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The Overlap Technique is the concept I’m writing my book on. It’s where you establish a solid foundation to cover either your bills or your business expenses.
It’s crucial that your foundation cover 100% of your bills. If you’re in a day job and you want to overlap to your passion, the day job must cover 100% of the bills if you want to prevent scarcity mindset.
Scarcity mindset comes from compromise. When you aren’t covering 100% of your bills with a day job (or some sort of baseline recurring revenue) you will find yourself getting desperate.
When in desperation, you are more prone to making compromises on quality of life, your professionalism, your rate, and the clients you work with.
In this episode, we discuss the establishing of your foundation so that you can level up to where you want to be. This also applies even if you have an existing business. I have been working for myself for 10 years and I’m constantly in a stage of overlapping.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Your day job is your foundation.
- The day job needs to cover 100% of your bills—that is how you prevent compromise in your decisions.
- The only way to protect your passion for something is to overlap.
- Don’t be afraid to challenge convention.
- Take incremental steps and build up assets. Don’t do everything all at one time.
- The kind of day job you need is one that doesn’t zap your energy when you come home from work.
- The right day job will charge you for your passion.
- The Overlap Technique is a tool, not a source of comfort and security.
- No matter how much preparation, saving, or overlap you do, it will always come down to a leap of faith moment.
- 02:04 Sean: I’m all about The Overlap Technique. If you have not listened to that episode (Reference: e137 The Overlap Technique: A Crash Course), go back and listen to it and get my free book.
- 02:46 Today, we’re talking about overlap as it fits into this four part series on leveling up your business: focus, overlap, maximize, and then optimize. The four parts we’re doing has an acronym of FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out. The reason you’re not focusing is that you’re afraid of missing out. I’m breaking this episode into four parts: build a solid foundation, check yourself for Scarcity Mindset, the right time, and there will always be a leap.
Build a Solid Foundation
- 04:20 Unless you’re completely happy with your situation and there’s nothing else you want in life, there’s always overlap—there’s always the next thing you’re working toward. There’s various ways of getting there. You can quit your job cold turkey, you can do things haphazardly, or you can focus on a bunch of things at the same time. I prefer to focus and then overlap. You build something, and then you overlap to the next thing. When you’re just starting out, that looks like a day job overlapping to a passion, a side business you want to turn into a full time business, or a freelance career. Your day job is your foundation. We’re going to talk about why that needs to cover 100% of your bills.
- 05:35 I want to bring in this comment from Rachel as she was talking about writing from the last episode on focus. She said, “I just want to weigh in and say that sometimes I think the whole diversification and whether or not we should do it depends on the industry. I understand that in some industries like design and artistic pursuits, choosing one thing is important, but I’m a writer, primarily a fiction writer, which I enjoy more. But, in order to make money in the business of writing, I have to diversify, which means I also have to focus on my non-fiction side. Novelists don’t make enough money to feed their families until much later in their careers. In other words, there’s a whole lot of investment upfront for years.”
- 06:15 I don’t know if Rachel knows about The Overlap Technique. The Overlap Technique is where you get a solid foundation in place, and this is the first part. Build a solid foundation, which looks like, in the case of someone starting out, a day job.
Your day job needs to cover 100% of your bills—that is how you prevent compromise in your decisions.
- 07:01 Like taking on the wrong type of clients, not charging what you’re worth, and getting clients from hell, which is really you being unprofessional in your process because you’re in Scarcity Mindset. You think you’ve got to make that money.
- 07:16 Rachel is saying that she understands that choosing one thing is important in industries like art and design, but she’s a writer. She says, “In order to make money in the business of writing, I have to diversify.” That is not true. It’s the same with artists. The art world tells you the same thing: in order to make money as an artist, you have to diversify. Take on whatever you can get, whatever commissions you can get. To make money as a videographer, you’re going to have to take on some commissions for people you don’t want to work with. It’s not just writing, filmmaking, art, or design.
- 07:59 That kind of Scarcity Mindset pervades everything. It’s thinking, “I have to take on whatever I can to make money.” With The Overlap Technique, you’re putting a foundation in place. The day job is covering 100% of your bills so you can go write a book, do freelance art, design, writing, videography, and you can say no to bad opportunities, clients you don’t want to work with, and you can take on clients only if they follow your process and respect you as a professional. With overlapping, you’ve afforded yourself the ability and freedom to be selective, to grow this thing with passion so you don’t kill the passion. We all know people who have pursued their thing, whatever that is, and they end up hating it because they don’t protect their passion.
The only way to protect your passion for something is to overlap.
- 09:06 You have to have that strong foundation in place covering your expenses. If you’re an established business, you’re still overlapping to the next thing. I’m overlapping to wanting to be able to do things like a conference, making more courses for people, building out the Community, or adding features to the chat. I can’t do that because I have to pay my employees. I have a payroll that is higher than my recurring revenue. I’m in my own business, I’m out of the day job situation, but The Overlap Technique still applies to me. I need to build a solid foundation that covers 100% of my expenses, which means that I can’t do those other things, as much as I want to do them and love them.
- 10:02 I have to be honest with myself and say, “Do I love and care about those things enough to not do them now, so I’m not forced to go into Scarcity Mindset?” All of my efforts right now in the business are on getting recurring revenue to cover payroll. I need to get expenses 100% covered before I overlap to the next thing.
- 10:29 Ben: In fRachel’s and my situation, the scarcity is taken away when what I’m making covers all of our bills. The arrangement we have is that Rachel is not responsible for covering our bills with her writing so that she can focus on it and grow it. Let’s say the whole money thing was off the table. The overlap doesn’t always pertain to money. You may think that, in your industry, in order to build an audience, you need to focus on several different things. This is where it gets difficult for me, and I wrestle with it a lot, because there are some very conventional things that have been upheld in specific industries. If you want to grow your audience, even if you have all the time in the world, you have to this and this. You may have a great product over here, but if you don’t also have this piece in place, nobody’s going to see your product or take you seriously.
- 11:49 The question I would ask is, “That may be the convention, but is it really true?” You have to test it. If you’re just focused on one thing and you did that really well, shared it the right way and marketed it the right way, can you build an audience from that? In Rachel’s case, it’s not just that she feels like it’s necessary financially or that she wants to build her audience, but fiction and non-fiction are things she wants to do. She wants to provide value for people. I see her struggle. If you listen to any of the successful people who are the front-runners, who are sharing information, who have podcasts and are putting on workshops and seminars, it’s the same thing they’re saying. They say, “You have to diversify yourself.” It’s difficult, especially in an industry where the culture of those conventions are upheld, to think that it’s possible any other way.
- 13:04 Sean: I’m glad Ben brought in the convention aspect. Like he said, there are people who are saying, “Diversify!” or, “You can only be taken seriously if you do all these things,” or “You can only make money if you do a bunch of things,” or “You can only get a job if you have a degree and all these skills.” That’s convention, but don’t be afraid to challenge convention. Say, “Where is this coming from? What’s the context of this? Why are people saying this? Why have things been this way, and are they still the same way? Does this reflect reality? Can I get a job without splitting my focus while learning design, coding, illustration, animation, 3D, and audio? Can I get a job without doing that? Do I know people who have gotten jobs without splitting their focus across everything and becoming a jack of all trades? Does this really apply?”
- 14:14 People say, “You have to diversify,” and you hear me saying, “Start a podcast! Go listen to Aaron’s show, The Podcast Dude. You have to do newsletters.” You hear me saying these things, but the people saying those things are the ones who have built things one step at a time. They’ve leveled up their business one step at a time, and they’ve gotten to a point where they’ve got all these assets and systems that are in place working for them. They’re seeing the benefits, so they’re saying, “Podcasting is great! Start a podcast. Videos are great! Start a video show.” You don’t see everything that went into getting to that point, so don’t take away that you should do all the things, all the time, all at once.
- 15:05 It comes down to focusing and building up something. You’ve got a newsletter, you’ve got that automated. It’s no longer about testing for CSS, mobile compatibility, and figuring out images and links. You’ve got a system down, you write your post that takes 15 minutes, and now you’ve got a newsletter. You put on autoresponder and you spend a whole week learning about that. Then you put it in, it’s there, and it’s an asset that’s serving you. It’s bringing returns, and it’s not taking up any of your time. You go to the next thing, and eventually, you start hiring employees and a new part of your business, and you replicate that whole email list, that autoresponder, and put in a new lead magnet, and boom! It’s ready to go.
Take incremental steps to bring in a new thing and build up assets, but don’t do those things all at one time.
- 16:06 Ben: If you’re in an industry where you hear people upholding the convention of diversifying to be successful, that industry may be suited to that model. People who use that may, especially in the short-term, be more effective than the people who just focus on one thing at a time. The purpose of The Overlap Technique is to set you free from feeling like you have to make decisions based on what’s going to be effective because something is at stake. I want that freedom for you. If you’re a person who says, “I do enjoy doing multiple things, but I feel pigeonholed into this decision because it’s the way the industry works and because I need to be successful,” what if that was taken away? What if you didn’t have to be successful? What if you didn’t have to grow an audience?
- 17:13 What if you were just doing it for you, because you wanted to do it and because it was something you felt passionate about? What would you do? Would you focus on both of those things or try to do all of those things at once? If the answer is no, then you’re being held captive to the conventions of your industry. You’re being held captive to this thing people have built over time that really isn’t very healthy, but because it’s effective, everybody does it that way. I want you to be free from that. Then, if you decide that you want to do multiple things, you have to understand that there are many different paths to getting to the kind of success you’re looking for, and you should make those decisions on your own terms, not on somebody else’s.
Check Yourself for Scarcity Mindset
- 18:15 Sean: How do you know? If you’re thinking in terms of scarcity, you don’t have a solid foundation. If you’re doing things because you feel like you have to, because someone says, “You have to take on whatever jobs you can get when you start out. You have to work with clients you don’t like. You have to try and write multiple different books and build audiences in different industries to make money. You have to do these things,” and if you feel like if you don’t split your focus, take on this client, and do multiple things, then you can’t pay your bills and you won’t have money to pay rent, that’s scarcity. Scarcity Mindset is that place that you were just describing, Ben. You don’t want to be in that place. That’s the purpose of The Overlap Technique:
Cover your expenses so you have clarity and you can do things in a way that serves your best interests in the long-term.
- 19:24 Not just right now, immediate, this month’s bills, what’s right in front of you—that’s short-term thinking. It’s saying, “I want to survive right now,” and it’s Scarcity Mindset. Resources are scarce, you’re living month to month and paycheck to paycheck, and it’s going to continue that way until you build a foundation. That foundation, when you’re starting out, is the day job, which has to cover 100% of the bills.
- 20:00 If you already have a business and you’re trying to get to the next level, your foundation, whatever it is that brings in recurring revenue, needs to cover 100% of your expenses. The kind of day job you need is one that doesn’t zap your energy when you come home from work. Someone said, “I have a day job, it’s taking all day, it’s taking all of my energy, and then I come home and I have this side thing I want to overlap to, and that takes all of my energy.” They aren’t saying it directly, but I’m wondering—does your day job zap you of the energy you need to pursue this other thing you’re trying to build on the side, that you’re overlapping to, or does it charge you up?
- 21:15 For some people, that is a totally foreign concept. They’re thinking, “What in the world? Of course I don’t come home from my day job charged up.” They think that’s it; that must be how everyone lives, that their day job has to deplete them of that energy, but that’s not true. The problem, in most cases, is that people get that foundation, that day job, in a place that’s kind of what they like to do but not completely, maybe it’s not in a great professional environment, maybe they have to work with people they don’t like, things like that. It’s partially what they like to do, and it’s enough to tame it.
- 21:47 Imagine your favorite dessert with something gross poured in it. That’s almost worse than eating something you hate. At least with that you can say, “Forget that food. I never liked it.” If it’s your favorite dessert that you would have on your birthday and you take a bite and it’s terrible, it ruins the taste. It ruins the passion. When you have a day job that’s partially what you love to do but there’s something about it that you hate—the hours, the way they treat you, the people, your boss, the clients you have to work with, the things they’re telling you that you have to do but you know are wrong, or not professional. Whatever your day job is, that is ruining you. You want to build your freelance design agency on the side on the side? The problem is that you have a day job in the same industry in unprofessional circumstances. Get a day job in a different industry than your passion. This 100% bills covering foundation that you’re building needs to be somewhere that’s not the same industry as your passion.
If you get the right day job, one that’s in a different industry, you can come home and be charged up for your passion.
- 23:50 Imagine if you want to illustrate or something and your job is to mow lawns. If you work somewhere where they tell you, “Draw this line here! Change this, change that,” you’re going to come home and just want to sit on the couch and watch Netflix, feel bad that you didn’t pursue your passion, and you wake up the next morning feeling bad because you hate your job. It’s this terrible recursive thing. If you go mow lawns or wash dishes and then you come home, you’re going to be excited. You’re going to have stories and have ideas to illustrate. It’s going to be fun for you. The right kind of day job will charge you for your passion.
- 24:31 Ben: It can be a mindset thing, too. If it’s a job that’s really horrible, with the wrong kind of mindset, it does zap your energy. You get home thinking, “That was really awful.” Some people take that bitterness they experience and they say, “This is so awful that I have to sit down, focus, and work, because the sooner I can get this side thing up and running, the sooner I don’t have to work at this awful place anymore.” It fuels their energy and their drive, and it becomes something they use rather than something that works against them.
The Right Time
- 25:21 Sean: Sarah says, “My pursuit needs me to focus, but my day job also does. I try to be 50/50, but at some point you need to raise one and lower the other. To what point before having to choose?” We covered the day job situation and not depleting your energy, but there’s multiple ways you could go about this. You could ramp down the day job, bring down your hours, while you ramp up your overlap. Or, in some cases, you don’t have that option because you can’t decrease your hours, so you’ll just have to quit. You’ll have to quit cold turkey, in which case, you have to save up money so you have six months worth of expenses in your bank, or however much leeway you want to give yourself.
- 26:25 Ben: Sarah says, “Finding a day job that covers your bills, doesn’t drain you, and is in a different industry sounds like something you have to be really skilled to land. How do you get such a job while trying to develop your passion?” This is a really good question because I’ve often felt that way while thinking about getting a day job. The amount I have to cover for a job requires the skills I have that I use toward my passion, so I feel this conflict there.
- 27:06 The thing I’m skilled enough to do to make enough money to cover my bills uses the same skills I use for my passion. In that sense, it would make more sense for me to go ahead and take a job using those skills, where it might drain me and I might not have the energy to overlap to something. Instead of trying to work on the side and build that business while I work, I just work and I just save. I save up enough that I can quit cold turkey and get to doing the things I love full-time with six months to a year’s worth of income saved up.
- 27:53 Sean: That is an option. If you have an established business, it could be a similar deal, where you do something. In our case, we launched a course, and instead of spending all that money, we are saving it to cover payroll for a certain amount of time while we focus on projects. We’re dong a similar thing because we’re still trying to build up that recurring revenue. You can save up enough money so you can quit cold turkey and give yourself a runway. If you’re not doing the cold turkey route where you’re just quitting, and you’re trying to ramp down and find the right day job that won’t deplete you but your skills are where you’re the most profitable, it’s going to come down to sacrifice every time. You’re going to have to find out what that is for you.
- 28:49 It’s going to come down to time or money, or some sort of energy that’s hard to put a price figure on. You’ll probably have to take a job that’s not related to your passion, which means you aren’t going to be as skilled, which means that you won’t be able to command as much money. You’re going to make less money, which is where the sacrifice comes in. It either means that you’re going to work more or harder, whatever that looks like, to make up what you need, or you sacrifice some sort of living expense or some nice-to-have thing for a season. It’s a season of sacrifice. The other option is to go into a job that’s kind of what you like to do but kind of what you hate to do, which makes it feel like something bad put in your favorite dessert, and you live that way for the rest of your life.
If you work a bad job in your industry, you sacrifice your quality of life, your passion, your enjoyment, and waking up every day happy.
- 29:57 Or, you can make a sacrifice upfront and say, “I’m going to work hard. I’m going to work long. I’m going to get rid of this fun thing I like to do that I spend some money on to bring down my living expenses.”
- 30:16 Ben: Brookes says, “Do you guys live in a magical area where getting a job is easy?” Think about it this way: set aside the next five years. If you’re listening to this and thinking, “I need to get a day job,” it’s not easy. It’s not easy to get a job in the first place, but also to get a job that meets all of those requirements. The more responsibilities you have, the added complexity there is. Maybe you could make enough money in an industry that doesn’t use your skills if you were working 60 to 80 hours a week, but you don’t have 60 to 80 hours a week because you have kids and responsibilities.
- 31:05 It’s easy to look at all that complexity and say, “That’s not possible for me. I just don’t see it.” I would encourage you to do some digging on your own. Write down all of your skills. Look at alternative industries that use those different skills and see if there are things you aren’t considering here.
- 31:30 Sean: A lot of people are not considering a lot of things. Without realizing it, subconsciously, they’re ruling a lot of things out because, before this podcast, they were thinking, “That’s not what I like to do and that’s not where my skills are.” The day job is purely functional in the overlap. It’s about covering 100% of the bills, building a solid foundation where you’re not worried about how to pay bills, make money, or maybe using your passion to work with a bad client and make some money—that’s all it is. It’s to eliminate that scarcity. It’s okay if your day job is not your specialty as long as you don’t hate it.
- 32:15 If your job is killing you or you hate the people you’re working with, get out. As long as it’s not something you hate, it can be something that isn’t your specialty. It’s just for a season. Like Ben was saying, open it up a little bit. Look at the things you were ruling out, the, “Of course I won’t mow lawns. Of course I won’t wash dishes,” whatever those “of course” things are. This is just for a season, so ask yourself, “What could I do right now?”
- 32:51 Ben: We understand that it’s not this simple thing. When you were 18, graduating from high school, the world was your oyster, and getting a job probably didn’t take a whole lot of time, because you didn’t have to be very picky. You didn’t have as many responsibilities, and your circumstances were really easy. Maybe now, you’re in the position where you’re thinking, “This would have been so much easier if I had done it five or ten years ago.” The question I want you to focus on is, “What am I going to do today?” Don’t think about the past, the choices you should have made, because yes, maybe you could have taken a day job and overlapped for a couple of years and been in a better position by now, but you didn’t.
You’re in the circumstances that you’re in and you have the responsibilities you have.
Deal with where you are today.
- 33:54 Don’t let yourself get into the trap of saying, “Woe is me! Things aren’t the way they should be, and I’m not going to be able to get a job using something outside of my skill set because I have all these responsibilities,” get ten years down the road and have all these regrets. Make a choice today to be creative, be innovative, ask questions, reach outside, network with people, discover some things you didn’t know, because you’re not seeing all the angles.
- 34:31 Sean: Damien was saying that his day job is in video and his freelance is design, but both are staring at a computer screen. He asks, “Are those things not different enough?” Brookes asks him, “Are they similar to you?” He says, “They’re not similar to me, but the fatigue can be similar.” That’s the important thing. I don’t know if he’s just talking about eye stain fatigue or creative energy, but if the fatigue is the same in terms of creative energy, if it depletes the kind of energy you need to pursue your passion after the day job is over, then it’s the wrong day job. You have to get out. That’s the way you know.
- 35:18 I’m not here to define the line and say, “Video is too close to design,” I’m giving you a litmus test. You figure it out. Do you come home from the day job depleted of the kind of energy you need to pursue your passion, or do you come home charged? Only you can know that. Don’t be fooled by saying, “But they’re different industries,” if you know that you come home from one and the energy you need is gone.
There Will Always Be A Leap
No matter how much preparation, saving, or overlap you do, it will always come down to a leap of faith moment.
- 36:05 It’s always going to come down to some kind of leap, some kind of unknown, because there’s no way to know everything. You can’t be certain about all of the details. Eventually, you’re going to have to let go of some last thing and go all in on the next thing. At some point, whether you’ve ramped down your hours to 30 hours, 20 hours, or 15 hours, eventually you have to let go. That is always going to feel like going into the unknown because it is. I want people to know that, at some point, you do have to take that leap. You do have to jump into the unknown because it’s a place you haven’t been before.
- 36:51 Don’t wait until you’re suddenly in a new place and you’ve magically transitioned over. Don’t think, “I haven’t magically transitioned over, I guess there’s nothing for me to do.” You have to take that action. You have to do something and take that leap. No matter how much you’ve overlapped, it is going to be something you’re not familiar with, something unknown. “What about next month? I’m pretty confident that I’ll be okay this month, but what about six months from now? Yes, I saved up six months income, but what about the seventh month?” No matter what the situation is, there’s always an unknown. You have to trust that you’ve put in the right investments and made the right decisions and then, eventually, take that leap.
- 37:41 Ben: There’s still a possibility of falling back into Scarcity Mindset, even where you’ve mitigated some of that risk. Even in a situation where you have a day job, there can be uncertainty and you can fall into that mindset. Having a Scarcity Mindset and making decisions based on the fear that we’re going to be missing out or resources aren’t going to be there is something we actively need to work against in our own minds. I don’t know if this is objective or subjective, but I’m leaning toward subjective, because there are so many things we don’t have control over. There’s only the illusion of control, the illusion of security.
- 38:42 Is the day job really practical, or is it the illusion we need to confront our Scarcity Mindset? It’s practical in the sense that there’s a lot of proof that a day job is going to provide income. That certainty only goes so far, because there are only so many things you have control over. You don’t know all the things that the boss and the owners know. They could be hiring irresponsibly, and from the outside it looks really healthy and good, but then you get in and you find out that it isn’t good at all and you’re going to lose your job next month. It’s good to overlap and it’s good to mitigate that risk as much as possible, but:
The only thing you have control over is how you make your decisions and whether those decisions are going to be based on a Scarcity Mindset or on an Abundance Mindset.
- 39:57 A mindset that things are going to work out, you’ll have what you need, and you’re going to continue working and providing value. I want to make that my focus and still be smart and strategic by overlapping.
- 40:20 Sean: Ben, were you saying earlier that it’s possible to still fall back into Scarcity Mindset even if you’re covering the bills? Maybe you’re at that point where you need to take the leap and you’ve put everything in place, but you’re still hesitant.
- 40:40 Ben: At our worst, we feel anxious about things and we’re looking around at the world and seeing everything falling apart. There are people who have been in jobs for years and go to work every morning feeling afraid that something outside of their control is going to take that security away from them. That mindset is a terrible one to live in.
- 41:11 Sean: What I like about entrepreneurship is that it pulls back the veil on that illusion that there is some kind of security, because there really isn’t. Even if you work somewhere else, you don’t really know. It’s solid enough to give you a foundation to overlap to something, but it’s still not absolutely certain. Anything could happen. The same is true with your own business. It depends on what your business is built around; if your business is built around certain SEO tricks on Google and they make one update that renders your website obsolete and unfindable, now you’re out of business.
- 41:54 One thing in the economy could go wrong that ruins something that supplies a piece of your product and it changes the game for you because that’s your flagship product. Things can always happen. You never know. I like that, as an entrepreneur, we’re face to face with that reality. Like Ben would always say, “Then what?”
- 42:30 Ben: Instead of saying, “What if this happens?” you say, “If this happens, I will…”
The Overlap Technique is a tool, not a source of comfort or security.
- 42:52 There’s a huge difference there. One has to do with how we utilize it in the practical sense; you overlap because there is statistical proof that shows that you can have a steady income from a job most of the time that will allow you the time, energy, and focus you need to build something else. It’s not a certain thing, and that’s why you can’t put your feeling of emotional security in the day job. Your feeling of emotional security has to come from the fact that anything could go wrong at any time, and if it does, you’re going to be okay because you’re a capable person, you know how to recover from those things, you know how to face danger, and you know how to reach out and get the help you need. Focus on building those things and use The Overlap Technique as a strategy, not as a source of comfort.
The Overlap Technique is not the answer to Scarcity Mindset.
The answer to Scarcity Mindset is understanding the reality of what’s going on and facing it.
- 44:15 Sean: We can’t formulaically get rid of it. People can still choose to hold onto it and practice The Overlap Technique. We’re trying to do things strategically so that you don’t fall into that, but Ben is making a good point. We can’t guarantee that you won’t hold onto scarcity; that comes down to you, and The Overlap Technique is a tool at the end of the day.