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Do you feel like you’re stuck?
Have you been in the same spot with your business for a long time, spinning your wheels?
Today’s show is all about breaking through to the next level and identifying the things that are holding you back.
The thing about business growth is getting to the next level always requires solving a new challenge or puzzle. What got you here won’t get you there.
This means the things causing your plateau in growth could be many. Everything from mindset, to risk aversion, to failing slow, to perfectionism, to superhero syndrome, to cashflow, to marketing, to shiny object syndrome.
The good news?
We covered literally every single one of those on todays episode along with tips to overcome those hurdles.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Getting to the next level always means facing new challenges.
- Growth is survival, not greed.
- Get around people who are where you want to be and who have the right kind of mindset.
- If your mindset is wrong, you can’t grow.
- Liabilities prevent you from being able to see the objective risk in your situation.
- Be in a position where you can afford to lose.
- Risk what you have to gain everything else in the world.
- Set goals for yourself where you have to hustle and get a result.
- Stop doing the things that you shouldn’t be doing as the business owner (i.e. things you can delegate).
- You can only do so much as one person—you need people helping you out if you want to have a bigger impact in the world.
- Other people can’t replace your voice or your vision for the company, but they can do everything else.
- Automate the process of bringing prospects in and exposing them to your products or services.
- The key to combating Shiny Object Syndrome is to do less.
- Focus on a single thing and be the best at that thing.
- 02:24 Sean: My question for the listener to day is: do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’ve been in the same place for a long time, like you’re being held back? Today’s show is all about breaking through to that next level. I want to get your thoughts on this, Matt. People are wondering, “Am I in a plateau right now? Am I reaching a plateau, leveling out?” Matt, do you think that part of this could be that they got addicted to the initial growth spurts? Maybe in the beginning, or from the last level to this level, growth came somewhat easy. They kept looking at the stats, the revenue, and the bank statements, and everything’s looking good. Is it necessarily a bad thing that they’re at a plateau or it looks like things are leveling out? Or, is it just something that happens?
- 03:21 Matt: I think that it just naturally happens. I’ve been caught in it myself. You get used to looking at the stats, and even if you have bumps here and there, if you’re not getting past some threshold that you’ve been stuck at, then you’re definitely at a plateau. I was going to ask you, Sean, how you would identify if you’re in a plateau?
You’re in a plateau if you feel like you keep seeing the same results, like you’re running in place.
- 04:00 Sean: You’re working really hard, but you aren’t getting more sales, more members, more customers, more followers, or whatever the metric is. It feels like you’re not getting anywhere, like you’re spinning your wheels. You wonder if it’s just something you need to wait out, or are you doing something wrong and you need to change?
- 04:29 Matt: I would basically give the same answer. You’re in a plateau if you’re spinning your wheels and your metrics, your stats, aren’t moving up. If they’re going down, that’s an entirely different problem. It’s easy to just fall into that, for multiple reasons. If you feel like you’re kind of burnt out or like you aren’t going far, this is going to be a really good episode for you. Hopefully we can kind of pump you up and get you on your way.
Any Line That Stays Flat Will Fall
- 05:06 Sean: At every level, there are new challenges to get to the next level. What got you here isn’t what’s going to get you there. There are always going to be different things. At one point, I talked about the different things you have to overcome to get from three to four figures, four to five, five to six, six to seven, seven to eight, and beyond. There are different challenges at every level. You can’t just keep doing the same thing. I was recently in Austin for a conference, and we were having pizza, talking about growth and whether you can work in your business and do the thing you enjoy, or whether you have to work on your business to grow.
- 06:08 I’m fully convinced that you have to be working on your business in order for it to grow. I don’t think you can just say, “I want to keep doing the thing, and I want to hire people under me who kind of work over me to grow the business, but I’m in the business.” It doesn’t work that way. In most cases, Gary Vaynerchuck says this, when you grow a business to a certain level, very often the person who got the business to $10 million or $100 million is not the person who gets the business to a billion. The same is true at the lower levels, too.
There are plenty of people who can grow a business to $100,000, but if you want to grow it to a million a year, that’s very different.
- 06:47 If you want to grow to a million a month, that’s also very different. It requires different skill sets and different challenges that have to be overcome. In most cases, most businesses stagnate. Most businesses fail. Most businesses reach a plateau and they cruise. Everyone has different cruising levels based on their different skill sets. Some businesses cruise at $5 to $10 million a year. Other businesses cruise at $30,000 a year, because they don’t get it. They say, “I do $250 logos,” and they reach a block. From three to four figures, it’s about getting good at a skill and selling your services. From four to five, it’s learning to price on value. There are different things.
- 07:30 Then it’s about marketing, then it’s hiring, HR, and all these different things. Very rarely is the person who started the business in the beginning the same person who gets it to a higher level. You have your anomalies like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates or Elon Musk, but the key is adaptability. The only people who go all the way are the people who are adaptable. Their job now is very, very different from what it was a year ago and very, very different from what it was five years ago. It’s constantly changing, and there are constantly new challenges at every single level. The default is stagnation.
Growth is survival, not greed.
- 08:27 You have to have momentum and be going forward. I heard this real estate investor say, “Any line that stays flat will eventually fall.” You have to remember that. He’s a multi-millionaire investor. If he knows, you have to pay attention to these guys. They’re not selling you. They’re saying, “Look, I’ve observed this.” If you want your business to eventually dissolve and dissipate, then don’t worry about flat lines. It doesn’t matter if you plateau. You’re going to dissolve. Otherwise, you have to be vigilant, on the offense, working to grow your business and break through the ceiling, that plateau, to the next level.
- 09:18 Matt: Sean, what would you say is the first step to getting out of that situation?
- 09:23 Sean: There are a lot of things that can potentially hold people back. I can’t tell you right now the thing that is keeping you in a plateau because the thing that will get you to the next level is different at every level. There are a bunch of different things, so the best I can do is to give you a bunch of things that could potentially be holding you back, depending on your level. After I give this list, I want to dive in on each one and give you tips for breaking through that.
- 09:58 From what I’ve observed, these are potential things holding you back right now:
- Risk aversion
- Failing slow
- Superhero Syndrome
- Shiny Object Syndrome
Upgrade Your Mindset
- 10:20 This may be the thing that’s holding you back. If your mindset is, “This is what I’m worth and I can’t create more value for people,” you’re going to limit yourself. You’re going to have trouble charging more because you don’t feel confident enough, because you don’t have the right mindset. When we were discussing this show before recording it, we talked about scarcity.
- 10:41 Matt: A lot of people start flatlining when they start getting scared. I was talking to a restaurant owner the other day, and he told me that they were hitting a threshold and he was getting scared, because when you start plateauing, usually, you go down rather than up. You’re not doing something right, so you need to adapt and pivot. He was getting into Scarcity Mindset. That’s why I said that. It’s a valid reason to get scared, because you’re thinking, “What am I doing wrong so we aren’t going up? We’re hitting some big bumps here in our stats.”
- 11:34 Sean: Matt, you had said, just general fear, lack of knowledge, and lack of a goal—all of these mindset things. The simple answer is this:
Get around people who are where you want to be, who have the right kind of mindset.
- 11:56 These are people who have an abundance mindset, who are not thinking in terms of scarcity. If your mindset is wrong, you can’t grow. If you think you aren’t worth charging more, you can’t grow. If you’re hanging around freelance websites where people charge $5 for designs, or even more “professional” networks, meetups, groups, or whatever you go to where people have limited mindsets, leave. We’re always talking about big picture, growing, and not thinking in terms of scarcity. If the people around you are talking otherwise, they’re going to hold you back. They’re going to keep you thinking in these scarcity terms.
Defeat Risk Aversion
- 12:41 This is part of the scarcity mindset, being afraid of risk. In a previous episode, I talked about how parents want you to be safe (Related: e225 Why Your Parents Probably Can’t Teach You to Be Successful). Don’t run in the street, don’t talk to strangers—they want you to be safe because they care. The problem is that it ends up making you risk averse. Who has money in the world, Matt? Strangers. You’ve got to talk to strangers to sell. You have to take risks to grow, to make money. Listen to this episode, because we talk about risk a lot. I also talk about how risk is subjective. Losing $50,000 sucks, and for some people, they could never do that. That’s their livelihood. If they risk $50,000, they’re ruined. For a multi-millionaire, $50,000 is nothing. They make plenty of risks every day. Risk is subjective.
Liabilities prevent you from being able to see the objective risk in your situation.
- 14:15 A lot of people make a salary, work at a job, make a paycheck, and they acquire liabilities, debts, or things with payments that add up to their monthly paycheck. They make $5,000 a month, but they have $5,000 a month in bills going to liabilities. These liabilities cloud your judgement and your thinking. You don’t have the freedom to see clearly, so you can’t see your risk objectively. When some people think of risk, they think, “Losing $50,000 is crazy.” If I have a $50,000 a year salary and I quit, I may not make $50,000. They see the risks, that they could make $40,000. That would be bad. They could make $30,000, and that would be bad. They could be working hard to scrape things together and only make $20,000, and that would be bad. $10,000, $5,000, $1,000, $0. What is the potential downside of this risk? $50,000.
- 15:14 That seems monumental to someone. The problem is that they don’t have the freedom or the clarity to see the risk of their situation objectively to realize that the potential upside is all of the other money in the world. The potential upside of quitting your job and starting a business is making all of the other money in the world. You have to see risk objectively, but you can’t with liabilities. To the person who is free of liabilities, you have freedom as an asset. You don’t make any payments. You have zero debt. I’m not just talking about credit card debt. If you make a house payment, you have debt. That clouds your thinking.
- 15:49 You make a car payment? You have debt. That clouds your thinking. If you are free of liabilities, you have freedom as an asset. You’re able to see your situation objectively, and you can assess your risk. For the people who do have liabilities, the goal is to get rid of the liabilities. Pay off the liabilities, that’s the goal. You have to learn that you have to pay to play. Money in, money out. You have to spend money to make money. It sound risky. You think, “It would be really nice to take this $10,000 and go on a trip or buy a new TV and a couch, but someone’s telling me to put this money back in and invest it. What if we invest all this money and I don’t make more?” You have to pay to play.
- 16:45 Matt: This is where having that group of people around you that are what you want to be will tell you ahead of time, “Don’t invest that $10,000 in a trip, in a cruise. You’re not going to get anything out of it. Yes, work life balance, but come on, you’re not where you need to be to have that work life balance.”
- 17:02 Sean: Let me tell you how poor people think. This is simple math, but for a lot of people, it’s not simple, and they just don’t get it. If you take a bet with favorable odds enough times, you will win and come out on top. Let me give you an example. The guy from Veritasium did this YouTube channel experiment. He went up to people and said, “Can I bet you $10? We’re going to flip a coin. If you lose, you give me $10. If you win, I give you $12.” Almost nobody took the bet. Cory, you wouldn’t take the bet.
- 18:00 Cory: I would do it. If I lose, I give him $10, and if I win, I get $12? Of course.
- 18:08 Matt: Sean, would you take the bet?
- 18:10 Sean: I would, but I’m going to explain why. What if it was $11 that you won back? What if it was $10.50?
- 18:25 Cory: I’d still do it.
- 18:28 Sean: Almost everyone on the street said no. When he said $15, they said no. When he said $18, they said no. When he said $20, only one guy took the risk for $20. People have a bias towards loss. They don’t want to lose money. They don’t see things objectively. They value what they have more than what they could potentially gain.
People don’t want to lose what they have even if they could gain more.
- 19:07 Most people said that maybe, if it was $200, they would do it. He tries to explain that you flip a coin over and over and over, and the probability is pretty much 50/50. The more you flip the coin, hundreds or thousands of times, it could be 49/51, but the more you go, the closer and closer to a perfect split it will be because it’s an even chance. If you play this enough times, you will come out on top. You will make more money. Let’s say it’s $12. You could lose five times and win a sixth, and you’re even. You only have to win once every six times to come out even.
- 20:23 You win twice every six times, and you make $12. Since it’s a 50/50 chance, if you repeat this over and over, you make bank. The next opposition people have is that they say, “You didn’t say that we could do the bet 10,000 times. You just said once, so it’s a 50/50 chance.” That’s the wrong way to think about it. You need to think about it this way—this is one favorable bet of all the rest of the favorable bets in my life. Think about it long term. If you play the same odds, where you get a favorable win over a lower loss, you eventually come out on top. You have to think about your life in those terms. If you have a good chance of winning, be in a position where you can afford to lose, and keep playing favorable odds. Eventually, you come out on top.
- 21:31 Matt: People get so scared because they want such a high return with a low risk.
- 21:38 Sean: They’ve got the $50,000 a year salary and this loss aversion, this risk aversion. They’re not seeing that the potential upside is all of the trillions of other dollars in the world. They see, “I could lose $50,000, and that’s it.” Okay, say you lose $50,000. Let’s say the downside is that you make $40,000 this year, but you’re working on your side business. Maybe your side business makes $5,000. You’re still down, but you keep going. You make $40,000 the next year. Maybe you make $35,000 the next year, but you’re working on your side business. Now, your side business makes $20,000 a year. You’re already in the black.
- 22:12 You’re doing well. Then you keep going. You work a little less on your main job, you make $20,000, but you have all this other time to grow your business. You make $100,000 that year. Up and up and up and up. That’s how you have to think. One thing that could be keeping you from growing is not being willing to risk what you have to gain everything else in the world.
- 22:42 Matt: Don’t be afraid to lose. Think of it in the long term. If you make small earnings, small bumps of income, yes, you might lose money at first, but over time it’s going to flip. You’re going to make more money on your side business than in your main job if you do it strategically. Don’t be afraid. Sean hit a lot of great points that people are struggling with, because it’s all about risk. You look at your odds and say, “I’ll flip the coin one time,” and if you lose, you’re out. You can’t think of it that way, because you can flip the coin and win more times than you will lose. The same principle applies in business and life.
Fail Faster & Cure Perfectionism
- 23:51 Sean: If you are failing slowly, that can cause you to plateau. You’re afraid to fail just like you’re afraid to risk anything. Set goals for yourself, milestones, where you have to hustle and get a result. If you don’t get the result, you failed, but you move on and learn from it. At least you’re calling it a failure and putting those stakes in the ground and saying, “This is when I’m going to get my work done.” You get it done, and if the results aren’t there, the results aren’t there, but you can move on to the next thing instead of these long, slow, drawn out failures that we’re not really calling failures because we can kind of keep going. There’s no end in sight, no goal, and no way of knowing if this is ever a failure. Fail faster to progress.
- 24:43 Matt: Don’t be afraid. It’s the same as risk. You’re going to fail either way.
- 24:47 Sean: Fail five times and win the sixth. Mark Cuban said—I’m not saying he’s a role model, but he is a billionaire—he made a great point, “You only have to win once.” Everyone is afraid of failing once. You have to fail a bunch of times, but you fail until you win. Take the favorable bets, and it doesn’t matter if you fail a bunch of times before that. It matters if you’re in Scarcity Mindset and you’re thinking, “I can’t afford to lose what I have.” You’ve got to get out of that.
- 25:21 Matt: I like something that Sean says:
You can’t afford not to win.
- 25:36 Sean: Perfectionism could also be holding you back. “I have to get my course totally perfect. I have to get my product totally perfect.” What I’m about to say applies to people who consider themselves perfectionists. Maybe you know that your standards are ridiculously high and everyone is saying, “Just put the book out there,” but you keep saying, “No, I need to make sure…” If you know you’re obsessed about that and it’s holding you back, think in terms of 90% perfect (Related: e224 How to Cure Perfectionism). If you have really high standards and it keeps you from shipping anything, lower your mental threshold to 90% perfect. It’s still going to be better than almost everyone else’s version of perfect, but you’re going to get it out and you’re going to ship more things.
- 26:25 Someone asked, “I want to be able to sustain myself with my own business, and I want to do it in 90 days.” In a nutshell, the answer is not products (Related: e120 You Have 90 Days to Build Sustainable Income—What Do You Do?). They wanted to sell products. I asked them, “Do you want to do products?” They said yes, so I said, “Do client work, because client work is the best way to get quick cash.” Products can be profitable in the long term, it can be automated, and it can be great, but it takes a really long time. It’s an investment upfront. You have to pay for inventory, you have to have capitol, so do client work first to make good money. You get paid upfront, you get paid when you’re done, and you have all of the money there.
- 27:20 It’s not like you have thousands in inventory waiting to be converted into profits. You’ve got the money, and once you do that a bunch of times beyond your basic income needs, you have a bunch of capitol to be able to go into products. If you have cashflow issues, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve had to seriously consider taking on consulting. Rather than take on consulting, I added coaching tiers to one of my courses, ValueBasedPricing.com, and we opened up the pilot program. This is the only way, right now, that I’m accessible to work one-on-one with you and your business. Open up yourself to offering some sort of client services, even if it’s not what you want to do. You’ve got expertise, you know what you’re doing, and you can help other people with that. It’s a quick way to make money that can solve your cashflow problems.
- 28:11 Matt: Once you get the cashflow running through, then you have the ability to go and do whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s products, courses, or whatever it is.
- 28:23 Sean: I want you guys to be actively listening here, because I can’t just tell you, “It’s this one thing that’s holding you back.” There are different things at every level. I can only give you a big list, and you have to ask yourself, “Is this me? Nope, I don’t have a cashflow problem. No, I’m not a perfectionist. I’m not afraid to fail. I’m okay with risk.” Be listening. Maybe this next one is you. Maybe the one after that is you.
Beat Superhero Syndrome
- 28:50 I had Superhero Syndrome, the “solopreneur for life” mindset. I was just, “Me, me, me. I’m awesome. I’m the best. I can do this myself. I don’t need anyone.” The reality, Matt, is that I don’t need anyone. I can do it myself, but I can’t do it all myself. I could do it myself, but I would only ever be able to do it at a certain scale.
You can only do so much as one person.
you need people helping you out if you want to have a bigger impact in the world.
- 30:20 You’ve got to empower people. Give them some of your voice, the voice of the company. Don’t just task them, but empower them. Are they autonomous? Are they just performing things you tell them, or are they autonomous? That’s the point you want to get to, empowering people. That goes hand in hand with perfectionism for me, because I had these really high standards for how I wanted things to be done. I thought that I was the only one who could do it that well. You convince yourself of that by thinking, “I hired someone in the past, and they didn’t do it perfectly. There’s proof. That validates what I’m saying.” The problem is that you didn’t give them enough time. In a lot of cases, they surpass you in that one area.
- 31:12 You’re doing 100 things, but they’re doing one thing. Yes, it might take a month before they do it better than you, but eventually, they can do it better than you, and it frees you up. It’s the best thing ever. You’ve got to realize that you can’t do this alone. If you want to grow, you need help. Stop doing what you shouldn’t be doing. How do you know what you shouldn’t be doing? There are things that you’re good at that you enjoy doing. There are things you can do well and things that you can’t do well. Those are really easy. The third one is easy—I can’t do this, so I’ll hire someone else to do it. Then there are things that you can do but you don’t really enjoy, and those are still pretty easy to give up.
- 31:05 Then there are things you can do and you enjoy. You almost never want to give these up, but you have to give up virtually all of it if you want to grow. This is the hardest thing. You have to give up what you’re good at and what you enjoy, except for two things. Your goal should be to get to where you’re only focused on these two things: voice and vision. Those are the only things you can’t delegate. I’ve enjoyed editing my podcast. I’ve enjoyed shooting my own videos. I’m good at those things, and it’s really hard to give up the things you’re good at and you enjoy, but you have to give up everything that’s not voice and vision. Ultimately, people can help you with those things and they can do better than you at those things.
Other people can’t replace your voice or your vision for the company, but they can do everything else.
- 33:14 Invest time in learning marketing. If you want to improve your marketing, you’ve got to learn. Invest in yourself, your education, and systems (Related: e159 Getting Started With Email Marketing & e211 Busting the Myth That Daily Emails Are Bad (And How to Do Them Right)). You’ve got to learn about this stuff. Here’s how you know if marketing is your problem. If you get 200 visitors and you get 20 customers, that is amazing. You’ve got a 10% conversion rate. Most eCommerce is 1% to 2%. 10% is really good. Guess what? If you get 2,000 people in, you get 200 customers. That’s amazing. If you have a really good conversion rate, then you know your product is good, you’re serving a need, and you’re reading people’s minds well.
- 34:16 You need more attention, more people in. You need to automate the process of bringing people in and exposing them to your products or services. It’s already converting really well. That’s how you know that marketing might be a problem for you, and that’s when I would invest in learning about email marketing and other kinds of automation.
Combat Shiny Object Syndrome
- 34:40 If you’re looking around, and you’re thinking, “I could do this, I could do that,” and you’re constantly bouncing from one thing to the other, that’s Shiny Object Syndrome. “I’m going to make a film. I’m going to join a band. I’m going to lead a small group.” I’m more incriminated than anyone. “I’m going to do a Value-Based Pricing program. I’m going to do a daily video show. I’m going to do two podcasts. I’m going to run a Community. I’m going to start a conference. I’m going to write a book. I’m going to grow my email list. I’m going to start another course. I’m going to start a writing course.” It’s bad.
- 35:19 I have it. I made the list. It’s all my stuff. Whenever I get fired up, it’s because I learned the lesson the hard way. I can’t come up with examples that I didn’t have. All of these were things I struggled with. I struggle with Shiny Object Syndrome, so when I’m giving examples, I’m thinking of exactly what I did wrong.
The key to combating Shiny Object Syndrome is to do less.
Focus on a single thing and be the best at that thing.
- 35:46 Focus on a single thing. I didn’t say three things. If you have three, get rid of two. Amazon.com, what were they the best at? Books. Most people these days don’t know that, they think Amazon does electronics, a sponge to wash your car, and basically everything except books, right? No, they started with books. They were the best at books, and it led to greater things. You can do more than one thing—you just can’t do it at once.
- 36:31 Matt: Especially in the beginning. You have no traction.
- 36:39 Sean: You have to focus on one at a time and build it up. I give the bonfire example. Everybody’s got these little passion pits, these fire pits, and they’ve got embers in them. They’re going around, blowing on all the embers, trying to make sure that the embers and the coals don’t go out. Meanwhile, they have no fires. Maybe they’ve got one tiny fire, but they’re running around saying, “But all my other passions! I’m good at these things! I’m robbing the world of my gift!” Matt, I’m a musician. I’ve played piano for over 20 years, I play guitar, and I used to record piano videos every single day. I produce electronic music.
- 37:21 I produced the music on our shows myself. I have things I’m really good at that I really enjoy, and yes, I would love to share those with the world, but I would not be effective if I did that. Someday, when my businesses are really big, they’ve grown, and they’re automated, I’ll put out some albums. I will do that. You know how you can get to the point where you have massive businesses that are assets for you, serving you, and making money on auto-pilot? And you’re a musician and an artist with albums and work out for sale? You get there by doing one at a time. Build up one at a time. Get good at selling books first, and then you sell everything else in the world.
- 38:10 You grow one fire to a bonfire, not to a dinky campfire. You can’t cook marshmallows on this thing, no s’mores. If you build it up into a bonfire, it becomes an asset. You turn your back from the embers and the fire goes out, but if you turn your back on the bonfire, your back gets warm. It’s really big. You go on to the next fire, and your first one is fine. It’s an asset. Not only that, but people can see it from miles around, so they come. They say, “What’s going on over here? I saw this big bonfire.” You say, “Actually, I’ve got five bonfires.”
- 38:53 Matt: You can always use some of the fire from your bonfire to start the next one, as opposed to starting out with nothing.
- 39:01 Sean: You just bring that fire over. All the automated systems and the things you learned about hiring people and employees all goes into the next one. Build that first one up. Focus on a single thing.
- 39:36 Matt: It is very difficult. You see something shiny or you meet with someone and they say, “I did this,” or, “I did really well,” and you think, “I have a little fire going in my business. Let me try and start another one over here.” It’s super easy to get distracted. This is where I give Sean a hard time, because this little devil is on my shoulder, and the devil is Sean. He’s a really nice guy. Whenever I have the itch to start another bonfire, that little dude stops me. It really does help. It helps you stay away from wanting to start other things or deviating from your vision or path.
- 41:02 I think it’s good to have an accountability partner for that very reason, to keep you focused and to help you stay on the path and get things done. Once you have your bonfire and your business is solid, you have cashflow coming through, then sure—start your Vine videos up again, start producing more music, and put some more time into those side passions. If they don’t end up making any money, it’s okay, because you’ve got your main beast on fire over there. People get so antsy to go on to the next thing. There are so many distractions in the world we live in, but your accountability partner and your visions and goals should help you stay aligned and focused.