PreneurCast is a marketing + business podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
Continuing the Foundations series, in this episode Dom talks about investing in yourself — something that is overlooked by most entrepreneurs who are new to business. It’s important to invest in yourself and your team to ensure the growth of your business.
Dom talks about ensuring the growth of your business by investing in your team and yourself
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Investing in Yourself and Your Team
Dom Goucher: Hi, and welcome to this episode of PreneurCast with me, Dom Goucher. Again, Pete, my co-host and partner in crime is still away looking after his new family. Thank you all for your kind words wishing them well. I’m going to be continuing my series on Foundations to get you heading in the right direction for the year. And this week I’m going to talk about investing in yourself and your team.
So, we’ve kind of covered this issue before in a previous episode. But in the online marketing space, people seem to have no problem investing in courses — courses about traffic, courses about conversion, courses about making videos, courses about copywriting — this, that and the other. But they do seem to have a problem investing directly in themselves and their team — certainly from a learning and personal growth point of view.
It’s not so bad in the offline world, but in both cases, as more and more people turn to entrepreneurialism, especially online where this promise of easy wealth seems to be escalating. As a way to achieve their dreams, there are potentially more people out there who have bypassed more traditional routes of going through the ranks and learning the ropes and learning about business.
And therefore they’re starting businesses without a full set of knowledge. Now we did talk about this in our show called Lazy Marketing. But at the bottom of it, to kind of summarize that show — marketing is marketing and business is business. Very little has changed in a couple of hundred years. And so you owe it to yourself to understand at least the basics of those topics. And that’s just one example of where you can invest in yourself and your knowledge and your skills to the benefit of you and your business.
Because the truth is, whether you’re an employee, or an employer, or a solo entrepreneur, you don’t just owe it to yourself. You need to invest in yourself to ensure your growth and the growth of your business. Whoever you are, your knowledge and your ability to apply that knowledge is your single most valuable asset in the modern economy and modern business. And similarly, the knowledge and skills of your team are a valuable asset too.
Now, I’m going to come back to the team issue. Let’s just focus on you as an individual right now. Now, we recently produced a course — Pete and I recently released a course in partnership with Rich Schefren, called Profit Hacks. And hopefully you’ve heard about it. But Profit Hacks is the antithesis — and there goes my big word for the day — it’s the antithesis of this rush of silver bullet courses that have been coming out since the dawn of time.
Seriously, there have always been ‘get rich quick’ courses, even before the internet. We’re just seeing more of them now. And thanks to the internet — or no thanks at all, we’re just seeing new versions of things. We’re seeing traffic this, instant that over the last few years.
And in Profit Hacks, we focused on improving effectiveness — your effectiveness and the effectiveness of your team. And yes, there were a bunch of quick wins in that course and they were based upon how Pete and I get through all our work in our businesses. Pete especially, who runs like five real-world businesses before he even started online activities. But there’s also a bunch of foundational stuff in that course about making your business and you more efficient.
Now, it’s in your best interest to develop your skills in whatever area you identify as the core of your business. We talked about Core vs. Mechanics in a couple of shows. And anything I talk about, by the way, I’m going to put links to those shows in the show notes. And so you can go back and listen in more detail. So I’m just going to skim over these topics.
We talked about identifying the core areas of your business. The areas where you have the most leverage — where your efforts get you the most results and the biggest return on investment. So it is in your best interest to develop your skills in those core areas. And in the other areas where there is what we might call mechanical areas, that’s where you need to start developing the skills of your team. Whether it’s hiring people with skills or training team members with those skills.
Over time you’ll identify team members that have the potential to complete more and more complex tasks, freeing you up to concentrate on more core tasks. I talked about this in a roundabout way in the last episode when I went over this idea.
That if you want to earn $25 per hour or more, you should be looking for places where you can pay someone less than $25 per hour. So you can spend all your available hours just working on stuff that is worth that $25 per hour. It’s the core principle of outsourcing or delegation, depending on how your business is setup.
Now, scaling up on core skills is the starting point. And let’s look at sort of those core skills. Let’s look at where you could scale up some of the more obvious areas. You could start looking at — and again, we mentioned this in our Lazy Marketing episode. You could look at reading business books — just one more business book a week.
Do you read one business book a week? You know, I do. Pete certainly does. Crikey, Pete probably reads two or three with his audiobook habit. Or go on a business course. Or get a business coach. But just scale up on the basic core tenets of business. It doesn’t have to be advanced business — just the basic, to make sure you’ve covered the basics.
Similarly, with marketing, look at different concepts behind marketing and branding and things like that. And I don’t mean go running off looking for how to market on Facebook, or how to market on Twitter, or how to market on YouTube. Yes, by all means — and in relation to a framework or some other, look into those sources of traffic.
But the core principles of marketing are the core principles of marketing. They’ve got nothing to do with the specifics of YouTube or Twitter. It’s actually the other way around. What people will tell you about marketing on Twitter or that people will tell you about marketing on YouTube — 90% of that is going to be the basic principles of marketing, which people overlook.
Now, if you want some ideas about business books and marketing books you can invest in and read, we talked in a previous show — one of the very early shows, actually, about Pete’s book list. The books that made the rounds of his bookshelf, the books that he rereads, the books that he recommends to most people. And that’s a great place to start. And you’ll recognize a lot of the authors on there that we talk about regularly throughout the show.
We also talked a couple shows back about Approaching a Mentor. A mentor is a great way to get business coaching of sorts. Learning from an expert, learning from somebody who has already achieved the skills, and exhibits the skills that you want to get for yourself.
We also talked a long time ago about Masterminds. About grouping together with other people who are similar to yourself — or they’re entrepreneurs or business owners, and just exchanging ideas and getting a bit of accountability. That’s another great way of scaling up and picking up tips and knowledge.
Another area — and again, this was what I talked about in the previous show in this series — is time management. There’s a lot you can do about time management, project management to make yourself more efficient. And there’s a huge section of the Profit Hacks course was around making yourself more efficient.
But there are some basic skills that you can also enhance in yourself to make yourself more efficient. One of the best skills I ever started to learn was speed reading. Being able to scan text and get high levels of retention from that text. So it’s not just about reading at speed, but it’s also about note-taking and getting the most out of the information that you’re consuming wherever it is — whether it’s online or in a book, or whatever it is.
Another thing that is an excellent skill to have if you produce a lot of content is typing skills. I have developed my typing skill over time. I used to be a hunt and peck typist. And trust me, it’s painful to watch a hunt and peck typist once you can actually type. I’m not a touch typist by any stretch of the imagination, but I can type with at least three of the four fingers on both hands which has improved my typing speed to no end.
And again, just responding to e-mails. There’s lots of tricks that Pete and I can teach you with extra software you can add to your computer to really speed things up. You could dictate, you could do this, you could do that. But at the end of the day, typing is actually a big part of what we do every day. If it’s a big part of what you do, you owe it to yourself to enhance the skill.
A more general note about using computers is really learning about the software that you use. Making sure you’re using that software. Or making sure you’re aware of the software that can help you, first and foremost. Second, that you’re aware of what it can do.
I remember I’ve had Evernote installed on my machine now for over three years. It’s only in the last, say, six months that I’ve really used it — that I’ve really learned what it can do to help me out. And I’ve really started to use it. That software was installed — I read an article about it and so I said, ooh, this is great! Ooh! And I installed it. But I didn’t learn how to use it. I didn’t spend the time to learn how to use it.
There’s lots of software that we use every day. Even if all you use in your day to day business is something like Gmail. Pete and I love Gmail. Gmail’s an incredibly powerful tool with all of its labels and its rules for automatically filtering and sorting information for you. There’s so much to learn about that.
I don’t mean go off and learn loads and spend hours learning how to use something like, say, Photoshop. It’s highly unlikely that most of us need to know how to use that software. Because usually, it’s probably cheaper and more efficient for us to outsource the creation of graphics.
But certainly, tools — organizational tools or day to day business tools — it’s definitely worth learning how to use them more efficiently. And learning about the tools that will make us more efficient.
Another thing that is a big part of online business, certainly, but a lot of business, is copywriting. Now, copywriting is one of those skills. I did mention a raft copywriting courses at the beginning of the show.
But copywriting actually is a very, very, very important skill. The better a writer you are, the better a speaker you are, the better communicator you are, the more efficient you are at producing any kind of content. Whether it’s an e-mail in response to a customer inquiry or whether it’s an entire series of e-mails that you put into your autoresponder so that your system is set up and ready to roll for the next customer who joins your list.
Copywriting is a phenomenally powerful, useful skill. And there’s great courses and books. Because, again, like business skills and marketing skills, copywriting has been around for many, many, many years. There are books that come from the 1920s that modern copywriters still rely on. And again, go back and have a look at Pete’s book list for some of those recommendations.
And leading on from copywriting is speaking. That’s another great skill. Public speaking is a great thing that you can scale up on — a great area to investigate. Whether you plan to stand up on stage, or you just want to speak more eloquently at meetings.
Or whether you want to present yourself and your business better on video, which is obviously a very popular thing and something that I’m experienced in. Or, you want to produce podcasts like Pete and I. Then getting comfortable speaking — public speaking, or just reading things out in a more fluid manner — is a great skill to have.
Another skill that is becoming more and more popular and is really coming into the public eye at the moment, but again one of those things that’s overlooked by a lot of people, is coaching and consulting. Coaching is kind of a misunderstood, not understood concept. And consulting is something that some people run away from.
But coaching in its simplest form — if you already manage a team of people, having the skills to be able to work with that team of people and bring them to their fullest potential is incredibly valuable to your business. You can create an entire business on coaching, as many people are doing now. Just like they’ve done in the past on — in consulting. But coaching is an incredibly powerful, useful skill in business.
So there’s just a quick few ideas of areas, of skills you may not have thought about. But that will really improve the efficiency as your efficiency in whatever aspect you’re in business. Whether you’re an employee, an employer, or business owner, solo entrepreneur — all those things will make a huge difference to your efficiency.
A huge point and something that Pete and I have talked around a lot; you may have picked up on this through our little chats between myself and Pete. One of the most important things that you can do to improve your own efficiency is to look after for your personal health.
Now, I spoke in this valuing in Valuing Your Time show last week. I spoke about making sure that you take time for yourself and your family. And that’s exactly what Pete’s doing right now. But it is vital that you look after yourself, that you stay healthy. Because one of the biggest problems for, as I termed it last show, ‘knowledge workers,’ is that we are using our brains.
We’re not using our bodies. We can really become quite sedentary and it can sneak up on you. That you don’t have the energy to complete the task. You don’t have the focus. And energy and focus comes from fitness, physical fitness. So I strongly recommend that you take time and learn about just basic nutrition and health, and look after yourself.
I’ve just given you a huge list of things that you can go away and do. And so, what I’ve given you there is a problem. How do you fit it all in? Well, that’s why we learn about time management and project management, which I recommended earlier in the episode you really should look into and learn a little bit about.
Of course, there’s all the other tips that Pete and I come up with. Things like listening to audiobooks on Audible.com. Don’t forget — you can get a free trial of Audible.com, which includes a free book. Any of the books from Pete’s reading list, for example, you can get on Audible.
If you go to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast, you can sign up for a free trial for Audible. Wholly recommend that. That’s how I get through so many books, just putting them on my iPod and then going and doing some exercise. So I’m doing two things at once, which is great.
Another way that you could invest in yourself — and this is again something that’s quite easily overlooked — is investing in your environment, your working environment. And the first way that you can invest in that working environment is to invest in the equipment that you spend all day with. One of the things that people overlook in their equipment is the chair that they sit at and the desk that they sit at.
Something that’s become very popular in certain circles are standing desks — desks that you stand at. There’s a lot of studies, scientific studies that say that standing is better for you than sitting for long periods of time, and at least alternating between the two. There are desks out there that you can get now that are motorized that you can raise up when you want to stand and you can lower back down when you want to sit. So you can choose to alternate.
But it’s definitely worth looking at. If you do sit for long periods of time, then you really should consider investing in a proper chair to give you proper support. Using a chair out of your kitchen is fine for now, but really it should be high on your list as something to invest in. Otherwise, you will, again, cause yourself health difficulties.
And something I’ve mentioned in kind of asides again, as we’ve gone through, one of the things that made a huge difference in my productivity, for an incredibly small investment of money, was a second monitor. A second screen that plugs into my main computer that I have at the side so that I can have more information available to me.
Anyone that deals with information has to do analysis of information or collation of information, or just planning. Being able to spread that information out across a wider area, just like you would if you were using a regular table, can make a huge difference to your productivity.
And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say get a Mac. Because, as you know, Pete and I both genuinely believe they are the best tool for certain kinds of business and content producing. But I’m going to leave it at that.
So that was a kind of a long segment about investing in yourself and different ways you can invest in yourself, look after yourself, and basically create some personal growth. But the other part of this episode is about investing in your team. Most people see investing in your team as training them.
The most common response Pete and I get when we talk about training your team goes like this. I wish I could do Pete’s voice, because Pete does this best. Because all we hear is, what happens if I train my team members and then they leave? And Pete’s response and my response is always the same, which is, what happens if you don’t train your team members and they stay?
Put simply, the more skilled and effective your team, the faster they can work and the less management they need. But the inverse is also true. Unskilled and untrained workers are a drain on your time, effort and energy. They take more time, effort and energy to manage. So you owe it to yourself to train your team.
Also, if your business is delivering services, the more your team can get done, the more of those services you can sell. The more advanced skills that they have, the higher price you can charge for more exclusive products. So, again, you owe it to yourself to train your team.
Now, Pete and I have possibly a different view on hiring a team. Because Pete and I both agree that it is better and more cost effective to hire for attitude and train for skill. If you go out and you try and hire people with the skills you want, one, it’s going to be difficult to find somebody with all the skills you want. And two, it’s going to be expensive. The more advanced skill set these people have, the more they’re going to charge.
It’s that simple. And there are times when you want a one-off job, what Pete and I call out-tasking. If you want a one-off job, fine. Go look for somebody with the exact skill you need, and go and pay them the going rate. Because you’re going to have that job done once, and you want it done well. Something like a logo design, or a one-off website design, or something like that.
But if you’re going to want somebody to work for you as an outsourcer, someone that’s going to become part of your regular team, then you’re looking for somebody with the right attitude. The right attitude towards work, the right attention to detail, and those basic skills. And you can train them to do things like maintain your website, edit and produce your podcast and upload it to the blog, etcetera.
One of the things you can do when scaling up your team is to start simple with a double win. This is something that I do a lot, which is that I get my team members to watch courses that I’m interested in. This does two things, because I get them to summarize it for me. The first thing is it gives them a new perspective, some new knowledge on something. But also, it saves me the time of watching the course and synthesizing it into notes.
I get my team to produce the notes, and I go through the notes. If I find something that I think I really need to see the entire of this video, or listen to the entire of this audio, fine. I know where to go. I know exactly which video to go to, and I can go and watch that one video or that group of videos. But this saves me a phenomenal amount of time and also skills up my team.
The other thing that we recommend is that you ask your team. You ask your team what skills they feel they need, what training they feel they need, or what they would like to learn about. Because if somebody’s interested in something, that’s a great opportunity to give them a skill. And to build some rapport and build some team spirit within your team. Now, of course, all of this presupposes that you have a team.
If you don’t have a team or if you’ve never outsourced anything, then the best investment you can make in yourself is to start doing that. Don’t go crazy and hire a full-time personal assistant tomorrow morning. In fact, we recommend you don’t hire a full-time anything to start with. This is a really important point. You need to start small and simple. That’s really the biggest tip we can give you.
Although there are a lot more tips and tricks from myself and Pete — the master of outsourcing in our outsourcing episodes. But you need to think about a small, simple task that you can easily define that you can then find someone to carry out for you. And work your way up. You’re looking for one-off tasks, simple things that need doing that either you don’t have the skill or the time to do.
And go and find someone to do those things. Like I said in a previous Foundations episode about valuing your time, if you want to earn that $25 per hour or whatever it is that you value your time at — because you need to value your time, then make sure you are only doing $25-per-hour tasks.
In fact, the best way to do that is to find someone else to do the other tasks that you need to get done for less than $25 per hour. Either by delegating them to an existing team member, or outsourcing them. It’s this idea that every hour that you spend needs to be focused on the core of your business — that core versus mechanics. It needs to be focused on the thing that earns you the most money or has the most direct effect on the profit of your business.
So if you’re doing things that you could pay somebody $10 an hour, then you can focus another hour on making $25. So even if that’s all that happens — you pay somebody $10 an hour, you earn another $25 an hour — you’re still $15 better off. It’s quite possible that job gets done quicker. And it certainly is one less menial thing or low-grade thing that you’re no longer doing and have to worry about.
You see, doing this is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. Having a team is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. You will find that the more you invest in your team — whether investing directly in creating a team if you don’t have one right now, or investing in improving the skills of your existing team, the more time you have to invest in yourself.
The more resources you have to invest in yourself to focus on the core tasks of your business, or to learn new skills — some of those skills I’ve already gone through in the beginning of this episode. Or just to have more free time. It’s a very, very simple idea, but it does bear thinking about.
As I said, if you invest in the skills of your team, they require less management, which requires less effort on your part. It also means that they can take on more tasks, which means that they can take those tasks from you, which gives you that time back to either invest it directly in your business doing more of the high-dollar per hour tasks, or doing more of the core tasks that improve your business. Or you can just have more free time and invest that in growing your skill base.
As I said about growing your skill base, every improvement you make in your abilities will directly improve your business. So, this episode, like the others in the series, was shorter than usual. But I’ve covered a huge number of ideas — both for investing in yourself and investing in your team to improve the efficiency and profitability of your business.
Hopefully, this was food for thought and the series has given you a few action items to set you on the road to a more profitable business this year. As I said, covered a lot of information and a lot of it, we’ve already covered in far more detail in previous episodes. I’ll put a bunch of links in the show notes to those previous shows and anything else I talk about, as we always do for every episode so that you can go back and listen to all the shows where Pete and I talk about this stuff in more detail.
Thank you for listening, as always. And, as always, we would love your feedback. We love the feedback from the Preneur Community. We do read and listen to everything. We take it on board and we include it in the shows. Or we will respond directly, as anyone who has contacted us will know.
Do let us know what you think of the show. Whether you are a new listener or a long-time member of the Preneur Community, we want to hear from you. You can visit PreneurMedia.tv to leave a comment on any of the shows. You can also see and listen to every past episode. You can read the show notes there and also find transcripts and other resources.
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http://www.ProfitHacks.com – Profit Hacks is our course about Productivity, Business Efficiency, and Hacking your way to Profits
Previous PreneurCast Episodes:
Episode 006 – Pete’s Reading List
Episode 010 – Masterminds
Episode 026 – Outsourcing
Episode 039 – How to Read A Book
Episode 070 – Lazy Marketing Redux
Episode 080 – Approaching Mentors
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