Module 04 – Clarity
Okay, in this module I want to touch on clarity.
Again, this isn’t nonsense, I think this stuff really matters. Again, I wanted to cover this because all of the sort of problems that I see working with a lot of coaching clients is that there’s so much noise going on not only within their business but also within their heads, and once you break things down and step back and look at things in a more objective manner, you get some clarity about what it is you’re actually doing and why.
I think those things really matter. It can be really easy to get bogged down in this business and find yourself going in all directions, so I think clarity’s really important, and I wanted to touch on it in particular in this module before we go any further.
Being clear about what you don’t do, this really, really matters, and I made this mistake when I first got started. I was trying to offer email marketing, web design, SEO, conversion rate optimization, I was doing all of these things and only a few of them really mattered. It wasn’t until I stepped back, I got to breaking point, I thought, why am I trying to do all of these different things? The answer was simple. I figured if I wasn’t providing service A and I wasn’t providing service B and I was only providing service C, then I was going to miss out on all of this money.
Certainly, actually, it’s definitely a common mistake that I find once I start working with a lot of freelancers. And not just freelancers either. I’ve worked with some large agencies where they’re providing Facebook Ads, and they’re doing Google Adwords, and they’re doing web design, and they’re doing conversion rate optimization, and they’re doing SEO and email marketing, and they’re providing all of these services, and only one or two of them they know really well, and it’s only one or two of them that’s actually making 90% of their profits.
So one question that I always like to ask when I get a coaching client is, firstly, what services are you providing, and secondly, what services aren’t bringing in any money? And it’s really fascinating, especially large agencies. I shouldn’t say large agencies, but small digital marketing agencies or even, again, I’ve seen soloists do this, they’re trying to do all of these different things and it’s nothing but noise.
If you’ve got two or three staff and you’re providing several different service offerings, you’re just going to be absolutely bombarded with so much noise within your business that you’re just never going to be able to do anything well, not to mention trying to build out processes for each different service offering. If you’re running a large agency and you’ve got 10 staff to manage 20 clients and you can do it comfortably, providing several different service offerings, that’s fine. But if you’re a freelancer and you try to do too many different things, I can tell you right now it’s just not going to work.
One of the best decisions I ever made in my own business was to just do one thing and do it well, and that’s why I cut back on everything else.
This is something that, going back and using Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares as an example again, one thing that I’ve noticed within that show, and this is something that Marcus does within the profit, he steps in and says, “What the fuck is going on in this business? You’re doing all of these things.” Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen Nightmares again is a great example. They’ll have 125 different meals on the menu and he goes, “What? This is madness. You’ve got one chef who’s back there trying to prepare 125 different meals?” He always cuts it back. “Right, from here forward, you’re going to offer eight different meals. That’s it.”
So when I sort of switched onto the fact that I was trying to do too many different things, I got real with myself and I thought, “What the fuck am I doing? I’m offering all these different service offerings and it’s just creating fucking nothing but stress and noise,” so I cut back on everything and I just focused on SEO.
Now, what’s your why?
I saw a book just recently. I think it was over at Amazon, about knowing what your why is, or something like that, and I always kind of struggled with this question. In fact, I was asked this question just a few years ago by my own business mentor and he said, “What’s your why?” And I say, “What do you mean what’s my why? It’s pretty damn obvious. I want to make money.” But it goes much, much deeper than that. Knowing what your why is is really important.
For me, my why, and why, why do I want to start this SEO business? Why do I want to even have a go at doing this? My why was the fact that I was fucking done with working in a government job and just having a job in general. I absolutely hated it. I’ve had this discussion more times than I can remember, but just that living my life by the time, just constantly looking at the time. “Fuck, what time is it? I’m running late for work. Shit, I’ve got a meeting.” You know, all of these things combined, not to mention the daily commute, ironing my clothes, driving to work.
I mean, I used to have about an hour’s drive to work, twice a day, two hours in total, sitting in traffic. I used to drive the same stretch of road. I did it for about eight years. I knew where all the potholes were. It got to the point where I was remembering number plates because everyone else was like fucking zombies. I’d stop at red lights and I’d look at people either side and I’d think, “What the fuck? These people, you can tell they don’t want to be there.” And it’s the same when you go down to the train station, you see people lined up for work and they just look like zombies.
I had a great job, I enjoyed the work, but there were definitely aspects of it that I didn’t enjoy. I had a manager that used to fucking do my head in. There were a few days there in particular where I just thought, “What the fuck am I doing here?” And in amongst all of this I was reading a lot of business books and also personal development books. Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad is one, his follow-up book to that, Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki is another book, and that one really tipped me over the edge, ’cause I got into trouble for being four minutes late for work one time and I quit the next day. That was back in 2007. Fuck, that was years ago now. I chucked my job and I just went out on my own ’cause I just had enough. So my why was to just get out of the rat race. I just hated it.
Look, they say that people are driven by fear, and this is what keeps me motivated. My fear is having to go back to a fucking shitty nine to five job. So, knowing what your why is. For me it was about getting out of the rat race. For other people it’s about being able to work from home, have the freedom, have the flexibility, being able to spend more time with their kids or their family. For whatever reason, you’ve got to know what your why is. Each of us, we have our own journeys in life, but I think knowing what your why is really important.
Work/life balance, this goes without saying. I’ve got an absolutely incredible work/life balance. It’s taken sometime to get where I am, it certainly hasn’t been easy. Going back to when I chucked my job, I just chucked my job and I had no plan. I was doing a little bit of web design in my own time outside of work as a bit of a side hustle, but I chucked my job. I certainly wouldn’t recommend you do the same if you’re in this position. And this is a conversation I have with a lot of my coaching clients. They say, “What do I do? Do I just give this everything and chuck my job?” Everyone has their own financial responsibilities and their own situations of where they are in their lives.
If you are in that position, I would strongly suggest that you move to a part-time position, whether it’s with your current employer or whether you chuck that job and you go with someone else, but if you can can work two or three days just to have some dependable income coming in so you can pay your rent and all of your living expenses, and then use the remaining four or five days a week to work towards building this business out, that’s probably a bit more sensible than doing what I did, because I just chucked my job and then I shat my dacks and I thought, “Fuck, what am I going to do now?” I had to really work hard.
But work/life balance, this is what it’s all about. I work from home. I can pretty much do whatever I want. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of responsibilities. I often work late, I work weekends, I don’t have the luxuries of public holidays or any of those things, although none of that really matters, and this is something that I’ll touch on later on.
In fact I wrote a blog post about it. Every day is Monday and Sunday, which is kind of the nature of how things are when you’re self-employed.
But even today I think I got up at about 11 o’clock, went and had lunch at a café, got home, prepared these slides and started recording. And tonight I’ll probably work late again, do some work on some of a few client sites and do some reporting. But work/life balance is really amazing once you get out of the rat race. I can’t express just how fantastic it is. I feel sorry for people that are still working a nine to five grind.
A job’s not for me, some people are happy in their jobs, but for where I am now, the money that I’m making, the work/life balance that I have, yes it’s been hard and there’s been plenty of tears and it’s been a struggle. It’s absolutely been worth it and I’m really fortunate and privileged to be where I am now.
Okay, agency versus freelancing and, again, I don’t know where you are in your journey. This is something that I really struggled with. I kept flip-flopping between, look, I can’t be working at home. It doesn’t feel like a real business. I’m sitting here in my underpants at two o’clock in the morning. It just doesn’t feel right. It’s really weird. I think a lot of that has to do with conditioning, the way that we’re brought up. You know, you’ve got be in an office, you’ve got to drive to work, you’ve got to have staff.
Look, for me, with where I am in my life, I’ve just turned 45 … Maybe if I was 21 and I was okay with all the hustle and bustle and everything else that comes with running a business and having a big fancy office in the city, just not for me. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I’m quite comfortable working from home as a freelancer. In fact, I’m not even keen on that title. I wouldn’t consider myself a freelancer. It’s a business. None of my clients care less where I am or if I’m sitting here at 2:00 AM doing their reporting in my underpants.
Doesn’t really matter.
But this is definitely a decision that you’ll have to make at some point in this journey. As to whether or not you’ve already made it, I don’t know. If you have set out and you want to build an agency or you’re already set up and running an agency, that’s fantastic. Kudos to you. But for me it’s not what I want, and if you’re in a job and you’re thinking about getting out and freelancing, then that could work too.
But it’s definitely a decision that you’ll have to make and it’s one that, again, I have to say, I really struggled with this because I think, “Fuck, I’ve got to build this business out, I can make a lot more money.” I’ve got friends that run digital marketing agencies that are doing $10 million a year. It makes half a million dollars a year look like peanuts, but don’t distress.
For me I don’t want to stress. I want to be able to relax and enjoy myself and have a work/life balance. But this is definitely something, a decision that you’ll have to make, especially as you start getting busier and busier and you’ve got clients that send referrals your way and so forth.
So prepare yourself for it. You may have already made that decision. If you have, fantastic. That decision might change. Who knows? But at some point you’ll have to make the decision: agency versus freelancing. And only you will be able to answer that question.