Your mindset is such an important thing to understand and implement in your creative life and business.
The Results In Your Business Come From Your Mindset And Skillset
Whatever your current business looks like, it’s directly traceable to your mindset and skills.
The perfect example is how many businesses threw up their hands in the first few months of the pandemic and all of it’s second-order effects.
Many artists and creatives were hit incredibly hard. The gig economy shut down overnight and still hasn’t recovered.
Currently many states are seeing a second lockdown, government orders to stay home and limit gatherings.
Hard to have a show with hundreds or thousands of people to come hear you perform in those conditions.
Yet, none of those things are in your control. They never were.
Whether a venue owner booked you on a show, whether people showed up, sure, you could influence those things, but you never had 100% control over them. If you did, every show would be sold out and you could play to the same crowd multiple times a week at $100 per ticket.
That’s not reality. Not now, not then.
The main difference between those that are thriving right now and those that no longer have any income from their art is their mindset.
Your Mindset Is More Important Than Your Skillset
There are plenty of other musicians, photographers, artists, filmmakers, stylists, designers, and more that have the same level of skills – or greater – than you do.
Yet some people who lack on the skillset still have managed to grow their business this year, find new ways to make an income, and are reaching more people than ever before.
With the right mindset you can use your skillset in new ways that lead to new opportunities. With a bad mindset you, instead, decide that the events around you are too large to overcome and you give up.
Two quick examples –
When the pandemic hit the U.S. my wife’s photography business stalled. Rather than lament the loss and postponing of shoots, the channeled her energy into a side-business with her sisters and started doing photo shoots and even video interviews of people who were using the product she created.
Those highlights and videos were viewed hundreds of times and led directly to sales of their planner.
Same skillset, different mindset.
Hayley Barry is a hand-lettering artist. When the pandemic hit, she wanted to bring some awareness to local shops that didn’t have the budget to advertise and saw a dramatic decline in foot traffic to their businesses.
She decided to take her hand-lettering skills and apply it in a different way to help others, like here and here.
She saw things a different way than others and has grown her audience and her income over the last 8 months because of it.
It’s not the skills you have that determine how well your business works. It’s your mindset.
Whatever you’re experiencing in your business right now, you can change or improve it with just your mindset.
The answer isn’t to work harder – it’s to see the situation in a different way and approach it with a different mindset so that you can not just survive, but thrive.
A few questions you can ask to help focus your mind:
what outcomes do I truly care about?
who do I want to serve?
what do they really need right now?
how can I use my skills to help them?
what other assets do I have that I can use in different ways?
I hope you have a great week. Please be safe, tell your friends and family you love them and let me know if there’s anything I can help you with on your creative journey.
Or, “want do grow your business? What got you here won’t get you there…”
I’ve written about leverage before, and I guarantee I’ll do it again. it’s become one of these fundamental principles for my business as I’ve been focusing on growing it into not just something sustainable, but something that can have a bigger impact than I ever imagined.
The Power Of Leverage
I shared this on Twitter earlier this week and have been thinking about it a lot the last few days:
It all starts with a desire to change the way your life looks. Maybe you no longer want to work for a boss, or want more freedom of expression, more control, more opportunities, more growth.
That desire sparks an idea – what if I started my own creative business?
So you start executing. You get up earlier, stay up later, and start working on your project whenever you can.
You’re often trading “time for dollars” – play a gig, get paid.
Take someone’s photos, get paid.
Film a video, get paid.
Write an article, get paid.
Then at some point, when you realize that, “hey, I’m actually good at this!”, you decide you want to turn it into a real business.
So what do you do? You work harder.
This is the point that separates those that succeed and grow their business and those that struggle for years and years with their creative business.
When you look back on that tweet, is the next step “Execute Harder”?
The way to grow your business from a few thousand dollars to a real business that can pay you a full-time salary is not to work harder. Execute more. Make more of whatever it is you make.
NO – the way to grow your business from this point is to build systems.
What does that mean?
It means that your business can grow without you needing to directly work on it.
You’re no longer trading time for dollars.
Maybe you create an email list, so that when people visit your website they can sign up to get something valuable from you – a download, a checklist, an ebook, an email course – and then they automatically get a series of emails over the next few days or weeks. That email system does a lot of the work for you, so that you don’t have to send every single email manually.
That email system, when it’s operating properly, can start delivering new clients to you.
You set up the system once and it works every day, every hour, even when you’re sleeping.
That’s just one example. You can have systems for getting leads, getting sales, marketing, content, and more.
The sooner you can shift from more work to better systems, the sooner your business will be free to grow.
But, what then?
Many – I’d even argue most creatives – would be happy to make $100-200k a year and have a great life. In most parts of the world that level of income for your business means that you can pay yourself enough to have a house, a car, provide for a family, save a portion of what you make, and retire happy.
But some want more. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – maybe they want to reach more people. Serve more, create more, provide more.
At this point, the answer to get there is not building more systems.
It’s not working harder.
It’s not coming up with a new idea.
At this point, you need leverage.
There are a very small number of one-person businesses that make $1M per year.
The reason is that you need systemsand leverage to get from that six- to seven-figure level.
Leverage means that when you do something, the result is 10x greater than that same effort without leverage.
For example – I created my own course in April 2020. It sold about $1,000 in that first month.
Now, in May, I released a course with a partner. Same amount of work to film and edit the videos, create the website, and launch the course.
However, because I leveraged her audience, which was 10x the size of mine, she did $10,000 in that first week.
Same amount of work, 10x the results. That’s leverage.
I see this often with my friends that create videos on YouTube. They build a system that helps them release a video a week on their channel.
Unhappy with the results, they decide to work harder and release two videos a week!
Their results, however, merely double.
It’s still not enough.
It’s not until they apply some leverage that their channel begins to grow. They reach out to bigger channels to collaborate, tap into their audience, and see massive growth from subscribers and views.
Where Are You And Where Do You Want To Go?
So, where are you right now? Are you doing a few hundred a month in your business? A few thousand? Low five figures?
Where do you want to go next?
The way forward is not to do MORE of what you’ve been doing. The way forward is to understand whether you need an idea, more execution, better systems, or more leverage.
They also have to happen in order. It’s much harder to get leverage at the beginning when you haven’t put in the work yet or built any systems. That leverage is way more effective when it’s added on top of that hard work and systems that you’ve built.
What if you wanted to 10x your business next year? How would you do it?
Let me know where you’re at in the process. I’d love to see how I can help you get to that next level.
I wanted to take a stab at a fundamental business mindset – taking responsibility.
When COVID-19 hit the US this year, it affected everyone. From individuals and families who have dealt with the virus and lost loved ones, to businesses that have closed, and governments who have scrambled to lead, I can’t think of anyone whose life hasn’t been affected in some way.
However, when we talk about how COVID-19 affected us, our mindset is quickly revealed.
“Covid wiped out my business”
“The shutdowns have ruined everything”
“People just aren’t XYZing anymore”
What do you say when you talk abou the affects on your business?
Our Actions Reveal Our Mindset
I’m not saying that you’re wrong – you might be completely accurate in what happened to your business. There certainly is a pandemic, shutdowns have occurred, and the economy has been hit hard.
But none of those things determined the current situation in your business.
Rather, your actions in response to those events – or your lack of action – is what caused the current reality.
If you had a mindset of resiliency, of responsibility, of taking action and getting resourceful, you likely have not only survived this year, but have even found new avenues to grow your business and reach more people.
If your mindset was one of victimhood, then you were able to justify doing nothing. Waiting for someone to come save you.
I’m not judging you one way or another, as neither is an inherently “right” or “wrong” stance to take. I do believe, however, that you can directly link the results to the mindset.
The Success Of A Business Is Determined By The Mindset And Skills Of The Business Owner
What’s more, 80% or more of that success is determined by the mindset of the business owner.
Today – to keep things short – I want you to think about the language that you’re using when it comes to the impact COVID has had on your business.
Are you being resilient and resourceful? Are you feeling like a victim who has no options left?
The reality, I believe, is that you are 100% able to create the reality that you want for you and your business. It comes down to your mindset and the actions that that mindset inspires.
If you’re struggling right now, check your mindset. Check your actions. Take responsibility for the current results you’re experiencing, and then do something to change it.
A ten-day program on productivity? That’s what she thought I needed to work on?
Turns out she was right, and the RPM system taught in that program has accounted for a massive chunk of the projects I’ve been able to accomplish over the last 10 years.
RPM – The Rapid Planning Method
Tony’s signature productivity program is known as RPM, or the Rapid Planning Method.
RPM also, however, stands for Results-focused, Purpose-driven, Massive action plan.
He’s getting a lot of mileage out of that acronym…
The goal of this productivity system is to help you get the results that matter most.
It’s not a to-do list.
It’s not about “getting things done”.
If you’re someone who wants to create, make, or produce – whether it’s products, or artwork, or creative projects – this is what RPM is best suited for.
While I can’t walk you through every step of the process (get the tapes for that) I do want to cover two parts that have played a massive part in my being able to start two businesses and a new blog this year, write every day, and survive the insane year this has been financially.
Let’s start with the three aspects of the philosophy, and then how to apply it to your weekly and daily planning.
The biggest shift you’ll make using RPM is from thinking about tasks to thinking about results.
Tasks are what you do every day, results are what you want long term.
I don’t know about you but I don’t get up in the morning excited about a long to-do list. I do, however, get extremely excited about making progress towards the big outcomes that I want in my life.
Shifting from “what do I have to do today” to “what do I want to achieve today/this week/this month/this quarter/this year” is massive, and is the first step.
You begin by writing down some results you want in both your personal and professional life. 5-7 each is a good number.
Maybe you want to lose ten pounds. Strengthen your relationship with your partner or kids. Get an extra month of expenses in savings. Grow your revenue, or increase profit margin, or create a new product.
Write them down. These serve as the results that you’re going to work towards and that will inform what you choose to do on a daily basis.
Once you’ve got your list of 10-15 results you want to achieve and before you start diving into action, we need to add in one extra step.
Not for arbitrary reasons. But because the difference between those that get a ton done and accomplish their goals is rarely because of how hard they work. It’s the reasons behind the goals that drive them to continue on whether it’s easy or hard.
With each one of the results that you’ve written down, take a few minutes to write down the reasons that result is important to you.
Some questions may help:
What will it mean to get this result?
What will you become when you reach this result?
What will this help you do?
Who will it serve?
List out as many reasons that can inform the purpose behind the goal.
Only then can we shift into taking action.
Big goals are achieved by taking the appropriate level of action. Just today I had a phone call with someone who was asking me about what it would take to 10x my business – 10x more leads, 10x more value per customer, and 10x more revenue.
I was surprised that it wasn’t going to require 10x more action. It wasn’t going to take 10x more time.
It mainly requires thinking 10x bigger. Thinking about leverage. Thinking about the people you work with and the systems that are working in the background.
Massive action doesn’t always mean more time or more effort. It is more of a shift in mindset.
What this looks like is listing out all of the different ideas that will help you get closer to the result that you’re after.
This is where we can look at a weekly and daily practice of implementing this RPM system for your creative life and business.
Weekly RPM Planning Session
Each week, take 30-60 minutes to revisit your goals and the results that matter to you. Make any additions or take out any that aren’t serving you anymore or have been achieved.
Take a look at the results that you want to accomplish and pick a few that are most important to you for the week ahead.
Add to your list of reasons and expand the purpose that’s driving you to get that results.
Then write down all of the big actions you can take this week to get that result.
Do this step for each and every result that you want to work towards this week.
Then, to take it one step further, roughly map out your week. Pick a day or a block of time during the week that you can devote to that result. I’ve found it more effective to put all of the actions for one result into as few chunks as possible, rather than work on every results every day of the week.
Being able to go deep on something each day will get you more progress than spreading those tasks over the whole week.
Try to get one or two blocks of a few hours into your schedule for the week. Getting them into your schedule or calendar before the week starts will prevent other tasks or invitations from holding back your progress.
Daily RPM Planning
Each day – and it doesn’t matter if it’s first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day in preparation for the next day – take 15 to 20 minutes to revisit your plan for the week and get more detail on the work you want to do for the day.
Schedule when you’re going to work on your project. Write down the people you need to communicate or follow up with. List out any other actions that will help you get the result you’re after.
I’ve started using Roam Research for this, in conjunction with a physical planner. I get up early and my morning routine is about an hour of prayer & meditation, and then 15 minutes of RPM planning in a physical planner.
When I get to the office I put my tasks from the planner into Roam so that it lives on my second computer screen all day. I can then tick off the tasks that I’ve accomplished and capture new ideas or tasks throughout the day, and then more easily copy & paste anything that needs to be done tomorrow if I didn’t get to it today.
The Results Speak For Themselves
When you’re constantly reviewing your high level goals and results for your life and business, you can’t help but focus on them and make progress. Exciting goals turns into exciting days working towards them.
In 2020, despite a global pandemic, I was able to start two businesses, create two of my own courses, film and produce four (and soon six!) courses for other creators, start a new blog, film a season of a television, produce two separate documentary projects, and more. In my personal life, I’m spending more time with my wife and kids, we’re in a position to finish the year with more money in savings than we’ve ever had in our 11+ years of marriage, and we are looking forward for everything to come in 2021.
Whatever system you choose, the important principles are to focus on the outcomes first and let the tasks be determined within that context, and to revisit your goals and results often to not only measure them but to keep them top of mind.
Doing so will help you get whatever you want from your life and business, which is a pretty great way to live your life.
I’ve thought a lot about the idea of leverage since reading Naval Ravikant’s famous Twitter thread on weath:
In it he mentions the topic of leverage a few times. I’ll share those tweets here, then get into how we can use this principle in our creative businesses:
Lets dive in!
How To Use Leverage In Your Creative Business
The idea with leverage is to use your time, your assets, your mind, whatever is at your disposal to get to a desired result faster.
You’ve likely heard of Archimedes’ comment on leverage –
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ”
He knew, and could prove using math, that this principle is true.
Naval gives us an updated and specific call to action – arm yourself with…leverage.
It’s one of three things he says we need in this context in the pursuit of riches, or wealth.
For us creative types, we can look at a creative freelancer for a perfect example of how to apply this principle.
Creating Leverage – From Freelancer To CEO
Nathan Barry is someone I’ve been following for a long time, nearly a decade now. He started off as a freelance designer, trading his time for dollars. In this scenario, there isn’t much leverage. In order for money to be made, Nathan had to be working.
A few years into his career, he created some digital products that he could sell – iPhone apps and ebooks.
All of a sudden, he created a little bit of leverage. These products could be sold without him being present. He could code an app, or write a book, once, and sell it many times over.
Nathan made hundreds of thousands of dollars off of his products without needing to increase the amount of time he was working. He created leverage. Now, instead of 40 hours of work for a $3,000 project, he could spend a week writing a book that could make $250,000 in sales.
From there, Nathan created a company called ConvertKit – an email service provider for creators. The initial version he built was $50/month to use. I know because I was probably one of the first hundred or so users back in 2013.
Since that time, he now serves over 30,000 creators, has a company with dozens of employees, and revenues in the millions of dollars per year. ConvertKit’s business is open for anyone to view, and you can see the kind of leverage he has created through code, people, and media.
Creating an app and a company to leverage turned his time into millions and millions of dollars.
From $3,000, to a few hundred thousand, to millions of dollars. That’s what leverage looks like in a creative business. Nathan took the same principle Naval talks about and used all three forms of leverage – capital, people, and products – to create an incredible life for him and his employees.
“Code And Media Are Permissionless”
This part of the thread is where I want to leave off today. Creating this kind of leverage doesn’t require permission from anyone.
You can create assets like photographs, music, books, apps, courses, and more and no one can stop you. There are no gate keepers, no authorities, no one in your way.
The difference between being a starving artist and creating a six- or even seven-figure business for yourself starts by understanding leverage.
What does that look like on a daily basis?
You need to devote enough time each day to creating assets that can work for you while you work on other things. Products, for example, are a great place to start.
You could spend your time – like I’ve been known to do – writing another blog post. But you can also spend an extra few minutes ensuring that the post is set up properly for SEO, so that the content can be a source of leverage for you in the long term.
You can trade the time scrolling a social feed to build an audience there instead, something that you can leverage later on.
Take some time to think about the goals you are trying to achieve for you and your business, then think in terms of leverage in order to get there quicker and more directly.
If you want help with what that looks like for your business, you can always reach out.