As many of you have probably noticed, I haven’t posting nearly as often as I used to on my blog this year. The reason is that I’ve just been way too busy with my company LandlordMax, and with good reason. We just closed up our last fiscal year with an increase in revenue of about 40% over the previous fiscal year! Not only that, but in regards to our calendar year, we’ve already beaten our complete revenues for last year, and it’s still just the summer. Which means that our next fiscal year will be even better. Right now we’re looking at a 100% growth in revenues over last year assuming no further growth for the remainder of the year.
What’s really cool is that this is all happening in a recession, with the real estate market being one of the worse markets. In the last few years alone 3 of our very big competitors have closed up shop. Well one was discontinued because (and this is a quote from their website before it was taken down): “it is not the quality of product we think it should be”. But nonetheless 3 very big competitors have completely disappeared from the market. There’s a shakeout happening right now.
So I’m pretty excited about our prospects for this upcoming fiscal and calendar year. Not only are we very close to releasing a multi-user version which should significantly and positively impact on revenues, but it’s also looking like we’re going to break our monthly sales record again this month.
Although these are tougher economic times, hopefully the success of my company can be a shining beacon of success and light to help motivate you too. I know that it helps me to see what others are achieving. It’s not all gloom and doom out there, there are definitely pockets of light and success.
On another note, because of all the above, it’s going to keep being insane for me until at least Xmas. And with that in mind, I hope you can understand and appreciate that as much as I’d like to write blog posts on a weekly basis like I use to, I’m going to have to fall to a less time intensive schedule. My new goal is going to be once a month because there’s just no way I can achieve once a week right now. My blog posts take me a minimum of several hours, some as much as a several days. I just don’t have that luxury right now. But I am looking forward to coming back in force in the new year. And although I won’t post as frequently, rest assured the quality of each post will continue to be as high as ever.
You’ve just come up with what you think is an amazing idea. A new business that will change the world. A new business that will make you lots of money! You quickly go out and share your idea with your friends and family and they confirm how good the idea is. Everything looks great! The world is perfect.
Then you set off to build your idea. You spend hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even years building it. Then you release it. Nothing happens. The streaming hordes of customers you expected don’t materialize. You can’t get any sales other than that first sale from you mom or dad, but that’s about it. Why? What happened? Everyone confirmed it was a great idea when you shared it with them…
The unfortunate reality is that almost all the time your friends and family will confirm your idea is good, even when it’s not. Firstly most people don’t want to rain down on your excitement. And secondly most of us have learned that delivering bad news is not fun, especially when it’s really not necessary.
So what I suggest, instead of JUST asking your friends and family if your idea is good, ask them if they would also purchase it.
Again, same as before, most will say they would. That’s good! That’s one step further. But don’t stop there. Many people will say yes but would never actually purchase it.
The next step is to confirm your idea by asking if they will purchase it now!! You’ll be surprised at how quickly things change once you ask them to commit real hard earned dollars (excluding your parents of course). Basically as soon as you ask someone to pay money instead of just giving positive wishes, you get their real views on whether or not you’ll succeed.
If you can’t get anyone to commit money to your idea then it’s very likely not a good idea. Maybe it’s too specific and you don’t have like minded individuals, but if that’s the case should you be pushing so far out of your core competencies in the first place. For example, if you don’t know anyone or anything about the kennel business, then should you really start a kennel business?
Getting back to the topic at hand, the only real and sure fire way to tell if an idea is a good idea or not is to ask people to pay for it. Not just if they would pay for it, but to actually ask them to pay for it. Your results will tell you just how good your idea really is!
As many of you know, I took the summer off from writing on this blog. Actually it was a bit more than the summer, but close enough. Anyways, the reason I took the break is that I needed time to recharge myself. And this of course led me to this post.
Nobody can work forever at a grueling pace, it’s just not possible. Everybody needs to take a break or holiday here and there, some more than others. And today we’re going to cover the top 10 reasons why you and everyone else needs to take breaks from time to time.
1. Your body needs to relax
As simple as it may sound, everybody needs to slow down once in a while. As much as some of us want to believe we can work through anything, we are human and our bodies and minds do need to rest. You can only keep going on fumes for so long. It’s even harder if you quit caffeine!
The other thing to remember is that it takes a bit of time to unwind. Weekends aren’t really enough to catch your breath. Even a one week holiday barely gives you enough time to unwind. Most people find that they finally really start to relax after a few to several days of rest, which means by the end of a week you’re finally starting to truly relax. It’s generally not until the second week of holidays that you really relax and benefit from your holidays. Unfortunately for a lot of us, it’s very difficult to take more than a week at a time of holidays.
And just taking a day off here and there is definitely not enough, sometimes you truly need to take some time to slow down your pace. It’s amazing the difference it can make. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that one day off is enough to fully recharge, it’s not. It’s a good start, but that’s all it really is. I view it as more of someone drowning and being able to get a grasp of air. It’s not enough to save you, but it sure does feel great!
2. Get new perspectives
If you never take a step back, you’re always going to be looking at it from the same angle. Taking a break or a holiday gives you the opportunity to take a step back and look at what your doing from a different perspective.
It’s amazing what a little difference in perspective can make. The theory of relativity is really just looking at the world from a different viewpoint. Instead of everything being absolute, Einstein basically realized that everything is relative. In other words we move relative to others, not from an absolute point in space. A simple little difference in perspective lead to a massive improvement in physics. That simple change in perspective completely changed how we view the world and lead to incredible discoveries.
While you probably won’t make the same level of groundbreaking discoveries as Einstein did, it may be enough to give you a significant boost in whatever it is you’re doing. I know being an entrepreneur sometimes I have to look at how I run my business from the outside, otherwise I would just keep doing more and more of the same. Looking from the outside allows me the opportunity to grow when and how I least expect.
3. Appreciate what you have
Like anything, if you do it too much, you start to lose your appreciation for it. For example, imagine if everyday someone did your laundry, cooked all your meals, and so on. After a while you would start to lose your appreciation for everything that’s done for you, it would almost become an expectation. Many hilarious Hollywood movies are based on this single idea.
It’s not until you stop getting the benefits that you really appreciate what you had and lost. For me blogging had become somewhat of a chore and I was no longer appreciating the benefits. And after writing for many years on a regular basis, I kinda got use to it. Once I stopped, about a few weeks into it, I started to want to write again. And the more I wanted it, the more I appreciated that I had the opportunity. And so instead of blogging being a chore as it had eventually become, it’s now something I really look forward to!
4. Improve the quality of your work
Generally if you do something a lot, you start to get lazy with it. A good example is a business manager or entrepreneur that’s had a nice growth and success history. After a few years of getting lots of good results, they may start to slack off a bit on their work because everything is going well. They have the midas touch. That or they’re getting so busy they start to take shortcuts. And unfortunately they may be able to get away with it for some time, riding on their previous successes. The bad news is that eventually it will catch up, and that’s when bad things happen. We’ve all heard stories of people who had it but then road the wave until they crashed.
For whatever reason, I find that when I take a good break, I have a tendency to ramp back up my quality of work. When you come back, you want everything to be done as best as you can. Things that you’d let slide you now address. Of course we always have to be careful about doing busy work just to be busy (like making sure your email inbox is completely clean). It’s just that in many cases you feel refreshed enough to address some of those bigger issues head on rather than deferring them where before you would defer them as much as you can. You’re up to dealing with the hard issues.
5. Disconnect to relearn how to focus
It’s amazing how good it can be to disconnect. Turn off your cell phone. Step away from your emails. Instead of always being on, multitasking like a mad person, it’s great to be able to relearn to focus.
We’re so used to constant distractions in our day and age that we forget how intrusive they can really be. After you’re disconnected for a while, you start to realize how many of those distractions are really just disruptions. You don’t need to receive all your emails right away. You don’t need to address every issue right now. You don’t need to respond to every email this minute. The world doesn’t come to a grinding halt! It’s good to remember that once in a while.
6. Discover and learn new things
How often can we just take the time to learn new things which will in turn make us that much more productive? To be quite frank, most people just keep doing things the same way because of two reasons.
The first is because they’ve always done it that way and they always will. It’s easy and they’re comfortable with the way they are doing things.
The second reason is that they just don’t have the time to learn anything new. That, or in my opinion, they don’t take the time. That is to say they don’t really understand the value of learning.
For example in software development I believe it’s crucial that you investigate your possible solutions before jumping on what you know. Sometimes the difference can be an order of magnitude increase in productivity. Not always, but often the difference in productivity is staggering. This of course doesn’t mean research everything to death, but do take the time to look at alternative options. You might be surprised more often than you think.
This is also partially where you can get the sunk cost effect. Basically the sunk cost effect is where you keep going the same path because that’s what you’ve always done and have invested large amounts of effort and/or money to get it working. In technology, this may be where you create a framework and stick to it regardless of where the programming world is going, or even how badly it’s working out. At some point alternatives and much better solutions come around, but forcing your people to stay to a specific solution because it’s worked in the past and because you have a large system built on it isn’t always the best solution.
As a quick tip, this is why I strongly believe all companies have limited lifespans. Eventually companies get stuck in some way or other due to the sunk cost effect, and they either collapse under their own weight or another new company eclipses them by leveraging a better and more productive way of doing things. As the cliche goes, out with the old in with the new.
7. Create a strategy for the future
When we’re in the thick of it we rarely take the time to create strategies for what we’re doing. We’re mostly just acting and reacting. Rarely do we plan and strategize. It’s generally only when we take a break that we can really do this.
My favorite example for this is video gaming. Before you start a video game, especially multiplayer games, you prepare your strategy. Then you try to execute it. Rarely do you adjust your strategy in the middle of a game. You’ll sometimes make tweaks to it between games, but often they won’t be very significant. It’s not really until the time between when you end your gaming session and you restart your next gaming session that you really take the time to plan what you’re going to do. That’s when you think about what you’ve done, and what you can do to improve your gameplay.
The same is true for almost everything in life. When you’re in the thick of it you’re too busy dealing with the situation. It’s generally only after the fires have been squelched that you figure out what happened, and look at how you can prevent it for the future.
8. Spend more time with family and friends
As though it wasn’t obvious enough, we’re probably all guilty of working too much. As much as I try to balance work and play, I’m sure I work too much. So taking a break is a good time to improve that balance.
And if you think you aren’t working too much, let me ask you this: On your death bed, will you ever tell yourself you should’ve worked more? Never have I heard of an instance of someone regretting not working enough. All you hear are stories of people regretting they worked too much and didn’t spend enough time with their families. Ask yourself right now, if you only had one week left to live, what would you do? I doubt your answer would be to work 24/7 for that week. Most likely you would completely skip working. That says it all right there!
9. Catch up on much needed sleep
A really weird thing I found is that when I take a holiday, I always get a lot more sleep. Suddenly instead of sleeping 4-6 hours a day, I start sleeping 8-10 hours a day, sometimes more. Why is that? I would assume because my body naturally needs more sleep than I allow it to take. I make no mistake about it, I am in no way hiding the fact that I’m fooling myself into thinking I can do this and get away with it. No one can. Eventually something has to give.
10. Improve your health
And last but not least, it’s a good chance to improve your health. Go outside and get some sun. Exercise. Ride a bike. Take a walk. Swim. Go for a hike. Whatever activity you prefer, it’s a good time to do it. We’re almost all guilty of not exercising enough. And although exercising during a holiday is not enough, it’s better than nothing. Plus, if you’re lucky you’ll continue doing it for a long time after you come back from your holiday.
If Nick Vujicic from the video above can do it, to be quite honest, then you better have a really good excuse why you can’t. If you’re not interested and it’s not for you, then that’s different. But if you’re using any of the excuses listed below, then I’m sorry but we’ve all heard them before. We know them all too well. These are 13 excuses, NOT REASONS, most people use for why they can’t start a business. The reality is you can, you just don’t want to enough. Because if you did, you’d find a way. None of them are reasons, they’re all excuses. And today I’m going to dispel each and every one of them.
1. I have no time.
Seriously? I call BS on that one. Almost everyone, and I mean almost everyone, has some free time or time that’s wasted.
Do you watch any tv shows? Do you go to any movies? Do you watch any sporting events? Do you go the pub/bar? Do you go out for dinners? Do you hang out on the patio or have barbecues with your friends on the weekends? I understand everyone needs time off to relax and so on, but no one said it was going to be easy either. If you do the math, and really look at how you spend your days, I have no doubt you can find at least 10 hours a week. And everyone can find at least a few hours each week!
2. I don’t know how.
Here’s a big secret, no one else really does either. There is no manual to being an entrepreneur. We just figure it out as we go along. The more experience you have, the better you get at it. Just like anything else.
If you want to look at it another way, it’s like riding a bike. No one knows how to ride a bike on their first try. But if you don’t start trying you won’t learn. The same is true with swimming, dancing, learning a new sport, learning a new language, programming. Even using a cell phone. It wasn’t that long ago that most people would say they couldn’t use a cellphone, and now almost everyone has one.
And unlike in the past, there’s a lot more information out there today. You’re not limited to just your local library, you can order virtually any book from Amazon. And if you don’t have the money, you can always research everything you need online on the internet. There’s no end of entrepreneurial information out there. The fact alone that you’re reading this article means you’re already learning from the internet!
3. I don’t have the money.
And? Only a really small subset of companies actually require a significant amount of money to get going. There are many many many businesses that require very little money initially to get started. Sure IT based companies like software companies probably do require less cash (and instead require a lot more time) that a lot of other businesses, but don’t think that’s it. There’s lots of different businesses out there.
In all honesty, the problem is because most people think too big for their first company. If you really want to succeed, start on a smaller scale. Just like when you start driving a car. Is it smart to learn how to drive a car in a Ferrari or is it better to learn in a basic sedan? Do you learn to fly a plane by flying a 777 Jumbo Jet your first time in the air or do you start with a basic 2 seater plane? Therefore start a smaller business, something you can build up from, and go from there. Use the money you earn from your first business to build your second.
PS: Do you have an LCD tv? Have you taken a trip in the last while? What kind of car do you own? Do you go out to restaurants? Do you go to the movies? If you really want to, I’m sure you can find some money.
4. I don’t know where to start.
There is no perfect place to start. But like the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one small footstep. You need to start and the rest will just happen. The biggest hurdle is generally just taking that first step. And don’t stop once you’ve started, keep going. That’s another major hurdle most people fall prey to. They get excited, take a few steps, and then basically just stop taking any steps. Don’t let that happen to you.
5. I’m too young/old.
Really? What’s too young or too old? If you’re reading this, then you’re neither too young or too old. Age is a perception thing, it’s really all in your mind. It’s not a valid reason.
6. No one will give me any money.
Fine, then start something else. This is back to #3, maybe you should start something smaller. Don’t try to fly a Jumbo 777 jet your first time flying. Just because no one will give you money for THAT SPECIFIC business, it doesn’t mean you have to stop everything. There’s more than one business in the world.
At the very least, you can look at starting a smaller idea. It’s the same as when you start your career. No one will hire you as the president or CEO of their company when you first start. You have to build up your career, establish yourself. Start with a smaller business and create a history of success.
7. I’m waiting for the perfect idea.
Good luck with that. You’ll be waiting forever. There is no such thing as the perfect idea. And to be honest, there’s lots of ideas out there. Executing on your idea, I would say, is more important than the idea itself.
8. What if I fail?
What if you fail? What’s the worse that can happen? As Tim Ferris put it in his book The 4-Hour Work Week, what’s the absolute worse that can happen if you fail? If you really think about it, it’s probably not nearly as bad as you think. For sure you won’t die.
And failure is not a bad thing. Of course you’d prefer to avoid it, but so what if it happens. Imagine if you had the same avoidance of failure with everything you did. How would you ever have learned to drive? And by the way you can die learning to drive! How would you have learned to ride a bike? How would you ever visit a foreign country? Learn a new language? Learn to fly a plane? Learn to dance?
9. I don’t have the skills or experience
Were you a professional driver when you first got your driver’s license? Where you a professional basketball player the first time you tried to play basketball. What about doctors? They have to start somewhere. Everyone has to start somewhere, including entrepreneurs.
Don’t worry too much about this. Early on you’ll make more rookie mistakes, but that’s part of learning. As time goes on, you’ll find it gets easier and easier. For example, how difficult was it when you first started driving? Did you make silly mistakes (while still surviving)? Did it take almost all of your concentration? Did you drive at full speed? Now how do you drive? Is it much easier? Now you’re probably not thinking about the details, you’re thinking more of your route (strategy) rather than how much to push on the accelerator and if you’re too close to the car in front of you (daily busy work). Those things become intuitive after a while.
10. There’s too much competition.
There’s no such thing as too much competition. A large number of competitors means the market is too segregated which means there’s no dominating player. That’s really good!
If there’s only a few big competitors, you’re in even better luck! The big guys are just as scared of you as you are of them. Once a company has become big, bureaucracy sets in and doing anything, especially anything innovative, becomes very hard. Which also means don’t try to compete with them head on where resources are the key to success, focus on where they can’t compete! Innovation, customer service, quickness of execution, and so on.
By the way, competition is a good thing. It’s much harder to be the first because not only do you have to sell your product or service, you also have to educate people about it. Personally I prefer only having to deal with one hurdle at a time.
11. I have to wait until everything is lined up just right
This will never happen. All entrepreneurs will tell you this is a pipe dream. You’ll never have everything perfectly lined up.
Now that doesn’t mean don’t plan and try to prepare beforehand, it just means don’t ever expect to have everything perfectly lined up to start because it won’t happen. And in all honesty, no business ever goes 100% smoothly. You just have to roll with punches and adjust as you go.
My favorite analogy, which I’ve taken from the software world, is the classic example of driving a car. When you drive, do you lock your steering wheel and move forward, or do you continually make small adjustments, turn when needed, and so on. If you locked your steering wheel, you probably wouldn’t even make it past your street. The same is true with business. Nothing ever lines up perfectly, you just have adjust as you go.
12. It’s just too risky.
Is it really? How risky is your job? With a business you have multiple clients whereas with your job you have just ONE SINGLE CLIENT. All your eggs are in one single basket. So if your one single client decides they no longer need you, or they can no longer afford you, you’re revenues (paycheck) goes to $0. With a business, if one client drops you because they themselves run out of money, it’s not the end of the world because you generally have many other clients.
By the way, if you run your own company, you know what’s going on. As an employee, you can easily be blindsided and laid off at any moment. And we’re seeing a lot of that today. You’re at the mercy of management, which means you may not know until the last minute. Not only that, but it’s possible you could lose your job just to improve a balance sheet for investors and nothing more. You really have no control of what may happen, nor are you always going to have knowledge of what’s coming.
13. I’m still working on my business plan
This is my favorite which I saved for last! I’ve seen too many would-be entrepreneurs working on their business plans forever, never to actually execute on it. It’s much much much easier to write a business plan than to start a business. Plus you don’t have to push through all the hard walls and issues you’re going to encounter when starting.
Common variations of this are people who move from business plan to business plan. People who endlessly try to perfect their business plan. People who work on the minute details of their business plan forever.
By the way, a business plan is really just to give you an idea whether your business concept is feasible or not. Don’t ever try to execute it to the letter, it will never work as written. What you’re doing is writing down your assumptions and projections, that’s it. As you develop your business, you’ll find where you made errors in your assumptions and projections, and you should adjust accordingly. Trying to force a business plan to life is a recipe for failure. It’s really more of an initial guideline, almost to force you to think about what you’re going to do before you do it.
You’ll also find that as you become more and more entrepreneurial, you’re less and less likely to write up a business plan. After you’ve run a few companies, you don’t need to go through all the detailed planning because you already have a good idea of what’s coming ahead. Plus, your business plan rarely survives it’s first encounter with real customers. But if you’ve never started a business, it’s a good place to start. Just don’t focus too much on getting it perfect, or ironing out all the details. The business plan’s goal is to help you develop your idea, not write it in stone. You don’t have to follow your business plan perfectly, no successful entrepreneur ever does!
What’s the furthest you believe you will go in life? Do you believe you will own your own company? Do you believe you will be the boss at your job? Do you believe you will climb Everest? Do you believe you will make $1,000,000? Do you believe you will marry the most amazing person?
Firstly, notice I said believe and not think you can. With that in mind, which of the above questions do you truly believe you will achieve?
Now here’s the kicker, I can pretty much guarantee you that if you don’t believe you will achieve it, then you won’t. It’s not very complicated, it’s really that simple!
In the movie Fired Up!, an Animal House style movie, there’s a scene where the team believes they suck and because of that they do! That’s when the hero chimes in with a pretty colorful and somewhat offbeat speech about the importance of believing that you’re good. Below is the exert with some edits (to keep it cleaner for this blog):
– Sorry, guys, I just suck.
– It’s not just you. We all kind of suck.
– We’re not good at all.
– Hey, stop. Stop talking like that.
– But it’s true.
– We’re just not that good.
– Enough of that. You can go as far as you want.
– What do the Panthers have that you don’t have?
– Kickass cheers.
– Laser hair removal.
– Big-a** t******. I’m just saying.
– Confidence. They’re cocky a*******.
– Like Nick, the cockiest a******* on the football field. That’s why he’s good.
– He’s right. I’m awesome.
– Because he believes in himself.
– Also because I’m awesome.
– He knows he’s gonna be good, so he’s good. And he takes chances.
– Not hard due to the fact that I’m awesome.
– Nick. Trying to make a speech here.
– I’m sorry.
– Either bet big or go home.
– If you don’t wanna take any chances, then you shouldn’t even be here.
– I know you wanna be here, because you finish last every single year… but you keep coming back… even if it means taking endless shit… from total dong-knockers like the Panthers.
– All right. Come on, guys. Let’s be cocky a*******s.
– Yeah, you know what, he’s right.
– And I can say that… because I am the best cheerleader here, so you can all suck my d***.
– I was just being a cocky a*******.
– Oh, nice. That’s what I told you. Look, did you see what she was doing there?
– That’s exactly what I want from everybody.
– All right, let’s do this.
– And remember, you’re awesome. Let’s risk it to get the biscuit.
– All right, get cocky, b******.
– Let’s do it. Come on, guys. Ready.
– Hit it!
Although a bit colorful, and not exactly what I meant the idea is still really there. If you don’t believe you will succeed you won’t. And because the team thought they were bad, they always finished last.
As an aside, if you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll never take chances, which means you can never really lead. Part of success is also knowing how to create your own luck.
Let’s look at a more concrete example that you can associate in your life. Let’s say you’re making $50,000/year right now and you believe you can’t make more than $65,000. Will you ever make $75,000? No! Why? Because if you don’t think you can make that much, you’ll never ask for that much. You’ll never try to make that much. You won’t do what it takes to make that much. You may achieve up to $65,000, but you’ll never go above that level because that’s as much as you believe you can make.
The same is true with your dream job, the raise you want, the promotion you want, and so on. If you don’t believe in it, you will never try or get it. The very fact of not trying alone will prevent you from succeeding.
And it’s not just jobs, the same is also true for finding your perfect girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband. How many people are just too shy to approach the person they really like? They just sit there and wait, thinking they don’t deserve that person. They never take the chance. How many movies are about someone in love but never having the courage to take that initial leap?
The reality is that you have to believe you will succeed to succeed. When I started LandlordMax, I knew it was going to be a success. It was a fact a fact in my mind. And it is succeeding!
As Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear so well put it in the Bolivia Special episode (4:48): “If you believe something will happen, it will happen”.