[00:03] Hello, and welcome to the Active Growth podcast, episode 34. Today's episode is kind of a spontaneous episode that I'm recording because I just listened to a podcast episode on the Fizzle Show, and this is an episode that deals with a heavy topic. It deals with mental health. It deals with issues that we might face, and that are related to entrepreneurship in the sense that as entrepreneurs we are all striving for success. We tend to be ambitious creatures, and we're all striving to make more of ourselves, and to achieve more, and get more, and have more maybe. There can be underlying issues here that I think are important to address.
[00:48] Even though it's not directly related to, this isn't a how to build your business type of conversation, right, but it is important for entrepreneurs. Kind of a meta, peripheral kind of discussion, but like I say, I think it's important to have when it comes to mental health, when it comes to depression, I think a lot of people suffer in silence, so it's important to talk about this. That is, so thank you very much to the Fizzle Show team for bringing this up, and bringing this into my world, and I want to pass that on. Basically, I want to continue this conversation, and I have a few things to say about this that I hope will help some people. So, you can find the link to that Fizzle Show episode in the show notes for this episode, as well as links to anything else I might mention during the podcast. So you can find all this at activegrowth.com/34. With that said, let's get right into the main topic.
[01:51] I'm Shane Melaugh from Active Growth, and also from Thrive Themes, and also from a few things that don't exist anymore, and that you've never heard of. I've been an entrepreneur for a fairly long time, and this is the context from which I want to share my thoughts on this topic that was started on the Fizzle Show podcast. To give a little bit of context, this Fizzle Show episode was about, or it started with this idea that it seems like lately there have been more and more instances of high profile, successful, celebrity people taking their own lives. This is often kind of shocking to us when we see this. Because on the one hand, this might be our heroes that are taking our own lives, and that it kind of reveals that there's this shadow side to them that we never knew anything about.
[02:45] Maybe we only ever saw them smiling, and being on stage, or shaking hands with other celebrities and whatnot. It's hard to imagine that there's this other side to them, but also because these are people who have everything that we strive for, right? As entrepreneurs, we strive for, I mean we don't all strive for the same stuff, but in general terms, we strive for success. We want to be successful, right? We want to build something successful. We want to reach people. We want to have a successful business that brings in some money, and maybe you want to be super rich, or maybe you just want to make a living, but in any case, you're striving for money and you're maybe striving for some recognition. I mean everybody wants to be recognized.
[03:34] Everybody wants to not just do something, and do something meaningful, but also be recognized for it, right? Part of that is having an audience, and part of that is maybe also having recognition from, I don't know, like an authority, right? Maybe other people like experts in your field. You want to be recognized by them, and basically all of this these celebrities, these superstars, you know whether they are in business or they're basically, however they got this status, they usually have this in droves, right? They've got massive amounts of success. They've got huge audiences. People adoring them. They've got all the money in the world, and apparently, this doesn't fix these problems that weight them down so heavily that they end up taking their own lives. This, of course, we've all been told that money can't buy you happiness and all this, but still, I think, we all still suspect that if we just had these things we'd be happier, right?
[04:39] Especially if you're in the early stages, if you're struggling away. Right? If you're kind of in the spaghetti phase, or the ramen noodle phase of starting a business, or you're really struggling and you're struggling to make ends meet, and you're working super hard and all that, you cannot imagine that having success, and money, and so on wouldn't make your life look just significantly better. You can't imagine that. That is true. I think that's also part of the thing here is, of course, it is better. It's more comfortable. You're more likely to be happy if you don't have to fear for how you're going to not get kicked out of your apartment next month or something like that, right? If you don't have to fear about how am I going to put food on the table. This kind of thing, but I think we take it too far in our minds and assume that if well if we have these things. If we have enough success, and money, and so on, that will basically take care of all of our problems.
[05:42] As it turns out, it won't. Especially when it comes to mental health issues, these deeper issues that lead to things like depression, and anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and things like that, are not at all affected by things like success, and fame, and money. Now to hear more about this specifically, I recommend that you listen to that Fizzle Show podcast, because I don't want to just kind of regurgitate this same idea. Instead, I have some other thoughts to share on this. This is relating to, in general, to being an entrepreneur, and to striving for things to being ambitious. Because there's a problem here, which is that of course we can think about okay, yes money doesn't buy me happiness. Is like success and all this, accomplishment will not fill this hole inside of me, right?
[06:44] Sure that's true, but we still, I mean what does that make of our ambition? We still strive for more. We still strive for success, and the solution isn't to become a hermit and be like, "Oh, you know what? I'm swearing off of all worldly things, and I'll just sit in a cave somewhere and feed myself off of, I don't know, bugs that I scratch off the wall." I mean, if that's what you want to do, go for it, right? But I don't think that is the right solution, so in other words, the realization that money doesn't make you happy, and successful, and won't solve these issues, that the right response to that is not to turn 180, and abandon all striving, and abandon all attempts to build a successful business, or as we often talk about here at Active Growth, it's all about basically becoming a more effective entrepreneur.
[07:36] Becoming a more effective person. Building these skills. Turning yourself into a better, more effective, more skilled version of yourself. So there's that, and how do we square that? That's basically what I want to talk about. How do we square that? How do we square this idea that we can kind of destroy ourselves, and are striving for more, but also, we do want to create things. We do want to accomplish things, we do want to strive, and if you're building a business, you will have to get through some hard times. So, let's talk first about this thing about hard times. I think there a hugely important distinction to make is between, let's say, external hard times and internal hard times. This is something that, you know like I say often, is building a business is very difficult. It's often just a series of problems that you have to solve. It's like this extreme sport of difficult problem solving.
[08:41] This is one of the reasons why I talk about skills all the time, because these problems is like these shape shifting problems, once you've solved one of them a new problem comes along, but it's a problem of a different nature, that requires a different set of skills, and a different way of thinking in order to solve it. So you can't just have your one skill and keep applying it to every new problem that pops up as an entrepreneur. It is more challenging than that. This causes difficulties. This causes difficulties, not only in terms of you're working hard. You're working long hours. You're stressed. It also causes difficulties in that you can start doubting yourself. You know, it's like, "Oh my God, I've done all this and here's the next thing that's smacking me down. Here's the next thing that makes me feel like I don't know what I'm doing."
[09:25] It can fill you with self doubt, and it can lead you to question what am I doing here? Should I be doing this? Am I good enough for this, and all this kind of stuff. Part of this is just part of the entrepreneurial journey. Then there's another part where this is an internal struggle, where basically the bad you feel about something is amplified, right? You feel way worse about things than you "reasonably should" given the circumstances. An indication of this is when things flip around to become about your self image. When it's not just this is difficult, maybe I didn't do a great job of solving this problem, but it also becomes therefore I am a bad person, and I'm unworthy of anyone's love, and I'm going to be a failure forever and so on, and so forth, right?
[10:16] It becomes that kind of thing where it becomes about you, and your value. When that kind of thing happens in your mind, that is the kind of thing that one of the difficulties things here, so that you kind of try and recognize the difference between, "Okay, I'm feeling bad because I'm under pressure, and stress, and so on, and that's just part of what I do as an entrepreneur," or, "I'm feeling bad because I'm doing this thing to myself in my brain, and if I didn't have these external difficulties right now, I would find another reason to feel bad, right?" It's like this inner demon is haunting me about this entrepreneurial problem right now, but if I didn't have this entrepreneurial problem, it finds something else.
[10:57] I've managed to make myself feel miserable about something else. So why is it important to make this distinction? I think it's very important to make this distinction, in order to know what is the kind of thing where you have to grit your teeth and push through, and what is the kind of thing where you have to go, "Hold on. I'm not going to put up with this. I'm not going to put up with this," because entrepreneurial problem solving, building your business difficulties, that's the kind of thing where you go, "Okay, I've got to be tougher than this, right?" I've just got to grind through the hard times. Let's do it, right? But this depression, anxiety, making yourself feel miserable, this kind of thing is not something to put up with. It's not something where you go, "Well this is just what it's like, right? I'll just have to kind of tough it out."
[11:43] This is the kind of thing where you have to say, "Well no, I could be doing all my entrepreneurial stuff. I could be living my life without any of this nonsense, right?" This is where finding a way to deal with this, talking to people about it, getting help about it, getting yourself checked out. Seeing if you need medication or whatever, is the right thing to do. That's important, like I said, making this distinction is really important, because if you just apply the one logic to everything. If you're just like, "Well whatever comes up, I'm just going to grit my teeth and be like, okay I've got to deal with this, or basically I've got to accept that this is the way it is." I've got to accept that building a business is hard, but I don't have to accept depression, and anxiety, and things like that in my life.
[12:30] Now, how do you build this type of awareness? I have to say the only way I know how to do that is through meditation and writing. In other words, through introspective work. So meditation to give you a very simple idea of what I mean by meditation is essentially if you sit down, or stand, or lie down, doesn't really matter. Your position doesn't matter, and you start paying attention to your breath, and you just pay attention. You try and pay attention to the entirety of breathing in and breathing out. What's inevitably going to happen is that you get distracted. So, you start doing this, and probably a few seconds into it, you're not really focusing on your breath anymore. Some thought has popped into your head, and you're following a train of thought. At some point, you notice that you go, "Oh, I'm following this train of thought," and you bring your attention back to your breath.
[13:30] You do this over and over again for several minutes at a time. Now, if you have a mind like mind, it can be extremely frustrating because you will be interrupted from paying attention to your breath about a million times a second, right? So you're almost never actually paying attention to your breath. You're only experiencing your distraction from it. It's like that for most people. You know, most people will basically barely be able to pay attention to one entire breath in and out before they get distracted, but for some people it's even worse than that, right? But that's fine. Now why is this important? Why do this? This seems like a strange exercise to do, right? Well one of the things it simply teaches you to watch your own mind. It teaches to take a little step back, and realize, "Oh this is happening. This thought arose, and now I'm following this thought." To also make the choice that I don't have to keep following this thought.
[14:33] Just because I started thinking this, I don't have to finish this sentence in my mind. I don't have to finish this train of thought in my mind. I can choose to just let that go and bring my attention back to what matters to me. It is this kind of practice that for me has allowed me to, I think of it as like opening up a gap in my mind, right? Where a thought comes along, and instead of just getting right on board with it, I kind of realize, "Oh this is a thought," and I can decide ...
... bored with it. I kind of realized oh, this is a thought, and I can decide whether I want to get on board with that or not. This kind of thing is what helps me make the distinction between what I just talked about before, right? Where it's like, is this a real, external problem, or is this just me making myself miserable?
[15:18] Second thing is writing. By that, I mean something kind of like journaling. So maybe you wake up every morning, and you write about how do I feel right now? What do I want to do today? What's important to me? What thoughts are on my mind? You kind of do a brain dump, right? Then maybe later in the day or in the evening you do kind of a review of the day. That, I think, would actually be the most important one to do, right? You review kind of your state of being. How did things go today? How am I feeling today? This kind of thing. You try to have a more objective view of your day. Again, this gives you this distance, this analytical distance, where sometimes you can look back and say, oh, wow, here I did something in my mind [inaudible 00:16:02] do well for me. The more often you notice this kind of thing, the more likely you are to be able to notice it in the moment.
[16:16] So now let's talk about this thing, about ambition. We have to get to realizing that striving for success, striving for recognition, trying to build an audience and so on, to get this validation, to feed this need inside of us or to basically delude ourselves and say, well, once I'm successful, then I'm no longer going to be unhappy, that's simply not true. That is not how the human mind works. So we have to realize that. What do we make of striving and ambition in this case? For me, there's a very important way to look at this. Unfortunately, all I can offer here is essentially a new version of a cliché, right? You have definitely heard this before. In fact, you've probably heard this about a thousand times before.
[17:07] The thing is, in my personal experience, it took me a long time to get to the point where this clicked for me, where I really got this. I think part of why I finally got this was because I was told often enough in many different ways until, at some point, I could have this inside myself. So that's what I want to offer you. I want to offer you one more way to think about the same thing that you've been told before, and hopefully that gets you one step closer to making it click for you.
[17:36] So this cliché I'm talking about is that it is not about the goal, it's about the journey, right? It's not about arriving at the end and finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, right? That's just like chasing after the carrot on a stick. You will be striving forever, and you will never reach that thing that you think you ought to reach. You'll never reach that moment of peace and happiness. By the way, one of the ways you can know this for sure is if you, basically, look at your progress so far. Because if you've had any measure of success, then I'm sure that you are in some denial about it. What I mean is that if you already run a business that is doing something, even if it's not wildly successful, if you have a business that's working, then there's a past version of you who would have thought well, that's amazing, right? Once I have a business that makes some money, once I have a business that pays the bills, that will be so good.
[18:40] But now that you have that, it doesn't feel like that anymore. The goalposts have moved. It's this kind of thing where you dream about if I had a million dollars, everything would be better. Once you have a million dollars, you're like, well, it's really like 10 or 20 million, that's where it's at. Once you have 10 or 20 mil, it's like, well, my neighbor's a billionaire, and so on. It never stops, right? You never arrive. So it's not about the goal, and striving for that illusory end goal is pointless.
[19:10] But what do we make of this? What do we make of this cliché, right? Well, here's what makes sense to me, and here's something that is practical for me that I can apply to what I'm doing. It takes the form of a question. That question is, is this right now a journey worth having? Is what I'm doing right now a journey worth having? In order to be able to ask and answer this question, you've got to have that kind of distance that I talked about before. So again, a meditation practice and writing is going to help you be able to give a real answer here, right? To give you that kind of perspective where you can look at what you're doing right now and answer that question. Is what I'm doing right, is this a journey worth having?
[20:02] This isn't just about am I having fun right now. Because I think that's often the alternative. Okay, if the end goal doesn't matter, right? If it's not about reaching this idea, reaching the goalpost, right? Reaching the finish line, then well, YOLO, who cares, right? Nothing matters. Live every day as if it was your last. Well, no, no, because then that's just about hedonism, right? That's just about well, am I having fun right now? Am I experiencing pleasure right now? No? Well, maybe I'll shove a cake in my face because then I'll experience pleasure, at least for the time that it's actually passing through my mouth, right? Then once the cake is done, then I'm like, am I feeling good right now? No, I ate an entire cake. I feel terrible. So what do I do now, right?
[20:51] So this doesn't work. The replacement for this is not just am I having fun right now. But is the journey I'm on right now, is this a journey worth having? Part of that journey is your ambition and your striving. So when I look at what I'm doing with my business, with my entrepreneurship, there have been many, many hard times, right? There have been many hard times. There's always the difficult problems to solve. But if I look at what I'm doing right now, even if it's a difficult period, it is clear to me that this is the kind of thing I want to be doing. It's clear to me that this is the kind of journey I want to have. Part of this is that I don't want to be the kind of person who simply lives a comfortable life. I don't want to just maximize comfort in my life.
[21:43] So you can think of this as, let's say, you go on a hiking, camping trip, all right? So you decide okay, I'm going to go out into the mountains, into the forest, going to take my tent, my sleeping bag, backpack full of stuff, and I'm going to spend a few days out in nature. Now, even as you set off, you know that this isn't going to be comfortable the whole time. You know that, in fact, most of the time it's going to be a lot less comfortable than sitting at home on your couch. You're going to be scrambling up steep hills. You're going to be bitten by mosquitoes, maybe. You're going to be callousing up your hands, gathering firewood, stuff like that. There's a lot of stuff there where, in the individual moment, if you ask if I'm having fun right now, no, this isn't fun, right? My feet are hurting because I'm been wearing these shows all day long and walking all day long. My legs are burning because I'm walking uphill all the time. I'm hungry, and this very moment is not a moment filled with pleasure.
[22:44] But is this a journey worth having? Overall, the experience of being out in nature and even the experience of doing some hard stuff and kind of having a simple meal cooked on a fire that isn't a gourmet meal, but it's kind of like the reward at the end of a hard day, this kind of thing is a journey worth having. If I think about life, if I make this an analogy for life, I would much rather be the kind of person for whom most of life is this kind of outdoor hiking adventure than the kind of person for whom it is staying at home watching Netflix.
[23:24] So when I look at a difficult period in my business, then it's clear to me that this is a journey worth having because this is just okay, yes, I'm suffering right now, but this is the kind of thing where this is the equivalent of scrambling up a steep hill. Then also, if I go well, it seems like one difficult period is followed by the next, followed by the next, followed by the next, it's also true. Again, for your hiking trip, that's also true. It's like once you've made it to the top of that mountain, it's like oh, it's starting to get cold. It's starting to get dark. Now I have to gather the firewood and so on, make sure that I don't freeze to death overnight. It's basically one problem after the other, but somehow, overall, it's a very satisfying thing to do. At least for me, it's clear to me that I'd rather do that kind of thing than just maximize comfort in my life.
[24:09] Part of this journey can be and often is striving to create something and striving to achieve something, striving towards some kind of a milestone. We've talked about this before. I think it's much, much better to have very specific goals in mind that you want to reach. So instead of just having a vague dream of well, I want to be super rich and famous, that's the kind of goal where the goalposts are always going to be shifting. But to have very specific milestones where you say, "I want to reach this kind of outcome within the next three months," for example. Striving towards that kind of thing, that is part of that journey. That's part of the thing is to find myself here looking at what I've accomplished so far and saying, "Okay, this is good, but I want more, and here's specifically what I want and why I want it."
[25:01] If you're in a position, if you're well enough off to be able to decouple money from that, then that's great. I think early on in the journey when, again, during the Ramen years, the money is definitely also part of this goal. It's the same thing there. Don't just think well, I want to be a millionaire or billionaire or something, or I just don't ever want to have to worry about money anymore. Set yourself a goal. Say this is the income level I want, right? Set yourself a budget, basically. Say this is every month, I want to have this much money to cover my expenses, this much money to save, this much money to invest, this much money to spend on fun, that's what I want. So that's my income goal. Then strive for that. Try to break that down into milestones. Striving for this kind of thing, even if it is money, is part of this journey, and it is a good thing to do.
[25:55] Again, I think here, being specific about it, being specific about these are the numbers I want to achieve, this is the timeline, this is how I want to do it, I think that can also protect us from this illusion of and then when I get there it's going to finally solve all my problems and make me happy, right? If you're much more clear about it, well, this is the budget I will have. This is how I will allocate my money. That means I can pay rent and I can buy food, and I have a bit of stuff to buy gadgets or whatever I'm into buying, right? I can go out with friends. That's what it's going to do, but it's not some magical distant goal that somehow is going to solve all my problems. It makes us more realistic about what are these goals and what are they actually going to do for us?
[26:38] When you have your financial basics covered, then I think it's about meaning. That is where also, when it comes to mental health issues and so on, striving for the creation of meaning, doing creative work and doing engaging work is actually, in my experience, extremely important for this. There's a whole interesting, relatively new science behind this that looks at the brain and the part of the brain that is called the default mode network. So, like the name implies, that's your default mode. So when you're kind of doing nothing, if you just stand and stare at a wall for a moment, your default mode network kicks in and starts doing things like reminding you of things you should be worried about or playing old tapes of things you keep telling yourself over and over again, usually negative things. All this kind of stuff, right? This rumination. So when people spend time ruminating, that's default mode network thinking, and that generally makes people miserable.
[27:45] As it turns out, one of the ways in which to kind of turn off the default mode network is to be highly engaged in something you care about. That, for me, for sure is entrepreneurship to a large degree, right? I get engaged in these things. I care about building better products. I care about, basically, all the creative work I do. That gets me engaged to the point where this part of my brain, the default mode network, kind of shuts off while I'm focused on all this stuff. That gives my life quality.
[28:19] Interestingly, time you spend in distracted light entertainment, so if you are just watching Netflix, that does not suppress your default mode network very well. A good indicator of this is are you reaching for your phone? Because if you're engaged in challenging work, you kind of get lost in that work, and that is essentially good for you. That's good for your mental health. That's a good kind of getting lost. It's kind of an ego suppression, and that's good for you. But if you're watching a show on Netflix, very likely you're checking your phone every once in a while, and that shows that you're not really very engaged here, right?
[29:01] So the more you reach for your phone, the more deeply you are in the default mode network part of your brain, and that, if you have depressive tendencies, is really, really bad for you. All right. So those are my thoughts on this issue of managing, not only your business, but also managing yourself, managing your mental health. Specifically with the things I do and the way I think, in order to square off this kind of almost paradoxical thing, which is don't strive for the end goal, but you're an entrepreneur so you're going to be ambitious. You're going to strive for things. What do you do with that? I hope that these ideas that I've shared with you are going to help you. I hope that maybe it sparks some ideas of your own. Maybe it sparks a discussion. Again, thank you to The Fizzle Show for kind of starting this conversation. At least, in my world, that's the thing that I came across. If you enjoyed this, if you think this is important, then please pass it on to someone else as well. Now before we wrap things up-
[30:00] To someone else as well. Before we wrap things up, I want to respond to some voice messages. We haven't done that in a while. Let's go through a couple of voice messages that you've sent in. You can do this, by the way, you can go to the ActiveGrowth podcast or you can go to the show notes for this episode, for example, activegrowth.com/34. There is a button there that you can tap or click to record a voice message, and it might be featured on the podcast.
[30:29] The first message here is from Jack Griffin.
[30:32] What stage am I in is embarrassingly zero revenue from the digital products. Yes, of course I have some consulting business, and I give keynote speeches, and I write for a magazine, but none of that counts. The only thing that counts is revenue for the digital product and it's zero. The first thing to do is focus on changing that to not zero, before doing anything else at all, which means that I'm focusing on building the products on the website that I can actually sell, hoping that someone will threaten me with an order and that I'll be able to respond.
[31:07] I thought that podcast was very useful, but you could take it a couple more levels deeper for the solopreneur, depending upon what phase of their business they're in. Anyway, thanks very much, very helpful, and looking forward to more episodes.
[31:25] First of all, thank you very much for your message Jack. Yes, I agree. It's an interesting situation that you can be in, where like you say, you've got some stuff going, but the thing you care most about is at zero. In terms of what stage you're at, we have tried to build up the ActiveGrowth podcast in such a way that it really starts at zero. Our very first series and our very first episodes are really like, "How do you go from zero to something?"
[31:56] Also, we have this specific method that we teach there, that the customer first approach, where I think a lot of people fall into this trap, where it's like, "I'm going to build a website. I'm going to start promoting it. I'm going to build an audience on social media. Then I'm going to try to get that audience to my website. Eventually, at some point, I'm going to make a product and make some money."
Interestingly, it kind of ties in with what I talked about today. It's also this kind of vague goal that, "At some point when I've done all this work, then I'm going to be in a situation with all these raving fans, and then I can sell something." It's kind of a way to procrastinate. It's kind of a way to say, "Yeah, I'm an entrepreneur. I'm doing this," but there's basically no hope of ever it getting to the other side of that giant pile of work. It kind of keeps us a bit safe, as well, in a sense. We don't actually have to take that risk, take that plunge. We can tinker away.
[32:50] I don't know if you've listened to the whole podcast so far, what the situation is, but we tried to design the beginning of the podcast in such a way that it should address these issues that you're talking about. If it doesn't or if you listen to those episodes and you go, "Well, there's questions that this doesn't help me with. I'm still stuck," then please let us know. Please let us know, send us another message. We definitely want to fill the gaps. If there are any gaps here, we want to help you go from zero to something.
[33:24] The next message is from Kevin. Let's give it a listen.
[33:28] I knew a fair amount about the internet stuff and marketing websites before I met you on Thrive Themes. Now, I'm totally Thrive Themes and ActiveGrowth focused. My websites are Thrive Themes. The Thrive Architect is just an awesome program. It saves so much time. Now, on these podcasts, which I listen to all the time, you're actually dealing with the business and teaching people how to do things like manifestos, and make good offers, and copywriting.
[34:00] You guys are awesome. You've certainly affected everything I do online. I wanted to stop in and say thanks. Even this cool little speed pipe recording my message in the show notes is just awesome. You guys are doing a great job.
[34:17] All right, thank you very much for that message Kevin. There's basically no question in here, but I really appreciate this message anyway. I have to say, this is one of those things where this makes such a big difference. For me, especially on ActiveGrowth, this is just the primary thing, this is the reason why I haven't just shuttered ActiveGrowth.
[34:42] From a business standpoint, it makes no sense that I'm doing this podcast or that I'm still doing stuff on ActiveGrowth. Thrive Themes takes up 150% of my time already, and ActiveGrowth, there's a little bit of revenue from some affiliate links somewhere, but it is a total loss. It is a total loss of my time and my money, but the reason I keep doing it is exactly because of this. There are things that I want to talk about, there are ideas that I want to express, there's content that I want to create, that just doesn't belong over on Thrive Themes. It just doesn't fit that umbrella.
[35:19] If it was just about me, then I would just write in my journal. Every once in a while I get a message like this, of someone saying, "Hey, this actually makes a difference to me." I really, really appreciate that. I really appreciate that. It means a lot to me. Thank you very much.
[35:34] Next message is from Elsa.
[35:37] I want to bring my gifts to the world and put the customer first. I actually love what you're saying and doing, but I feel that if I'm focusing on the legal ways of doing so, where I file my taxes and where I do all of that things, does this have to be set before I even come out publicly, in a way of what I have to share? I feel like if I'm looking into the legal ways, I don't understand the world at all. It's just too overwhelming to me and I don't understand all of the ways, how the money moves and what happens there. It just feels like I have to pay so much and I don't even know how this all balances out and how I can actually even have a profit from it.
[36:16] I would like you to maybe discuss or touch a topic. For instance Shane, I see that your businesses are located in Switzerland, I don't know why. Some people who have followed their business, who are digital nomads, is in Panama. Maybe it's a tax free thing. It's a very interesting thing. I don't understand why people legalize the business in some kind of a country. They have some kind of reasons. I feel like do I have to do the business in the legal ways and the paperwork, before I even start selling something? I feel like it's stopping me actually doing it. If I'm going to start looking into the legal ways, I feel as if I'm going to froze and I'm going to procrastinate everything.
[36:58] I would really, really love to hear your thoughts on this one. Just share how to approach, what are your ideas and thoughts on that? Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything that you're giving. I love it, I love it, I love it.
[37:12] All right, thank you very much for your message Elsa. This is a good question that it's true, we haven't addressed. One of the reasons we haven't addressed it, by the way, actually there's two big reasons why. First of all, this topic, to me, anything legal, bureaucracy, all this kind of stuff, this is to me like garlic to a vampire. This absolutely destroys me. It's really serious. I also have to acknowledge this at some point, again, talking about this mental health issue actually, everybody hates taxes, and bureaucracy, and all this kind of stuff. I have to acknowledge at some point that for me, this isn't just something I hate. This is something that is really bad for me, when I have to deal with these things. For whatever reasons, this is basically a trigger for me. This is like a depression trigger for me. For me, it's very important to keep that stuff away from me in the business. That's one reason.
[38:07] The other reason is I'm clearly not an expert on this either, and because of that I ... The other reason is that we have an international audience, and this is different in every country. There's no one right answer. Let me give you, just from my experience, as a non-lawyer and as someone who's definitely not an expert on this, but I have been doing this for many years and I have started multiple legal businesses, and all this kind of thing.
[38:35] From my experience, there's a couple of things I want to tell you. The first is that whatever your jurisdiction is, wherever your home country is, see if there is ... There's two things I would look for. First of all, is there some kind of a very simple business form that you can start, so you can basically create this business entity, but it is very cheap and very simple. I know that this is true in Switzerland and it's true in some other countries as well, from what I've talked to people. In Switzerland, which is where I'm from, there is a form of business that is like a personal business. It's meant for if I have a little shop and that's my business. I don't have a huge organization with multiple branches and all this kind of thing. That kind of business is kind of how you can start, and it's very easy to form. It's much easier with taxation and so on. It's much easier than forming a corporation or a publicly traded company. That's usually then you have to get lawyers involved and you have to have a lot of money and all this kind of thing. See if there is such a form of a very simple starter business entity that you can form.
[39:47] The second thing is see what the laws are about basically how much income you can earn before you have to declare this an official business. Again, this will be different depending on jurisdictions. Depending on where you are, there might be some rule that says something ... If you, with some personal business activity, if you make up to whatever, up to some amount of money per year, if it's under that, then you don't have to worry about the legal stuff so much. There might just be rules where under a certain amount of income, like before you reach that threshold, you don't have to apply for the VAT or something like that. This totally depends on where you live, but there might be some things in place that make it easier to get started.
[40:36] The final thing is that for purely digital businesses, if there is no local component to your business, then it is interesting to think about where's the best place to incorporate. One place that I recommend you look at is Estonia. Estonia are from the side of the government trying to be as digital friendly as possible, and trying to invite digital startups. There's also a service that I off the top of my head don't know, but I'll link to it in the show notes. I'll link to this in the show notes, where you have a service that helps you with your business formation and with the paperwork and so on, which is specifically for small entrepreneurs starting up.
[41:18] Like I said, this is definitely not a topic that I can say much about. You definitely should never take anything resembling legal advice from me. That's basically the best advice I can give right now.
[41:33] All right, thank you everyone for sending in the messages and questions. I really appreciate that very much. If you would like to send in your own message, you can go to activegrowth.com/34. At the bottom of that post, there's just a little button you can tap to leave your own voice message. I appreciate any kind of questions, feedback, and so on. You can also send a tweet to @actigrow, with your question, and we sometimes read those on the show as well.
[42:01] That's it for today's episode. Thank you very much for listening. I'm Shane Melaugh, this is the ActiveGrowth Podcast. I hope you'll tune in again next time.