In this episode:
00:42 – A recap of the first episode
01:14 – Having the right goal
01:59 – An important element of business
03:25 – Be comfortable with this
06:07 – Simplicity vs. Growth
07:24 – Quick recap on goal setting
08:41 – How not to get sucked into daily life
11:23 – Your action step today
13:14 – Do this every 12 weeks
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James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. You’re listening to a multi-part series about planning, and this is episode 2. If you haven’t listened to episode 1, please go and listen to the planning 1 episode, where I talked about getting all the ideas out of your head and starting to look into the past at where you got the best results and what you might desire to move forward to so that you can do that in a very specific way, removing all the noise and getting results for once. So go and have a listen to that if you haven’t already listened to it.
And if you have listened to it, then welcome to part 2. We’re going to talk about the three layers of planning in this episode.
Layer One: Goal Setting
So layer one revolves around having the right goal. Peter Drucker said, “It’s more important to do the right things than to do things right.” And with the 80/20 rule, we know that very small inputs can have great results. We need to set that destination. We talked about the train metaphor in the previous episode because it allows us the benefit of tracking our progress.
It’s easy to see if you’re at Grand Central Station and you’ve set a goal of getting to a particular destination, you can simply see where is the train moving along the tracks. It’s that simple. We could do that these days from our phone with GPS. We can look on the maps feature and see where we’re at.
So one important element of business is always tracking progress because unless you know where you are and where you’d like to go and where you’ve been, it’s very hard to work out what’s happening.
Now this involves asking the big questions when you’re thinking about the goal. Why is it important to you to get to that goal? I did cover briefly the idea that you’ve got to be happy with where you end up because I do see a common mistake with entrepreneurs. They build something that they don’t even like, and you think, how could this be possible? How could they put so much time and effort into building something that they don’t want? And sometimes, it’s by accident. Sometimes, they trip over an amazing discovery that turns into something big.
If you think about Facebook, they kind of started as a dorm room software tool that compared people’s pictures. It was called Facemash, and then it got more popular and turned into Facebook or The Facebook, and it was very closely modeled on a Harvard portal that I think the Winklevoss brothers were working on. But in any case, it sort of turned into something bigger than just for universities and then turned into a huge social media platform. When you think about Zuckerberg, he’s pretty much gone all the way for that ride, and then other people along the way, like Dustin, popped out a little bit earlier.
So you can decide how far you want to ride it, but you want to be clear. Now, I’m sure that you can’t imagine the full outcome in advance. You might be worried about that. What if I don’t know what it looks like? Well, that’s OK. It’s almost impossible to predict everything about what’s going to happen. I can tell you one thing for certain, you want to be comfortable with change because being able to deal with change will help you.
But it does help you if you’re starting from nowhere to have at least somewhere you want to get to instead of nowhere because if you don’t have any plan at all, you’d literally, like an empty Coke bottle bobbing around the ocean, like I saw yesterday when I went for surf. It had no plan, it had no agenda, it was really just doing nothing. But it probably wasn’t creating any great value either. It was just there. So don’t be that inane.
It’s good to be free-wheeling gypsy in some ways but also you can have a sense of purpose if you’re on a mission. So think about what really excites you. Probably the only Gary Vaynerchuk quote that I like is that you should look in a mirror and have a conversation with yourself about what makes you passionate and then do that. That’s good advice because if you can confront something everyday, it takes a while to go on a bigger journey, on a mission. It takes more than just a small effort. You’re going to have to put in a sustained approach to that.
So I ask the big questions. Why is this important, what does it look like, what would be the elements, as Dan Sullivan would say, how would you know you’re being successful? These are all things you want to define if you can.
I like to use a diagnostic tool when I’m working with someone at the very beginning of when I work with them to be very clear about what they actually want because everyone wants something different. I haven’t found a one-size-fits-all step-by-step approach to success in life. I have found tools that help.
My diagnostic tool that I use in SilverCircle has been refined over 20 years, and that is a good tool to reveal why something is important and potentially avoid someone go into the wrong destination. If you see some of these movies out there like The Martian, you’ll see that guy has ended up on another planet in a precarious situation. He might’ve thought at some point, hang on, when I wanted to be an astronaut, is this what I really wanted? Did I want to be stuck out here with no hope of being picked up again? It could be quite confronting. At that point, it’s too late when you’re in that situation. So think about that.
Let’s talk about simplicity versus growth. Growth is often the goal for startups. It’s an often talked about mantra for business. Growth, growth, growth, growth, growth. But what’s the point of growth if it’s not making you happy or if it’s actually increasing your risk profile or your burdens and starting to constrict you or choke you?
There’s actually some merit in having a highly profitable but manageable smallish business. And by small I mean 50 people or less could be considered small. Under $10 million is a relatively small business. And that could give you a great lifestyle without all the compromise that come with having a multinational decamillion-plus or 9-figure business, with all the extra stress and strain that comes with that.
Sometimes, a simple approach is a good starting point. Just keep it simple. Rather than obsess about growth, just focus more on aligning the way that you want to live your life with things that make you happy. I think it’s much easier to make adjustments along the way if you know where you’re going or the next station you’d like to get to rather than having no plan. It’s very easy to know if you’re off track.
“A simple approach is a good starting point.”
So just a quick recap on this idea of goal setting. We need to set up filters to screen opportunities. Having a look into the past will give us a pretty good clue as to what things we’ve done, want to repeat in the future, and it should give us a clue as to what things work well.
Checklists will really help you with your discipline muscles and if you have low willpower. I use checklists to filter opportunities. Some of the things I look for in an opportunity would be a leveraged payoff, which might mean that it’s a recurring relationship or recurring subscription. I would look for it to be something I’m interested in, and I would look for it to be something I could make good product, where I could be good in the marketplace and feel comfortable in that spot. Comfortable might not be the perfect word, but it’s playing to my strengths. It’s my sweet spot.
So that saves me energy by working on projects that are not making me happy or that I feel are compromising my values or that are moving me in the wrong direction. And it frees up my ability to say yes when the right things come along. So back to the discussion I had in the first episode of this series, I’m waiting for the right wave to come along, with just the right shoulder on it, then I know I can take off just perfectly and have an amazing ride with.
Layer Two: Ongoing Routine
Now, layer 2 is ongoing routine. You need to have a routine. By having frequent check-ins, you’re going to be able to measure and plot progress. It’s kind of like that wall chart when you’re a kid where your parents measure how tall you are and you can see on the wall that it’s going up, and up, and up, and up. And you can sort of reflect back on where you’ve been, you can have gratitude for different parts of the phase-in that cycle, you can feel a sense of achievement that you’re making progress, but also you can be excited about the target that’s a little high up the wall, and you know with the right diet and growth that you’ll get to that size because you’re predetermined that that’s what you want.
So check in frequently. In my most successful coaching community, I’m checking in with my students each week in a group call, and that weekly tune up is fantastic because we can really plot what they’re doing well, where they’re getting great results, so we can share the information between each of the members. We’re also addressing challenges, which I would equate to logs on the track. You know, can we pull out the chainsaw and cut up those logs and keep the train rolling? And then we focus on where are we off to next, like just reaffirming what the next stage is so that we can move to that week.
So having 40 to 50 check-ins a year is far more effective than the traditional mastermind model of two live events a year or three live events, where people just fly in, spend a day talking about their business, then disappear and get sucked back into life, which as you know can be pretty strong unless you’ve got strong disciplines.
So having a routine is good and putting that little deadline capacity towards a routine is good. So having a recurring reminder in your calendar is a great way for yourself to have a business review.
So I set deadlines. If I really want to achieve something, I set deadlines. I set a live event date because I have to produce for that. I set a live monthly training for SuperFastBusiness members because I will turn up and I’ll create great content just prior to that event that’s relevant and timely for the market, and I’ll be able to share that live with students. I also have automations happening. So my students get regular, weekly updates that are hand prepared by my team and curated to be the most important content and then sent out in a timely basis.
So having these routines actually improve performance and get better results. So that’s what I suggest you do.
The action step right now is to set a recurring reminder for you to review your progress, to measure your wins, address any challenges and to set the next part of your course. So with your routine, I really do believe that it sets you free.
The next stage of routine is really partitioning your week, or day chunking or blocking. What I do is set Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for my primary work activities and that leaves me Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday with no scheduled calls; meaning I can be creative, I can recuperate, I can recharge, and I can ease into the work week again with a nice on-ramp.
So setting a routine and partitioning and time blocking is absolutely critical for helping you move along the track. The main job then is to turn up when you have your work scheduled. If you have a concept of freedom where you have no schedule or no plan or you’re not using time scheduling tools, then I’m guessing that you’re kind of always on call. It’s a little bit loosey-goosey, and I bet you’re using a lot of energy trying to schedule calls and emails of people.
And I’ve also seen the other extreme where people have blocked their entire week calendar for appointments. And they actually brag about it. “Hey, look how much I’m growing my business. Look how busy I am. Look how much I hustle.” And I think that that just represents chaos. I think that that’s going too far for what my preferences would be. I’ve been in that situation where you hold days compressed and everything’s always urgent. But it doesn’t have to be like that. I want to present to you a different reality, and that is that you can control that much more than you think. So have a routine and leverage.
“Routine sets you free.”
Layer 3: Review Point
The third layer of planning is every 12 weeks, have a review point. So this is the like the macro review. Don’t let it go more than 12 weeks because if you can do this 4 times a year, you’re going to really compress your idea of how long things take. One mistake I see people making is they tell me they’re going to produce something in 2 years from now or next year from now, and I think, no you’re not. If you really wanted to do it, you could probably do it this weekend.
You’ve often heard the story of someone just going to a motel, locking the door and not leaving until they’ve finished their book or whatever. I think that’s absolutely possible. I’ve created courses in a day. I know several friends of mine, Dan Norris is one example that comes to mind, who can create lots of things very quickly. If you really want to do something, there’s nothing stopping you except for you.
So think about things like the 12 weekly things that I set in my mind, I go and visit my team face to face. That’s one deadline that’s easy to turn up to. I set the airline flights, I book accommodation, I get the team to come in. We’ll sit down, we train, we talk to managers, we look at reports. So our 12-weekly check up is what drives our business. We can react to the market much faster than large companies because we have this regular review point.
I’ve also set events such as the mastermind in the Maldives. I’ve set the live events for my community each year. These things happen recurring. By having a 12-weekly check-in, we can check on ticket sales and the scheduling of the event, and things that have to happen, like merchandise etc. And we’re not leaving it for a whole year before we look at it. One year is just too long. So turning up to these recurring schedules is the key. So combining the idea of a short frequency and a deadline.
I also think the annual idea of looking at things traps people into a budget mentality, where they’re thinking about how much they want to spend for that year, etc. It’s just too big a chunk. Break it down into smaller periods. Now it might take you a while to complete your mission. You might be on a multi-year mission. But 12-weekly check-ins. I really like just the stations in between.
It’s like when I go to the airport here, I catch a ferry to Circular Quay, and then I get on the train that pops up in the terminal that I’m taking off from. But on the way, there’s different stops. There’s the museum, there’s Central. I don’t get off the train, but I do have those little stop-ins. If I wanted to get off and get food or use the bathroom, I could, and then get back on the train. I know where I’m going. That’s not changing, and it might take more than 10 or 20 minutes. It’s a longer journey. So if you have a multi-year journey, at least get off the train and refresh if you need to.
It’s very important to keep your reporting systems in place. There’s no point sitting down, thinking about what you want, unless you go to the effort of analysing what got you to where you are right now. So that data is very important. You want to have all the data, all the metrics, see where you spend your time. Use tools like RescueTime, and see what results you got using any kind of shopping cart or reporting system you have, and match up your effective hourly rate to see if that was good or bad, and then see if you can enhance the things that are going really well, and eliminate the things that aren’t going well for you.
So right now, go and set a 12-weekly recurring schedule for you to have a business planning meeting with yourself or with your team and get that deadline in play.
This is part 2 of the planning series. I’m looking forward to catching up with you on part 3, where we’re talking about executing.
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