Do the math

Shiny object syndrome is a real thing. I’m serious. It applies to all those new projects you want to start. It applies to all those new bits of software you want to subscribe too. It applies to all those glazed doughnuts you want to eat.

OK, maybe that last one is just me… Let’s get back to you.

Is that new shiny thing you’re looking at (template, course, subscription, book) worth the purchase. Let’s do the math.

Scenario 1

You don’t consider yourself as a reader but someone recommended a great book to you. It’ll change the way you look at business, the world and  yourself. It’s only 325 pages long. You can read it on the commute to and from your office.

You’re a busy person and don’t want to risk forgetting a physical book anywhere so you buy the Kindle book… and it sits on your tablet for the next three years unread.

Verdict: Not worth it… however, if you had purchased the Audible version of the book you could have listened to it on the go.

Scenario 2

You’re scrolling through Facebook and see an advert for a challenge to help you finish that thing you’ve been procrastinating on.

You procrastinate on your work to complete the challenge, but it’s to grow your business, so it’s worth it. Right?

So you complete the challenge and get an offer to get full access to the full course which dives deeper on the subject the challenge dealt with… but for half price! Bargain!

And of course you buy.

So you sit down to watch the first video and realise that you’re not actually at the point in your business where the course would be useful to you. SOO you park it for now. You’ll come back to use it once you’re ready.

Only thing is, by the time you’re ready, the course material is outdated, or worse, the course is no longer live.

Verdict: Not worth it… however, if the course was about something you needed there and then, it makes sense to buy  it, but buying because it may come in handy later is the equivalent of digital hoarding.

Scenario 3

You’re a financial advisor who is struggling to generate leads for your practice, and you decide to contact a web developer to help you plan and set up a semi automated system for generating interest in your services. He charges you $2500 for the system.

Working together for a month, you design a sales funnel that generates traffic to a squeeze page which collects prospects’ email addresses in exchange for a free report. That report could be about maximizing a lead’s equity without exposing their own capital to risk.

You run ads that show your report to audiences for whom it addresses their most pressing need. You build the funnel and test it and find out it’s generating 500 leads a week. Your conversion rate (the percentage of people who sign up to become clients) is 2%. Your average session with first time clients is $300.

2% of 500 is 10.

10 x $300 = $3000.

This means your new website is generating new business for you to the tune of $3000 a week. Not bad for a $2500 investment.

Verdict: Definitely worth it.

Granted, the above scenarios are fictional, and the amount of money you would spend in each scenario is different, but they are typical – I personally have experienced each of the above scenarios.

As small business owners, we often spend time trying to figure how best to save money on what we need, rather than evaluating whether what we are actually spending on is what we need in the first place.

As we draw near to the end of the calendar year, I’d like to encourage you set a business budget for the coming year, and decide how much you can afford to lose, as well as how much you stand to gain from each purchase.

If it doesn’t save or make you time or money, let it go. If there’s a chance that you’ll lose more than your budget allows for, weigh the risk before you click that Buy Now button.

What are you investing in next year? Let me know in the comments.


There’s no such thing as a stupid question

In all honesty, this post should have been titled, “What I learned from working in a night club”.

I genuinely believe that there are no stupid questions, only lazy people.

I’ll explain.

When I was at university I got a job at the local nightclub. Funnily enough it was the second nightclub I had ever been to in my life. Side note – I didn’t like the first night club I visited so I left my mates in there and went to the pizza restaurant across the road to get something to eat, then hung out in a snooker bar until they were ready to leave the club.

But I digress.

The week I was due to start my job my boss went on annual leave. She asked one of the oldest serving members of staff (let’s call him ‘Omar’) to show me the ropes. They didn’t have a training manual or a staff handbook and I remember Omar taking me on a tour of the building and using the phrase “you know how x works” a couple of times. In most cases I didn’t, and would say as much, so he’d explain… but only when I explicitly stated that I didn’t know something.

Here’s the thing… If you don’t know what you don’t know… ask questions. It’s not a stupid question if you genuinely don’t know the answer, and if you do know the answer, it’s not a real question, you’re just being awkward. LOL!

The first two weeks were fun. I worked behind the bar pulling drinks and chatting with the clubbers. The shifts weren’t too long night, the music wasn’t bad and I knew most of the clubbers from dorms.

The third week I was put in the cloakroom. Not a problem. I’d had training. I’d been taught two things…

  1. The check in process
    • Someone comes to the cloakroom
    • That someone pays me a pound
    • That same someone gives me their coat
    • I hang their coat up in the cloakroom
    • I put a raffle ticket onto their coat
    • I give them the matching raffle ticket. The end.
  2. The check out process
    • Someone comes along and gives me their ticket
    • I go into the cloakroom and retrieve the coat with the matching ticket.
    • I give that someone their coat. The end.

In hindsight,some questions I should have asked during my ‘training’ were:

  • What do I do with the tickets after the coat has been collected?
  • What if someone presents a ticket and there isn’t a coat with a matching ticket in the cloakroom?
  • What if someone accuses me of theft?

… but I didn’t ask any of these questions. I thought I knew how a cloakroom worked. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I might not know everything I needed to know, and I had assumed that if there was anything else I did need to know I would have been told.

Now those of you who were regular ravers can already see where this is going, but for the rest of us I’ll continue.

My first night in the cloakroom (and my manager’s first day back from leave) a young lady comes to retrieve a coat at the end of the evening. She gives me her ticket, the coat isn’t there. I ask her to describe it, it’s a lightweight bomber jacket. I check again and it isn’t there. So I tell her as much. Then I ask another member of staff what to do with the lady. They advise her to wait until the end of the evening as it had most likely fallen off the hanger.

At the end of the evening it became clear that the lady’s jacket was not there… and it may not have been her ticket either as she was by now describing her coat to the manager as a very expensive designer coat. Sigh.

Needless to say, Omar told the manager that he had trained me, the manager couldn’t believe that I didn’t know the procedure, – I believe her exact words were, “Haven’t you ever been to a nightclub before?”

I was fired, escorted off the premises and banned from attending the club for a year.

The irony.

The moral of the story is, “Read the fine print”. If there isn’t any, ask some questions or get out of there, and quickly!


Go from Freelancer to CEO in three easy steps

Tom Peters said it best when he said I want to be the CEO of Me Inc. Who else could possibly do me better than I can?

Working with a client on her launch recently I had the misfortune of installing software to the wrong folder of her live website. Not a big deal. I deleted the installation and reinstalled to the correct folder. No harm done… right?


It was a big deal. By installing it to the wrong place I’d wiped out her live website while she was running Facebook ads to the tune of hundreds of dollars a day. As I’m sure you can imagine, she was understandably not impressed.

Here’s the kicker. I’m on her tech team. I’m the one she calls in to fix this kind of stuff, so I was the last person she expected to cause this kind of problem.

Her response to the whole thing however taught me something important. Bearing in mind that until she spoke to me, she wasn’t aware what had caused the issue.

She called me and explained the problem. I realised my error and apologised. She asked how long it would take to fix, if there was anything she could do to remedy the issue faster and asked that I schedule installations with her in the future and avoid installing software during times when her site would be experiencing heavy traffic.

No harm, no foul.

Just in case you missed that… She identified the problem, asked that I fix it, asked how she could help, gave feedback and moved on.

Her response to the whole thing reminded me of the approach of the One Minute Manager. As you can imagine, I won’t be making that mistake again, and I will be following her advice (which in hindsight was just plain common sense).

When you run a lifestyle business, things pretty much depend on you and your team. The life of a CEO CAN be summarised in three easy steps.

1. Embrace failure

Fail small, fail fast, learn faster. Understand that if it can wrong, at some point it probably will. Be prepared to deal with the unexpected. It’s just part of running a business.

2. Learn from it

Pilot everything. Expect the first draft to be bad. It’s research into what could go wrong, and a chance for you to learn how to do it right or better the next time around. Understand that perfection is unrealistic.

3. Move on

The faster you learn, the faster you become better. Experience is a wonderful teacher. Take the ‘failure’ as a lesson and put solutions in place to avoid it happening again or to minimise the disruption to your business if it were to happen again.

What thing have you failed at recently, and what did you learn from the experience? Please share in the comments below.


Birds of a feather

If you grew up watching the Animaniacs (The Warner brothers and their Warner sister, Dot), you’ll know exactly who The Goodfeathers are and exactly who they’re meant to be a parody of.

Parodies work because of pigeon holes or ‘stereotypes’.

Stereotyping happens to the best of us and can mean all the difference between a successful venture and a failing one .

Can a potential customer see from the public face of your business whether it is the kind of company it would want to work with or buy from?

People stereotype people. As a rule, our first impressions of a person (or a business) are based on their appearance and our previously held beliefs or experience with people who adhere to a similar aesthetic.

Picture a well groomed woman in a pencil skirt, knitted cardigan, a silk blouse, and sensible court shoes who wore her hair pinned up, and glasses perched on the end of her nose. If I were to ask you where she worked, you’d probably have a strong idea in your head even though I’ve not told you anything about what she does nor given you any insight into her personality.

This, my friends, is the power of personal branding. It builds upon common (mis)conceptions and as time goes on, either affirms one’s beliefs or conflicts with them.

Your mission for today is to figure out how people have stereotyped you and your business (brand audit) then make a plan to correct the stereotype if you feel it is incorrect (public relations) – Let me know if you need help with either of these.

Feel free to share your findings and your plans to correct course in the comments below.


Is it too late to start again

In knitting when something goes wrong, knitters have three options…
Start again, Frog it, or ignore it.

How the knitter decides to proceed once they’ve discovered the problem depends on three factors:

  1. How far they are into the project
  2. Who the project is for
  3. How bad the error is

I knit. I also build websites. Bear with me, it’ll all make sense in a minute.

Let’s say you’ve built something for yourself. A website.

You’ve invested time, money, and a ridiculous number of Google searches into it and it feels like the site just doesn’t reflect the effort you put into it. There are broken links,  pictures are showing in the wrong places and no one seems to be able to figure how to contact you.

In other words, it doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

When that happens, it’s important to remember – you can only learn what you don’t like or what doesn’t work by trying it first.

Take time out to reflect on what exactly you’re not happy about. Then rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, make a list of all the things you do love, and another of the things you don’t love about your website. Then make a bucket list of everything you want your website to be.

THEN figure out the purpose of the website for you and for your target audience. Maybe you’re trying to generate money (or sales) from your site or generate enquiries for offline sales (i.e. publicising a book you’ve published)?

The direction you take with your website depends on what your number one aim is. Once you’ve figured out what you want, figure out how you can help your visitor to benefit from whatever you are selling – be it advice, a physical product or a service.

Once you’ve figured out exactly what you want, and you’ve completed your bucket list, set some BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for your site.

Visualise that destination and start the journey – but – and here’s the important part – take one step at a time so you can see what is working.

If you’re in the middle of rethinking your website, set yourself the challenge of completing one task a day (try and keep each task to between 10 and 30 minutes in time so it doesn’t feel overwhelming). You’d be surprised at how different your website will be within a month.

In other words, unless you’ve decided to do something completely unrelated to what you were doing before now, Frog it, and most importantly, START NOW!!!

Let me know in the comments what you’re frogging today. I’ll mostly likely be able to help.