The Shipping Machine: Putting it All Together
In the preceding lessons, you've discovered many tools and strategies you can use to turn yourself into a rapid shipping machine. Not every action step mentioned needs to be followed and I believe that even if you only implement a small number of them, it will make a huge difference to your productivity and success.
In this lesson, let's look at an example of what it could look like to apply many of these strategies to your progress. For this, let's imagine Beth, who's an entrepreneur starting an information product business.
Define Your Focus, Avoid Shiny Objects
Beth has a lot of experience in public speaking, has done some coaching and teaching on the topic as part of her work and now wants to create an online course on the topic. Her first step is to clearly define her goals, so that she can focus on an outcome and avoid bright-shiny-object syndrome.
Beth knows that she wants to create an online course, so she doesn't have to exchange her time for money anymore. To do this, she needs:
- Her own website.
- One or more landing pages to generate leads.
- An email marketing tools to collect leads and send messages from.
- A sales page and some basic copywriting skills.
- A way to create and deliver course content online.
With this, she knows that she can safely unsubscribe from most marketing newsletters she gets and she can ignore all the noise about the latest marketing fads, "business opportunities" and so on. Anything that isn't related to building a website and delivering an online course is no longer of any interest to her.
SMART Goals & Traction
To get better initial traction, Beth formulates a SMART goal for the longer term:
"I will launch an online course containing 15 video lessons or more, on September 17th."
Note that this goal is simple and consists only of things Beth has complete control over.
She also formulates a separate income goal:
"My goal is to earn at least $3,000/month, so that I can quit my job. At a sales price of $99, that means I need to sell 30 courses per month or 1 course per day, on average. If my sales page converts at 1%, that means I need 100 visitors to my sales page, per day."
This is not a SMART goal, but it's a "know your numbers" goal. It turns the big, intimidating goal of having your own business into something tangible and more approachable.
Beth has often struggled with procrastination. Clearly formulated goals like the above help, but she knows it's not enough to overcome her procrastination.
Because of this, Beth practices mental contrasting once a day. She opens her notes and answers these questions in writing:
- What is my goal with this business?
- Why is it important to me, to achieve this goal?
- What are some positive changes that succeeding at this goal will bring into my life?
- What are some obstacles that could get in the way and how could I deal with them?
- What are some negative consequences of not taking action on this and abandoning this goal?
Beth spends 5-10 minutes every morning writing our her answers. Sometimes, her answers are exactly the same, but writing them again is a good reminder. Sometimes, her answers are different and she sees new aspects to why she's doing this and why she wants to keep going.
Learn & Grow
Eventually, Beth will need to learn more about one or several ways to get traffic to her website, but to get started, she decides to follow our Customer First method, so she doesn't have to worry about traffic yet. This also helps avoid the bright-shiny-object problem.
She has to spend some time learning website and marketing stuff, such as how to create landing pages and how to create online courses. But thanks to the 1:1 coaching she's doing, those things never distract her from what really matters: learning who needs her offer, how to teach them and how to reach them.
Through the coaching, she realizes that women respond more positively - she learns that most public speaking coaches are male and that most women would rather learn from a woman than from a man, given the choice. She also realizes that female business consultants have to give presentations to small groups often and have some problems that Beth can help with, very effectively.
As a result, she refines her offering and decides to make her product about presentation training for female business consultants.
Based on her goals, Beth decides to measure a few things that are important for her to make progress and that she has complete control over:
- Recording videos in which she teaches her public speaking principles.
- Creating landing pages consisting mainly of text (to practice copywriting and get used to the process of creating and publishing landing pages).
- Spending time sorting out the "tech stuff" associated with building an online business.
- Reaching out to potential coaching clients, who also become potential future customers.
Here are KPI goals Beth sets for herself:
- Record, edit and publish 2 videos per week.
- Turn those videos into free mini-courses, to practice the whole course creation thing.
- For the free courses, create 1 landing page per week, consisting mainly of copy.
- Reach out to 4 potential coachees every day.
- Spend 60 minutes per week sorting out the tech stuff or hiring someone to sort it out for her.
30 Day Challenge
After getting used to video creation, Beth decides to give her progress an extra boost. She starts a 30-day challenge in which her goal is to create and publish at least 1 video per day.
All of this video content doesn't only refine her own presentation and video creation skills, it also creates a lot of content that she posts on her YouTube channel and uses for her courses. This way, even though her main focus is working towards releasing her premium course and building her skills, she is also slowly growing a small audience and some traffic to her site.
The Audience Focus
At this point in the process, Beth is frequently having free trial coaching calls and she's signed up several coaching clients that she works with 1:1. This constant contact with her potential customers helps her shift her focus away from her perfectionism. She meets all these people who sorely need to improve their presentation skills in order to further their careers (not to mention being less anxious and feeling better about themselves) and she clearly sees that she can help them.
While she does have a nagging desire to make the "perfect" online course, she also feels the urgency of getting a "good enough" solution into the hands of all these people, as soon as possible.
Beth is getting into a working rhythm that she designed deliberately. She gets up early in the morning, does her writing exercise and then spends 90 minutes working on her KPI goals.
Then, she goes about her regular work day.
Lunch break is a useful trigger for her and she uses her time after she finishes lunch to review her goals and reach out to her 4 potential coachees per day.
In the evening, she takes a break after work and she schedules all of her coaching calls for a bit later. This way, her days are framed with regularly scheduled, productive working hours. Beth is very busy, but she can see how she's rapidly making progress towards her goals.
When working on her business, Beth makes sure to work at a clear desk, with no distractions. She turns off her phone during the times she works on her business and she disables all notifications from her computer.
Approaching the Finish Line(s)
To make use of the power of deadlines, Beth creates milestone goals for herself and she thinks of her deadlines in small units of time.
For example, for her goal of creating 2 videos per week (outside of the 30 day challenge mentioned above), she formulates her deadlines as follows:
"I have 90 minutes, 4 days a week, that I can focus on video work. My milestone goals are to publish one video on Tuesday and one on Thursday. That means I have a total of 180 minutes to complete each video. My goal is to spend 60 minutes planning and scripting a video and 30 minutes recording it. That leaves me with 90 minutes to edit and publish each video. I can realistically do the editing and publishing in about 45 minutes, which gives me a buffer for longer videos or obstacles."
For her larger goal of finishing her online course, Beth set several milestones:
- Record the first 5 video lessons.
- Set up the online course delivery system.
- Record the next 5 video lessons.
- Finish the first draft of the sales page.
- Record the next 5 video lessons.
- Complete the final draft of the sales page.
- Announce the product launch.
- Finish the last 5 video lessons.
For each of the milestones, she sets a deadline date. The milestones are structured in such a way that she's not always working on the same thing and so that she never has an excuse to get stuck or give up. Any point at which she can encounter obstacles is one where she's already "almost done" with a lot of the relevant work for creating the course.
Pre-Sell & Launch
Through her practice work and her coaching clients, Beth has built up a small audience of people she can reach. A few weeks before her final deadline, Beth announces her product launch to all of her contacts, with a date.
She also invites people to sign up to an early bird list to get a special offer.
As a result, she gets many excited replies and several people signing up to the early bird list, eagerly waiting for her product. This creates accountability. She even opens to sales before she completes all the video lessons. This brings in some revenue and puts even more pressure on her to finish the product in time.
Needless to say, by the time the final deadline approaches, Beth's product is finished and in better shape than she originally imagined.
The product launch is not an instant ticket to financial freedom, but Beth can clearly see that applying the same approach that led to this launch, she can learn whatever skills she needs and create and ship whatever she wants, to help her business take off.