In this episode, I get into details on some tips I have for focusing (in terms of the big-picture/what to do first/getting yourself started, not day-to-day tasks).
- Take money out of the equation.
- Get your home-based business out of the house.
- Just work for one hour (at a time).
- The 80/20 rule.
- Have Happy Projects.
And come follow me on Periscope! I've been posting videos often, and would love for you to hop on and interact with me, LIVE! Download the free Periscope app, then find me by searching “Diane Sanfilippo.” Replays available after at : Katch.Me
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Build a Badass Business: Episode #4: 5 Tips for Focusing
Coming straight to you from her basement home office in suburban New Jersey, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author, and often gets funny looks while grocery shopping in her five-finger barefoot shoes. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.
It’s true. I do often get funny looks while in the produce section at Whole Foods in my five-finger shoes. I just think that they’re more comfortable than even sneakers and flip-flops in the summer time. So I put them on and trek on over to Whole Foods and just enjoy my comfy footwear.
Alright, so this episode I want to talk to you guys a little bit more about the idea of focusing. So this is episode number 4, and I’m going to give you 5 tips for focusing. Now, you need money, but money can’t be the thing that drives your most important or your first moves when it comes to business, and sales matter, but even though they are eventually what will keep you doing what you love, without a focus that’s beyond that, or a focus on why you’re in this business, you just won’t make it. So, here are my five tips.
Number one: take money out of the equation. It’s really important to find another way to make money or sustain yourself that doesn’t involve your business. Now, if the only reason you’re doing this thing, whatever this business is, this sales of a product or service, is to make money, it’s just way too much pressure from day one.
Now, this is one of those things where, if you think about why start ups and new businesses get funding or a business loan, it’s because people can’t afford to financially sustain or even open a new business most of the time. It’s really expensive. So, when you’re starting a service based business, the upside is that there aren’t many start up costs. I’m assuming the vast majority of you listening are starting a service-based business. Maybe you’re coaches, you are trainers or nutrition coaches, or maybe you are life coaches, or something along those lines. Or you have some sort of home based business with small start up costs.
And we’re not necessarily talking tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. I absolutely want you guys to use this to your advantage. Do what you need to do in your whole planning stage to stash funds to support yourself. Adjust your budget, as I talked about in a previous episode, and maybe even work a part time job that doesn’t demand anything of you outside of the hours that your there.
So, this is one of those things where people want to just quit their job and say, ok, I’m going for it. But if you don’t have money saved to make that comfortable or easy, and I’m not saying easy as in you just work an hour a day and then your business booms. I’m saying, if you think that just taking off from whatever that job was and focusing all of your energy into this new business with the financial pressure on top of it, if you think that’s going to take you to that next level, it may just not be right for you.
It may work. It may totally work, and I am a firm believer in the idea that you have to get that one foot out of that other business eventually. I have definitely consulted with folks where they’ve kept their day job, even longer than they really needed to, and I think that there’s some wisdom to that. I think if you stay in the day job a little longer than you really want to, because you just want to make sure that you really have that sort of cushion, maybe it’s a financial cushion.
And really, that’s the only reason you would stay at that day job, is if the financials are there. That’s why I stayed at my day job as long as I did before I left because I thought, you know what, a couple more months isn’t going to kill me, and I can stash away some money. Because I’ve changed my budget, I’m saving money, and now is the time for me to just kind of keep making my plan, and I’ll get out of it eventually.
That’s kind of the mindset I want you guys to have. If you do something that’s a side job; so for me, one example of this was when I quit one of my previous jobs as a graphic designer, I went to work for Lululemon part time. I don’t know how many of you know that I did that, but I worked there for about 6 months. In that time, I got some really amazing training. And it wasn’t training I was expecting to get. I didn’t learn how to sell people black pants.
I learned how to become sort of a more goal-oriented person, and I learned about Brian Tracy and his teachings, and if you aren’t familiar with Brian Tracy I would definitely check into his stuff. I don’t think he has a podcast, but I’m pretty sure his books are available on audio, and I really enjoyed listening to The Psychology of Achievement was the series that was basically assigned to everyone who started working at Lululemon. I don’t know if it still is, and someone can let me know if you know, but I just found it to be, I don’t know if I learned a lot more that was new to me from it, or if everything that Brian Tracy said gave grounding to things that I somehow knew or believed already, or put words to something that I already believed.
I really thought that it was such a smart way to train people, because it really got you oriented on your goals, and it wasn’t so much about just selling pants. The whole point of that is to say that for 6 months while I was planning Balanced Bites when it was going to be a meal delivery business, I would work part time. And I maybe worked 4 days a week, maybe 6-8 hour shifts, and on the days that I wasn’t working there, I would be at Starbucks working on my business plan and trying to find companies that I could source packaging from that were not all just plastic, that were corn plastic, and all the different in’s and out’s of things that I really needed to focus on. But, it took the financial pressure off of me, because in those other days, I could earn the money that I needed to just pay the rent and live.
So I think that it is really important, as much as I’m totally, I’m going to push you off the ledge, and push you over the cliff, and force you to get out of your comfort zone, I do think that being smart about it is important. I also think that dropping your ego is really important, because I was probably, outside of the managers and perhaps even next to the managers, I was probably one of the oldest people working in that store. I think I was 29 at the time, and I think even the managers, I think one of them was 28 or 29, and maybe one was 30. So I was definitely of the age, and I was of the experience level where I really could have been a manager, but I definitely didn’t want that responsibility, or the schedule. I just had no ego about it.
I was like, I’m here, I’m working, here’s what I’m working towards. Definitely talk to people about what I was working on, and it was that kind of fun environment. But I definitely encourage people to find something like that for you that can help you keep that financial stability while you’re getting started, because I just think it’s important to take that stress out of the equation. The other thing was, it definitely contributed to just my overall lifestyle, because I got to wear exercise clothes to work, and what’s more than that?
Anyway. So, let’s see. If you can give yourself that time and space to earn a little bit of money, and keep working on what you’re working on, it will definitely take the pressure off, and you can keep going. That’s kind of my first example there of taking money out of the equation.
The other example I wanted to give you guys, and this is an example of even how I decided to start this podcast. So, my thought here was that one day I would create a business coaching program for folks like you who are out there ,and want to know how I do what I do. I just thought I’d eventually want to share my thoughts and insights, and kind of process in a more formalized way. And sure, you know, that program eventually, whatever I decide to create, whether it is a program, or a book, who knows what it will be, it will cost money. Because it takes a lot of time and resources and money to even create that type of a program. And it will be a really functional tool to help make all of these things happen for everyone who wants to kind of get on board and have a whole formalized program.
But guess what? Right now, I don’t need to do that for the money. And I don’t want to do that. I want to take my passion, put it on paper so to speak, or into this podcast, and start sharing it, and teaching all of you some of these tips and insights. I’ve created a space to do this without the pressure of it being for money, and it’s a total blessing. I just think this podcast is a perfect example of that type of thing, where if you have a passion, and you have information that you want to share with people, or some kind of help that you want to offer; again, it’s just so much more stressful if you’re thinking, well I have to do this for the money, so what can I do? I think giving yourself that space will really help.
Alright, so tip two is to get your home-based business out of the house. This one is super practical. When I started my business, and I’m talking about when I started my nutrition coaching business, which was one on one practice primarily, I simply could not be at home and get work done. I would pack up every morning after breakfast, go to Starbucks nearby, and work for maybe 3 or 4 hours uninterrupted. I would go home, eat lunch, and go back and do it again for another 2 or 3 hours, until I would come home and change for the gym.
Now, that was also the time when I was blogging a lot, so you may be familiar with articles I wrote years ago on things like bacon, or calcium, or carbs in the diet. All types of things like that that I really was able to put a lot of time and energy into, because it takes hours and hours of focused time to do that type of work. I just couldn’t do it in the house, I would be really easily distracted.
Now of course, not everyone can do this exact same thing, but some version of it is possible for everyone. And if you can’t leave the house entirely, you can find the time when you can carve out maybe an hour to get help in your home, if you have kids for example, maybe somebody else can help you with the chores or laundry, so that you can focus on work and moving your projects forward.
This tip is really to get out of the house if you’re a home-based business, but even if you’re not able to completely physically remove yourself from the house, it’s sort of spatially and mentally and emotionally separating yourself form the household and from everything that is sort of swirling around in terms of what needs to be done around the house, and just be creating that sort of quiet time and time to work away from the family, so that you can get something done. Because every day, you do need to get something done that will contribute to you feeling like you’re making progress.
Which leads me the next tip, and that is just work for one hour. If you’ve got projects; I consistently have gigantic projects that I want to work on. And if I think about the project as, I want to write a book. If I think about it in those terms, I’ll never start. Because it’s just so overwhelming. So if making a list helps you; which, I love a list, make a list. Organize the tasks that you need to do, that you need to complete in order to finish whatever that big project is, and break it up into single hour increments and get them scheduled. This is something that I’ve been working on a lot lately. I do, fortunately, have the help of a project manager, because as much as it seems like I’m very productive, I’m very easily distracted.
I have a very, sort of duel thing going on with my brain and the type of the person that I am in that I’m very driven, and I’m very hardworking, and I almost never stop working. I work constantly. I just can’t help it; I love what I do. I find a lot of pleasure in getting projects done, and getting things out there for people, and putting out new eBooks, or whatever it is that we’re getting done. But focusing can be really hard for me, and focusing on the smaller tasks that will contribute to the bigger project getting done can be hard for me, because I’m also a creative person. And I’m an ideas person. And I’m constantly coming up with new ideas that tend to distract me, and make me want to work on them, instead of the thing I was supposed to be working on.
What’s been really helping for me is to break these things up into an hour, and if you commit to your schedule, getting those one-hour tasks done over the course of a week, whether you’re able to get 7 of them done in a week, or even if it’s just 3 or 4. If you can carve out that single hour of uninterrupted time where you can get that thing done, it’s really going to help you make progress to those bigger projects getting done.
And if you’ve a one-man or one-woman operation, you may find that you can sit and crank out a few hours of work at a time. But if not, focus on one hour at a time, and break the work that you need to do, up to increments that you think you can get done in one hour.
So my fourth tip is the good old 80/20 rule. Now, I’m going to bet that around 80% of your income will come from work that you do in about 20% of your total working time. That may sound completely crazy to you, but if I told you the type of work that I do most of the time, it’s not directly income generating. The way that I make money is completely, sort of hands off, because I’m not doing things directly thinking, how can this sell or make money. It’s really more about supporting the products and programs that I already have out there, by continuing to educate people around the type of work that I do, and pointing them towards those products and programs.
I think that is a really important thing to remember, that once you produce something, it doesn’t just sell itself. But you have to support the people that are out there asking questions about what it is that you’ve already made. I think this will really help those of you who are concerned about the idea of marketing or selling, and if you spend only about 20% of your time on projects and programs that have a price tag attached to them, and you spend around 80% of your time on supporting people who are spending money on those programs, and answering their questions and continuing to solve their problems for free, whether that’s through blogging or answering questions on social media, or maybe it’s community talks, or whatever it is that, for you, is a way to reach out and connect with people. I think that that can really help you to divide this 80/20 up.
A lot of you may already be doing this. You may not even realize that you’re only spending 20% of your time. If you took those 1-hour tasks over the course of the week, and say you have 5 of them, and you broke it up into what you’re doing each of those days, and you consider the fact that one of those days is something that you’re putting towards a product or a program that you’re going to sell, and the other 4 days are completely just based on a project that you want to do. Maybe it’s blog posts, or a new eBook, or something like that that doesn’t get sold, you can see how that breakdown works now. It doesn’t necessarily mean that every week, you need to break it up that way.
For me, my schedule, what I tend to do is, in times when I’m working on books, where obviously when that book is published, there’s a price tag on it. It’s kind of a no-brainer that that type of work will have a price tag attached to it. That being said, once those are done, and for probably most of the time throughout the year, the types of projects and programs that I’m working on are things that I give away for free. And I say we meaning my team, because it’s not just me working on some of these things. It’s stuff that we’re doing to keep contributing and keep giving back and keep solving problems and keep answering questions, but there’s no price tag attached to it. The only thing I ask of people is that they subscribe to my emailing list so that they can get these products and programs.
I’ll definitely talk more about what you need to do with your emailing list, and how to cultivate that, and why it’s so important to have an emailing list. Because, as most of you guys probably witness what’s happening on Facebook and other social media. You can’t really rely on it. Email is the one thing at this point in time that we can still rely on, despite the fact that our inboxes are perhaps overflowing.
One other thing to think about here with the 80/20 rule is, if you need to have a financial goal to focus on to help you get things done in a shorter amount of time, as much as I hate deadlines and I just get really stressed out by them, they do force me to focus. But they have to be real. So again, when I’m working on something, specifically that’s for that 20% of the time, having these real consequences to not meeting the deadlines, helps me to get that work done. I think that could really help you too.
It’s got to be something real. Like I said, it can’t just be, or else. For me, one of the things that works best is that there are other people in the team involved in helping to get the project done, and my part feeds into their part. Their part can’t get done until I get my part done. A good example of this is, working on the online seminar, the online workshop that’s coming out, hopefully end of this year early next year. Until I get my recordings done of the actual modules that we’re teaching, the transcriber can’t make a transcript. And the designer can’t design the slides. So all of that needs to fit into a puzzle so that the timeline can continue forward.
Ok, so tip number 5 is have happy projects. Despite the fact that obviously everyone needs to have sales that are happening all the time, and you need to have income. But getting money in the door is not your number one priority in the business, because it’s already coming in, then choosing what to focus on my still be tough.
So if you’re in this position, chill out for a minute. Reflect on what projects could get done that would either A) make you feel awesome, B) make your fans or readers or clients, what have you feel awesome, C) make your team, if you have one, feel awesome, or D), and this is most likely going to be the winner, make everyone feel awesome.
My example of this is, right now, my team and I are working on two big new projects that will roll out in the coming months, and that will be completely free. So this is something that we can do because we have the liberty, now because we worked really hard to re-release the 21-Day Sugar Detox online back in July, and so that was a big push that we worked on really hard, and it does have a price tag attached to it, and that’s great. Because while that generates income, it helps to pay everybody, but now we get to do some work on other projects, and at a better pace that’s not as stressful, and just give, give, give, give, give, and give it back to the people who are paying for books and projects and programs that we’re working on at other times of the year. So, that for me is something that I really need to kind of keep that top of mind, and know that that’s ok to do that, and I want to remind all of you that it’s ok to do that, too.
Alright, in episode number 5, I’ll talk about choosing which of your crazy ideas to focus on first. Because, that’s the next logical step, right? That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so that you don’t miss an episode, and drop me a review to let me know what’s speaking to you from the show. If you want to get in on the conversation, and you haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, head on over there and join Build a Badass Business Group. I share insights and tips regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page.
Do work that you love, and don’t be afraid of making money while you do it. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.