Everyone needs a website, right? And an instagram following? And a popular youtube channel? A big email list, phone list, twitch posse, staff, photoshop skills, a covered wagon, whiteboard, a bandsaw, an app that mows your lawn! Then, you’ll be good! Then, people will hire you to dress like a turnip for their birthday parties and you’ll be living large!
If you’re freelancing or running a small business, you will get attracted to new tools. That’s what brought you to this blog post. Tools (and I include things like instagram) promise to fix things for you just like they have for others, but here’s the fucked up part of the logic…
You see someone who has a million followers on youtube and they’re able to pay their bills so you think you will pay your bills that way. This’s the same thing as seeing a farmer who pays bills by going to the market so you think that technique could suppliment your income.
Youtube and the market are both tools or channels to make money. They are not a salve for no business plan. They are not a business plan. They are not your sole redeemer.
So, what happens with tool-fever is we see someone making money in all these different channels / apps / tools / sites / collateral, and we jump around escaping the bottom line. We make slow progress on each thing and it’s frustrating and it doesn’t help us get to any of our goals in this lifetime. There will always be more fun, promising tools and our time will always be more diluted by them.
Imagine the smallest viable business plan
How much does a customer spend in their first year with you? How many of those customers do you need to pay your bills for the year? How much would you like your company to profit on top of that?
Do some estimating and see if you can get enough customers through one channel. One channel of getting customers is great because you will get good at it, it will make your planning easy, and outsourcing or automation will eventually be easier.
Let’s say you need 300 gigs per year. You know if you send out an email to 25 people cold, you’ll get 1 gig. Bingo, start those emails flying! AFTER YOU MAKE EMAILS WORK FOR YOU… Get feedback, improve your rate of return. Sell out, raise your prices. Hire someone who can double your clients but works for half as much as you do. Buy software that helps you cut 4 hours off your work week. Keep emailing! Keep emailing! It’s working!
If you’re doing this system ?? you might not need a website, an easy to remember phone number, a logo, an instagram, storefront, a warehouse… anything but your method of sending emails. Can a company function like that? Yes!
Start doing the work
Begin by figuring out where you want to be and stepping toward it. Try the thing and see if it works. Don’t build a skyscraper headquarters before you even know your business model. Work. Try it. Improve your trying. Your model might change and the last thing you want is to be hung up on a bunch of tools and costs you’ve already embraced.
Start with tools that are most familiar and common
Here are the 7 that I think can be easiest to jump into:
- email (keep track of your contacts, your todos, chunks of text you want to use again, project plans, etc by organizing your folders, emailing yourself, and using search)
- paper and pencil (organize, sketch, take notes, highlight, delete all very intuitively) dollar store, dude
- calendar / calendar app ( track projects, keep time, organize meetings, evaluate your own work, make shopping lists, make booking lists, organize staff)
- a table ( place things in sight that need to be done, visually organize important work, hold up your other tools, show people you can afford a table)
- one social network ( which one do you like, which one have you spent time making relationships? If none, definitely skip it. This takes a lot of time…. but if you’re already there, use it to let the people who care about you know what value you can offer to their friends. They’ll tag you in gigs and stuff)
- phone texting and calling can be really effective if you are dedicated to them. try to not get drawn into the 3rd party apps as a way to solve your business problems.
- spreadsheets ( spreadsheets are my go-to way to do complicated math or organize a bunch of pieces of data that all go together. before complicated apps that manage your budget, or organize your clients, get a handle on what the data actually means and how you want to use it.
So, don’t experiment with the tool, experiment with the business. It’s way more rewarding to upgrade a tool when you already know it will improve your work, than to take a series of gambles.