Business Insights: Powerful, Million Dollar Lessons I’ve Learned in 2015
It’s been a challenging year so far.
I entrusted my campaigns entirely to my affiliate team. I left the comforts of running affiliate marketing campaigns, and started a new company AFFcelerator. And I’ve been running both companies while spending over half the year traveling in Asia.
I was always busy before, but I’m operating at another level now.
With challenges comes growth. I have to admit that by pushing myself so much this year, I’ve learned a lot of new lessons. I want to write a post now highlighting some of the key ideas I’ve learned this year, so you can learn them faster than I was able to.
Say No to Opportunities if You Want to Succeed
Mark Cuban said that you can drown in opportunity.
AFFcelerator only offers one product right now – I travel the world and offer 3 days of live, in-person training. By only offering one product, I’m missing out on tons of potential revenue.
Some clients can’t get Visas to travel to the countries I’m conducting workshops in. Some clients can’t afford the price and would prefer if I do an online course, eBook, or recording.
Success isn’t about what you do, but also what you don’t do.
I don’t have the manpower to pursue too many opportunities. It’s important to know your limitations so you don’t stretch yourself too thin. I rather have 1 amazing product, than 3 mediocre ones. So yea I am missing out on a lot of money, but I’m ok with that. I know my limits and what I can handle.
It’s the same reason why I tell affiliates to specialize in specific traffic sources or verticals. The same concept applies, it’s just a different game.
Are you trying to do too many things at once? It’s hard to compete with someone if you’re giving only 25%, and they’re giving their 100% effort.
There’s a timeline for everything. Once I have my team and systems built up more, then I can pursue other opportunities.
Health IS a Competitive Advantage
“It helps to have superhuman energy and stamina. If you are not blessed with godlike genetics, then make it a point to get into the best shape possible. There will be jet lag, mental fatigue, bouts of hard partying, loneliness, pointless meetings, major setbacks, family drama, issues with the Significant Other you rarely see, dark nights of the soul, people who bore and annoy you, little sleep, less sleep than that. Keep your body sharp to keep your mind sharp. It pays off.” From Elon Musk’s First Wife
I’ve always emphasized the importance of health and I’ve preached the basics: you should drink a lot of water, sleep well, exercise, and eat healthy.
Most of my eating habits have been built around my bodybuilding goals. I’m either trying to build muscle or cut fat. I’m at a point now where I’m happy with the way I look, and I want to focus more on my health.
When you’re trying to change your body, it’s easy to get caught up in simple calorie counting and trying to hit your macros. I’ve realized that the past few years I haven’t paid much attention to the quality of the food I’ve been eating, and I haven’t focused on making sure I’m getting the right amount of vitamins. You may hit your macros with ice cream, pizzas, and doughnuts, but how healthy is that?
Why do I have this sudden interest in health? I’m pushing myself hard these days. I’m getting older. I’m traveling more than ever. And I’m experiencing a great deal of stress from work. It’s easier to prevent sickness than to cure it.
I also realized that the men in my family don’t have a good history of living long. Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was born. My uncle passed away at 55 last year. It’s my duty to my family, and to my future kids to take care of myself as best as possible.
Some things I have implemented so far:
- More Green Vegetables in each Meal. I’m also drinking two Vegetables shakes a day.
- I’ve cut down on red meat. Now it’s mainly chicken and Fish. If I do eat red meat then I wanna make sure it’s grass fed beef.
- Zero Sugar. Watch the Movie Fed Up (It’s on NetFlix) and Sugar: The Bitter Truth. By the way, fresh fruit is good sugars. Processed juices are just about as healthy as a can of soda.
- Getting some blood work done at the doctor to see if I have any Vitamin deficiencies. Then I’ll research the proper supplementation.
My best advice to people is to start small. If you’re drinking 8 cans of mountain dew a day, it’s difficult to go cold turkey. Lower it to 7 cans a day, then 6 cans a day, etc. Celebrate your victories…don’t kick yourself if you’re not perfect.
There’s a lot of bullshit in the health world. Tons of weirdos and they often have conflicting advice.
Hopefully I can share more as I learn and give you guys the 80 / 20 of what I’ve discovered.
My blog is known for affiliate marketing advice, but ultimate I’m here to help you live a richer, and more fulfilling life. I’ll be the guinea pig, and I’ll share with you the results.
Avoid Wasted Motion
I’ve been studying Japanese business theories lately and there is such an emphasis on “leanness” and avoiding waste.
Here are some examples of how I’m trying to avoid waste in the business world.
- If I find myself answering the same question over and over, I can create a list of Frequently asked questions, or I can use “TextExpander.”Another example is I had so many newbies who ask me “Where to start with affiliate marketing?” I just created a guide and send everyone there.The mentality is to “do it once.”
- If my employee has a complex task, I have him document the steps to complete it. It’ll be an SOP aka Standard Operating Procedure. This can act like a checklist so he won’t make a mistake in the future. If we have another employee onboard, then it’s much faster to train them if we already have everything written down.
- I THINK. I’m question if each project or task we do is necessary. The biggest waste is completing a project that’s not even necessary or needed.
Thoughts on Employees
“I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.” – John D. Rockefellar
The value of a good employee can’t be overstated.
It’s surprising how most companies treat their employees these days: they underpay and overwork them. There are so many studies out there that show the best practices for the workplace, and companies just choose to ignore them.
I pay my employees well. I give everyone a minimum of 4 weeks vacation a year. Happy employees = productive employees.
Next is I hate micromanaging. Instead I prefer giving outcomes, and having the employees figure it out. I act more like an advisor / strategist. An employee can’t grow if you’re always baby sitting them. According to the book Drive, autonomy is a key factor in motivation.
I’m also working more on my hiring process. Hiring is an uncomfortable process for most people. I feel most affiliates just hire their friends, and cross their fingers that everything works out. But is that the best practice?
I’ve realized if you really spend the time to find a good employee, it can save a lot of headaches down the road. I think the unwritten rule is a bad employee can cost you 10x of what you’re paying them.
At the same time you don’t want to be overdependent on any employee. Why? They can leave anytime, for any reason. Instead of depending on a key person for your sales, it’s better to have a system for hiring and training a great salesman.
What’s The One Thing?
It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of running a business. You have a million projects to do and it’s tough keeping up.
The problem is you’re not making progress if you’re always in a state of maintenance.
At any given time you have fires around your business. You don’t have the time, energy, or resources to put them all out. Your job as the boss is to choose which fires make the biggest impact, and work on putting them out one a time.
Each week I like to set a big goal. What’s the one challenge that we can solve that would push us closer to our goal?
If there’s an 8 hour work day then perhaps 6 hours of the day would have to be devoted to the day to day operations. But I’ll dedicate that 2 hours a day to push and solve the big problem we have.
If everything’s a priority, then nothing is a priority.
Work Less by Using Automation and Software
Good software can make your life so much easier. Software never gets tired and makes less errors than humans do. I’m always on the hunt for new tools and software to improve my businesses.
- I use HelpScout to help manage my customer support. No more email messages getting lost in the shuffle. I can assign it to an employee if they can asnwer it.
- I use ScheduleOnce if someone wants to do a call with me. The client goes to a page with my availability, and it automatically gets updated in my Google Calendar.
- I’m switching over to InfusionSoft to help automate some of my marketing. This also helps deliver better value to people on my list. If I notice a user only clicks on my emails about productivity, I can segment them into a productivity list. That means they’ll only get emails that are relevant to them.
- I connect different services using Zapier
This is barely scratching the surface in terms of the tools I use for my businesses. I’m also working on develop custom tools and dashboards to help everything run more smoothly.
Good tools and automation are a key to making more while working less. Most importantly, it helps deliver value to the clients.
Invest in Learning
I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books and they’ve been invaluable in my learning, but now I’m starting to explore ways of learnings beyond just books.
I’ve spent a lottttt of money this year on information and training.
- I have a private mentor now to help me with the business side of things.
- I’m attending Tony Robbin’s business mastery in August. There are other seminars and courses I’m attending.
- I have taken private speaking lessons, negotiation lessons, advanced copywriting, and much more.
Some people ask, “Why don’t you just learn it on your own?”
Because my time is valuable. Why read 15 books on negotiation if I can go to a 4 hour seminar and get the 80 / 20 of it?
Spending money learning depends of course on the quality of the material, but you should also consider your leverage.
It wouldn’t make sense to spend $10k on a business mastery course if you don’t already have a business. But for me all I need is one or two insights to make my money back.
The more I know, the more I realize how little I truly know. That’s what keeps me hungry to keep learning and growing.
Make Less Mistakes
“Amateurs practice until they get it right, professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong”
In the pursuit of any skill, it’s tempting to always look for the magic bullets or shortcuts to improve. One mentality shift I had was to make less mistakes.
Let me share an example from me playing fighting games in the past (I’m a huge fan of Street Fighter and Tekken)
I would mess up combos in matches. To prevent this from happening, I spent time everyday vs the computer perfecting my combos. Within a few weeks I would hit the combos at least 95% of the time. I also would get thrown a lot in the games, so I practiced how to break throws on reaction.
By focusing on preventing these mistakes from happening in matches, I became a better player and won more matches. (This also shows the power of deliberate practice)
When I played poker, I always looked for leaks in my game. These are mistakes that keep happening over and over again. It wasn’t until I identified some leaks that I became a better player. That’s the benefit of mentors, they can see the mistakes you’re making that you don’t have enough experience to.
How does this apply to the business world?
Well first thing is you have to shift your mentality on the concept of mistakes.
Mistakes happen. Mistakes are good. It means we’re taking action. It means there’s an opportunity to learn.
When mistakes happen don’t play the blame game. Instead think…how can we prevent this from happening again?
Some examples of preventing mistakes:
- My server crashed over night a few years ago and I lost $6,000 worth of traffic. I was sending traffic to a landing page that wasn’t working.Now I use websites such as Pingdom and Monitis which notify me when something happens. Server crashes? Everyone gets a text message / email to notify them. I have employees all over the world so our servers are being watched 24 / 7. Servers still crash once a while, but the damage is minimized. I’ve prevented the mistake from happening again.
- I mentioned standard operating procedures and check lists earlier. Not only do you have to make them, but you have to follow them everyday. It’s easy to become overconfident, but check lists keep you honest.
- I spend a lot of time on the hiring process for each employee. Taking that extra few weeks to test out employees, can prevent me from making a hiring mistake.
Want to improve? Do more of the right things, do less of the wrong things.
Leading Indicators vs Lagging Indicators
Data is money.
Want to be successful? Start tracking data.
The mistake most people make is they only track the lagging indicator. If you want to lose weight, what do you track? Your daily weight. But tracking your weight alone doesn’t make a big difference. It’s just the result of the story.
There’s a better way. You should be tracking the actions that cause the results.
Keep it simple with just 3 keys.
If I wanted to gain muscle again, here are some of the variables I would track.
- Do I go to the gym 4x a week
- Do I sleep 7.5 hours a day
- Make sure I am getting +300 calories over my maintenance.
Lets do another example where I’m trying to grow my blog.
I want to hit 30,000+ uniques a month by the end of the year. I can do something like this.
- Post twice a week
- Guest post once a week
- Post on my Facebook page twice a day.
I can keep track of these actions and it’ll make more of a difference than just measuring the amount of uniques I get at the end of each month.
In order to get the results we want, we have to make sure that we’re doing the right actions each day.
Metrics. Data. Key Performance Indicators.
Men lie, women lie….the numbers don’t.
Removing Myself From Work
I work hard on my business, but I’m hoping you’ve noticed a pattern with the lessons. I’m trying to leverage myself out of my companies.
I want more ways of making money which doesn’t involve my presence at all. Why? Because there’s a limit to how much I can work. I only have 24 hours in a day.
I’ve done this for the most part with my affiliate marketing campaigns. My employees handle everything, and I just act like a strategic advisor and provide the resources to run campaigns. I’ve also leveraged some of my skills and resources into joint ventures with other affiliates. I’m making money 24 / 7 through affiliate marketing. The best part is I’m diversified. If one person is having a bad month, there are plenty of other people who are making money for me.
I want you to be honest with yourself. If you were in a a coma the next 6 months and couldn’t work, how much money would you make?
The majority of the population would make zero because their income is 100% tied to their time. Even though most affiliates are “business owners,” their income is still tied to their time.
I want to have more streams of income coming in that don’t involve me at all. Online products, investments, rental property, joint ventures / strategic partnerships, etc.
Let your money make more money. Work on being more of an owner, than a consumer.
It’s been an exciting start for 2015.
I’ve feel kind of stagnated the past few years. I experience an explosion of growth and learning when I first started affiliate marketing, but then I hit the point of diminishing returns. Now that I have a new company, I’m pushing my comfort zone and I am learning tons.
I hope these lessons serve you well.