1. What's burning?
2. If you don't have a list of ideas, where do I even start? What are the top 10 questions you get? What problems are you solving for your customers?
3. Focus on giving more than asking. When 40 hours a week in your new business isn't cutting it. Hat tip to #askgaryvee Gary Vaynerchuck “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”
4. Doubt means don't.
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Build a Badass Business: Episode #5: What to do First – What's Burning?
Coming to you straight 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 once upon a time, almost ran off to join the circus to be a trapeze performer. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.
Ok, that’s only partially true. I definitely was not going to run off with the circus; however, I did train on trapeze for about a year and a half, which was exhilarating, and fun, and awesome, and different, and I got really great at strict pull-ups. So, for anyone who’s looking to improve their pull-up, start training on some sort of aerial apparatus, and pull-ups will be your new best friend. If you are interested in seeing some random old videos of me, you can check out my old YouTube channel, which was YouTube/DMSanfil, so my middle name is Michelle, and the YouTube URL is just the first letters of my first and middle name, and then six letters of my last name. So, YouTube.com/DMSanfil. You will find lots of random fun training videos there, including trapeze videos, so, enjoy those.
Alright, so today I want to talk about which of your crazy ideas to focus on first. I joke and call them crazy ideas, but I have this cute little turquoise notebook that says “Trust your Crazy Ideas” and I just think that’s really fun, because I think a lot of my ideas are crazy, and I often refer to the stream of items coming out of my head as rainbow stream because it’s just a constant stream of ideas and projects that I want to create and work on, and I absolutely am with you guys in this boat of trying to figure out what to focus on first. Luckily I have a small team of folks on my team. I can’t always just say, ok, we’re dropping everything and working on this other thing just on a whim. That actually helps. It kind of keeps me in check. Of course, there are times when I can say, this needs to go in a different direction, and we are going to stop everything. There’s up sides and down sides to that.
In terms of choosing what to work on first, the first thing I want to tell you guys is, you have to go with the thing that’s burning. In a lot of ways, then in’s and out’s of every day, which I kind of joke sometimes that I’m just putting out fires. It’s the day of just fires, and I have to deal with the thing that’s burning. And I mean that sometimes in a day to day basis, what’s the thing that just has to get fixed or has to get done, because other things can’t move forward if this thing is burning.
I also mean it in the bigger picture of, what’s the thing inside of you that’s sitting in your belly that’s creating a fire. And I don’t mean heartburn. I mean the thing, you’ve just got this passion and burning desire to create. And if you don’t do it soon, it’s just going to burn you up. For me, writing Practical Paleo was that thing. I’ll talk in a second about where that comes from, and sort of why you make the decision to do something that’s a much bigger project like that. But maybe you’ve got some idea of a product you want to make, or a service you want to start offering, and you need to create a page on your website about it, or whatever it is. If it’s just on your mind and won’t get off of your mind until you do it, I think it’s really important to address that thing that’s burning.
Whether that’s fixing something that needs to be fixed, or creating something new that needs to be created, I think you need to address what’s burning because otherwise it’s just constantly going to distract you. Another example of this for me is that every now and then something on my website breaks, or my website goes down. And so I may be working on lots of projects, but if something is broken, I need to fix it, and that’s the thing that’s burning.
When it comes to choosing what to focus on first, that’s kind of my first tip; go with what’s burning. Hopefully, you’ll be able to also get to a place where between choosing what you’re working on and choosing on what perhaps other people are helping you work on, it won’t always be a constant stream of just working on what’s burning. Obviously, you have to get to a place where you're planning or preparing, you’re chipping away at big projects or doing things with social media that are smaller projects. It doesn’t mean that you’ll always work on what’s burning first.
So here’s how to address figuring out how to move forward with what to do first if you don’t already have a huge list of things to do or that you want to do. If you're just thinking, where do I even start? How do I put information out there? This was a tip that I got from Amy Porterfield, and I really love her podcast. I know a lot of you are asking me what else I listen to, or what else I read, I’m not a big reader. I learn really well by listening, which is why I also love speaking and talking, and why I have a podcast and not a new blog for this information, although I’m sure at some point I’m sure I’ll get all the transcripts over to a blog, and you can actually get transcripts right on my website on DianeSanfilippo.com/business or you can check the drop down menu for learn more, and there’s something about the business podcast, and there are transcripts there. But I digress.
Amy Porterfield, on one of her early podcast episodes, she put out a tip to her listeners that was, if you don’t know what to write about on your blog, think about the top 10 frequently asked questions that you get. Now, even if you're new to whatever it is that you’re doing. Let’s say you’re doing acupuncture or massage. Not to say that those are exactly the same thing, I don’t want to discount anyone’s value in either of those two services, but there are always questions you get first. Right? Maybe it’s something about the price of it. Or what does it really do, how does it work? How often should I come for a treatment? Who can this help? There are so many questions that are just constantly coming in that you probably get from friends or family or from strangers. You know, you’re out somewhere and you talk about what you do, and there’s a stream of questions that you know you get all the time. Answer those in some format, perhaps it’s a blog post. If you somehow decide you want to be crazy like me and start a podcast, answer it in a podcast. That’s what I’m doing with this information, it’s just easier for me to sit down and talk and get that put into a format. For a lot of people, it’s really about writing a blog post that answers a question.
If you go to my website at DianeSanfilippo.com, and you look for health information, I have frequently asked questions posts, and those are very specifically done to answer those questions, because on Facebook or on other social media, I literally would get those questions over and over again. Which cooking fat should I use? What are some paleo-friendly carbs to eat? And if you’re not familiar with the paleo diet because you just found me through business coaching, it’s totally cool. You can check out Practical Paleo, which is my first book, or you can just totally ignore everything about paleo, that’s fine with me. But if you’re interested in seeing what are the types of things that I wrote about, just go to my blog, and you’ll see that most of those posts, the date will probably be at the bottom, because I haven’t written a lot of those recently. Most of them are a lot older. I started blogging a long time ago, and started focusing more on the blog probably back in 2010, so a lot of the posts are from 2010-2011, and so I’m really just answering questions that I got all the time.
Now, this is what eventually fed into the content for Practical Paleo. So not only was I answering questions that I was getting through social media, but I traveled the country for two, maybe three years. I think it was two years of teaching seminars before I started also doing book signing events. But I get questions all the time at live events. I get the same questions all the time at live events. And that’s fine. It’s amazing because it helps me to focus on what type of information to continue to share with all of you.
When I finished teaching seminars live; right now we’re working on producing an online version of the seminar, and it’s completely based on everything we’d been teaching for years, but also questions that we’d been getting at the live events. So if you take that content and you think about, ok, I found a way to deliver that content live to people in person in a room, but now there’s obviously millions of people out there who won’t be able to come to a live event, and especially if I’m not touring to teach them anymore. So I really wanted to put all the information in one place, and that’s what ended up resulting in Practical Paleo.
Obviously, not everybody is going to write a 432-page book after listening to this podcast. But that may mean that you take your top 3 questions that all relate to fermenting, for example, or that all relate to a certain type of exercise. Maybe you can morph them into an eBook. Now that eBook may be something that you sell, or it may just be something that you give away that focuses your content in one area. One thing that I see a lot lately is that people are accessing content really differently than ever before. So being able to take 3 blog posts and boil them down into an eBook PDF that somebody who’s really specifically interested in that one topic can just grab it, put it on their iPad, put it on their phone, read it whenever they want, they don’t even have to be connected to the internet, I find that’s a really helpful thing.
I know a lot of you are feeling like you just don’t know how to create this content. Start with your top 10 frequently asked questions, and then come up with different ways to deliver it to people. Because chances are, you write that post, you get some traffic to it once, and then what? It’s still sitting there as a great resource, but people just aren’t seeing it. So that’s something that I think is really important for us all to figure out how to do and how to deliver that content to people more easily.
If you’re looking at all these ideas that you have about what to do, and you are still trying to figure out what to do next, another strategy or tip would be to focus on giving more than asking. This is another person who I love to follow, he doesn’t have a podcast but he does have a YouTube channel now. Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s written quite a few books on marketing, especially on social media marketing, and I really like his approach. He’s a fellow New Jerseyan, and he’s totally about just crushing it. He will work harder than anyone, and I love the idea of working smarter not harder, but I also think that most of us really need to work harder most of the time.
When you’re starting a business, putting in hours that are 9-5 in that business, it’s just not going to cut it. I know a lot of you guys listening are health coaches or trainers, or you know the value of a great quality night sleep, but unfortunately, when you’re getting a new business started, especially if you are still working a different 9-5 perhaps, or a different job, you’re going to have to sacrifice a little bit in order to get ahead with what you want, because this work does not get itself done in a neatly packaged 8 hour day. I’m sorry to tell you that, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t mean that some people can’t do that. And I think some people have really good limitations and can be really focused and get work done that’s amazing before 9 p.m. But most people I know, that includes other authors of bestselling books on health and nutrition. It’s not everyone, I don’t know every single person who’s ever written a book on health, but most of the ones I know have sacrificed some of their own health to get that work done.
There’s an element of realizing that you have to work really freaking hard to get this stuff done. I don’t want anyone to be under the illusion that I don’t work a lot. Because I do. But the upside of that, is that I can take time off whenever the heck I want. Whether that’s a couple of hours in the afternoon, or a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, I get to make that decision. To me, that’s the real power of being your own boss and having your own business.
Back to Gary Vaynerchuk and his strategy and what he teaches, which I love this and this is something that I’m working on with my team in terms of our strategy for social media, things like Facebook and Instagram primarily, is a concept he coined, jab, jab, jab, right hook. All that means is, you give, you give, you give, and then you ask for something of the people that you are engaging with. So the way that might look, for every three posts that you might make where you’re just teaching someone something, or you are providing them a new resource, or maybe you send them a recipe or an exercise tip, or something that’s informational and educational about whatever it is that you do.
I’m going to go back to the acupuncturist example. If you are an acupuncturist, and people just generally don’t understand what it is or what it does, sharing information or tips about how to find a good acupuncturist, or how to know if it’s working, or anything that might help educate people. Whether that’s sharing a link to someone else’s website, or a link to a blog post you’ve written, or some type of resource , that is you giving. You’re giving value, you’re providing valuable content to the people who are fans and followers of the work that you are doing. Now, that 25% of the time, remember it was jab, jab, jab, right hook, nice little boxing reference there. 25% of the time is your opportunity to ask them for something, in exchange for whatever you’re posting.
So this may look like actually asking for a financial investment, so maybe you have an eBook to sell, or you have an affiliate marketing item. Some kind of summit that you’re promoting, or you have a product that you want to refer them to on Amazon through Amazon associates, for example. That’s that 25% of the time that you do that. I think for a lot of you who have trouble with the idea of marketing, or trouble with the idea of selling, if you put everything into this construct where you know that you’re consistently delivering three elements or items of value for every one time that you might ask for something in return. Now, asking for something not only could be financial, but asking for their email on your emailing list. That’s an ask. That’s a right hook. So remembering that, if you give 3 times for every one time that you ask, then you're probably in a pretty good place. And the people who are following what you're doing, they’re getting a lot of really amazing content and value from what you’re providing to them, so they’re going to be willing and ready to find out how to get more from you. Whether that’s giving you an email address, or paying you some money.
I’ll tell you what, by the time I put a book out, or by the time I released the 21-Day Sugar Detox as an eBook, people were practically begging to give me money because I had been giving for probably a solid year before I ever had anything I asked money for. That’s just something to keep in mind, because you may or may not be able to go a whole year. You may have to do this in a little bit more of a paced setting. But if you are still working another job, and you’re kind of one foot in, one foot out of being an entrepreneur and really taking on this whole thing on your own, that could be the time when you focus on giving, that whole entire time. Because if you know that at the end of that, you’ve built a really loyal tribe, or fan base, or following, of people who are basically learning a ton from you and they see so much value in what you’re giving them, by the time you have something to sell, they’re really ready.
I think any of us know what that feels like, when somebody that we’ve been learning from for a long time finally says, hey, you know what, I have this resource that I’ve put together, and it’s $29.95, check it out if you want to. No hard selling. People are more than likely to just throw some money at you, because they’re just really grateful. I think if you get to that place, it’s really different.
It can be different for a service based business, where again if you are an acupuncturist or you are a personal trainer, there’s not a lot that you can physically give in person to people, but there’s a ton you can give information wise. I know there are loads of personal trainers out there who make little Instagram videos, or blog posts with workouts, or even Instagram images that have a workout written on them. There’s lots of ways to provide value to people without having to be face to face, having a physical interaction.
Alright, so my last tip I’m going to wrap this up because I’m closing in on about 17 minutes already here, me kind of blabbing. But my last tip here, this is one from Oprah. I’ve listened to lots of folks over the years, I take these little nuggets. And her quote was, “Doubt means don’t.” And, I definitely think that we have amazing instincts and our gut tells us things, and I think it doesn’t mean necessarily that if you are hesitating a little bit that it’s not the right thing to do. I think we hesitate for reasons that are so deep sometimes. A lot of the stuff I covered in the fear episodes.
I think when it comes to the work that you’re doing, and which thing to focus on next, if you just aren’t feeling it, this is where I think the “doubt means don’t”. If you’re not burning for it, if you feel a hesitation, then unless there’s something already invested, unless you’ve got time invested, there are other people involved and you really just need to follow through, because I think following through on things is really important, and that’s a lesson for myself as well. I love to start projects, and finishing them is really difficult for me. I think if you have a doubt, and you’re just not burning for that thing, don’t go with it first. It’s just not something that you’re going to follow through on really well. Especially if you’re doing it all on your own.
That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so 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 haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, head on over there and join the 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. I’ll catch you on the next episode.