Destined to Fail: Trying to Do It All
I started in 2008. The world has changed since 10 years ago. So it used to be if you were selling some shirts or if you were selling straws, or whatever you were selling, you could just put up a pretty descent photo on Etsy and you'd get some business. You would just put, you know, you'd bubble to the top. It was sort of like the internet, I mean the internet wasn't new, but the world of online selling was sort of new, and if you had a descent product and a descent description you would, your product would be found. That's really not the case anymore, so there are, I would say probably millions of people at home making pretty descent products who now have a, I mean my phone takes a better photo than my camera did 10 years ago, so you have to do a lot more to compete. So, ta dah, this was my website in 2011. That was only, what, six years ago (laughs)? That wasn't that long ago, but if you saw this today you would run away, or pass out, or (laughs) whatever your reaction to this is. Thi...
s is not how websites look anymore. When I made this site, I told you, hardcore solopreneur, I coded it myself. I made these illustrations myself. I was in Photoshop. I did the CSS coding, like I did computer science in college, I had like Java, I found a custom font, all this stuff, and I had a shopping cart. That was hot potatoes. But the expectations for these days are so much greater, so this is my site now. I don't know what the heck goes on. It has to be SEO friendly, it has to be mobile phone friendly, right? Google will dock you if your site isn't mobile friendly. I no longer, even with my pretty advanced computer skills, I no longer know how to code this stuff from scratch. The expectations are so much bigger for what it means to be a business because so much more is expected of us. Even just SEO, there are people who are professional SEO people, like they know the best search terms, they're Google Analytics people. So I think of it as like the little building blocks. Like back in the day, the solopreneur tower, the expectations are this tall and we could all accomplish that by ourselves. Yup, you took a two hour online course about how to take a good photo and you were in the top 1% of really great photos. But now so much more is expected of us, but the good news that I hope to convince you of is the blocks we get to build with are bigger. So you can go and buy a WordPress template for your website. That's really, really great. Like that's a way bigger building block that you get to play with. It's actually super easy to find a virtual assistant who will help you with certain things. So we have to be so much better with our businesses but we also can take advantage of these much bigger building blocks, and those building blocks are hiring help. So it's good news and bad news. So if you're trying to get this tall with the tiny little do-it-yourself blocks it's gonna be really hard. You're gonna have to put in way more hours than someone who uses the resources available to them, like finding an Instagram account manager online. And so this course is about showing you how to use those big blue blocks to build the business that looks really amazing, really successful, and fits in with your life. All these resources are out there. The internet (laughs), because it's become so big now means that there's lots of opportunities for you as a business owner to go find these resources, right, so you can find stock photographs, you can find a graphic designer who's in Ukraine, you can find whatever you want to find to use them for your business. I'm gonna be showing quotes throughout the course from people who know way more than I do about running their own businesses, because you all are experts for your own business, and I can't speak to what it means to run a photography but I can ask people who do. So this is Gale Zucker. She does photography and we're gonna be hearing from her. She said, "I've learned to recognize that getting "freelance help for my business is working smart. "It's not laziness or weakness. "When I started out I felt like I "had to do everything myself, both to save money and also," and this is bold letters on my words, "I somehow felt like spinning off tasks "made me, as a business, less authentic. "So silly!" (laughing) "It's more profitable to free up my time "for the truly creative and more remunerative "tasks or for aspects that only I can do." So I have felt this way. I know you guys out there have felt this way, that if I, my business is me. If I hire out part of it I'm being less authentic, I'm being less real, my customers are going to get mad at me. And it's just not true. There are so many, my customers could care less who does my taxes, I promise. No one is like, you're not a real business owner 'cause you're not doing your taxes yourself. So there are so many aspects of your business that you can hire out and it's not making you less authentic. So one of the things we're gonna work on today is identifying what your best product is, think about what your customers do care about. What do they care that you and your aesthetic eye and your sense of self is doing, and what are the things that they could just really care less that you're doing? So this whole system is kind of a shift in thinking. So when I started my business, my business Fresh Stitches is crochet, it started as just crochet patterns, so PDF downloads, and if you asked me what I did I would say I make patterns. And so when I say that, that means I make the patterns, I take the photos, I write the patterns, I write the instructions, I save as PDF. It was all about me, me, me, that's what Stacey does. Now if you asked me I would say I teach beginning crocheters, and I have a little motto or whatever, you know, I teach them in a fun and easy environment with a sense of community. That statement is no longer about me, me, me taking the photographs. I'm a curator for my customers. I make it easy for them to learn to crochet and that's the service I provide, and if I hire someone to lay out my format I'm still providing them with that service. That's my job, is to make sure that they get a quality end product. So it's a shift in thinking about what your product is. What's the golden package you're giving to your customers and how much of that is about you, you, you, and how much of that is about your sense of your business and delivering a quality end product? And so when we start thinking in this way that your job is to provide this lovely quality end product, it's not, I'm the person running around making all of the ends meet. This is a little shift of thinking. So I am the quality control for my business, I'm the ideas person, I'm the gatekeeper, I'm the manger, I do a lot of really important things for my business, but I'm not necessarily doing every single tiny step. So I say there's a difference between a blank-er, like a sew-er, a crochet-er, a photograph-er, and a business owner. So I do hear a lot of people say things like, "All I want to do is take photos. "I don't want to do any of this other stuff." You have two choices. You can take photos and hire someone else to do all the other business stuff or you can go work for someone else. Because running a business requires running a business, so you get to pick how you run the business but you can't just take beautiful photos and expect people to come flocking to your door beating them down begging to buy your photos, right? Being a business owner means running the business and running the whole business, and so what I'm saying to everyone who is a photograph-er, or a sew-er, who also wants to run the business, to do their best creative work without someone over your head, is learn to hire out these other tasks so that you can be business owner and you can spend the eight hours a day you have doing the photography you love, doing the painting you love, but still taking care of your business, because that's what you have to do. If you're just in a little room only taking your photos you're not going to be running a business.
Stacey, quick question from over here.
When you were a solopreneur and you were doing it all yourself, what percentage of the day were you spending doing business as opposed to the actual creation of the product?
That's such a good question. So I will remind you when I was a solopreneur Twitter didn't exist, Instagram didn't exist, so I would say I definitely spent most of my day doing the making, but this is also related to that building block issue. When I started my business you really could just like put up your listing on Etsy and things would sell. I never took out ads back in 2009. I didn't, there was so much I didn't do. I think the world has just changed, so the answer to that question is I only spent, let's say, 10, 20% of my time doing that other stuff, bookkeeping, web design, stuff like that, but I think my business would not run these days. If I showed you that website that I had (laughs) in 2011 and I was like, buy from me, you would go the other way, so this is that tower we're talking about. The standards these days are so much bigger and higher than they used to be. So I think, I mean I think for most of us our fantasy life is for sure we want to be spending 80% of our day doing that thing we like doing, and whether it's the production, whether it's, I mean whatever the reason is that you do this as a living, we want to spend like 80% of our time doing it. But I think, I mean people can chime in from online. I think if you were trying to be a solopreneur starting like, let's say you started last year, and you were doing a good job at like doing your Google ads, keeping your Instagram account alive and active, you would be pushed to be doing less than half of your time in production, because the burden of managing social media, and ads, and customer service, has gotten so high because such a large percentage of our stuff happens online these days. And the world's always changing (laughs). That's why it's so important to be looking ahead. The world, huh, it's always changing. So these are our cute little icons. I will as a side note say I bought the icons, I didn't draw them myself. There was a time when I would have drawn the icons myself, but I purchased them from a professional illustrator who does this for a living, it's genius. Okay (laughing), so we all have a limited amount of time, energy, and money. This is true about business, it's true about life. We are balancing these things all the time. So you can, and that's the only rule, right? You have to just balance these things. And where you are depends on where you are in your business. So starting out you probably had a heck of a lot of time on your hands and a lot of energy. I know I did, like woo! No money. So this is a lot of the solopreneur sort of place, you know, where you start. So yeah, maybe you do draw the graphics yourself. There's nothing wrong with that. You have the time. Maybe you do, you know, email every single blogger you've ever heard of and ask them for advice. You have the time to do that. As your business changes, this is the point where I am, I have the money, I have like no time, so I will happily pay for that graphic because I don't have the time to draw it myself. We are all just like balancing the time, money, and energy. The last one, maybe you have a bit of time on your hands but you are just like, energy is a bit nebulous. Maybe you're just like so drained right now, like maybe you're having a personal crisis, who knows, and you are just so drained on the energy front, you just need some like brainless task to do for your business. We're all doing this. I know time and energy for some people is sort of like a nebulous distinction. Like what's it mean to have time and not have energy? Okay, let's take a half our, video games versus going to the gym. Who's made that decision to like just sit down instead of like pumping it out at the gym for a half hour? Done that. Having some cereal versus like looking up on Yelp what's the hottest, trendiest, most awesome restaurant. Yep, so like yesterday I got up at four a.m. to fly here. Last night I had to find dinner, right? Did I walk down the street and just pick the closest place? Yep. Or did I look and like find the coolest, hottest place that you had to like wait a half hour to get into? No, I just wandered around a little bit. So it's super important to think about your energy too. So you need energy to come up with new ideas, to innovate, successfully negotiate for your business, make good decisions that weighs lots of different factors. Like who's been traveling and the silliest problem happens and like later you is like, oh, you mean I could have just like called a cab and gone to this place and fixed the problem? Except like, ah, it felt like I don't know what to do and you did some crazy thing, right? Because it's really hard to weigh multiple factors when you're stressed. To overcome inertia. So the inertia of doing it all yourself is this huge one we all feel about our businesses. Hiring someone else, you have to overcome that inertia to do things differently. To keep up steam for a long lasting project, to finish what you need to do, deliver something to a client, that takes energy. Do detail oriented or creative work. A lot of people who are true creatives, like you know doing their art, you need some sort of like, some space to come up with these ideas to do your work. To do detail-oriented work, I know I have friends who are technical editors and that's like doing these number-- There's a max to how much you can do that. You may have 12 hours a day but you can't do more than six hours of this detail-oriented work because it's the energy. To travel, do in-person meetings. Yup, you need energy to do that sort of thing. So I want you to think about time, money, and energy all balancing, 'cause they're all really important for your business. Why would you want to hire someone? Save time, contribute skills that you don't have, or to contribute tools that you don't have. So what we're going to be looking at today is specialists in your, specialists who specialize in doing their thing and hiring those people to do better, or save time, than you could do yourself. So I want to talk about the economy of scale. So just as a super easy example, not many people I know cut their hair themselves. One, 'cause it's like kind of hard. (laughing) Jim cuts his hair himself. One other reason besides it's hard to like be behind yourself is hairdressers have really expensive scissors. If you've ever tried when you were eight to cut your hair with like the scissors you have at home, it doesn't work out very well. A hairdresser invests in hundreds of dollars worth of scissors because this is their job. They do it eight hours a day. It costs pennies on the haircut to get these super expensive scissors. If you just want to rock up and get one haircut a year, whatever, it doesn't pay for you to have those super expensive scissors. And the same thing is true with lawyers, all of this stuff, if someone is a professional doing something eight, 10 hours a day for their whole life, for 20 years, they have so, they're so much more efficient at it that it's not really worth you doing it yourself. So here's this super easy example to understand. Let's say you want a muffin, right. So I'm out in San Francisco, I don't live here, I want a muffin, a blueberry muffin. These are the ingredients. If you pretend I had an oven it would cost me $32 to make one muffin. I'm going to go to a cafe and buy a muffin even if it costs five dollars at that rate. But this same recipe, all those same ingredients, costs $32 to make 12 muffins. I have to buy a whole five pound thing of flour. It costs me the same amount to make 144 muffins. And that's 46 cents a piece, so I have to get a certain amount of material to make a muffin but it's the same amount of material I need to make 144 muffins. So this is what I'm talking about when I'm talking about the economy of scale. If you need a logo for your business you don't need a hundred logos, you just need one logo, so it's probably going to pay for you to go to a professional logo maker who has the most up-to-date Illustrator, Photoshop, the super fast computer, whatever in the world you need to make a log, because you just want the one. You don't need 100 of them.