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We’re getting serious about money today. Business models, cash, client work, day jobs.
You have to get your money right.
No, it’s not about your expenses. It’s that you’re not making money. If you’re MAKING money, expenses are not the problem.
Do you want to save $100 or make $1,000?
We’re going to get your money right today, and we’re going to help you keep your business alive instead of running it into the ground. I want you to be around next year. I don’t want you burnt out and hating your passion.
It starts with money. You must get your money situation right. You must start with money.
Money is not evil. Money is a necessity. You have to have it. We’re not talking about pursuing money for its own sake either.
Money is an enabler of purpose.
If you’re not focused on your money, you don’t actually care about your purpose.
Let’s get real about making money today.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- You’ll never reap the rewards of the long-game if you run out of cash.
- If you don’t have money, your time should be spent making money—not optimizing the money and expenses you have.
- The value of your time spent making money is worth more than what you might save by optimizing.
- Getting a day job is not giving up on your dream.
- If you try to monetize your passion too soon, you will kill it.
- You’ve got to focus on money—everything else is a luxury.
- Figure out who you’re serving—if you’re serving everyone, you’re serving no one.
- You have to normalize big numbers for them to be actualized.
- If what you have right now isn’t producing, it’s not going to fix itself later at scale.
- Money is a multiplier of who you are now.
- Money is an enabler of purpose and if you’re not pursuing money, you don’t care about your purpose.
- If you want to think long-term, you have to earn the right to do so by making money now.
- If you are uncomfortable talking about money, you will always be poor.
- Hard work on the wrong things does you no good. Work hard at the right things in the right order or else it doesn’t matter.
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- 03:35 Sean: I’ve decided to do a series on money. We need to focus on money and we need people to focus on their money, because too many peoples’ money situation is out of wack. It’s not good and they’re not doing purposeful things to fix it. I want to help them, because you have to start with money. You have to get the money situation right and then you can have the clarity to focus on other things. As a business, we weren’t there. This isn’t just me saying that everyone else needs to get their money situation right—I didn’t have my money situation right and that’s why we’re implementing a lot of changes.
- 04:17 Some of them you know about, like decreasing the amount of podcasts we’re putting out. Others you’ll know about later in June. There are some big changes happening to seanwes. All I can say is that now is the time to signup for an annual Community membership. Big things are coming and the price of these things is going to reflect that. Anyone who is an annual member right now will be grandfathered in for life at the current rate, which is absurd considering what’s coming.
- 04:56 I’m only thinking about the next five years too, so that’s not even considering that I don’t know what will happen after that. The reason we’re doing that is because this is just the beginning—we’re just getting started. People who are in the Community are founding members and we want to reward that loyalty. Now is a really great time to be a Community member. If you’ve been hearing about the Community and have put off joining for years, I don’t want you to miss out. Right now is a good time to sign up. That’s just a teaser of the things we’re doing to get our money right.
- 06:10 By the way, if you work with clients, if you want to work with clients, if you’re an expert, or a beginner, you have to get my Value-Based Pricing course. It will help you charge more, do better work than you ever have, and work with the greatest clients. It’s for everyone so check it out. It’s the crash course on making a living with clients. People have been asking me when I’ll take the business stuff I teach in Learn Lettering and make it available for all kinds of creative professionals—this is that course.
- 06:55 Ben: If you’ve got money to invest in your business and you’re thinking about upgrading your computer, software, or equipment, invest in this first. It’s going to unlock the kind of income potential with your clients that’s going to make it really easy to upgrade all that stuff later. Invest in yourself now and it’s going to make a huge impact on the future.
Get Your Money Right
- 07:26 Sean: Basically, we needed to get our money situation right. Too many times in the past year we’ve gotten to the point where we didn’t have that much money. We’ve never run out of money completely, but we have eight people on the team and that’s a pretty substantial payroll. We weren’t making that kind of money every single month and that wasn’t good.
- 07:56 I already work as much as someone with two full-time jobs just to run my business and to have everyone on the team giving away things for free. Even though I was working that much and running the business as we were—which was basically running it into the ground—I then had to work equivalent to another full-time job just to make that money. I was making courses and doing things that made the business money while everyone else was focused on the super long-game.
You’ll never reach the long-game if you run out of cash.
- 08:40 Ben: I think it’s telling that you had to take off a once a week podcast to produce the material for the Value-Based Pricing course. That’s a product of the way the business was operating a year or two years ago. I think this change is timely and will mean great things for seanwes.
- 09:06 Sean: It’s going to be very good. We’re going to be able to keep doing what we’re doing and also be able to reach our long-term goals. I’m working on the side to do the things that make money for the business, because the way I had things structured, the people on the team were doing things that weren’t making us money right now. They were good for the five-year long-term of seanwes. I was the only one doing things that were making us money right now and I’ve been doing this for the last year.
- 09:34 I’m working on things that would produce revenue to keep the business alive. The “business model” we had wasn’t a business model—it didn’t work. Give away so much for free and people like what you do, but how do you stay in business? The plan was for some people to sign up for the Community, but they just really don’t. There’s going to be a lot more compelling reasons for them to do that along with more products, but the problem was I’m the one actually making money, solving problems, creating value people are willing to pay for, and I’m injecting that money into what was our old business model to keep us alive.
- 10:22 I’m burning myself out working the equivalent of three full-time jobs—120 hour weeks. That’s not the life I want to live, that’s the situation I got myself into. I knew I had to figure this out and get an actual business model. As a result of three or four conversations with different people saying similar but different things, and piecing them all together, I realized I had to figure out my money situation.
- 10:55 I hustle really hard and crank out content like nobody’s business. There’s nothing else out there like this from someone at my level—we’re a full blown media company. They said, “I want to see you apply that kind of effort and drive toward getting money in the bank.” I’m fired up on this topic because it’s a lesson I’ve had to learn recently. I think a lot of people need to hear this.
It’s Not About Expenses
- 11:44 This show today is not about creative ways to minimize your expenses. I’m sure you can Google that for some fun ideas for that. Today I’m talking about:
Would you rather save $100 or make $1,000?
- 12:04 Today I’m talking about making the $1,000. I want to help you make $1,000 in the hour you would spend auditing your expenses and lowering your bills $100, because then it doesn’t matter. You’re creating new problems. Then, you have so much money you need to hire an accountant. That’s a way better problem to have. Say your expenses are $200 and it’s extraneous. It should be $100, so you spend an hour getting those expenses down. You keep things tight and now you’re back at square one. You’re still not making more money, you’ve just brought your expenses down.
- 12:52 Instead of doing that, go make $1,000, and then bring your expenses down, and you’ll have $900. I originally did the math wrong and said $800 in the Community chat, but that’s the point. You have so much money that you don’t even miss a $100 bill—that’s where I want you to get. I want you to focus on making the money and getting the money situation right. It’s like if you lived in a walled-in city where water comes through a whole in the wall all the time.
- 13:37 You collect the water from there and one day, less and less water comes through. It’s no longer gushing where people have plenty, it’s just trickling out now and people are shouldering you for their turn. You don’t want to sit down and think about how to ration the very small amount of water that you have. What I want you to do is climb over the wall and unclog the pipe on the other side. Figure out the root of the situation and then have abundance.
- 14:22 Ben: This concept reminds me an article I read recently talking about business optimization. The idea was basically that you have this funnel and you try to get as many people as interested in your product as possible, you optimize the process that gets them there, and finally you get them to the work that you do. What if the focus was on the work that you do, doing your very best work, and making something that people absolutely love? The idea of this article was basically flipping the funnel upside down, because if you’re doing work that people can’t live without, you don’t have to waste time on optimization. Then, you come into the real usefulness of optimization, which is managing something that you already have.
When you already have money is the time to optimize your expenses.
Before you have it, your time is better spent making money.
- 15:34 Sean: You don’t optimize your way into wealth. You don’t A/B test your way into more money. You fix the top end of the funnel. There’s several ways to make more money: increase the number of customers, increase the price, increase the number of transactions per customer, or increase conversions. If you double any one of those, you double your income. If you double multiple of them, it’s exponential. If you fix any part of the top end of the tunnel, money goes up.
- 16:26 Optimizing things is great when you’re huge, have hundreds of employees, and make millions of dollars. That’s when that kind of thing makes a real difference. Your A/B testing might make you $0.06 or it might make you lose $0.06. It might make you not know which is better and it’s going to cost you an hour that could have been spent making $100.
- 16:59 Ben: The value of your time has to be worth more than what you might save by optimizing. I would say it has to be worth enough to maybe get someone else to do that so you can continue focusing on making the money.
- 17:21 Sean: That is getting a little more advanced. I want to start from the beginning, because a lot of people are at the beginning or they’re pretending like they’re advanced and they’re really at the beginning. They’re tethered to a pole and they need to remove the tether before they try to run a marathon. You have to start at the beginning and set your foundation. Make sure you’re not chained down by Scarcity Mindset.
Starting Too Soon On Your Passion
- 17:55 Too many people are starting too soon on the passion. We all have things we love to do, but getting to do what you love to do all day, every day, and have that make the money you need is a luxury. It’s not an automatic thing that happens to everyone. If you’re doing that, then it’s a fortunate position to be in. If you want to get there, you’re not there yet, and you’re frustrated you’re not making the money you want to make and you’re barely making it paycheck to paycheck, you’re starting too soon on the passion.
- 18:39 One of the books I’m writing, Overlap, is about The Overlap Technique, a concept I’ve been talking about since episode one of the podcast. It’s a down to earth, practical guide on getting from a soul-sucking day job to doing work that you love and having it support you. It starts with a foundation—you have to cover your bills. I think the book will be able to expand a lot more on this than I’ve been able to on the podcast, but the simplified version I’ve come up with is: find, protect, invest, monetize.
- 19:30 When it comes to your passion, step one is to find it. We all have ideas of things we want to do, but until we actually do them, we don’t know if we like the process of it. You might like the idea of being a best selling novelist, but you don’t like waking up at 5am to write 10,000 words a day and that’s actually part of the process of it. You have to love the work and the only way you know is by doing. You have to give yourself permission to enter into an exploratory phase. It’s a phase where you’re not pursuing it full time or trying to make a living off it, you’re just trying it. You do the work on nights and weekends and see if you like the actual process of it.
- 20:20 It starts with finding. Once you find something that you like the actual process of, you know it’s something you’re passionate about. The next step is protecting. Most people like to skip over steps two and three and go straight to step four. Step two is protecting, which comes in the form of the day job. The third step is invest, which is where you build up your skills. The fourth step is to monetize—the last thing you do with your passion is make money from it. The last thing you do is make money with clients, products, courses, digital goods, t-shirts, stamps, posters, stickers, buttons, etc. The reason is you’re going to kill the passion.
If you try to monetize it too soon, you will kill your passion.
- 21:22 You have to create the safe space for this passion to grow organically on it’s own. Let it take root and turn into something that can’t be pushed over. If you have a sapling and someone steps on it, it’s done. You have to let it flourish and it’s not going to do that until you build a little fence around it. Animals will come eat it! You have to build a fence around it.
- 22:10 Ben: There’s an influencer I follow and I don’t always agree with everything he says, but he talks strongly about not expecting to make money when pursuing your passion. He says not to do it for money at all, so much to the point where he’s discouraging people from thinking about their passion in those terms. I don’t completely agree with that, but I do agree with getting rid of the romantic ideas you have about pursuing your passion.
- 22:52 A lot of people have romantic ideas about pursuing their passion and quitting their day job to do what they love. I think that’s what this guy is really fighting against, but what’s missing from his message is the reality that if you use the right process—you protect your passion—and you discover that it’s something you’re willing to do day in and day out, then you absolutely can do it for a living. You can’t just sell everything you own and go do it. You could, but that’s not how you get to your best work.
- 23:37 In the chat, Garrett said he’s spent the whole last year in an exploratory phase and maybe he’s still in it. I would argue that you don’t necessarily ever leave the exploratory phase. I think that once you protect your passion and get into it, you’ll focus on one thing that may evolve over time and shift into something else. There are very few people who can say their life is about one single thing and that’s all they do.
“Day Job” Is Not a 4-Letter Word
- 24:18 Sean: The exploratory phase is something you need to set up for yourself. You need to set up the ability to enter into an exploratory phase and that’s something that has to be supported. You can’t just call up your employer and say, “Hey man, I’m going to be exploring my passion and stuff, so if you could just keep sending the check, it’s going to be the same bank account. I’m not going to show up, but I appreciate it.” You can’t do that. You have to make money first, cover your bills, and then you can enter an exploratory phase.
- 25:06 I like this idea of an on-going exploratory phase and if your money situation is right, you can afford to be in an exploratory phase. You can afford to be able to try things. Too many people are on the fast track to killing the passion. We all know people who quit their jobs and “look what happened to them!”
- 25:27 It’s the comic that everyone retweets of a bum on the side of the road with a sign that says, “Pursued my passion.” We’ve all seen it time and again and many of you are on this fast track. You’re going to be that bum with the sign. You pursued your passion but you didn’t protect it. You think you can just grit your teeth and stick this out, but you’re actively killing the passion. When I say the words “day job” people act like I said a four-letter word!
Getting a day job is not giving up on your dream.
- 26:21 A lot of people feel like it’s a step backwards, it’s going in the wrong direction, and it’s keeping them from their passion, but the route they were going was to kill the passion. When you don’t protect that sapling, it’s going to get crushed the first time it encounters animosity or the elements. You have to foster, nourish, and protect it. The protecting comes in the form of the day job.
- 27:00 The day job needs to cover 100% of your bills. Not 80% and doing client work with your passion—why is that? It’s because you have to protect the passion. You have to protect the ability to make uncompromised decisions. You will invite compromise if you don’t have that day job foundation. Compromise comes in the form of prices, the kinds of clients you work with, professionalism, morals, family time, health, etc. If the day job covers 70% of your bills, then you have to make ends meet and take on some clients for your passion on the side.
- 27:56 Whoever wants to give you money, you’re at their mercies and whim. You think you have to take them on because you need that money and that is Scarcity Mindset. We all deal with Scarcity Mindset at every level. There is no amount of money at which you won’t have Scarcity Mindset. Hundreds of thousands, millions, billions of dollars—it doesn’t matter. It will continue to come back and you have to be vigilant to protect yourself against it.
- 28:34 Ben: I really like the sapling metaphor and the idea that your passion isn’t mature enough in the beginning. It’s not as powerful as you’ve been led to believe that it is. I think a lot of people imagine their passion as this huge tree they can lean against—that it’s powerful enough and if they trust it enough, it can take care of them. First of all, that’s not true. I loved what you said about the day job not giving up on your passion.
- 29:17 One of the best things you can do for your passion or for your desire to enter an exploratory phase is to get yourself in a situation where you have to do something other than focusing on your passion. That absence, that longing, becomes the fertilizer that helps the tree take root and grow. The money part we’re talking about today is only part of it. It’s absolutely necessary for your foundation to be in place, but when you take time away from your passion, you’re growing that longing and energy to where, when you’re capable of making that shift, you have this pent-up focus that you can now pour into pursuing your passion.
Start With the Money
- 30:29 Sean: You’ve got to focus on money—everything else is a luxury. Money is necessary to live. You can’t shmooze your electric company into not paying your bill. People want money and you have to get money. People want more money, but they act like it’s evil because they’re scared they won’t be able to get it and that makes them feel better with where they are. I want them to see money as something that’s necessary, not something that’s evil. It doesn’t have to be that you want more money just to get rich.
Money is an enabler of purpose.
- 31:53 Ben: I think people pit money against what they consider a better motivator. They say, “Money is a motivator and my altruistic reason for something is a motivator, and if I’m going to choose between the two, I’m obviously going to choose the thing that’s not money. If money is my only motivator, what does that make me?” Money is not a motivator and I think that’s the shift people need to make. Let’s say you have your reason. I think you feel scared and insecure in your situation, and you believe money is the answer to that. Money might have to be a motivation for a time so you can get yourself to a place where you can truly focus on this other motivation. Money is a means to stop thinking about money.
- 33:13 Sean: It can be. You most likely will end up thinking of it on a different level. Money is relative. Someone in the Community was saying yesterday, “If you’re making money with something, that’s a good sign right?” I said not necessarily. Money is relative. Making $1,000 isn’t a good thing if you should have made $10,000. You’ll have a different relationship with money the more you get of it. You need to get to a place where you don’t see it emotionally or in the units you think in. If you want to get more money, you need to normalize what feels big to you. You’re never going to attain a number that feels big to you. The way to normalize it is repeated exposure.
- 34:29 You have to make this feel normal to you. You have to visualize it and then you’ll actualize it. You have to change the units you think in. Right now, maybe you think in $100 bills. That could be used to buy an Xbox. Maybe you think in $2,000 increments—that’s a MacBook Pro. Maybe you think in terms fo $10,000—a used car—or $50,000, or $200,000 for a house. The biggest building blocks most people can think of is, conceptually, may be a house. The building blocks they use on a daily basis define their base unit. The smaller the blocks you play with, the smaller of a house you’re able to build—the smaller of an income you’re able to build for yourself. You have to think on a bigger level.
You have to normalize big numbers for them to be actualized.
- 35:37 Ben: There’s this really interesting phenomenon that happens, where the more you think about something, the more your brain reinforces that thought pattern. It does that in terms of many things—resources, ideas, etc. One thing that I’m aware of in myself is the unit I think in the most is the monthly unit. I know what the monthly amount is that I need to make. The only problem I’ve been setting in front of my brain is this problem of getting this monthly unit, so the only answers I’m getting are geared toward this monthly unit. That’s not very helpful in the course of a year or a decade. I need to be thinking in terms of bigger units if I want to unlock the resources I need in order to get to those units.
- 36:42 Sean: We’ve talked about thinking in bigger units (Related: e215 10X Your 10X – Thinking Bigger). If you’re only thinking in what you need to make in a month, you’re always going to be struggling to get there. You need to think on a massive level. What if you had to pay nine other people with bills the same size as yours, Ben? I want you to be mindful of the level at which you’re thinking right now.
- 38:03 Ben: Solving that problem requires some kind of delegation because I don’t necessarily have the resources I need myself to achieve that amount.
Figure Out a Business Model
- 39:09 Sean: You recognize you have to think on a delegation level. How do you do this? You start small and you figure out a business model. Cory, what is a business model to you? Give me an example
- 39:28 Cory: It’s a game plan to make money, more or less. You create something and sell it?
- 39:44 Ben: There are other steps involved. You have to create something some one wants or needs. You have to be able to communicate with those people at the time they want or need it. You have to have a way for them to purchase it from you and you have to have a way to deliver it to them.
- 40:08 Sean: To break it down for someone just starting out: you need to figure out who you’re serving. It starts with the people, not the product. A lot of people think it starts with the product. “I’m going to make this thing.” Why? “Well, it would be pretty cool.” Great, now you’re limited to only the people exactly like you who happen to think this thing is cool. Then you have to sell a fraction of them. Don’t start with the product, start with the people.
Figure out who you’re serving.
If you’re serving everyone, you’re serving no one.
- 40:50 Your audience cannot be the entire world. You have to get specific—who is this person you’re serving? What is their problem? What is your solution? What is a pain-point that people have that they’re willing to make go away? Figure that out and come up with a business model. Ben, this is where the delegation part comes in, because you’re going to have to replicate that. Start with a business model, don’t start with, “I’m going to do this and maybe I can find people in the world to give me money.”
- 41:24 You have to figure out the person, the pain-point, and the product. Get that working on a small scale and then start replicating it. Systematize, build in processes, teach people, train people, automate the training, automate the replication, and this thing will literally multiple in front of you like cells. It’s good to manage it in the beginning, but that’s the level at which you would need to operate to take care of the nine other people.
- 42:01 Now, remove all of those people. Why aren’t you operating in that way now? It’s because people don’t think on this level. They think in the units that are right in front of them—in monthly terms, $100 bills, and MacBooks. This is why I’m saying you have to normalize what feels big to you. A lot of people will hear this and they will do nothing, why? They heard me talk about it once and then they moved on. The reason they won’t take action is because there’s not repetition. I’m not going to say that exact same thing every episode so they’re not going to get it.
- 42:48 If you want to normalize something, there has to be repeated exposure. If I called you up every day, Ben, and asked, “How’s the business model going? How are the processes going? How are the systems going? Who are you training? What’s the product? What’s the person? What’s the pain-point? When can I open a franchise of your new business? I’m ready to invest and work for you.”
- 43:21 If I called you every single day, you might actually start to do it, but this is the normalizing process people have to go through. I hope that we help you on this show. I know the Community helps people with this. When they sign in every day and see people talking about this, it helps them think on a bigger level. We talked about the day job earlier because the vast majority of people are starting way too soon. You’re not even to the point where you should be building a business or trying to make money at pursuing your passion.
- 44:03 You need to get the day job situation taken care of first—100% of your bills. Stop operating in Scarcity Mindset. You won’t normalize this unless it’s on repeat. Make money first. I’m talking to my past self here. I didn’t know how to run a business, I got lucky the first few times because I had a business model and solved problems for people by repairing their computers.
- 44:57 I actually made money for clients by building them websites or through custom hand lettering designs they used in advertising campaigns. I just didn’t understand it at a fundamental level, so when I went forward with the current version of seanwes, I wasn’t thinking about money first. I was thinking about money eventually. You can think about money eventually with your passion if you already have money. You have to get that money first and figure out the business model. We didn’t have that.
- 45:47 If you’re playing the long-game prematurely, before you have any money, you’re going to burn out before you see the returns. If you’re planting crops that won’t come for another year and you haven’t figured out how to pay your rent for the land for the next year, you’re going to get kicked out and you no longer get the harvest. You have to focus on the short-term. Let’s say you’ve got a tiny garden and the plants are sickly because you’re not really taking care of them.
- 46:39 They could produce vegetables, but you’re thinking on a big level—you’re going to scale to a big garden. Don’t you think you should figure out how to take care of the plants you have and make sure what you have is working first? You’re thinking about how big the garden will be and that you’ll have sprinkler systems. You’ll sell stuff in bulk and you’ll make tons of money because everyone will hear about your garden. But if you don’t make it to that point, it doesn’t matter.
If what you have right now isn’t producing, it’s not going to fix itself later at scale.
- 47:35 I was doing this. I was thinking I was investing in the long-term and that it would fix itself later at scale, meanwhile we’re scrambling for money and I’m working 120-hour weeks to make money that I inject into a business model that isn’t self sustaining.
- 47:52 Ben: The things you don’t do today aren’t going to be there when you scale. You get big and you’ve got a big farm with lots of sickly plans that no one is going to buy. You’re not going to suddenly start selling or using sickly plants to begin with because they aren’t worth anything to you. Think about that with the whole motivation thing. You’re saying money isn’t your motivation and you want to make a difference in the world with what you’re doing, but if you’re not making a difference in the world now, money isn’t going to change that.
- 48:40 It gives you all the more reason to say, “I’m going to be the version of myself now that I want to be in the future in whatever way I can. I’m going to focus on getting my money right so that as I scale this version of who I am today, it becomes who I want to be in the future.”
- 49:13 Sean: Money is a multiplier of who you are now. You can’t expect to be generous when you have money when you’re not generous with what you have now. You can’t expect to be responsible when you get it when you’re not responsible now. You can’t expect to make wise investments when you get money when you’re not making wise investments now. The really big issue here is focus.
Focus Your Efforts
- 49:44 Focus on the money situation, because you need to see your passion as a luxury you get to pursue when you earn the right to pursue it. The long-game is something you have to earn the right to pursue—a lesson I learned the hard way last year. I wish someone had told me this. Everyone always thinks short-term, so no one thought to correct me going so extremely long-term, but there has to be correction on both ends.
If you want to think long-term, you have to earn the right to do so.
The way you earn the right is by making money now.
- 50:26 You have to start with the money. It begins with the day job but it continues. Let’s say you quite the day job and you’re starting your business, you need to start with money. How do you make money? Pam asks, “When you have limited time to focus on your business (I’m currently overlapping with a day job), how do you balance taking care of clients with growing your business to take it to the next level? I feel like working on my business suffers because I’m working in my business all the time.” The answer is to prioritize cash.
- 51:04 Cash is the lifeblood of your business. Cash affords you the ability to think long-term and grow. You don’t grow without cash. You have to earn the right to think long-term. You need the cash first and then you can grow the business. If you’re focusing on cash right now, it’s not going to work out. You are not a startup in Silicon Valley. You don’t just get to have fun and play games and do whatever you want, and get all the users, because you have millions of dollars in funding and then figure out the monetization later. It’s not like that always works out for them.
- 51:48 These startups burnout all the time because they don’t have a business model. They got a bunch of funding and someone thought, “If it’s so big, it has to make money right? Look at seanwes cranking out content all day—videos, podcasts, articles—it must be working!” It’s not. Don’t make that assumption. Don’t look at someone else and say, “They’re doing it!” They might be actively going out of business and you don’t even know because you’re looking at the outside.
- 52:26 Ben: I’m thinking about Vayner Media, Gary Vaynerchuck‘s platform as a good example of this. He’s focused on making money and being successful in business before he ever came out and started talking about it publicly. Even when he started talking about it publicly, he didn’t really increase his free content offerings. Based on his previous track record, it makes sense that he afforded himself the ability to do that because of the volume of business he was doing through Vayner Media.
- 53:19 Sean: Vayner Media, his client services business, is a catalyst to his longer-term goals. Everyone knowns he’s going to buy the New York Jets, what’s expected to be a $4 billion franchise. That’s his ultimate goal, but a lot of people don’t know that Vayner Media, his boot strapped, didn’t-take-on-funding, client services business that’s doing nine-figures a year in revenue is a catalyst towards his goals, which in the intermediate means buying a major brand. He’s talking about getting the cash to buy a big brand like Nabisco or something similar and disrupt the market. He wants to apply his expertise and thinking at scale on a massive company.
- 54:27 He did an interview recently with Brian Clark on Unemployable and said, “Client services isn’t glamorous, we all know that, but it makes money.” I talk about this all the time! Get clients, make money immediately. Products and teaching are long-term investments. Those are a luxury. You should not be doing products or teaching until you have cash and that means client work. It’s the fastest way to make the cash. You’ve got to make beyond what you need to pay your bills. Get reserves in the bank (Related: e269 How to Have Six Months of Income Saved in the Bank). They’re not investing in long-term things, it’s just doing work and getting money so he can scale rapidly.
- 55:28 He’s got 600 employees and now you’re talking about big money and big brands. He’s got millions of dollars worth of individual projects. All of this is a catalyst to a bigger thing for him. This is a 30-year long-game and he’s spending decades investing in the short-term—the cashflow that’s the catalyst. The one thing I need you to take away from this is focus. Focus on your money first, but also focus your efforts. Focus what you’re about, focus what you’re doing. Take inventory of all the things you’re doing, want to do, what’s on your plate, and what’s on your to-do list. Write all those things out and cross out every single thing but one. If you have 25 things, cross out 24 of them.
- 57:07 Right now it feels like this big wadded up mess. You see all the relations between things and what ends up happening is you just push off the whole wad and you never make progress. You need to make money, you don’t like your day job, you’re not working with great clients, you’re not charging what you should be charging, you’re not pricing on value, and you’re trying to figure things out. Your situation is this big convoluted thing where you’re not really making money, you wish you were pursuing your passion, and you don’t like your day job situation that’s only covering 70% of your bills. You have to reset! Start with the money first.
- 58:09 What is your focus? You like playing piano? Yes. Is it going to make money? No. Put it out. If you don’t care about making money, you like living paycheck to paycheck, not being able to go on the trips you want to go on, you like working 120 hours a week, or not being able to afford a new computer when yours is slow, then don’t listen to this show. I’m going to tell you to get your money right so you can do all of those things and have a good situation! You can’t do all of it at once—cross out everything on your list and focus. What will make you money? What has made you money in the past?
- 59:00 You’ve done things in the past that made you money, what are those things and why did you stop doing them? Do more of those things and commit to it. Say, “This is my focus. Yes, I want to buy the New York Jets. Yes, I want to draw comics. Yes, I want to start my own app firm. Yes, I want to start a web firm. Yes, I want to be a freelancer. Yes, I want to be a traveling blogger. Yes, I want to do food photography. I want that thing so much that I’m willing to say no to it right now to set myself up for success, to where I have the cash and the ability to make good, objective decisions that serve my best interest long-term.”
Money is an enabler of purpose and if you’re not pursuing money, you don’t care about your purpose.
- 59:54 Even altruistic ventures or nonprofits—everything costs money. It costs money to donate to charity. It costs money for the charities to send people to give people food. Altruistic visions can be served by getting your money situation right. It is selfish for you not to get your money situation right. Continuing to do this thing when your day job is not covering your bills is not how it should be. It is selfish for you to do that.
- 1:00:54 Pursuing your passion right now when you have no business doing it, when you haven’t set yourself up for a foundation of success, is burning the candle at both ends. You’re working tons of hours and your spouse is sad you don’t spend time with them—it’s selfish. I’ve been selfish. Imagine a figure that you could make in a year and multiply it by 10. That amount of money is sitting in the bank, now think about the kind of great work you could do and the work you could put out into the world.
- 1:01:32 Think about the people you could help. You are robbing the world of that by how you’re operating right now. That’s what helped me make the switch. I was ok doing a disservice to myself. We’re all martyrs here. We get ourselves fixed on a goal and once we’re convinced that what we’re doing is the right way to get there, we just do it. If it’s hard, it’s hard, but the wrong kind of hard work is not worth doing and it’s not going to get you anywhere.
Work hard at the right things in the right order or else it doesn’t matter.
- 1:02:18 I didn’t mind doing a disservice to myself. I know it sucks for me, it’s hard for me, it’s stressful not having my money situation right, and staying up late at night thinking about how I’m going to pay people or myself. I’m creative. I know that if everything as it is went down, I still have my two hands and a willingness to work hard and I’m going to figure it out. I was willing to do that. I was willing to sacrifice myself to keep doing this thing and I think a lot of us are.
- 1:02:55 Where the problem comes in is when we’re not doing this in a purposeful, intentional way that’s focused on money first because money is an enabler of purpose. If it’s not focused on money first, it’s not going to work. When I realized I wasn’t just doing myself a disservice, but I was doing everybody else I could reach and help a disservice, that’s when I realized it was time to change.
Get Comfortable Talking About Money
- 1:03:28 Ben: I was thinking about the idea of stewardship on the way over here. I think for people who feel uncomfortable with money or villianize it, I think they believe that when money comes into their hands that they need to grab a hold of it, but really money, value, or gifts are all meant to pass through you. The stewardship part of it is basically how you send it back out. Sometimes how you send it back out looks like keeping some for yourself, letting it grow, investing it the right way, saving where you need to, and getting yourself to a position where, as those resources pass through, you’re able to multiply them and do so much more with them.
- 1:04:27 That’s why I think it’s good not to think of money or any resources as something that you hold onto and keep for yourself. Think of it as something you’re going to put back out into the world and how you do that is of the utmost importance. If you think about it that way, the fear of not having enough money is going to go away. Resources will come to people who know how to use them correctly. If you focus on how you’re going to use them correctly and how to create the most value, resources will come to you.
- 1:05:11 Sean: I like the objective nature of stewardship. If you are hired to manage someone else’s money, you’re pretty objective about it. It would be your job to make sure the right things are done with it and it’s not wasted because you’re a steward. You’re not emotionally tied to it and that’s how you want to see your own money. I think if right now you’re emotionally tied to the idea of getting a bunch of money, it’s not going to be very easy for you to get it. You’re going to get it as a byproduct of focusing on what matters, which is your purpose at it’s core, but also getting the money situation right.
Money will come as a byproduct of normalizing an amount 10 times bigger.
- 1:06:08 You’re going to get a million dollars because you’re aiming for $10 million. You think in million dollar units. Most people who make millions of dollars, when they get to $1 million or $10 million, it’s not the kind of celebration that most people imagine. Most people think, “If I had a million dollars, it would be crazy! I’d spend the first $100,000 on a party because we made it to a million,” but you wouldn’t. You get there as a byproduct of thinking in bigger units.
- 1:06:46 Ben: I started reading a sample of The 10X Rule.
- 06:55 Sean: It’s the best book out there. I don’t regularly recommend books but I recommend that one.
- 1:07:08 Ben: It’s really good so far and the thing that’s very fresh in my mind is this idea that there’s a difference between content and being satisfied that people misunderstand or struggle with when it comes to money. The idea that Grant was trying to convey is that going for that million dollars and then getting there and going for $10 million, then $100 million, then $1 billion is not you being greedy, trying to get more for yourself.
- 1:07:43 On the road to getting there, you realize the more that comes to you, the more you can give because you figured it out early on and you understand how money works. You understand the value of money and it scales when you get that early on, then it becomes about how you can get more money so you can create more value.
- 1:08:42 Sean: Grant considers it his duty to be successful. It’s your duty to take care of your kids and there’s no question. That’s the way he thinks of it. To him, it is unethical not to reach his full potential. He says, “It’s not about greed. It’s that I personally believe it’s unethical for me to sit around and not reach what my full potential is.”
- 1:09:19 Ben: The pursuit of your full potential becomes this thing that doesn’t have an end. It’s not like you wake up one morning and you think you’ve reached your full potential, because you can always grow and increase. That’s what he was saying about not being satisfied. As soon as you start feeling complacent, that’s when you start going backwards.
- 1:09:50 Sean: You were saying a lot of people aren’t comfortable talking about money, but you have to be comfortable talking about money. You have to be comfortable talking about money with your spouse, your family, and your friends. Is there any question in anyone’s mind that I’m going to be a millionaire? Everyone in my life knows and I talk about money with everyone in my life. You need to get comfortable talking about money. You must normalize this.
If you are uncomfortable talking about money, you will always be poor.
- 1:10:45 Why do you ostracize, pushaway, hide, and obscure this thing that you also say that you want? It doesn’t make sense. The money is out there and you have to go get it. You need to talk about it. You need everyone on board. People need to know your goals and you need to communicate them every single day. I need to do a better job communicating my goals with my team. My goal is for seanwes to be the place to go to learn about business, pricing, marketing, launching a course, email marketing, writing, finances, accounting, and the planning surrounding business.
- 1:11:51 We are building a library—a university—of training for people to go to and know this is quality from people who have values and principles—that’s what I’m building here. I maybe communicate my goals once a week, but I need to do it every day. You need to do it every day. Every person in your life that you care about needs to know what your goals are. Where are you going? If people are not on board 100% with your goals, they are taking you further away from them.
- 1:12:27 Ben: A lot of people don’t even talk to themselves about their goals every day. We’re calling you to step up. You need to be so certain of your goals that talking about it to other people every day is just a natural biproduct of how much you believe in it. You can’t get there unless you’re putting it in front of yourself multiple times a day.
Exploring New Strategies
- 1:13:45 Sean: Femke asks, “How do you know when it’s time to pivot your strategy and explore other avenues for making money? How close to bottom line do you let yourself get before it’s time to consider other strategies?” This seems like it’s coming from an angle like, “I’m trying a bunch of things to see if they hopefully make money. At what point do you say, ‘This isn’t working, I’m going to try something else?'” I think the issue with this approach is that it’s not starting with the money.
- 1:14:16 You have to work backwards from the problem and the person you’re trying to reach. What is the business model? Start with the money first. Don’t start with doing something because you feel like it and then maybe you’ll make money, and how long should you go until you realize this isn’t going to make money? You have to start with the money.
- 1:14:40 Ben: When I hear that question, I think of being in a day job, saving up money, or I’m at least exploring something. It depends on what phase you’re in. To simplify it, it’s like having a day job and six months of income in the bank. Think of that as zero—the starting point. Once you’re there, you can start exploring things on the side. You have to have that baseline first and then as you’re exploring things, you’ve got to spend time building that and allowing it to grow under this protection of this foundation you’ve established. Once it reaches the maturity level to allow you to jump off that foundation, then you make the shift.
When Should I Get an Accountant?
- 1:15:41 Sean: Deni says, “I’m horrible with numbers so is getting an accountant smart to help prioritize where money coming in should be going? If yes, at what point should one consider getting an accountant to help with that money coming in? Should it be before things are rolling or after there’s a considerable amount?” Obviously, if you’ve got a bunch of money coming, you need an accountant, but what about before? An accountant will cost you money and if you don’t have money, it’s going to be hard to hire an accountant, but where should that priority be? I made $50,000, then $100,000, then $300,000, then $430,000 over the last few years.
- 1:16:42 I was doubling for a while there and I was really disappointed that last year I didn’t double. The business should be making $700,000, why didn’t I double? I had two conflicting goals this year: doubling my income and producing a bunch of stuff and give it away for free. Turns out those aren’t compatible so it’s not a surprise our growth tapered off. We made a lot of long-term investments, which thankfully, since we’re getting our money situation right now, we’ll be around to reap the benefits of. We’re going to be in a good place. To answer this question, I wanted you to see the trajectory so you see what the growth looks like. When I made $50,000 in a year and I was ready to start my next business, I anticipated things would be growing.
- 1:17:50 At the time I had two businesses and the beginning of seanwes six years ago. I had just gotten married, I had a computer repair business with a hired guy to do the work, a partnership web firm, freelance hand lettering, and my wife’s income. At that point I realized I had outgrown TurboTax and I needed to get serious about handling it. I decided to hire an accountant, not necessarily because I planned on being a huge company and needed a dedicated accounting person, it was just realizing I had outgrown that point. I was really glad I did it at that point because it ended up costing me about $800. I think the reason I was most glad I did that is because they asked me this one question that was worth the $800: what are you going to make next year?
- 1:19:02 They were just trying to do their job. There’s quarterly estimated payments and projections so they needed to know what I would make next year. Nobody had ever asked me that in my entire life. Most people listening have never been asked that or considered it themselves beyond, “I hope I get a 2% raise.” People don’t think beyond that or long-term. It was March so I didn’t even know what I was going to make that year, much less the next year. It was a shift for me. When they asked me that, I basically predicted doubling each year and I went from $50,000 to $100,000 and $100,000 to $300,000. I’m not saying predicting that was why it happened, but it was a shift for me. I delegated this task and they asked me to make predictions. In retrospect, I realized that’s when I was really acting like a CEO.
- 1:20:31 I shouldn’t be doing the taxes on my business, I should be making more money. Stop saving $100 and start marking $1,000—that’s how you have to be thinking. For me, an accountant was a good investment. Now, I pay them thousands a year. They’re much older than me or even my parents and they’re always saying how proud they are of me and the growth of the business. They saw me start this business. It made sense for me to hire an accountant before the money was rolling in because it helped me transition into it, focus on the right things, and it helped me think long-term.