Pete and Dom discuss the results of a recent Preneur Community survey on Pete’s Blog at PreneurMarketing.com. Part of the survey was an opportunity to ask questions of Pete and Dom, and they try to answer the most common ones in this show.
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Unfrequently Answered Questions – Pt 1
Dom Goucher: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week’s PreneurCast with me, Dom Goucher, and Pete Williams, my co-host.
Pete Williams: Hello, hello!
Dom: Can we just mention the dedication? I want to bring to light the dedication that we have. Because people have actually commented how good we are at producing these podcasts every week, week in, week out. Just, what time is it there, Pete?
Pete: Seven past five in the morning. Five AM. It’s all good. I’ve been up for 15 to 20 minutes. It’s all good. I’m a morning person.
Dom: I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced 5 AM, certainly not in the last 10 or 15 years of my life anyway.
Pete: You’re probably experiencing it coming home from the night club, with the beer in hand. Whereas, I’m getting up, ready to start my day.
Dom: I think that was probably the last time I experienced it. It was probably under those circumstances. So, I applaud you. I just wanted to highlight that- the dedication.
Pete: Thanks, mate. I’m definitely a morning person. I prefer doing stuff in the morning. I thought I’d get that little mental win over most of the population. It’s nice and peaceful and quiet, and no distractions. It’s definitely the most productive time of my day. I don’t get the normal, Silicon Valley, start-work-at-midnight-type philosophy. I can’t handle that. I’m in bed by 10:00, 10:30 and up at 5.
Dom: True. I have to say- I mentioned it recently in something else that we worked on. I talked about this and managing sleeping. Sleeping is one of the most valuable resources that you have. One of the best ways to stay healthy. So, I completely agree with you there. I’m still amazed that you can actually make it up at that time in the morning.
Pete: My body’s just used to it. Now I just wake up without an alarm. My body clock is used to it. Obviously, with all the Ironman training I did last year- the swim sessions, and bike sessions- started at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. You do an hour swim session at 6 to 7, and everyone else goes off and tunnels to their office jobs and things like that. My body clock is just a morning body clock anyway now. So, it’s just different.
Dom: OK, at that point we’ve gone from bigging you up to me feeling really guilty. So we’ll just move on.
Pete: Sounds like a good plan.
Dom: We’ve had a great week this week. I’ve really enjoyed the past week. You kicked off a survey on your blog over at PreneurMarketing.com, didn’t you?
Pete: Yeah, we put together a survey just to hear back from the whole community that we’ve got around that. There’s obviously a lot of people who have listened to the show and have joined the community mailing list, and comment on blog posts, and all that sort of stuff. I wanted to get a bit more of a feel for who everybody was, who everybody is, get an idea of what sort of businesses everyone is operating. We can do a few things with that information.
We can highlight them on the blog posts, and do spotlights and case studies of some fantastic things that people are doing and implementing. Also, we can make sure we do well with podcast episodes and blog posts that really resonate with people and answer the questions that they have. It was a very interesting survey. Got some fantastic feedback. It was really cool.
Dom: Yeah, I really enjoyed reading the feedback as well. It’s been great, and fascinating, to find out the range of readers/viewers/listeners, whatever you want to call them, to the different things that we do. Not just your blog, but we got feedback about the podcast and everything. It’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed getting that feedback. It’s always good to get feedback. We ask for it on the podcast every week. We ask that you go to PreneurMedia.tv and comment there, give us feedback and ideas. And, also on iTunes.
Pete: Well, speaking of the PreneurMedia.tv website, when it comes to the feedback, we’ve actually got, on that site, a way for people to leave us voicemail messages as well. Which we’re receiving, a few of them. We should start trying to implement them back into the show. If you’ve got a specific question that you want answered, or you just want some general feedback that you’d love to put on the show, if you want to do a bit of an elevator pitch after you mention how good we are, we can probably not edit that out.
It could be some free exposure if you give us some love. So, head over to PreneurMedia.tv and on the right-hand side of the site is the Send Us A Voicemail icon. When you click on that, it opens a little window where you can just hit Start Recording and start talking, and it will send the voicemail straight to us. So, questions, feedback, suggestions, we’re all ears for that sort of stuff.
Dom: Absolutely. I’m glad you brought that up. We actually really enjoy getting those. It’s a version of Pete’s optimization trick of replying to emails with audio. It’s a great way for you folks to get in contact with us. If you don’t want us to feature whatever it is you put in there on the show, then say so at the end of the message. But, as Pete says, I’ll happily not edit out plugs for your brand or service if it’s appropriate. We would love to hear from you in any way that you want to contact us. Definitely try out that service. Who’s the service with?
Pete: SpeakPipe, I think it is.
Pete: SpeakPipe? There you go. SpeakPipe. Great little service.
Dom: It is great. We’re just trying it out now. We’ve had quite a few people use it. It seems to be working well for us. Speaking of things that we use- did you see that segue? Are you impressed with that?
Pete: That was almost flawless, until you pointed it out.
Dom: Yeah, sorry. After slick segues, I’m going for sound effects next. Actually, I’m not. I’m not going to do that. Let’s talk about one of our new sponsors. We got a new sponsor this week. Just a quick mention of them. We don’t want to make a big deal out of this. But, Pete, now that you’re on the show, I would like you to just talk a little bit about Shoeboxed. You’re the guy that uses this more than me.
Pete: Yeah, I’ve been using this service for probably 12 months now, I’d say. It’s a really cool service. What they basically do is scan, sort and file all your important documents. So, as you sort of trundle around the working week, you get receipts and tax invoices and that gets piled up. Obviously, you need to keep them for tax purposes to ensure you’re getting the savings that’s applicable.
If you’re a business and you’re in Australia, you’ve got a 30% tax rate any time you can classify something as a business expense and write it off. You’re getting a 30% discount. So, when it comes to things like the 7 Levers and the margin lever, we try to reduce or increase your margins by 10% to sort of have that result. Doing things like making sure you actually maximize your tax deductions is a huge way that can go towards that.
Shoeboxed really helps with that because what it allows you to do, they send you a big blue envelope that in there you put all of your receipts, your tax invoices, business cards as well, and you post it to them. It’s all part of the solution. Then, they go and scan all of that, human verify it, and then sort it automatically into certain categories. They have sort of an ever-growing tagging database that this particular business is a restaurant, this type of business is a hardware store, whatever it might be; and they’ll automatically categorize each of your receipts and tax invoices into the appropriate expense “bucket” so to speak.
It makes it really easy for you when you’re trying to work out what’s deductable of your expenses and what’s not. They do it all for you and automate that as part of their process. And, when it comes to business cards and things like that, they’ll actually scan the business card and turn it into an address book-ready format. So, if you are networking quite a bit and getting business cards, take them home and rather than having to manipulate them yourself and write them out and put them into your address book, Shoeboxed does that for you.
It allows you to simply download all the new address book data and throw it straight into your address book, your Google contacts, into SendOutCards if you’re using that sort of service. It’s really cool to take all that admin stuff away from you on a very easy monthly basis. I just keep that blue envelope in the back, top pouch of my briefcase. And when I’m out and about getting receipts, I just shove it straight into the blue envelope. Then, once every two weeks, I seal it up and send it off, and they’ll send it back to you with a new blue envelope for the next month. It’s a fantastic service.
Dom: It really is quite amazing, and there’s a lot of lessons in that. It’s not just about recommending a service that we use, and you certainly use it a lot more than me. But, it’s not just about that, it’s about why we use it and what it gives to us as entrepreneurs, as business people. In this case, that is one of those, as you say, talking to the margin lever from the 7 Levers, it’s that monitoring and measuring. You’re actually keeping an eye on these things and you’ve set a process in place to do it.
The idea of sticking that blue envelope in the back pocket of your bag, as you say, wherever you go; because usually, if you’re spending money, you’re out. So, if you’ve got that bag with you and you’ve just gotten a receipt, or when you get back to the office, or back home, or wherever it is, and stick it in that envelope. Every two weeks, seal it up. You don’t have to have shoeboxes in your house for these things or envelopes with dates on them, any of that stuff.
The quality of the service is amazing. As you said, the way that they are learning system and they organize it for you, it just makes measuring and monitoring that stuff a lot less painful. And that’s why I think I a lot of people don’t measure and monitor things, because it’s painful for them. That’s really why we’re recommending Shoeboxed at the moment. So, pop over to PreneurMedia.tv/Shoeboxed to try that out.
Pete: Absolutely, I always find it’s so automated, so systemized, which is what I try to do with everything. There’s this leverage in it, which is great.
Dom: Alright, let’s move on with the episode. Let’s have some stats from this survey. Let’s have a look at the general stuff that we found out, before we get into the meat of it.
Pete: Well, I’m going to try to do a proper blog post on this in the next couple of weeks, with nice graphical displays of all the results and things like that. I was really excited about some of the stuff we got back. One of the questions was, “What type of business do you have? Was it a mix- a bit of online and a bit of offline business, or was it a web-based business or a real-world bricks-and-mortar-type store?” I was really surprised with the results. 32.79% of respondents said they’ve got a mix- a bit of an online business, and a bit of an offline business, which was interesting.
31.15% has web-based business, so they sell stuff online. 29 odd percent have real-world businesses, and then the remainder is just sort of getting started. It was a nice broad range of businesses out there. That was very cool to see. And then, if you break down even further- I used Wufoo, which is a fantastic service for doing surveys because it can sort of automate, or dynamically change the questions that somebody answers based on the previous responses to previous questions.
So, based on what type of business they had, they then got a follow-up question finding out a bit more about how to categorize that type of business. Out of the real-world business, 26% of them were service-based B2B business. So wholesalers, phone systems sales, doing direct business-to-business-type stuff with a service element. 22% were B2C service businesses. So accountants, travel agents, roof tilers, that kind of thing.
7% were bricks-and-mortar retail stores. About 7% were hardworking trades, that’s where the builder can’t really fit in. The roof tilers are probably more in that hardworking trade-type business. It was really an eclectic mix, which was very cool. Similar sort of stats with the web-based businesses. 31% were selling eBooks and information. 27-ish percent were ecommerce sales, so selling real stuff to real people. And then, about 22-23% of people were making money from blogging and affiliate marketing, which was again a nice wide spread of people doing a wide range of different stuff, which was very cool.
Dom: I just found it nice to find out what we kind of thought we knew about some of this stuff, which is that we’re trying to not be specific to a particular type of business when we talk on the podcast, and certainly not when you’ve been working on your blog. You’ve been writing on that blog for years now, and it’s not focused on any particular kind of marketing or any particular kind of business. It’s general information, general advice.
And, we’ve brought all that together when we talked about the 7 Levers. That’s the classic example of how the things that we talk about are the core business principles, are the same. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. It was great to see that and kind of get some numbers against it, just to find out that we’ve got this wide range of people in our audience, and in the Preneur community that are listening and feeding back.
Pete: The best stat about the community that I love the most, and this is what really made me smile, was that 50.88%, so about half, of the Preneur community are making a full-time income from their own business. Obviously, in so many communities where- we probably wouldn’t call them a community really- so many marketing lists, so many people on those lists don’t actually do anything, and that says a lot to me.
Whereas, if over half of the people in our community are making a full-time income and are self-employed, which is just awesome, like 22% of people were making a nice side income but still working for ‘the man;’ obviously, what we’re teaching, what we’re talking about, is obviously helping people. They’re actually implementing this stuff because it’s easy, actionable, and measurable.
They’re getting results. If you look it, if you add up the math, you’ve got 51% roughly with full-time income, 22% side income. 73%, and then 7% are doing so well that they have staff. So, 80% of people, I love this, 80% of people in this Preneur community are actually making a significant amount of money, or more. It’s just so cool, which means the stuff we’re talking about is helping people, they’re implementing it, and it’s actually working. It’s just so cool to see.
Dom: Yeah. I think that really was, for me, the best part of this survey. To find out the range of people, and then to find out that we were making a difference, and in that positive way that- as you say, 80% of people are using this information to build their own business, to bring themselves direct revenue. There were people in there, as you say, that has partial full-time employment and partial side income, but there is a huge number that are self-employed or running their own business. It was great to see that and get that feedback.
Pete: I suppose other people do this stuff. It’s amazing they kind of rely on the big chunk of their marketplace who actually don’t make money. That’s their business model, and I find that very strange. But that’s another rant and soapbox.
Dom: OK, so let’s get to the meat of this episode. Let’s get to why we’ve brought this up. We very often title the shows after the show, because we don’t always know what we’re going to talk about in detail. But, Pete, you came up with the title for this show, and I think it’s important to talk about it now. You titled this show, ‘Unfrequently Answered Questions,’ because we had a section in the survey; for anyone who hasn’t filled out a survey, there’s a very small, little piece in the survey which a lot of people have taken the opportunity to fill out.
Hopefully, we’re going to surprise a few people and give a lot of value here. Because in the survey, there was a spot that said, “If you could ask any two questions, what would they be?” Now, bear in mind that Pete and I run the 7 Levers Mastermind Group, where people can join with us and we’ll work one-on-one with them towards benefiting their business and improving their business, applying the 7 Levers in a Mastermind situation. This is kind of a miniature version of that. You get to ask us questions and we’re going to answer them.
We’ve asked for feedback before, we’ve asked for comments in the iTunes and so on. And, people have asked us the odd question and we’ve tried to bring it in. But this is one huge pile of questions. So, Pete and I are going to try and go through these. There’s no way we’re going to get through, the response was huge to this. There’s no way we’re going to get through all of them in one show. So, we’re going to roll them up into a couple shows, and just keep going.
If we keep getting feedback, we’re going to keep going with this and do it on a semi-regular basis. What I thought, because there was some common threads. Even though these business people were disparate, they’re from different walks of life, different business and different markets, there were some common threads to the questions. So, I’m going to group those common questions up and hopefully, we can address those in this show. Then, I’m going to kind of highlight some of the other ones.
But, we are going to try to work our way through as many of the questions that were asked and try and help as many people, try to give as much feedback as we can. I’m going to kick off; I think this is the most common question, most repeated question throughout, which is, “If you started from scratch, what business would you be starting? What would you be looking to start? Would you be a product or service-based business?” It’s kind of a compound question, made up of a few things. So, what business would you start? And potentially, what market?
Although, obviously that’s a little bit of a wide question, and maybe we can’t answer that one; but the other one that goes after that, which is equally valuable, which is, “What marketing technique or what area of marketing would you focus on to get the most leverage, to get that business off the ground?” Because, as you said, Pete, quite a few people in this survey either are running their own business or doing their own business as a side line or are starting up. This is where this question, I think, is coming from. These people are looking to see what we would do. Have you got a response to that?
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. I think, obviously, there are two parts to that question. So, the first one around what business would I start? I think it’s pretty obvious that for me it’s about leverage. For me, it’s about trying to find a business that I can get the most leverage out of. Things like ecommerce sites. I like the idea of online business, obviously, for all the reasons we’ve talked about on all the past episodes combined. Primarily, it gives you a huge audience. There’s lots of leverage in that, there’s not as much one-to-one selling.
Although, you do make the big sales, to reach critical mass anyway. there’s a lot of leverage in online stores. I do prefer the ecommerce, real stuff to real people-kind of thing, rather than the information marketing sort of stuff. I just personally have had much more enjoyment and success selling real stuff to real people. So, I’d be going down that avenue trying to find something I can tackle, an industry I could tackle that has drop-ship ability so I don’t have to hold the stock and manage that kind of thing, although we do at our businesses because the volume is justified and a whole bunch of other reasons.
But primarily, we try and start all the businesses we do in that ecommerce place based around starting that with a drop-shipping model so we can reduce our overheads. We just focus on sales and marketing to begin with because that’s what generates our revenue. Then as the business matures, then we try and increase margins by bringing stock in-house because we get better buys and reduce shipping costs, and there’s more margin in that. We get up and operational by focusing on sales and marketing.
And then when we start really working and pulling those 7 Levers, and one being the margin lever obviously, that’s when we start looking at bringing stuff in-house and things like that. That’s one avenue. The other side of the coin is, I do think software as a service, or applications, do have a very appealing space right now. There’s a lot of competition and there’s a lot of noise in there. But I think the software service, or particularly the app stuff; I don’t you’re ever going to make an app necessarily that’s going to be like an Instagram-type scenario.
If you’re trying to build a billion-dollar business, I wouldn’t say apps. But, if we’re looking at starting a nice side income while working for the man, then just parlay that income into something bigger. Apps are a good way to go because you’re limiting the interaction with customers. The more interaction with customers you have to have, the more labor-intensive that is and the less leverage you have.
With businesses that allow you to have some arm’s length from a customer interaction; I’m not saying reducing your customer service or the quality you’re giving customers. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is reducing the interaction with customers and making it at arm’s length can be very good. Particularly, if you are doing this as a side income to start with, trying to reduce that labor-intensive customer service side of things.
Dom: Cool. Just to interrupt you briefly there, just a little bit of technical terminology. If anybody doesn’t know what drop-shipping means, it is an excellent way to get started. There are a number of businesses out there; and basically, they allow you to take an order for a product they have in stock and they will fulfill that order for you from their depo or warehouse, or storage location.
You do the billing, you place the order with them. They do the shipping, and it appears that it came from you in 9 cases out of 10. Your initial startup costs are incredibly low because you don’t pay to hold stock, which is your point, Pete, wasn’t it? You sacrifice a bit of margin, because it usually costs you more. But you get going for basically nothing.
Pete: Exactly right. That’s how I would be dipping my toe in the waterfall, starting from scratch.
Dom: Cool. I love that. I’m going to come back to the leverage comment because we’re all about leverage, and we’re going to definitely carry on being all about leverage. I love the drop-shipping idea. I have an allergy to product, physical things. I just have an allergy, I don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s just because I’ve not really been involved in that side of business. I come from a services background, historically in all the different companies I’ve worked for, in businesses and things.
It’s always been a services-based thing. If I was starting again from scratch, I would not do a services-based business, I don’t think. From a leverage point of view, it’s not the highest leverage you can do, let’s put it that way. I love your comment about clients. My first real boss in the world, I have to say this, he knows who he is. He had a phrase which was, “Clients- they’re very overrated.” He was one of those people who liked to keep clients at a certain arm’s length.
But, you made a valid comment about there are certain businesses out there that allow you to provide quality, to provide a good service or a good product or whatever, without actually being face to face all the time with clients. You’re not so keen on info products. In terms of startup cost, and some of these questions did come from people that were specifically asking about startups or getting started in this, there’s a heck of a lot of leverage in an information product.
Pete: Absolutely, no question about that at all.
Dom: In terms of taking what’s in your head, getting it down in some form- an eBook or an audio training course, or a video-based training course. Obviously these are things that I know a lot about, and I produce a lot of these things. So, I can speak to this quite eloquently. There’s a phenomenal amount of leverage in producing something like that, and then being there to be sold. It’s not a physical object, it doesn’t need physical delivery. It can be sold 24 hours a day.
It’s the internet dream. I’m a little bit against positioning it that way, because it’s not as easy as some people will have you think. But, again, your point, software and software as a service, after the initial development cost or effort- depending on how you choose to do it- and it’s almost the same as an info product at that point. It’s something that can be sold or used online, electronically. You’re not directly interfacing with a client. You’re providing a quality thing.
There’s a degree of creativity in it, which I think a lot of people are into. You can get a great return on investment for the initial effort. And, I think one of the- it’s a little quirk, but it does speak to a question that was asked in there- if you are doing this as a side line, publishing a piece of software, that’s the entity, that’s the item of sale. Whereas if you publish an information product, some people are a little bit twitchy about putting their name on something while they’re still working for somebody else.
Pete: That’s a very good point as well.
Dom: Yeah, I think there’s a range there. Personally, my immediate reflex because of my skill set and because of the things that we teach about, we’ve already mentioned this in our Content Leverage System how easy it can be to produce an information product or produce information for online distribution. My reflex action, if somebody came to me and asked me, I would say information product. But, if I sat back and maybe understood a little bit about what they want to achieve, I think I might veer towards your software things. But, personally I don’t think I’d ever do physical product.
Pete: Fair enough.
Dom: You’ve been incredibly successful selling physical product, so you’ve got a lot more experience of how “easy” that can be.
Pete: Very true.
Dom: So, what about marketing? How would you- you’re starting from scratch- what kind of things would you focus on doing to get the initial word out.
Pete: I’m going to answer that question in two ways. Firstly, probably the annoying response is go and listen to the Preneur Hierarchy episode of PreneurCast. That is all about where to focus your initial marketing, and go back through that. That kind of really sums it up. The two things I would be focusing on are first, where do my target market go to look for this solution that I sell? And then, secondly, it would be putting some systems in place to market and close those prospects and pass customers into secondary and further sales.
So, where for most businesses, and most people when they’ve got their wallets and their purses half-open, and are proactively looking for a solution to their problem, be it some information they want to buy or a physical product they want to purchase, or a service they want to have completed. Most people generally are going to the internet to find those solutions. So, things like Google AdWords, getting listed in Google Maps, getting listed in all the other various industry-leading directories like Yelp or your local Yellow Pages-type directories that are using various spaces and various nations and various countries.
I’d be very much making sure I plaster my business and maximize my exposure in the places that people are looking before you do anything else. Just try to make sure and think, “If I had this problem and needed a solution, what would I do to solve that? Would I go to Google, would I go to Yelp, would I go to my Google Maps on my iPhone? Where would I go and what would I do?” I’d be looking and making sure you’re getting in front of those eyeballs.
That’s the primary place to start because it’s going to give you the most leverage, the greatest ROI. And, generally, in most circumstances these days, that type of positioning and marketing is generally a CPA or a CPC-type, direct-response cost. What I mean by that is cost-per-click or cost-per-acquisition. So you only have to pay when you get a result. You’re not paying for eyeballs; you’re paying for result, which is obviously a more cash flow-advantageous option.
Dom: Absolutely. That little segment there almost tempted me to rename this entire podcast into the Leverage Podcast because that’s everything you just said. I don’t think it’s annoying to suggest people review the Preneur Hierarchy. So many people don’t look at their marketing efforts that way. So many people go the spray-and-pray route. When you start out, there’s quite a few questions. The origin of this as the primary common question was because people where saying, “I’m starting out, I don’t have a lot of spare funding.”
It’s all about focus and leverage. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got no money or all the money in the world, you should still be focusing on leverage. You should still be focusing on getting the maximum result. And, the top of the pyramid in the Preneur Hierarchy, the spray and pray, is the last place, and certainly if you’re starting out and have got low funding for the project, that’s the last place you should go. You should focus on those lower levels. And yeah, Pete, as you say, the first question to ask is where are the people that have the problem that I solve, which I just think that’s so succinct.
That’s exactly spot on. Where are they, where will they go? And again, and doubling up on the leverage with the idea of only paying if you get a result by using the online techniques. And, if you can’t use online, it’s about focusing. It’s about knowing that you’re going to put your message in front of the right people. Classic example, I actually for some reason was thinking about this earlier today anyway and you just reminded me of this, I came across years ago, a private school, however the terminology goes around the world, basically a school that you have to apply to, be accepted for, and then pay to attend.
So, there’s a waiting list. In fact, there’s a huge waiting list. But, eventually, if you become complacent in a situation like that where you think you’ve got a huge waiting list, eventually that waiting list is going to run out. You’ve got to plan a long way ahead. This particular school came up with the idea that when you go and- perhaps, Pete, you might find out about this one day soon- when you go into hospital to have a child, a lot of hospitals now provide new parent packs. They approach the hospitals in the local area, because it’s a local school, in the local area they focus their marketing; they approach the local hospitals to put marketing for their school in their new parent pack.
Pete: Interesting. I like it.
Dom: That’s about as laser-targeted as you can get in an offline world.
Pete: Very cool. That’s awesome.
Dom: But, that example of that school doing that is a classic example of what we’re talking about. If you need to use that kind of marketing method that you’re going to print something out, or you’ve got to go offline to reach these people, or even as we’ve talked about in one of our very early podcasts, just standing out- if you type into Google a highly searched phrase, then you’re going to see huge piles of adverts.
Doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s a highly competitive phrase, and even if you’ve got the money to pay to be listed in that list of Top 3 adverts so people won’t actually see your advert on Google or wherever, you’ve got to work very hard to stand out. These people are in a highly competitive world, the private schooling world. So it was actually a great way to stand out. They’re in front of people at the pivotal moment, and they’ve got their message there. That’s not spray-and-pray marketing. That’s actually the opposite to me.
Dom: To build on that, just before we finish on that as our comment, there is a little tiny question, a quiet question from a very polite person who asked, “If I could only do one marketing activity today, what should I do?” My answer builds on what we’ve just talked about. What would you say, Pete?
Pete: It’s a hard question to answer without any context.
Dom: OK, I’ll give you my answer. It comes from the Preneur Hierarchy, and actually builds and speaks to something that you’ve just said. If I could only do one marketing activity today, what would I do? I would ask my existing customers, or my prospects, what their problems or pain is. By finding out what your prospects or your customers want, you can go away, find it, build it, make it, record it, source it from wherever, and give it to them.
Pete: Which is what this survey, ironically, was all about.
Dom: There you go.
Pete: How’s that for full circle?
Dom: How’s that for full circle? I didn’t even plan that. But, that’s my answer to that. It’s a little bit high-level thinking, in a way, and a very unfrequently given answer, definitely. I imagine a lot of people would answer with GoogleAdWords or something specific. Not strategic, not tactical, but an actual thing.
Pete: I like it. That’s a very good answer.
Dom: Why, thank you, sir. From you, that’s a true compliment.
Pete: Any other questions?
Dom: Yeah, let’s move on with this.
Pete: I want to really hit some questions, some additional questions, this episode. And, we’ll definitely do this again. Obviously, there’s plenty of questions. Maybe every couple weeks, we’ll delve back into the Unfrequently Answered Question list, and we’ll do another show about this.
Dom: OK, so I’m going to put another common one. The reason that I’m picking these common ones is because they’re addressing a lot of people’s questions. The next common question I’ve got here is, “What do you focus on? How do you choose what to focus on in any given day? What tasks, what business tasks or processes?” What do you focus on, versus, for example, what do you outsource or what do you just say, “I’m not going to worry about that. I’ll get around to that.” What’s your primary focus?
Pete: I think it’s definitely try to break away that core versus mechanics stuff we spoke about previously. I try and outsource anything that’s mechanical as best I can. And, what I mean by that, if you haven’t heard that particular episode of PreneurCast, it’s very much about anything that doesn’t apply direct thought, is rinse-and-repeatable, or is just very mechanical in its function. I try and get that done by somebody else as much as possible so I can worry about the core elements of my business- either content creation-related stuff, or strategic direction and planning.
They’re the two big things that I try and focus on, because the tools and the tactics and that sort of stuff is easy. Building an AdWords account, for example, is easy and there’s plenty of people that can do that for you. When you’re starting out, there may be times- and it makes perfect sense to do it yourself- but you’ve got to really break up in your mind and have a clear distinction between my strategic and core time versus my mechanical time in the business. That’s, I guess, the esoteric kind of answer. In terms of how I do it, it comes down to OmniFocus and David Allen’s Getting Things Done process.
“These are all the projects I’m working right now,” and then just fundamentally have, “What is the one next action I need to do for each one of these projects to move it forward today?” Sometimes being on deadlines, things change enough to spend a whole a day working on one particular project. But I do try my hardest to tick off one action per project per day, no matter how small it is. Even if it’s just replying to an email relating to one particular project. That way, there is progress and momentum, no matter how small the momentum. Obviously, it can build up over time. That’s how I do to try and stay on top of everything. There is a lot of pies that I have my fingers in. I hope that answers the question.
Dom: I think it does. Certainly, I think it answers both of them. I would basically just say ditto for the how, with what you said, I would say the same thing. Get some kind of system to make you’ve got something keeping hold of what it is that needs doing, and something to keep track of what you need to do next. Just touching each thing and keeping momentum. For anybody who hasn’t looked at the GTD, the Getting Things Done idea, it’s well worth a look if you have to manage even a few things.
The core principle of having a trusted place that you basically make a note of everything you’ve got to get done, made a huge difference to my productivity, which is one of the things that we talk about. In terms of what to focus on, absolutely again, 100%. We call it mechanics; and I’ll put a link to the mechanics show in the show notes. Anything that you can basically easily write down the steps to do it, that’s mechanics. That’s what you shouldn’t be doing.
You should maybe put aside some time every week to look at the things that are mechanics and make it a regular task to write down what to do, and then go find somebody else to go do it. I do try on a regular basis to do that as a way of optimizing my business. But, basically, I focus on the things that- and here we come back to the leverage podcast again- the things with the most leverage.
Pete: Yeah. Something that kind of just popped into my head is that- I’m going to see how well I can articulate this at 6 AM. I think the hardest thing, or the greatest skill you can develop as an entrepreneur, is the discipline to trust your past self. What I mean by that is if on a Sunday night you plan out, sit down and spend an hour doing your Getting Things Done schedule, your next actions in sequential order for each project. That makes sense if you actually understand the GTD principles.
Or, even simply if the night before you go to bed and you write a list of the things you need to achieve the following day, your very basic, rudimentary to-do list manager. What I think you need to do though, is the following day, trust that person who did that plan the night before or the Sunday night, and stick to the plan. I think so many people, what they do is, and everyone does this- it’s just that discipline to catch yourself doing it. That’s the biggest thing. I don’t think discipline is not necessarily just doing it; it’s catching yourself doing it, and then realizing and fixing it.
What you try to catch yourself doing is in the moment of the following day when you’re actually doing stuff, don’t make rash changes to your to do list. So many people, I think, have that plan for the day and they don’t implement the plan, fulfill the plan, because they make calls, decisions, choices, in the moment of what to do. I think that can be very dangerous. If you have that skill set- and I wish I could have a ‘here’s the pill to take,’ here’s the way to do that. But the night before, or the morning of, who cares when it is, you set your schedule of what needs to get done. And, you do that to the exclusion of all else.
Have that habit of doing that every day. I think that helps you focus because you plan out what you need to do, then you just do that. You don’t change it on the fly. Too many people I see, me included, change the action plan mid-battle. I think if you speak to any of the old war veterans – Sun Tzu or General Patton, or whatever it is, if you’re half way into battle, it’s probably not the smartest thing to start thinking about running in a different direction because you’ll run directly into the enemy, potentially. It’s an analogy within an analogy, on top of an analogy.
Dom: Yeah, I think you’re doing very well for 6 AM, Pete, and I’m going to save you from yourself there. It’s a really good point, actually. It really is. I like it. You lost me to begin with, with the trust the guy from the past thing, but it worked out well in the end. Seriously though, it’s a very good point. In terms of helping yourself focus on things, which is a big topic, before you start any task or series of tasks, get an idea of what it is you’re trying to achieve and make sure you’ve got something other than just the next thing you’re going to do planned out.
Because you’ll always be susceptible to the phone ringing or checking your email and firefighting, or just knee-jerk reactions. It does happen to everybody, but the more that you have an idea with a clear head, i.e. at the end of the previous day, or the beginning of that day before the world descends on you and changes the plan, if you have a clear idea of what your plan is, you can always come back to it. So, I think it’s a really good point. My point, and I kind of made this in the mechanics show, just to summarize what to focus on, I’ll give you this little saying, because you know I like my sayings, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Dom: A lot of people do things because they can do it, so why shouldn’t they? But, it isn’t necessarily the best use of your time and therefore, the best leverage in your business. I think we definitely covered that one. So, let’s jump ahead. This is probably going to be a little bit of a run-over show, but it’s just great stuff. I’m loving giving some value back to people that have taken time to fill out our surveys, so we’ll let it run for a little bit. But, another kind of common question and one that we’ve had in the past to the point that you actually did something about this to answer the question was, “How do you cut through the noise of information overload?”
Pete: Noise Reduction? Doesn’t really help me though because it’s me and my team that actually create that. How do I cut through the noise? A whole range of filters, and filters to the real raw extent of email filters. So, certain things that I want to consume later on don’t hit my inbox and distract me when I’m trying to be proactive. That’s sort of covered in a recent blog post at PreneurMarketing.com, and I think we covered that in one of the earlier PreneurCast episodes as well.
Actually having Gmail filters on to filter your email and move some of that noise that you need to have on reference out of our inbox automatically. It’s sort of that low-level filters. And, I think it’s just high-level filters and trying not to go spend too much time on digg or reddit every day, and having that discipline to do that.
Dom: It’s true. Honestly, I think filters is the answer. It’s about thinking about that in as wide a way as you can. I use filters. I use software and tool filters like Gmail. I use the Gmail self-filtering, the automatic things, as you say, that move things away from your line of sight so you don’t read them. If you’re on an email list, it doesn’t appear in your inbox. All that appears in my inbox is things from clients that need dealing with. If it doesn’t need me to deal with it in the working day, then it’s not in front of my face.
That’s a type of filter. But another filter is actually getting somebody to deal with something for you to summarize information. One of the great things- I actually know a couple of people that do this- all these information products out there, you’re trying to learn what there is, all the new techniques, or even old techniques that have been around for years that you just never got around to. Listening to audio on tape or on CD, or now downloadable audio course, some of these things go on for eight, 10, 12 hours.
Pete: Is this the pain point you’re experiencing right now?
Dom: There may be an element of my own personal experience in this, yes Peter. But anyway, we’ll segue away from that.
Pete: The email at 11 o’clock last night going, “What? That thing’s eight hours long. Are you serious?”
Dom: But I know people who actually do get people to consume the content for them. They pay their staff to consume the content and summarize it and give them the summary. We do it. One of our regular sponsors, the Read It For Me service. They summarize books. They summarize the current business and personal development information that’s out there into these multimedia materials that you can go. Basically, you can consume an entire book in about 10 minutes.
Pete: Yeah, because it reduces it to its essence. Let’s be honest here, I’m an author myself, and being fully transparent. A lot of books can be written in a lot less words but they’re padded out for various reasons and very honest reasons. But you can get the core for most books in a summary. And then if you want to delve deeper into it, then you invest in the full book and really get the meat. But, things like Read It For Me, is a service that reduces the noise. That’s exactly what it does.
Dom: And, just because they are a sponsor, if you go to ReadItFor.Me/PreneurCast, you’ll try out their service and get a discount if you sign up. So, there you go. Sponsorship, slotted that in. Not on purpose, it was relevant to the question. But yeah, filters- that’s the answer. There’s now people and services and technologies and tools out there to provide you with filters and ways to filter. Or, you can just filter it yourself. Just close the door in the office, switch off the phone, don’t have the email client running all the time. Whatever level of noise it is you’re talk about, it’s about applying an appropriate filter. That’s it. There you go.
Dom: As a little sorbet before we move into some of the specifics- we are pushing time, but there’s a couple things maybe we could pick up before we close this one. I just want to flag a couple of the more humorous questions that popped in. My personal favorite, so far, whoever you were, bless you. “How can I get my phone to play Dom at 2-speed and Pete at 1-speed automatically?”
Pete: Well, maybe we should start doing a PreneurCast episode where we actually edit that out- put me on 1-speed, and 2-speed you up. That might be a bonus edition we can start releasing.
Dom: A special edition of the PreneurCast.
Pete: Maybe the 5 AM start might be a solution. I don’t know how I’ve been today, but maybe that could be a solution where we start doing the podcasts at 4 AM when I’m even more asleep.
Dom: You could be on to something there. Another one, which is actually not an uncommon question, but it’s not totally relevant to the entire community. Someone, bless them, asked how they can see more of my work. Because everybody sees your work all over the different products and blogs and things that you produce, but my work is a little bit harder to see and spot, and identify.
Pete: They can buy the stuff we sell.
Dom: Yeah, pretty much anything Pete’s produced in the last year or so was done by me. So you can do it that way, by all means. In all seriousness, if you want to contact either of us directly to ask us a question about masterminds, or providing services, or anything like that, as anybody who has already done this will tell you, we do respond, we’re happy to.
Drop us an email at preneurcast [at] preneurgroup [dot] com or in any one of the other ways that we talk about getting in touch with us, on Twitter or whatever it might be. Pete is @preneur on Twitter, I am @dgoucher. It’s a little bit harder to spell, but you’ll find me. Drop us a line and we’ll get back to you. We always do, people will tell you. And one more was, “Can you run more masterminds, please?”
Dom: If you insist, folks. If you insist. We do have plans to bring back the 7 Levers Mastermind. We are pushing an hour here, folks. We have plenty more questions to answer. Hopefully, by picking these common questions, this show has addressed a lot of issues that a lot of you are interested in. We’re going to go back through, we’re going to pick some more out, we’re going to plan another show out, and we are going to come back to this.
It’s a high-value thing for you as members of the Preneur community to get this feedback from us without having to be a member of our Mastermind, or whatever. But, hopefully it’s been a good show and been interesting. Our other sponsor, is Audible.com. Pete, have you been using Audible this week?
Pete: Yeah, I’ve actually, with the whole Facebook IPO discussions that are continually happening every five minutes on the internet…
Dom: Do you wear a hoodie to the office, Peter?
Pete: I’ve actually got a hoodie on right now. A grey Nike hoodie.
Dom: Apparently, that is disrespectful. Although, I did read a really funny comment about that because somebody complained that Mark Zuckerberg piled into the IPO meeting with a hoodie on, and some suit complained. One of the witty comments was, “Hmm, let’s look at this, shall we? CEO of Yahoo, no hoodie. CEO of AOL, no hoodie. CEO of Facebook, hoodie. Remind me again how much they’re worth?”
Pete: Exactly. I just find that ridiculous. Like, you’re an investor wanting to give this guy money and you’re offended by how he acts? Shouldn’t you be sucking up to him? Anyway, that’s a whole…
Dom: Anyway, so you’ve been into the Facebook IPO.
Pete: I was recommended a really cool book called The Facebook Effect, which I’m listening to on Audible. It’s the history of Facebook, but not the social network history of Facebook. It talks about the strategery- I love that made up word, the strategery of Facebook’s growth.
Dom: I was waiting to see when you got that in.
Pete: It really documents all the steps that happened in the growth of Facebook from when it started, obviously, and that whole social network story. But then, it talked about who they actually got as their initial investors and why it took their money as opposed to other people’s money, and why they sort of implemented certain platform and functionality into the site. The really cool thing that I’m getting out of the book is the way Zuckerberg and their team look at Facebook fundamentally.
They’re not a content-provider, they’re not something like MySpace who are a content provider, they are a platform-provider. So all they do is create a platform, and they treat their platform like a country. All they do is make policies like a government. But, that’s the extent of their business model. If you look at it through that context, it’s really interesting to see everything Facebook does makes perfect sense when you look at it. All they’re trying to do is create a country, fundamentally, and do what a government does to a country- create the infrastructure and then provide policy.
And then let other people generate revenue and commerce inside that country, inside that community. All they do is just guide and manage those policies. It’s a really interesting book, I’m really enjoying it. It’s interesting to see how the business grew, and all that fun negotiation tactics and values they’ve got and that sort of stuff. It’s cool to see that side of things as well.
Dom: Cool. And, I’m going to use you as a filter. Because you’re going through that and you’ve told me it’s of value and it’s of interest, so I’m going to put it on my list of things to read. There you go. There’s an example of us using filters. But, that’s you using Audible, the audiobook service. You’re listening to that as you’re going about doing other things, I imagine. You can get a trial of the Audible service with a free download of a book from their ridiculous library of every kind of book there is really, by going to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast.
We strongly recommend that you give that one a try, in terms of leverage of your time- what to focus on, and how to focus on it- that’s a great way to maximize your time out there. One last thing, something that’s one of those little comments at the bottom of the survey. Someone made the point that, they’re not the only person that does this, but they made the point that they’re out and about and listening to us when they’re out and about. On our podcast, that’s the way that they listen to us. People do it while they’re jogging or exercising or walking the dog, or whatever it is, and they pointed out that.
I have this problem myself with audio-based material. They pointed out that there’s a lot of value in what we do and they’d really like to be able to take notes, but they’re out and about, walking the dog or whatever it is that they’re doing. Well, what I’d like to point out, just to remind everybody, is that over at PreneurMedia.tv, everything that we talk about in the show, all the links, are in the show notes below the actual file that you can download. You don’t have to do it through iTunes.
You can get the file, listen to it online, you can see the show notes, click on the links from everything that we talk about from every episode. But also, there’s a little bit of a delay with this, but there are transcripts of every episode. So, if you just make a mental note that there was something in that episode that was worth paying attention to, when you get back, pop on to PreneurMedia.tv, and check out the episode page and you’ll have a full transcript.
You can go down, highlight it, copy it, bookmark it in your favorite bookmarking service- please do, thank you- share it with your friends on Facebook, Like it, Google+ it, do whatever you want. But, we provide that service for that very reason. We appreciate that not everybody learns and takes things in the same way. So, we try to give you as much back up for that as we can. So, definitely use that resource and while you’re there, drop us a comment obviously. But yeah, I just wanted to draw that one out because it was a very valid comment, and something that I have a problem with too. Hopefully, that helps a few people.
Dom: Alright, Pete, other than to remind everybody that over at 7levers.com exciting things are going to be happening soon, pop over to 7levers.com and sign up to be notified when we take our 7 Levers Training Course live, I think we can wrap up for the week.
Pete: Sounds good. Well, I’ve got some new exciting stuff next week, and we’ll roll out some new Q&A episodes coming up as well.
Dom: That’s great. OK, everybody, see you next week.
Getting Things Done – David Allen
These previous episodes are talked about in today’s show. If you missed them, go back and listen over at:
PreneurCast Episode 37 – The Preneur Hierarchy
PreneurCast Episode 44 – Mechanics vs Core Business
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