started out. I don't allow myself to buy three Kindle books. I only allow myself to buy one book, to read it, to find something that I can actually implement, and then I'm allowed to buy a second book.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, that is discipline of thought, or disciplined thinking, as Jim Collins would call it. Now, this here we're talking about is basically like a mindset change. For this, I want to introduce the first mindset implementation technique, right. Instead of just saying, "Yeah, I guess you gotta change your mind and start thinking in this different way," which isn't very useful, we're gonna give you an implementation technique for how do you make this happen, how do you change the way you think about this?
The implementation technique is, what I actually call a "mantra," but it's just a daily reminder. It's a daily reminder, so, what you wanna do is if, what we've just talked about with this goal setting, with the just in time learning, if that resonates with you and you feel like, "Yes, this would help me a lot." Then, what you do is, you write down in one or two sentences, what you intend to do. How you intend to change the way you work and think, and why you it's important to you.
Okay. So, it can be something simple like, "From now on, I will use the just in time learning technique to only learn and implement what's truly important for my current business goal. I want to do this because all this distraction and buying too many things is preventing me from reaching my goals." Something like that, right? It's important that you write this yourself; you write it in a way that resonates with you, right? You put it into your own words, what you wanna do, and why it's important to you. Then you simply remind yourself of this every day. One way to do this, and the way I do it is, it's just part of my morning ritual. I have, what I call my mantra, is just a set of reminders like this. I remind myself of what's important to me, what I want to focus on, and why.
Hanne Vervaeck: Do you write them down again, or do you just read them?
Shane Melaugh: I just read them.
Hanne Vervaeck: Okay.
Shane Melaugh: I just read them, so I basically have them in my notes, in my phone, so one of the things I do every morning is I open that note file, and I just read through it. I think rewriting them can be even more powerful.
Hanne Vervaeck: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Shane Melaugh: I'm too lazy to do that, basically. What is important here, is that you have to deliberately do the reading. What I wouldn't do is basically write it on a sticky note and stick it on your mirror. Then you kind of glance at it as you brush your teeth or something, because then it's easy to ignore. You kind of glance in the direction of your note while you're day-dreaming about something else, and you're like, "Okay, I've done this." No. I take the, whatever, two minutes it takes to read my daily reminder, and I do nothing else during this time. I don't listen to music. I don't think about anything else. I take the time to deliberately read this, and it's about really feeling why I wrote it down and why it's important to me. That is a very simple way to stay focused. I recommend doing that at the beginning of the day or before you start working, and it's just a great way to every day have a reminder. Even though, after a while you basically know it by heart. Every day you're reminding yourself, "This is what I'm doing. This is what's important to me." That is the way I recommend implementing such a mindset change.
The next point we have is about resourcefulness. If you were a highly resourceful person, you wouldn't have this bright, shiny objects syndrome to begin with. Here's what I mean by being resourceful. We see this in ... At Thrive Themes we create software, and of course, we always get feedback when we release a piece of software. We always get feature requests and things like that. I see this very strongly, there's two polarizing opposites of the kind of feedback we get when we release something. There's the one kind of person who, we release an early beta version of a new thing, very limited functionality, it still has some bugs and things. We release that, and on the one extreme there are people who go, the same day we release it, they contact us saying, "Oh, I saw your new beta thing. I immediately downloaded it, and I did this and that and the other," You know. "I basically have already implemented. This is awesome, and here's some stuff that maybe you could improve."
Alright. On the other end of the spectrum, is when we release a feature update to a product that's already been around for a long time, it's mature, it already has hundreds of features, and we get feedback from someone saying, "Listen, I tried your product, and it does ninety-nine things that I need it to do, but there's this one thing that it doesn't do. And unless it does this one thing, I cannot use it, and I cannot move forward with my business, so please build this one more specific, exotic integration with the thing that we've never heard of," or something like that, right? Basically, people saying, "Look, I acknowledge that this tool does all kinds of stuff but this one little, specific thing, and unless you do that, I'm going to get a refund and I'm not going to be able to use this product."
Those are two extremes of a mindset. The one extreme of taking a beta version of something and immediately implementing something, no matter how limited it is, that is resourcefulness, right? That is someone who can pick up a thing, and even though it's not finished yet, and even though the tutorials aren't finished yet and stuff like that, they figure out a way to use it. They figure out a way to make use of it and use it to help their business right away. That is resourcefulness. The other extreme is chasing. That is chasing resources, right? Someone who says, "It has ninety-nine things I need. It doesn't have one thing I need. Therefore, I cannot use this." That is an extreme chasing mindset.
Now, the terms of resourcefulness and chasing come from a book by Scott Sonenshein called "Stretch," which is all about how to be more resourceful and how resourcefulness is really important, especially for entrepreneurs. From this book, one of the things I learned is that this resource chasing mindset is really a problem. In fact, even if you can afford to get all the tools you need, even if you have the budget to get the most advanced enterprise level tools to do everything you can possibly dream of, even if you can afford to hire people to custom code and build you solutions and all this kind of stuff, it's actually a problem for an entrepreneur to have this resource chasing mindset because, this resource chasing makes you a less creative person. It makes you less creative and worse at solving problems. That is why even if you can afford it, even if you can access a lot of resources, you should try and limit that to make yourself more resourceful.
There's a really interesting study on this that was done at the University of Illinois in 2015, where they got groups of people, where they had them do creative problem-solving exercises. Everyone did the same exercises, but they split them into two groups. Before doing the exercise, one of the groups was prompted to write a story, and it can be a fictional story, about growing up with limited resources, right? Growing up in poverty. The other group was asked to write a story about growing up in abundance. Growing up, maybe, in a rich family, something like that. They saw that even just thinking about what it means to either have a lot of resources or have very few resources changed the way people performed on the problem-solving tasks. People who wrote stories about what it's like to grow up with few resources were better problem-solvers and performed better on the task right afterwards.
It seems that even just temporarily shifting your mindset to, "What does it mean to have very little? How do I cope with very little?" Makes you more creative and makes you better at solving problems. That is super important for entrepreneurs.
Hanne Vervaeck: Listening to this, I think it's incredible that even just writing about this can change how you solve problems. The first thing that came to mind when hearing about this is, when you see how children from poor countries actually make toys out of nothing, and I think that's one of those very resourceful things that you can do if you have nothing. You will manage to create something.
Shane Melaugh: So that's the difference between having fun kicking a can down the street, and sitting in a room full of toys being bored, right? I think this is exactly the thing that can also happen, like, you're sitting there, you've got all your books and resources and tools and so on. You don't know what to do, whereas someone else who has nothing just finds a way to make it happen. So, I think one of the things you can do is, first of all, pay attention to this and try to tune into, find stories, find examples of people and entrepreneurs being resourceful. This study shows even just thinking about it, even just kind of refocusing your mind on resourcefulness, can make you more resourceful, which is amazing. It's just such an easy fix. If you basically tune your radar to find these examples, and find these stories.
To give you two quick examples, one story is from a chef called Roy Choi, who was an interesting, creative chef, and he was working at high-end restaurants, and he was trying to do stuff there, he was trying to cook in a style that didn't really fit. He felt like he couldn't really work the way he wanted to. Now, most people would immediately think, "Well, okay. If I want to do my own thing and I do this kind of high-end cooking, then I have to open my own high-end restaurant," right? "So that I don't have other people telling me what to do. I can do my own work and I can do my own style. I have to open a high-end restaurant; for this, I need a lot of money, so maybe I need to partner with someone who has a lot of money. I need to find a great location. I need to get all the equipment, all this stuff," right? It becomes this distant goal, maybe one day I'll have enough to make this happen.
What Roy Choi did, instead, is he said, "You know what, I can't afford a restaurant, but I can afford a truck. So I'm going to buy a truck. I'm going to do a food truck, and I'm going to sell high-end fancy food out of a food truck," which was unheard of at the time. It actually sparked a revolution in the food industry. Roy Choi is often credited as the starting point for the food truck craze that has been sweeping America and parts of the rest of the world for the last few years.
Another example is out of the film-making industry. There's a director called Robert Rodriguez, who started making films, even though he basically had nothing. He started making action movies on extremely small budgets, and he ended up getting some movies into the cinema, such as El Mariachi and Desperado. El Mariachi was the first one, which was shot on a very low budget. There's this story of someone, some Hollywood exec, seeing a trailer and going, "Wow, this is, you know, this is really good. How much did this cost?" And Robert Rodriguez says, "Seven-thousand dollars," And the guy says, "Well, that's amazing. I mean I, I don't know anyone else who could get a trailer like this made for less than twenty-thousand dollars."
The exec thought the trailer must have cost something like 20,000 dollars, and he was surprised that the trailer cost 7,000 dollars. What Robert Rodriguez actually meant is that the entire movie cost 7,000 dollars to make. This is another example, especially with action movies, right? A lot of people, the default thinking would be, "Okay, action movie. I need a huge budget," right. "Because we need some car chases, and huge explosions, and buildings collapsing and stuff. This costs millions, so, I have to get millions first and then I'll make my movie." Whereas, Robert Rodriguez was just like, "Well, I have a camera, I have a few thousand dollars, and I wanna make an action movie, so I have to find a way to make this exciting without spending money," right? "I can't blow up an entire building, so how do I shoot an action scene and still make it cool, and still make it exciting to watch even if I can't just blow everything up?"
It actually makes his movies very special, because it gives them a different kind of style. It's different from what everyone else is doing, because everyone else is doing the same thing, right? It actually became an advantage for him that he didn't have the means to create the typical action fare, but he just made it happen anyway. These are all examples of people who could easily have said, "Well, I just can't, you know, I just can't do it because I don't have the resources." They found a way to do it anyway.
Hanne Vervaeck: We want to challenge you to do this deliberately. Even if you have access to those things, can you deliberately limit your resources so that you can become more creative and become one of those resourceful entrepreneurs who doesn't look for excuses and tools? Instead of searching for new things that you need, or new information, or new whatever, ask yourself how can you make it happen right now? How can you do the thing that you really want, that you really need to get ahead in your business, and do it with what you already have. I was recently listening to a podcast, and, Shane, if somebody thinks about building a list, what do you think they would need?
Shane Melaugh: Okay, building a list you definitely need a website. You probably need something to build landing pages and stuff, you need something to make opt-in forms, you have to have different opt-in forms showing in different ways. Of course, you need an email marketing to sign people up, and you have to make sure that all the stuff I just mentioned somehow integrates with each other. Maybe, if that's not the case, you have to get Zapier or something. I would say you need half a dozen things at least.
Hanne Vervaeck: Alright, now if we would ask that question to somebody who's just doing an exhibition in a fair, and as them, what would you use to collect emails, the answer would be completely different, right? They would say, "Oh, okay, I need a sheet of paper with maybe some columns printed on it, where it's first name, last name, and email address, and I would probably need a pen to give people." Because that's what you actually need to collect emails, and Bryan Harris, who was the one giving the interview that I was listening to, actually says that as long as you don't have your first 100 subscribers, you shouldn't worry about a website, about an opt-in form, about an opt-in offer, about email marketing service. You should just ask people for their email address. Again, we're coming back to our spreadsheet. You just write down the email addresses somewhere, and as long as you don't have those hundred subscribers you shouldn't be worrying about anything else.
The thing is, this is an example for subscribers, but you can do this for anything. I'm sure that if you Google the thing you want to do without the thing you think you really need, you will find somebody who already found the solution and who can already help you do it right now today.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, another example of this, Hanne, I remember when you told me that when you started selling stuff you just manually processed that, right? People paid you by PayPal. You saw a notification saying this person paid you, and you manually sent that an email with their download link.
Hanne Vervaeck: Yep, that's totally how it went down.
Shane Melaugh: This is something we see a lot, right? Typically, we see people going, "Okay, I need a membership solution. I need a product delivery thing. I need it to be integrated with my mailing list. I need all this stuff, and I need it all set up before I can start selling something." Whereas, if you just ask yourself, "Well, how do I sell something without any of that," you can probably find a way.
Hanne Vervaeck: And then, there's some other thing that I want you to think about, that I want everyone to think about, and that is you don't have to own everything. I think ... We were talking about this webinar software, a 300 dollars a year webinar software, or whatever, and you do one webinar. So, Shane, you were saying if you do one sales webinar it might be worth paying those 300 dollars, but it might also not be necessary, because probably, you have friends in the online marketing space who can let you use their software.
If you think you need a reflex camera in order to shoot your videos, first of all you probably don't because you have your phone, and phones are shooting in HD. Imagine you really think you need that camera. Instead of thinking that you have to buy this 700 dollar camera, and then of course you need a Lav mic, and you would need a tripod, and probably somebody around you already has it. You can just borrow it, or worse case scenario, there are websites where you can actually rent this type of stuff for a tenth of the price, or not even, and then you can still have the quality you're looking for, but you don't have the excuse anymore not to do it.
Shane Melaugh: Yeah, I think this is important, and one way to think about resources is also that try to do the work first, and make the money first, before you buy the thing. If you think, "I need a super fancy camera to do my video marketing," how about you just use your camera on your phone to record videos. You start recording videos, you start doing your video marketing, and you keep doing that until the results of doing the video marketing have earned you enough money to buy the camera. This is also something that I did when I was starting out. Sometimes I'd see something, and like, "Oh my God, I want this new service. I want this new tool," or whatever, and I would tell myself, "Okay, I'm going to buy this as soon as my website or as soon as this product, whatever, has made enough money to pay for it." Again, that basically forces you into action. You no longer can use the resource as an excuse.
Instead, especially if you like buying shiny new things, such as cameras, and I'm totally guilty of this. I have more camera gear than I need, for sure, because I like camera gear. If you like buying things, instead of using the thing you want to buy as an excuse to not do something, you can actually use it to drive your motivation to do it, where you're like, "Okay, if I make enough videos and I make enough money, I get to buy this cool camera."
Hanne Vervaeck: Yeah, you were talking about my ghetto solution to sell stuff online, and that's exactly what I did. I told myself that I couldn't buy the 200 dollar membership plugin before I actually sold 400 dollars, because after taxes that would make 200 dollars.
Shane Melaugh: Damn, French taxes. Alright, so a lot of this has been quite conceptual again, so here's another implementation technique that you can use here, but it's also an implementation technique that you can generally use for mindset changes and habit changes. I'm sure you've heard of it. It is a 30 day challenge, right? You basically tell yourself for the next 30 days you challenge yourself to do something differently for 30 days in a row. The best way to do that is to print out something or to have a spreadsheet or something that you print out, you put it on a wall, and you make an X. There's basically 30 boxes on it representing the 30 days. You make an X or a check mark or something every time you successfully complete the task on a day. You build this chain, right? You build this chain of successful completions, and having this visual representation really helps in following through, because once you've done the first few you do want to have to start over, and you don't want to have all of the days checked off except that one. That's a very simple way of doing something.
The good thing about a 30 day challenge is that it's short enough that you can grit your teeth and get through it. If you tell yourself, "Okay, I'm gonna change something forever," right? "I'm gonna change and do something differently forever," it's like, "Oh my God." If you just say, "Well, I'm gonna do it for thirty days," it has an end. If you really hate it after 30 days you don't ever have to do it again. You can get yourself through that, right? You can see the end; the end is in sight. A simple 30 day challenge here is, don't allow yourself to buy any new stuff for 30 days, right? Don't buy any new marketing tools. Don't buy any new video equipment. Don't buy any new books or e-books or anything like that. No matter how great the offer seems, don't buy anything for 30 days.
Instead, focus on what can I do with what I already have? You can combine this with the daily reminder implementation technique that we talked about before, right? You can write a reminder of why you want to limit your resources, why you want to focus on becoming more resourceful instead of focus on needing more stuff. Combine that with the 30 day challenge of not adding any resources to your tool kit.
Hanne Vervaeck: If you're following the instructions and then forget traffic, serious, then maybe you can say, "For thirty days, I will only focus on getting coaching clients." You can have that as your very one goal, and you will do one thing a day to get a new coaching client.
Shane Melaugh: You can take this implementation technique one step further by deliberately imposing a limit on yourself. As it turns out, limitations can make you more creative and often creativity and great solutions come from limitations. This is something you can use to your advantage, and, I can tell you two examples of how I've implemented this for myself. At one point I decided, "I want to get better at just writing." I noticed almost all the content I was doing was just in the form of video, and if I did write something in a blog post, my blog posts were always filled with images, content boxes, and formatting stuff, which is generally good. It's good to have media rich and interesting looking blog posts.
I noticed that I was using this as a crutch, right? I was doing all this media stuff instead of writing really well. I decided I want to become a better writer. How do I do this? Well, what I simply said is, and I can't remember how long I did it. I did it for something like, seven or eight weeks. "I'm only going to write emails," right? Whenever there's an idea I want to talk about, instead of what I usually do is I record a video, I make a blog post and so on, I told myself, "I'm only going to do emails." Obviously, I'm not going to cram emails full of images and stuff like that. I'm basically going to use only writing, maybe an occasional images. I think that one of my emails had an image in it or something. That was a self-imposed limit where I just told myself, "Okay, if I have something that I want to say to one of my subscribers, I gotta put all of it in an email." I have to force myself to write more interesting emails. I have to force myself, because I can't just say, "Click here to see the video," and then the video is fancy, right?
That's one example of a self-imposed limit that I used to build my own skills. Another one, if you've been watching ActiveGrowth stuff lately, you've seen that I've been making videos where I'm basically just walking on the street and I'm recording myself ... I've even live-streamed some of these videos, which is not my typical approach. Again, because I rely on the fact that I can edit my videos. I can take a lot of time to think about exactly the structure and how I'm going to make my points and so on, which is good, but there's a whole different skill to just being able to turn on a camera and just talk and still have good structure, good quality, and so on. This is also a self-imposed limit. I don't have to do this, but I decided to make some of these low-tech videos as a way to grow my skill in an area that I haven't really cultivated before.
Hanne Vervaeck: So now, we gave you a lot of tools. First of all, make sure you're clear about your goal, about what you want to do, and why you want to do it. Then, write down everything you've bought, everything you're paying for and look if you're actually using it to implement. Finally, put yourself on this 30 day implementation challenge, where for 30 days you only work on your goal, but only with the tools you already have. You will see the difference. This will help you beat that shiny, bright objects syndrome for sure.
Shane Melaugh: That was our first episode in this series. Now, this was pretty dense with information, and I hope you like this. I hope that there was at least a few things in there that resonated with you, and that you can take and put into action right away. For this episode we've got quite a lot of resources for you, and all of those are at ActiveGrowth.com/7. That's the word Active and Growth without a space in between, ActiveGrowth.com/7. What you'll get here is, you'll get an example of the spreadsheet that Hanne was talking about, the one where you can track your expenses, what you're buying, what you're spending your money on, how much you're making, but also where you can keep yourself accountable and note down how you're implementing ideas from books or implementing tools that you bought, and so on. You can go to ActiveGrowth.com/7 to see an example of how to structure this spreadsheet and what it might look like.
We are also putting together a reference guide for all the action steps from all the episodes in this series. You can sign up for that, and this will be a living document, right? If you go there right now, you can log in and access this, and it will give you a reference for all the action steps that we talked about in this episode. When we publish the next episode we'll add the action steps from that episode there as well, so that in the end you will have one single place where you can see all the things you can do and get all the resources you need to help get better at your job of shipping.
Speaking of your job being to ship, you can watch the full Seth Godin speech where he explains this concept in detail. Seth Godin is a great speaker. I think it's worth watching. They can also just inspire you further to taking action on what we talked about in this episode and what we'll be talking about in the following episodes. We've also added another example, a video that shows a simple example of what it can mean to be resourceful, and we're adding this because of that study we mentioned ... Link to the source of that as well, by the way ... study we mentioned that shows that even thinking about being more resourceful and seeing examples of it can change the way you thinking can make you more creative. There's a cool video you can watch there on resourcefulness.
Of course, we also have links to the studies we referenced, to the books we mentioned, and other resources we mentioned. And then, finally, as always, this podcast is not a one-way communication thingy. This is not a monologue. The content we create is shaped by comments and feedback that you leave. At ActiveGrowth.com/7 you can get all the stuff we just mentioned and you can also leave us a message. You can either leave a voice message, or you can leave a comment there, to tell us what you think, what solutions you've tried, what's worked for you, what hasn't, and also what other problems you have. Maybe you have a related thing where you feel like, "Okay, I have a problem that none of the solutions you've talked about address my problem." This kind of thing is super important for us to hear, because it helps us ask the right questions, get the right experts, find the right resources to help you in our following episodes. And, that is it. Thank you for listening, and I'll catch you in the next one.
We're putting together a course with all the action steps from this podcast series. You can register here to access the first part of the course right away.
This will also give you access to all the future parts of the course, which will be added as the new episodes are released. In the first part of the course, you will also find the example spreadsheet Hanne mentioned in this episode.
Watch the full Seth Godin talk, from which we played a clip in the intro (and which, in part, inspired this entire series):
Speaking of creativity and resourcefulness, here's a video that is both inspiring and entertaining. An example of what being resourceful can mean, even relating to very simple things:
Do you also suffer from the bright shiny object syndrome that prevents you from focusing on your goal? Which of our tips are you going to implement and why?
Let us know in the comments below!
See you next week with another episode!
Alexandra is a traveling marketer. When she is not editing podcast episodes or writing blog posts, she's out there exploring a new city. She's the creator of the Morning Mindset daily mindfulness journal.
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