If Your Business Isn’t Growing It’s Because You’re Doing The Wrong Things

Or, “want do grow your business? What got you here won’t get you there…”

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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 ideawhat 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”?

NO!

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.

NO!

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 systems and 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.

RPM Planning For Creatives

The RPM Planning System is my secret to getting more done and achieving more in my professional and personal life. The system guarantees results.

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This post is part of the 60 Day Project – one post a day to help you prepare your business for success in 2021. Subscribe using the button below to get new posts sent straight to your email.


Years ago I was listening to a Tony Robbins talk tape, and in it somewhere it had a number you could call or a website you could visit to talk with their team.

I was looking for answers. How to start and grow a business. How to find more success. How to get more control over the results I was experiencing around my work and my finances.

I got on a call, and while I couldn’t afford the coaching, the kind person on the other end of the line offered to send me some of the tapes that I didn’t have access to.

She literally told me to copy them to my computer and then send them back so I wasn’t charged for them.

Well, I took full advantage of the opportunity, ripped the audio to my laptop, and saved them all to dropbox for safe keeping.

The saleswoman suggested I start with a set of tapes called Time Of Your Life.

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.

Results Focused

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.

Purpose Driven

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.

Massive 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.

Want help? Check out the different ways that I can help you reach your goals in 2020 and beyond.

Finding And Creating Leverage In Your Business

Pulling lessons from Naval Ravikant and Nathan Barry on creating leverage, and using it to get results in your business.

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This post is part of the 60 Day Project – one post a day to help you prepare your business for success in 2021. Subscribe using the button below to get new posts sent straight to your email.


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.

Focus On What You Can Control and Ignore The Rest

The wasted energy could be better spent focusing on things you have the ability to affect rather than on things that you’ll never have any influence on.

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This post is part of the 60 Day Project – one post a day to help you prepare your business for success in 2021. Subscribe using the button below to get new posts sent straight to your email.


In the last few weeks I started a podcast for a new app that I’ve been building with my brother.

In the podcast, I have conversations with other creatives who are working on their own creative businesses. Many are artists, writers, comedians, actors, filmmakers, and other types of creatives. They own their own businesses, often without any other employees or partners.

One thing has already become clear in the first five conversations: focus matters.

Here’s what I mean:

Where You Put Your Focus Determines The Outcome

There are seemingly infinite places you could focus your thoughts, time, money, and effort in your business.

Social media platforms, followers, engagement, emails, conversion rates, profit margin, employees, contractors, finances, software, project management… it’s overwhelming just trying to list them all.

The question then arises, “where should I put my focus?”

Here’s a three step process you can use, right now, to help focus your efforts:

  1. Ask, “do I have control?”
  2. Ask, “does this help me reach my bigger goals?”
  3. Ask, “is this currently a constraint in my business?”

Do I Have Control

If you look at something like a client who hasn’t paid you and it’s now 90 days late, you have very limited – if any – control over that situation.

Sure, you could start legal action, or call or email them to try and get that money, but ultimately, the client paying you is out of your control.

Why? Because it’s someone else’s choice.

Instead, it would be better to focus your time on the system that gets clients to pay you on time and in full.

Can you tweak your contract? Can you get money in different installments over time? Can you have them pay up front?

While there may be “industry standard” payment terms, you’ve got to control what you can control.

Another example – your followers. While you can influence the success rate of getting people to follow you, you don’t have any control over each individual follower or subscriber’s decision making ability to do so.

So rather than trying to convince people to follow you, focus on ways that you can make it easier for the right people to find you, follow you, and engage with your work.

Does This Help Me Reach My Bigger Goals

Each of us do what we do for a reason. Maybe multiple reasons, but it often stems down to one or two main reasons that drive everything we do.

For example – the need for fame, or fortune, or control, or adventure, or contribution, or growth, or connection.

These deep needs that we all share in some amount drive everything in our creative lives.

If you’re motivated by contribution but find yourself focusing on something that’s motivated by fame or fortune, you’re not helping yourself reach the bigger goal.

There are plenty of people who led lives of immense contribution and made very little money doing so, but were incredibly happy and fulfilled. They knew they were living up to their life’s mission.

On the flip side, there are countless people who are insanely wealthy, yet continue to pursue more, more, more. The will never have “enough”, because they can always look around to find someone who has something they don’t.

You’ve got to figure out what is really driving YOU in your work, and align your actions and your focus to serve that greater purpose.

Is It A Constraint?

If you’re trying to focus your efforts to fix or grow your business, you need to not only ensure that it’s something you can control, and serves the greater purpose, but to get the biggest “wins” in the shortest amount of time, you need to identify the constraints.

A constraint is something that is holding your business back from being what it could be.

Perhaps you’re an incredibly talented songwriter and musician, yet your albums only sell a few hundred copies, and you haven’t yet started making a full-time income from your art.

The constraint could be any number of things. Marketing, awareness, pricing… there’s no one answer that is true for everyone.

What you need to do is look at your business objectively and figure out where the weak links are. Then you can focus on one at a time, strengthening them so they’re now a strong part of your business.

Pick one constraint at a time, and your business will grow much faster than if you just tried to improve on your strengths.

The Superpower Is Being Able To Know The Right Place To Put Your Focus

In this whole process, there’s a superpower in being able to see what’s true. Being able to look objectively at your business, rather than just going with your gut on what to work on from day to day.

Part of this 60 Day Project was to solve one of my biggest weaknesses – awareness. Not enough people know that I exist, that I’m trying to help creatives with their businesses, and that I have the ability to do so.

Not enough people know about the app that I made over the summer specifically to help creatives find the constraints in their business.

So, I took action on something I can control. I can write and publish content and share it with people who might benefit from it.

I can improve each new post so that more people share it with others.

I can point people in the right direction through the posts to help them on their creative journey.

All of these things serve the greater goal of contribution and growth that drives my businesses. And by focusing on the biggest constraint, I’m taking conscious action to change the results I’m getting from my business.

You can do the same.