Dave's Accountability

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  • #1293
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I am so impressed by the people who have put themselves out there and then stuck with it. As I posted in the “Questions” forum, I have had a tendency to suffer from overwhelm from time to time. So much so that this year I actually went for professional help. (Yes, I actually mean a shrink.)

    So, based upon the few people here who are actually doing it – and by “IT” I mean working at it day-to-day, I am going to post my own accountability plan right here.

    Sean, you were right, BTW; this did give me some real clarity. It made me realize just how much I already have.

    Blueprint for Your Business

    Part 1 (So I understand your Dream Business):
    1) What exactly is your Dream Business?
    It actually comes in several parts.
    1. Expand my existing horse racing info product business to $350,000 per year.
    2. Build a complete set of processes that would work with any information market business.
    3. Build a new info product business based upon Productivity and Self-Help that would not have the inherent problems that the horse racing business has.

    2) Why do you believe you should create it?
    1. To stabilize our income
    2. To leverage the Brand Awareness I have built over the last 26 years.
    3. Ultimately, to move to an arena without any practical limitations.

    3) How will your BIG IDEA change lives?
    The horse racing business is not a real life changer. However, the Productivity/Self-Help business will allow many people to literally change their world, and, by extension, the world of others. (Bear fruit is a reasonable description.)

    4) How is it different (or similar) to other web businesses that do something similar?
    In the horse racing arena I literally have no competition. It is a market that is relatively orphaned. There is nobody else doing what I do, namely teaching people how to improve their game, experience and results.

    5) What will be included in your BIG BUSINESS dream site?
    I will continue to use the site I have now, but it needs some makeover.
    Although it actually has a killer search engine, the site needs a better system for cataloging content that is more SEO-friendly.
    My industry is not favorable to memberships, so instead we’ll work from the email list.

    6) Please tell me anything and everything else about what you dream about in your business
    My biggest dream is for me to accomplish more with less personal effort. I need some employees to take the load off. It is not that I am currently overworked. Actually the opposite is true. I work about 25 hours per week. If I can make those Truly Productive Hours (the name of my upcoming Productivity site) I can do in 25 hours what most people would accomplish in 150 hours. (Yes, a 6:1 ratio is very doable.)

    Part 2 (So I understand what your weaknesses are so we can work with/around them):
    7) What challenges have you faced in the past in trying to implement your BIG DREAM?
    I have historically suffered from burnout, resulting from a severe case of Overwhelm. When I burnout, just the opposite happens: I produce nothing.

    8) If you have never started, why not? What held you back?
    I have started and restarted many times. We continue to succeed as a business. But only to a point.
    Always it is overwhelm that holds me back.

    9) If you have started, but failed or stalled, what happened?
    OVERWHELM, I say! It is all about the OVERWHELM!
    Seriously, when you are in a digital business, at the end of the day you find that you are actually selling little electronic zeroes-and-ones. Those are very cheap to reproduce. So, when we sell a product, it is impossible to lose money.

    10) What do you see as your 3 biggest weaknesses?
    1. No employees. I do too much myself.
    2. Overwhelm (as stated before).
    3. Perfectionism (which I am working to overcome)

    11) How do those weaknesses stunt your growth?
    That is really the point. We have no growth. We have good years and great years, but no real growth. But of all the things that hurt us, the biggest would be my lack of desire to manage people.

    Part 3: (So we can begin designing your business fast!):

    12) Who desperately NEEDS what you are going to teach, share, or sell?
    99.5% of horse bettors lose on a regular basis. Using my information products will improve their result, but most people still will not win in the long run. The goal is to make the player:
    • More competitive (i.e. they still lose but their money lasts longer and it brings greater pleasure).
    • Competitive to the point of profit.
    • Competitive to the level of professional play.

    13) Why do they need it from YOU and no one else?
    Because I am pretty much the only guy selling real solutions that actually work.

    14) Is anyone else doing exactly the same thing?
    A few try, selling a system or software product, but there is nobody else in my industry producing software at my level. Neither is anyone teaching at my level. There used to be but I have outlived them all.

    15) How is YOUR solution different or better than everyone else who teaches what you want to?
    I have a software product that is the “10” in my industry. The closest thing to mine is a “3” (and that software’s developer died about 6 years ago).
    In the info product arena, nobody is producing “How to Win” products.

    16) How is YOUR solution going to change people’s lives?
    It won’t. Oh, sure… there are a handful of players that are making $400,000 to $4,000,000 but they are rare. I am not curing cancer here.

    17) Is your solution simpler or more complex than the existing solutions?
    Everyone wants a killer solution and they want it to be dead-bang easy. The reality is that winning solutions in any field are rarely simple. In fact, they are usually highly complex.

    18) Do you want to be the LEADER in your business concept, or just go along with everyone else and get by?
    I definitely want to be THE LEADER.

    19) Did you make MORE revenue last year online than the year before?
    Yes, but it was because I did a couple of high-end programming jobs within my software. In other words, it was a year where I traded hours-for-dollars instead of duplicating myself.

    It was actually a bad year even though we made money because I lost my email list (due to inactivity) and had to rebuild from scratch. I currently have gotten back about 1/3 of the old list.

    20) Are you already selling your solution in a smaller form, but you want to go big and viral now?
    Actually, the opposite. I want to move away from the Big Ticket and move more towards a WSO-type approach.

    21) If so, how many units do you sell each month, and at what price each?
    We have several income sources.
    • Software – 10% ($1,597 each)
    • Software, recurring revenue – 32% ($70 @month)
    • Info Products – 13% (price varies from $10 to $117)
    • Custom Programming & Coaching – 13% (@$125 per hour)
    • Commissions from winning player contracts – 32%

    22) Do you have an enthusiastic fan base to whom you can tell about your great idea? If so, what is that fan base, and how many are in it?
    Yes. Only 500 currently on the email list but can reach another 1,000 via a forum I am part of.

    23) If you KNOW you can change lives, but haven’t been able to, what are the top 3 things that have stopped you from doing it?
    Horse racing is not a “change-lives” kind of business. Sure, lives change because of friendships. Our ministry is Personal Discipleship, and that allows us to change lives through our one-on-one mentoring program.

    24) Do you want to follow a proven model, or do you want to re-invent the wheel?
    Well, I have tried it my way and it hasn’t worked. At least not as well as I would like. Therefore, I am open to change.

    25) On a scale of 1-10, how bad do you want to change the world with your solution?
    I am not dedicated to changing the world. I am much more committed to being a usable vessel.

    26) On a scale of 1-10, how bad do you want to make $100k this year with your solution?
    Let’s change that to $350k so that it is not a pay cut. 
    I would make that about a 9.768 out of 10. (I am sure that on some level I am still not completely committed.)

    27) How hard are you willing to work to make it happen?
    I will devote the entire 20 hours per week that is allocated to information product marketing.

    28) What are you willing to drop or get rid of to make $100k this year changing the world with your solution?
    I am willing to give up my bouts with overwhelm and get more done. I must master this.

    29) What will be the 3 biggest things that would change in your life if you get this viral innovative business off the ground?
    If this really goes… if I can REALLY get us to 5,000 subscribers… this will generate upwards of $20,000 extra every month. This will allow me to finally commit to hiring someone to help and we can take it to the $2m level.
    Three Big Changes:
    1. I will learn to manage people better. (I will have to.)
    2. We can expand this business into other sports, using the same model.
    3. We can take a short vacation every two months.

    30) Final question (yahoo!!) – What is going to be the BEST PART about working with me on this?
    You work for free?
    (Oh, no. Sorry. Got that wrong.)

    I like your process for doing things, although I will never send 5-8 emails per day (as I receive from you now). Note: Our demographic is age 55, not high tech, and responds very negatively to “too much” email. I like the fact that email is the CENTER of the marketing as opposed to the website and content.

    I am actually thrilled with the idea of building a 45-minute video product and selling it in a WSO-type offer. So, I can build that 45-minute product in about 5 hours, and break even in time with about $625 in sales. At an average sale price of $11 or so, that means I am even in 57 sales.

    In addition, I can spin it into an audio product with the visual materials in a PDF (which is just a PowerPoint export), and a transcripted product (via my Fiverr person). That will give me a 3 different versions of each product. I especially like the idea of adding some recorded material to the transcripted version, getting my Fiverr gal to edit it, and create it as a book.

    #1295
    Rick Smith
    Participant

    Dave –

    Wow! That’s an impressive questionnaire. I’m very impressed with how open you were with the whole process and how you laid it all out there. Seeing you do that gives me the courage to do the same.

    Thanks for being so open.

    Rick

    #1300
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    The Outline of My Blueprint

    What are the 3-5 things you should be singularly focusing on to achieve YOUR goals?
    (Yes, I took out “in your business” to suit my needs in this first section.)

    For me, it has to begin with TAKING CONTINUOUS ACTION.
    1. Make my bed every morning. (That is a metaphor for “Start Every Day with a Task done.”)

    2. Plan every Push and make that push The Bed. (A “Push” is the next set of actions in the plan. Generally takes about 7-10 hours, covering 1-3 days.)

    3. Accept that pattern breaks are part of my life and Master getting the car out of park as quickly as possible.

    What are the 3-5 things you should be singularly focusing on in your business to achieve YOUR goals?
    (Here is the original question.)

    1. New content leads to subscribers.
    2. Subscribers need a good welcome series that leads to an initial purchase quickly (7-14 days).
    3. Consistently good emails sent on a consistent basis will lead to more sales.
    4. New SIMPLE products lead to having products to sell.
    5. With my open rate (60%) and click through rate (28%), if I chart the “What made the sale?” I can learn what works and concetrate on that.
    6. The WSO selling concept (i.e. price ticks higher over time) is brilliant. This should leverage my LCV into a very steady flow.

    What are the 3-5 things you should MASTER to achieve YOUR goals?
    1. Producing emails quickly. (Currently takes me about 90 minutes per email.)
    2. Producing products quickly. (A 1-hour video currently takes me about 6.5 hours to produce.)
    3. Accepting that everything else only has to be GOOD ENOUGH!

    More tomorrow.

    #1301
    Rick Smith
    Participant

    Dave –

    Good looking outline.

    #1314
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    My Monetary Blueprint

    What do YOU see as the way to get to about $20k a month
    Historically, our LCV was based upon a 5-year revenue evaluation of around $740 per customer. With our sales dropping substantially in the last year, and with me moving to a much lower pricing model, I would expect that would drop further. (Note that our historic customer base is, oddly, twice the size of our email list because of having to rebuild the list from scratch.)

    I am going to call the LCV5 at a little less than half the current one, or $64 per year. The current subscriber-to-customer ratio is still high – around 40% – but not as high as it once was when it was at almost 70%. (The primary reason it has dropped so far is that I got so busy doing custom software over the last 2 years that I did not build a single new product so the customers had nothing to buy!)

    So, the numbers look like this:
    • $64 per year, per customer (1 Customer = 1.5 subscribers)
    • 5,000 subscribers @ 40% = 2,000 customers
    • 2,000 customers @ $64 = $128,000 per year
    These numbers are based upon selling just the low-end information products (i.e. at WSO-style pricing, $8-$16). They do not include all the potential spin-off products. The key will be to produce 8 new products per year. In addition, I also have 18 SKUs of 4+ hour seminars in my store that I could use as upsells.

    I welcome all comments and opinions.

    Next for me will be the first “Push.” A few rules about my Pushes:
    1. My work week is Monday through 1/2 Friday.
    2. I never schedule any push for Saturday or Sunday. That is time off.
    3. This way, if I feel like working on the weekend, it goes towards the Push that is operate for Monday. I have found this to be a huge difference in outlook for me.
    4. I always make the first Push of the week lighter, so as to be able to look at Monday and say, “I only have this little bit to do.” Of course, I immediately create a new Push from my spreadsheet.

    I break time units into 30-minute segments, although known to me as “Cows.” (I used a cow timer instead of a tomato time. Hence, not Pomodoros.) Most segments are double (i.e. 60 minutes).

    A typical push will have somewhere between 7 to 14 pushes. Monday’s are a little lighter and are usually finished by lunchtime. Then the next items are plucked off the calendar to make up the 2nd push of the week. (Pushes are number like 2016-06-4 is the push that starts on Monday.)

    BTW, Sean’s recent product… Design Your Personal 1-Year Blueprint… Offered a really great addition to the entire process. He said that we needed to create our goals and them came out looking like “tracks.”

    Sean's Multi-Track diagram

    I added a couple more tracks and suddenly they began to look like “departments.” From there I could build a calendar.

    Dave

    #1334
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Perhaps nobody is interested, but here is a picture of my updated Work Flow Queue after the redesign I made from Sean’s table above.

    Dave Schwartz's Work Flow Queue Spreadsheet

    #1338
    Rick Smith
    Participant

    I don’t know how many of you (besides Dave and Sean) realize how intently Dave focuses when he sets his mind to something. Dave and I have had many discussions over the last few years about focus. I can focus like Dave does, too. (We all can.) Problem is, I don’t do it consistently enough. And when I don’t focus and work on what I’d planned to work on, I let it frustrate me. I’ve got to learn not to get so frustrated when that happens.

    Anyway, this is Dave’s thread, not mine and I don’t want to hijack his thread. The Work Flow Queue that Dave posted above is the result of many hours of work on his part to refine his system and stay focused on the project at hand. And when I say focused, I mean focused. If we’re in the middle of a Skype chat or whatever, Dave will often tell me, “Time for me to go to work.” And that’s the end of the chat session for now.<g> But I’ve learned to expect and respect that about Dave. And I’m working to learn to focus consistently like he does.

    #1342
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Thank you, Rick.

    Indeed, when I am productive, I am VERY productive.

    #1343
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    #1344
    Rick Smith
    Participant

    Dave –

    Nicely done. One of the things I’m still working through is the best way to incorporate time blocking into my planning. And I have to get better about the daily review. I know *exactly* what tasks are scheduled for any given day. Todoist does a great job of showing me what I have scheduled on a daily basis. But because today blew up due partially due to the weather (over which I obviously had no control), and because my energy went into the tank yesterday and today, I now have a bunch of tasks stacked up that I now have to reschedule. So obviously I have to reschedule those tasks but of course there’s a domino effect. What do you do when you have days like that?

    #1345
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I completely gave up blocking out time years ago. It simply made me feel guilty for not doing enough. There are just too many fires to put out. That includes everything from computers breaking to deciding that some time with your family has a higher priority in the moment.

    Dan Kennedy once said that the difference between the big boys and the little guys (that would be me) is that the big boys do everything in parallel while the little guys do everything in serial.

    To the non-programmers (that might someday read this – LOL) that means that when the big boys are starting a new venture the get a team of people working all at once. That is, somebody is working on the website, someone else on the sales funnel, somebody else designing the marketing campaign, etc. etc.

    Meanwhile, the little guys – like us – have to take it one step at a time; doing one thing at a time.

    Over time, I learned that I set myself up for failure because, as a one-person show, I just cannot do it all at once. Frankly, that’s one reason I like Sean’s stuff: It is highly applicable to a one-person team, but you still have to cut out some stuff that the big boys will do.

    Again, over time, I have learned to accept that I am not a super man machine, although for 30-90 minutes at a time I seem to approach that threshold.

    Dave

    #1348
    Rick Smith
    Participant

    Dave –

    I have to somehow reconcile how this will work in my system. The “gooroos” (or many of them anyway) say to use time blocking. Dan Kennedy even talks about it in many places when he says you must make unbreakable appointments with yourself. I’m sort of using time blocking in that I currently have general time blocks scheduled. For example, most mornings I work on my IMB from 6:00 am – 8:00 am (assuming I get up on time which I do most mornings).

    I have a spreadsheet that I created about a year ago that lays out my general time blocks. I just looked at it. I thought it was up to date. It’s not. Anyway, then I have time blocks for some evenings (depending on the night) when I have time blocks to work on my IMB from 6 pm – 10 pm. (Those are on the timesheet but some of the nights aren’t correct.) So I used this spreadsheet to create my general time blocks in Google Calendar. Those time blocks are correct. I want those in there so I don’t schedule other appointments at those times.

    What I don’t do is schedule specific tasks into the time blocks. I let Todoist track the tasks themselves. (I can integrate Todoist with Google Calendar but I haven’t yet figured out what that buys me the way I’m using it.) Sean discusses on many audios the principle of “action management” instead of “time management.”

    By doing it the way I’m doing it I feel like I’m focusing more on action management as opposed to time management. The next action on my list for my All Access tasks is “Questions to help you dig deep to develop your blueprint.” I won’t estimate how long that will take. I’ll simply do the work and it will take as long as it takes.

    So I don’t estimate how long my “cows” will take like you do. (I know. You estimate your own cows.<g>) I just put them in my Todoist task list and plan the day I want to do the given tasks. Where the wheels fall off for me is when I have days like I had on Friday and Saturday.

    So now I have all these tasks that I didn’t complete for two days and I have to reschedule them. I don’t think rescheduling them will impact my overall deadline but it might. (Because of my *serious* underestimation of how long my recovery would take, I’ve had to reschedule several times the deadline for completing my website.)

    So to translate to your situation, you had a number of tasks planned for Saturday, June 11th. (It looks to me like we’re pretty similar in how we handle that aspect of planning.) But let’s say that Saturday the 11th just completely blew up for you (for whatever reason) and you completed none of the tasks you had scheduled. How would you handle that going forward?

    #1349
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I really wish I could do it the DK way. It just has never worked for me. Every time-based plan I have ever set up has caused me to (eventually) wind up in a state of overwhelm, and, even worse, caused me some serious self-criticism about “Why can’t I just stick to a schedule like everyone else?” Turns out that most people who are trying to get a one-person company to go seem to have that same problem.

    I actually tried scheduling for a few days and dropped it on day 3 or 4. What would happen is that I would say, “At 10am I am going to do this or that.” Then, when 9am came around something came up that needed to be addressed NOW and the 10am cow had to be pushed back, and so did the rest of the day. Kind of like a doctor’s office. They typically overbook to cover cancellations and, by 3 hours into the day may be a full hour behind.

    Here’s a life hack that will save frustration: I try to schedule doctor appointments for the earliest appointment in the morning. Typically, I have an 8am appointment, show up at 7:50 and out the door before 8:30.

    Same thing with airline flights. Unless there is a mechanical issue, it is pretty rare for the first flight of the day to be late because the plane spent the night there. (And so did the flight crew.)

    .
    .

    Regarding Saturday work schedule…

    You misunderstood. I NEVER schedule work on weekends. My week ends on Friday at noon and the commitments start again on Monday. This puts me in a situation where weekend work is completely voluntary. That doesn’t mean I don’t work on stuff but it is NEVER a requirement. What usually happens is that my Monday Push is partially completed when I show up for work on Monday morning.

    I really do only expect to work around 20-25 hours per week. (Read that as “required work.”)

    The date at the top of the push is today’s date. The date to the right is the start date of the push. If there is an absolute deadline, then two things will happen:

    1. The push will be top-heavy with deadline work, perhaps for days in advance.
    2. There will be another date to the right of the start date, large, bold and yellow on red as a reminder.

    .
    .
    EVENT THEORY

    This entire process is based upon what I call “Event Theory.”

    I used to coach baseball at many different levels, from as young as 8-10 year olds to college baseball. Practice days are different than game days. On practice days players work on building skills, but game day is different. That is when it really matters and it becomes serious business. It is all about FOCUS and PERFORMANCE.

    So, when I begin a “cow” there is actually a 3-5 minute preliminary where I COMMIT to focusing for the next 30, 60 or 90 minutes. THAT is the secret to getting this done: removing everything from your mind and area of responsibility except the one thing you are committed to doing. It is GAME DAY.

    A reasonable “mantra” would be “I will start no cow before it’s time.” LOL

    Of course, just like in the real world, sometimes game day doesn’t work out so well. LOL I get interrupted cows just like everyone else. I just don’t set myself up for failure by leaving email, Facebook or Skype open, or answer phone calls. BTW, phone calls are the biggest challenge, especially if Beth is not at home. When I am in DEEP COW (as I call it), I actually cover my phone system with cloth so that I am not tempted to look at the number, which would break my concentration.

    Dave
    PS: Seems like you and I are having a private conversation.

    #1350
    Rick Smith
    Participant

    Dave –

    Ok. I guess Saturday was a bad example. Say those items were scheduled for Monday. Say it was a complete blow up from what you had planned. Skype and Facebook aren’t really an issue for me. I don’t have Skype on this laptop (for the exact reason of removing that distraction) and I don’t spend a ton of time on Facebook. I just don’t. Plus I’ve learned to close my email client when it’s time to focus. So that’s not an issue. And my phone doesn’t ring much (besides I have it on vibrate 90% of the time anyway) so that’s not really an issue, either.

    So what I want to know is what do you do what your day totally and completely blows up? Let’s say your network goes down or one of your computers goes south (I know both of those things have happened to you in the past) and you’re completely unable to work on anything you had planned for that day. What do you do the next day (or over the next several days) to overcome the overwhelm and frustration of having a day like that? And what do you about the tasks that you weren’t able to get to because the network or the computer went down?

    And yes. It does seem like we’re having a private conversation.

    #1353
    Rick Smith
    Participant

    Dave –

    I’ve come to a decision about all of this. (Amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for you.<g>) It doesn’t matter. Seriously. I’ve got to learn to get over it. If a day blows up because of whatever it really doesn’t matter. One day isn’t going to kill anything. Does that mean that I’ll no longer hold myself accountable? No. It doesn’t mean that at all. It just means I have to quit being so hard on myself. I’ll post how I’m going to fix this in my own thread since I keep hijacking yours.<g>

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