There are many tools out there that could potentially make our lives easier as entrepreneurs. But how do you know which ones are right for you?
This is something I used to struggle with a lot. I would buy software or equipment before I had any concrete use for it. Little by little the costs would add up. It got to the point where I was almost afraid to keep track of my spending.
I have a challenge for you today. I’d like you to run an audit of the tools you’re paying for right now and think about which ones are absolutely vital for your business. The ones that aren’t? Consider cutting them out for the time being. Let’s try a Marie-Kondo-like approach.
I want to thank you for letting me be vulnerable in this episode because this was a huge problem for me. I now have filters in place and questions I ask myself when new tools come across my screen — Do I need this right now? Is this going to help me, or is it just distracting me from something I know I need to do?
These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself because I know many people are like me and could use this reminder. So listen in on today’s episode to hear all about how I was finally able to tackle this issue.
SPI 604: I Really Wanted to Believe This
Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he prefers handwritten letters over any other type of communication, Pat Flynn.
Pat Flynn: Hey, it's Pat here. I wanted to share another, how do I say, issue or problem I had when I was starting out with business that I sometimes still have.
And I like to share these from time to time, because number one, just, I think it's important to be authentic. And, you know, I think it shows some vulnerability, which allows you to connect with your audience a little bit more. And hopefully you'll connect more with me after this. But most of all, there's a big lesson. Right?
And so the big problem that I suffered from was buying all the tools, buying all the equipment, before I knew exactly what I was gonna do with it. What I mean is, especially in the world of entrepreneurship, you know, there's a lot of different kinds of software, there's a lot of different pieces of camera, equipment, microphone equipment, all that kind of stuff that seemingly can help us.
And in many cases, and in most cases they do. The microphones make us sound better. The video makes us look better. The tools make things more efficient. But just because they help somebody else doesn't necessarily mean they're going to help you. Or at least right now. Which might sound weird to hear from somebody who sells software, who sells products, who sells courses.
But what it really comes down to is the all very encompassing world of squirrel syndrome, right? The idea that this new bright, shiny object could fix and solve all of our problems. And I wanna break this down a little bit because I think that's important to know why we feel that way, especially with tools.
You know, I remember there was a episode of the Smart Passive Income podcast here, way back in the day. I think it was like episode 80 something with Clay Collins. It's the first time he was on the show. And he had mentioned that in order to grow your email list, you want to create a single page PDF file.
You know, there's many ways to grow your email list. This is one version of a lead magnet that you could provide to offer an exchange for an email address. But that is an idea of the PDF file that is essentially a list of two or three tools that a person might need in your industry to do whatever it is they need to do.
If it's a photographer, Hey, show them a PDF that shows them InDesign or, Lightroom and, and quick bonus tips on how to use them. If you are, you know, an entrepreneur helping other entrepreneurs, then maybe it's using something like Slack, maybe using another tool for editing something or, or what have you. Doesn't matter what the tools are.
Just a quick list of, of tools and basic ideas on how to use them. And that's enough to build an email list and it's like, wow, really just a list of tools can, you know, get people over the barrier of keeping their email address, secure and, and tight to themselves? Yeah! But why is that? Why does a list of tools become so attractive to us that we would be willing to give up something like an email address when normally, you know, or an exclusive newsletter for something with amazing tips, it's a little bit harder.
Well, people love free stuff, number one, and the PDF file would be a list of things that is free to access. But more than that, it's just the idea of the tools itself. Clay Collins in that episode described these tactics to work because people assume that when you get access to these tools, everything is gonna change.
It's the analogy of the amateur photographer who thinks that just because they're getting a new lens, they're going to be a better photographer. Yes. Some of their photos might now be able to include the Bokeh effect, this sort of blurred background because of a smaller aperture, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're gonna become a better photographer.
They still have to know how to use it, when to use it, all that kind of stuff. But it's the tools themselves that attract people to join an email list. If that is the kind of lead magnet you're gonna offer. And so when it comes to us as consumers, we have to really be careful about the tools that we hear, you know, and I share a number of tools here on this podcast.
I share a number of tools on my social media channels and on my YouTube. But I, I want to give this to you because I need you to understand that it's important to have a, a filter in mind, and, and an understanding that you should question every single tool that comes your way as to whether or not it would not just be helpful.
I think it's obvious that these things are helpful, but if it's something you need right now, or if it's something that perhaps you feel is gonna fast forward something that Might actually just be something difficult that you're trying to avoid or to fast forward through. Right? And that's what I find is very common with a lot of the draw that I have for a lot of tools out there, right?
Things that can help me save time or things that can help me do things in a different kind of way or more efficiently are actually just things that attract me, because I don't want to do those things when I really should. Or, and, and I could. Either that, or find somebody or, or delegate that to somebody else. But a tool, especially ones that cost monthly income or monthly revenue. Right? You know, monthly fee, you know, these things stack up. I. I'm almost afraid to stack together all the things that I pay monthly for, it would likely be a very large amount. I mean, the truth is I know exactly how much that is because I keep track of that stuff. But in most cases, I mean, I'm sort of speaking as if I was Pat Flynn five years ago and I didn't keep track of these things.
I think I have Matt and the financial team at SPI to think for helping me learn how to sort of keep track of those things a little bit better. But having a filtered in place now, such that when a tool comes my way, when I see an ad on Instagram, when I hear about a tool on another person's podcast, especially if it comes from a friend, right?
If Amy Porterfield says, Hey, Pat, you gotta get this tool. I almost buy it. Or I used to almost buy it without even paying attention to exactly what that tool did. And, and if I found out what it did, I would just assume that it was perfect for me right now, because it was perfect for Amy Porterfield.
That's very dangerous, right? That's very dangerous. And so we need to, we need to disconnect this idea that the tools are the answer, right? The tools are simply a way to become more efficient with something. The tools are a means to an end, but it's not, maybe I'm not saying that correctly, but the tools are there to support you on and with the things that you are already attempting to do.
I mean, in many cases, these tools become a distraction and pull us away from the things that we're often, you know, committed to do. They're distractions and they cost money and they could be very dangerous in that way, without you even knowing it because it's masked by the idea that, Hey, this is going to make your life easier and tools you don't need them all. Right?
I would challenge you to run an audit of the tools that you use in your business right now, and which ones are absolutely necessary. We can take a Marie Kondo approach to this. Does this spark joy? Well, maybe that's not the right thing for an entrepreneur, cuz a lot of things like email marketing don't necessarily spark joy, but are very necessary, right?
So email marketing should be on your list as something that is very necessary to do what it is you need to do. And if you haven't started your email list yet, what are you doing? You need to go to 100Emails.com to take that three day challenge. It's free so that you can get access to that.
But again, email I think is obvious for us entrepreneurs who've been doing this for a while. That that is a major component in a vital component to the work that we do online. Right? It's almost in my opinion, like business insurance. It's insurance, in my opinion, because if a social media platform goes down, if your website goes down, if your podcast host stops working or whatever, you still have the email list to stay in contact with your audience.
And my entire business was hacked in 2013. My email list still was able to keep in contact with everybody, let people know what was going on, and I could have moved to people elsewhere. If, if I had to, thankfully I got everything back, but anyway, I digress to get back on point, like having a filter and understanding exactly what you need to do and taking this audit of the things that you already have, can save you money.
It could save you time and it can help you come back to what it is that's important. Right? I think if I imagine the photographer going back to that analogy, right? The bag that they might have full of lenses, like imagine 15 different lenses in there for 15 different situations, right? As a wedding photographer, first of all, that's gonna be a, a hefty bag, right?
To carry around. It's gonna be heavy. And a lot of us carry around a lot of weight with the tools that we've gotten access to with the things that we've purchased and especially the software. But second of all, imagine that photographer making decisions. There's now 15 different options, decisions that, that photographer now has to make it in different scenarios.
And yes, there are super pro professional photographers who would know exactly when to use each one and the, the minor differences between each, the scenarios that work best for each of them. But for most of us who are the amateur or the beginner, having 15 lenses would be actually working against you.
You would not have the time to master each of those lenses. You would not have the time to use each of them to their fullest capability. And I want you to think really honestly, with yourself right now, with the tools that you have access to right now, are you using them to your best ability? Are you maximizing the effort that that investment could offer you?
Probably not. Probably got it and either hoped for a magic button to happen and you know, some software does that. You plug in a certain thing and then things start working better and that's fine, but I'm talking about the tools that require work. But we also hope that they work like a magic button, but they don't.
So we have them available, we pay for it and we move on to the next thing that we hope is gonna be a magic button, but that's not how it works. So I want you to, and my challenge for you here in this episode is to take an audit of the tools that you have access to and to see which ones are absolutely necessary for what you need to do.
Which ones are ones that you know would be great if you actually use them. And then make a decision, okay, are you gonna commit to using this or are you going to stop that payment going through for now? Thus opening up more, not just of your wallet, but of your mind to the tools that you have said yes to that are required.
That will help you really get to where you need to go. Right? We just, again, don't want that bag full of lenses. You don't need that. You can master the one or two lenses and have a much easier time on your back, not carrying all that stuff. So that's something that I needed to hear today, and I hope you needed to hear as well.
Again, wanna thank you for letting me be vulnerable, because this was a huge problem for me. And I have to put these things into place, these filters into place. These questions that I ask myself about these new tools that come across my screen. Do I need them right now? Is this actually going to help me or is this something that is just distracting me from something I already know I need to do?
So you could take those questions and ask those for yourself too. So, cheers. Thanks so much. And I look forward to seeing you in next Wednesday's episode, we got a great interview coming up. And again, I'm back with you, just you and me next Friday for these Friday Follow Up episodes. And again, thank you so much.
I appreciate you.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.