AskPat 282 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 282 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today.
We have a great question today from Lee over in the U.K., but before we get to that I do want to thank today's sponsor, which is FreshBooks.com, one of the best investments you can make for your small business because over 5,000,000 small businesses are using FreshBooks to help them with their cloud accounting. By cloud accounting, I mean you have access to your numbers wherever you're at, on whatever device you're on, which is really cool. They actually have an award-winning mobile app. Seriously, it's just helping you, going to keep track of your expenses, your income, and they make it super professional and easy to create invoices for your students, or clients, or whoever you're consulting with.
You've got to check it out, it's the best thing you could do. You can get a thirty-day free trial of FreshBooks by going to GetFreshBooks.com, and enter, “Ask Pat,” “Ask Pat” in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section. Again, GetFreshBooks.com, and enter, “Ask Pat,” in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section. Sweet. Awesome, now let's get to today's question from Lee.
Lee Allen: Hi Pat, my name's Lee Allen and I'm from Liverpool in the U.K. I'm about to start my own journey to online business, and I've been reading your blog, listening to your podcast for a few months now. I've also read Time Ferriss's The 4-Hour Workweek, which I think you recommend at some point on your site. My question is—as I'm so inspired, I've got so many ideas, so many projects I want to tackle—I'm wondering how do you go about choosing what to do next. Do you work on one thing at a time, or do you have multiple things going on? Do you time table them, how do you stay focused, make sure they all get done on time, on budget, and you stay motivated? Yeah, that's my question really. It'd also be great to connect with you in the future once my business is up and thriving. That'd be awesome. Okay, thanks Pat.
Pat Flynn: Lee, thank you so much for this question. I think you suffer from something that all of us listening to this episode suffer from, and that is just idea overload. We see these new opportunities, or you just might have this huge bucket of ideas and opportunities going on in your head. In your head you think about one and you're like, “Oh my gosh, the possibilities for that one will be awesome. Oh my gosh, there's this other one over here that will be really cool too. I heard this was hot right now.” Then you go back and forth, and what ends up happening—and why this is scary, and this is why a lot of people don't succeed—is because we try all of our ideas at the same time, or don't give any one of our ideas enough chance or time to succeed, then we don't succeed at all. Or we just get so paralyzed by all the ideas that we just don't do anything.
Some of us . . . this is actually related to a quote that was mentioned two days ago on Monday by Daniel Gilbert. He says, “Thinking about the future can be so pleasurable that sometimes we'd rather think about it than get there.” It's really easy to think about all these ideas, and what it might look like when they actually come true, and are actually realized. Then, when we have to put in the time and effort to put those things together and actually create them, it just paralyzes us. There's a lot of factors there, and I'll give you some tips on how to choose what to do first. Before that, I do want to stress the importance of doing one thing at a time.
Lee, you read my book recommendation for The 4-Hour Workweek, which is great, and just like most people after you read that book you get just so many ideas. There's another book that should be required reading in this space, and that book is called The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. You can kind of guess, based on the title, what this book is about. Really what was eye opening for me—because we always know, “Okay, just work on one thing at a time until completion,”—even then, even though we know that's the best thing to do, we don't always do it. After reading this book it is absolutely detrimental what can happen when you spread your focus out.
When you think about it, if you have three projects you want to work on it gives you two different excuses. The other two businesses or business ideas, they become excuses that when things get tough in business one, you jump over to business two. When things get tough in business two, you jump over to business three. You feel like you're making progress because you're moving forward in each of those businesses that you are currently focusing on, but if you focus 33 percent of your effort on business one and then jump to business two, 33 percent of the effort, then business three, 33 percent of the effort, nothing is done. Whereas if you put 33 percent into A, and then 33 percent again into A, and then 33 percent again into A, then you're 99 percent there. Well you need the . . . I mean 33.333333 percent if you want to be technical, if you want to go one third. Yeah, you see what it means? If you put all that energy into one energy, you can finish. At least you get it to a point where you can know that it's actually having a chance to do something, or it is actually there and able to provide a service for somebody to be able to then generate an income for you. At which point you can potentially automate some of those things, or semi-automate some of those things. A lot like the passive income businesses that I've created, which then allows you to explore new opportunities.
Now when you're starting out, you must focus on one thing at a time. It's the hardest thing to do. For me, I'm at a point in my business now where I have a number of team members helping me do maybe two or three things at a time. Even then, internally, we talk all the time about cutting out. Cut out, cut out this, cut out this, cut out that, cut out this, save it for later, save it for later, save it for later. You know, these business ideas might be great ideas. It's hard because we also psychologically have this fear of missing out; we feel like if we don't act on this business now, we're going to miss out. Or somebody's going to steal our idea, so we want to work on all of them at the same time. It's just, again, it's just a time bomb if you do that. You're going to get nothing done.
I wanted to talk about that psychological stuff, and making sure that when you do pick something, you go with it. You go with it. Now that means when you are doing research to figure out what to do first, it's important that you put thorough research in so you are giving yourself the best chance. Actually, this is what my upcoming book is going to be about: Validation, and putting those things into practice, and researching things to make sure that business idea you have is actually going to be one that is going to give you the best chance to succeed. You'll hear more about that book later, but that's a book I've been working on, writing every single day. It's been a lot of fun to put together.
I'll give you some hints here. The first thing you want to do is actually just put all your ideas out there. I would recommend, actually, Post-it Notes, that's sort of my favorite thing for 2015. This is the year of Post-it Notes, apparently. If you watch Episode 1 of SPI TV over at WatchSPI.tv, you'll see that I give you some strategies for brainstorming a really quick first draft of your next book using Post-it Notes. You can use that same strategy for blog posts, or other types of content, podcast episodes, so and so forth. You could do the same thing for different types of businesses too.
What you do is just literally whatever comes to mind, there's no wrong answer. You do not want to not write down an idea that pops in your head, because it could be a great one. Write down everything on a Post-it Note, and then stick it on a desk or whatever, on the wall, and you just keep writing. Boom, boom, boom. You might have hundreds of these ideas. Then you might be able to create buckets. Some of them might be more related to each other. That can, even then at that point, could begin to help you understand sort of what is most interesting to you, or maybe what the biggest needs are.
Then you might be able to narrow things down based on budget, or based on time, or I always like to do a lot of other tests too, sort of internally in my brain. Maybe an idea is there on a Post-it Note and you might think to yourself, “Hmm, can I imagine doing this a year from now? If I became the expert in this space, can I imagine doing it?” That has cut out so many potential business ideas for me, because they were things that were basically just based on keyword research. There has to be some sort of motivation to be able to continue with something for that long. You don't want to start something knowing you're just going to die out in a year, right?
Again, you can eliminate those things and that wasted time by just, again, focusing on that internal test. I also do some other tests like the three-year test, or the five-year test. That can prove to be interesting. The grandma test: Is this something I'd be comfortable sharing with my grandma? The Oprah test: Is this something that you would be comfortable going on the Oprah show with, sharing with the world? Or is this something that not really . . . or is this something that would be worthy of going onto the Oprah show? I don't know, those are different tests you could take.
Again, excuse me, just a bunch of different things you can think about when you're deciding what to choose from. Basically giving yourself ways to narrow down what it is that you're going to do. You will get to a point where you narrow down those ideas, and you might have four or five. Then what I would do is talk about those ideas with other people. This is another thing that is huge, and a big part of my book is making sure that you actually, when you have those ideas that seem great, talk about them. A few things happen.
One: No, they're not going to steal your idea. That just never happens, or hardly ever happens. What you get out of those conversations is much, much more than just you keeping that idea safe. Really what happens when you talk about these things is you are able to internalize, and speak, and convey what it is that you have in your head. Often times when you do that, it might not be because there's another person there and you're trying to convince somebody totally new to this idea of yours. You might find that well, once you speak about it and talk to somebody about it, it's not actually a good idea when it comes out of your mouth.
Have you ever heard anybody say, “Yeah, now that I say that, maybe it's not a good idea,” right? That's kind of what you're going for there. Again, this conversation that you have, again, it's not just you talking. These people asking questions are curious about what you have and what you're up to. They're going to fill in those gaps for you, things that you might not be thinking of yourself because you're just so deep into it, and we're at that point in our brains with that idea that you just are on a high with it, right? You're imagining this whole amazing different life as a result of this taking off.
Well you need to come back to reality and that only happens when you talk to other people about it, and they're going to be critics. There's going to be people who are going to try and tear it down, and that's good, that's what you want. You want those things to be addressed as you're coming up and fleshing out these ideas so that you know what to do first. Then, even then, once you narrow it down to one, that's great. There might be some dice-rolling involved, or coin-flipping, and that's okay. If you're at that point, you know that whatever it is that you're choosing is going to be something worthwhile for you. Then you just go with it. Again, that becomes your primary focus. You have to commit to it, to a point at which you can then reassess and understand if this is the right direction or not. That might come weeks, or months, or even years down the road. You definitely need to make sure you give yourself time to succeed as well.
Budget is important too, that's another test you can take. Well, how much is this really going to cost? Do research for that. Does it match up with what you were expecting? Motivation, again: Once you go through this exercise you will be motivated because you wouldn't get to the end unless you were motivated with that particular idea. Then also writing down why that's a good idea for you, and that's important. Writing those things down internalizes that for you, but also allows you to look at that when the times get tough. Really, times do get tough; there will be roadblocks and hurdles and that's just the universe's way of testing us to see if we really, really want this. If you follow Gary Vaynerchuk he really says that you can make any niche work if you have the passion and hustle for it. From worm farming, like if you could succeed in worm farming—I think that was the example in Crush It he used—then you should be able to succeed in anything.
Lain Ehmann, she's somebody who was a guest on the Smart Passive Income Podcast in Episode 37. She makes six figures a year from scrapbooking. Scrapbooking. It's out there, you just gotta grab it. You got to take the time to do the proper research so you don't go down a hole that you don't want to. Again, think about those internal questions for yourself, and talk to other people about it too. Woo! Lee, I hope that answers your question, thank you so much for it. An AskPat t-shirt is going to be headed your way as a result.
For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, all you have to do is go to AskPat.com, you can ask right there on that page, even from your mobile device—thanks to Speakpipe for that capability. That's Speakpipe.com. I also want to thank today's sponsor, which is FreshBooks.com. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my business when I first started was not not starting an email list, although that was a mistake. Not not trying to do everything on my own, which was a mistake as well. Really, it was trying to actually do all the finances in Excel on my own. When money came in, I just wrote it down on a spreadsheet: It just became this huge mess. By the time that very first tax season came around, I eventually just had to scramble and find a CPA to organize it all for me.
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Awesome. Now finally I want to end with a quote, and this quote was from Sophia Loren. She says, “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” Cheers, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.
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