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EXECUTION Built 100k business in 5 months. Now stuck.

Jakeeck

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Hey guys!

I have kind of a unique story so I'll cliff it:

- Graduated college in 2014, read TMF and dropped the corporate job I had lined up

- Move to Phoenix with no plan, "supported" myself for 4 years with freelance writing
-I put supported in quotes because I put myself 40k in debt by the end (CC's and money owed to dad) I had several deep depressions and mental breakdowns in this time where I did nothing for months at a time.
-Fast forward to April of this year. I got my act together and started to build a freelance copywriting business. Was making a few grand a month.

- June I decided to move out of my apartment in Phoenix and I've now been traveling the country in a campervan to eliminate all distractions, lower my living costs and just do something different than live in an apartment where I was depressed for a large portion of time.

- I've now built the business to a 12-15k/mo revenue. I have 2 part-time employees, one is my VA who does whatever I need and one is my main copywriter. My take home is between 8-10k.

The problem: I'm now at a point where I'm at my full personal workload capacity, which isn't very high in the first place. I'm not one of those "born for this" entrepreneurs who can put in 10+ hour days. I'd have a mental breakdown doing that. I'd say I put in about 5-6 hours of high-quality work every day, including weekends.

So what I need is advice on finding someone to help me grow my business, and I don't really know where to start. Business consultant? Marketing strategist? I know how to grow (lack of time and stress tolerance keeps me from executing), but ideally I'd like to find someone who needs no direction and can just grow my business for me.

My budget would be 2-3k/mo. (A solid chunk of my earnings is going to paying off my aforementioned 40k debt)

I'm still at 32k in debt, so I need to balance paying that off and having a set amount to reinvest in my business as well.

As mentioned, I live in a van with just my dog so my expenses are quite low.

I spend more than I should on food because it's one of my few sources of joy out here (600/mo roughly)
Gas - 200/mo
CC interest payments - 600ish now.

So I'd say in the $1,700-2k range when all is said and done.

The good:

I've found my strength.

My mental breakdowns before were from having to write. It's so hard for me to focus on one thing and be creative all day, so now that I've outsourced all my writing, the stress is much lower.

My strength is in multi-tasking and growing the business, and I'm really good at selling myself and dealing with people even though I don't particularly like to. I'm good at keeping the wheels from falling off and managing a bunch of things at once. It feels like higher-paced, more action. I consider my personality to be like Gary Vee in that I need constant stimulation, but I of course don't have his insane work ethic.

This is getting long-winded now. I'm just looking for advice on where to go from here. I now have the money to leverage the expertise of others to grow my business while I continue to focus on the workload that I can currently handle.

Thoughts, advice?

Thank you!

Jake
 

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GoGetter24

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Could you lay out what you spend most of your time doing, plus how much you like doing that thing, and what its effective payoff is.

E.g. 10 hour day
3 hours: communicating with staff, like, worth ~40/hr
3 hours: selling to clients, dislike, worth ~60/hr
4 hours: writing content, like, worth ~20/hr
4 hours: accounting stuff, dislike, worth ~20/hr
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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Could you lay out what you spend most of your time doing, plus how much you like doing that thing, and what its effective payoff is.

E.g. 10 hour day
3 hours: communicating with staff, like, worth ~40/hr
3 hours: selling to clients, dislike, worth ~60/hr
4 hours: writing content, like, worth ~20/hr
4 hours: accounting stuff, dislike, worth ~20/hr
Typical day looks like this, from 9am to 8pm:

2-3 hours: Answer prospect inquiries/draw up quote and make the sale - dislike.

I have my VA do as much as possible. The barrier: I need someone to answer inquiries as they come up, which is unrealistic to ask of an employee, but also critical to my business because people want things yesterday, PLUS I have to sell to them before they lose that flame of motivation on their new idea (I work with a lot of startups).

I attribute a lot of my success to being available to prospects and clients within minutes.

1-2 hours: Editing work from main copywriter - dislike.

The barrier: Finding someone who will edit with as much care as I do for a price that makes sense for me. Also, I give my clients quick turnarounds so I would need a very available, skilled editor.

1-2 hours: Crushing big opportunities - LOVE.

Despite what I said in the initial paragraph about selling, I love selling myself to high-profile, high-potential clients to grow the business. I really love building the business in general I guess, and also managing my employees. I feel like I'm an amazing boss if I'm being 100% honest.

This is making me realize that I'm trying to outsource the one thing I like about my job, which isn't good.

It's hard to put an hourly on each one of these, but I know for sure that editing is the worst use of my time. It causes me to procrastinate because like I said I have a hard time focusing, and then it's also the thing that I perceive as the easiest to outsource, though still challenging.
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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Why not just do what you did to get clients and hire more copywriters to do the work?

You just manage. Let the VA do the small details.
All the work is already taken care of by copywriters.

My VA is only available 5 hrs a day M-F, and I get prospect inquiries at all hours of the day because it's global. I usually wake up to 3-5 inquiries/day from people on the other side of the world. And the weekends don't slow down either because I work with a lot of entrepreneurs working on their startups.

So basically my main problem is having to be available at all hours of the day. That's something I can't outsource because I can't expect my employees to not have a life.
 

Tom.V

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I'm in a similar boat currently. 1 full time employee, a few sales guys, bringing on full time employee #2 and VA in next few weeks, have a few prospective sales directors in talks with.

The key from here is systemize EVERYTHING. Sometimes that requires taking a few steps back to keep moving forward with no hiccups.

Sales processes? Systemize.
Lead nurturing? Systemize.
Editing process? Systemize.

Once the systems are in place, do one of two things. Try to hire these people yourself, or consider bringing on a potential hiring manager or someone with tons of experience vetting potential applicants. Sometimes personalities don't mesh with certain jobs and roles. Sometimes (in my experience) you'll leave out crucial questions in the interview process and hire the completely wrong people for the job.

But the hiring process for a growing human resource system such as this needs to be as effective and as efficient as possible. Hiring is expensive, time consuming, and stressful. If you're going to do it, always try to do it right the first time, or else.

End of the day, all of the little things you think only you can do, others can do and can probably do it better than you. It's a limiting belief to think otherwise.

Do you want a business 100% dependent upon you and your time, or do you want to build a big badass beast of a business that can run 100%, 24/7, 365 without you?
 

Destiny Warrior

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Here are a few third party outsources I used for my consulting business when I had to take time off to publish my book Upgrade 100% the Best You in 100 Days

1 . Fivver site quality freelancers for five bucks and up for projects
2. Temp agencies
3. Freelance sites
4. College interns
5. Unemployment agency
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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I'm in a similar boat currently. 1 full time employee, a few sales guys, bringing on full time employee #2 and VA in next few weeks, have a few prospective sales directors in talks with.

The key from here is systemize EVERYTHING. Sometimes that requires taking a few steps back to keep moving forward with no hiccups.

Sales processes? Systemize.
Lead nurturing? Systemize.
Editing process? Systemize.
You're 100% right. Thank you for forcing me to think about it again. I really need to develop checklists/guides for these things so that almost anyone can just plug in and do them.

I think editing should be where I start. I can make a guide that will tell my editor what to look for and then include a few resources for them to use for each specific project to help them optimize the copy.
 

DVU

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All the work is already taken care of by copywriters.

My VA is only available 5 hrs a day M-F, and I get prospect inquiries at all hours of the day because it's global. I usually wake up to 3-5 inquiries/day from people on the other side of the world. And the weekends don't slow down either because I work with a lot of entrepreneurs working on their startups.

So basically my main problem is having to be available at all hours of the day. That's something I can't outsource because I can't expect my employees to not have a life.
Hire 2 VAs, one from each side of the world so you re covered most of the day?
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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Hire 2 VAs, one from each side of the world so you re covered most of the day?
The issue I have there is that I would need a VA who can speak professional English without costing too much.

My current VA is U.S. based because I need someone to speak perfect, professional English. And I even have trouble having her handle client consultations/quote builds because you have to be an experience copywriter to know what to look for and tell the client, "you need this, this and this."

And then each client is so different that it's hard to systematize. My current VA asks me a lot of questions to be able to provide effective consultations and quotes.

So I guess again it's a matter of me working hard to create a system in which my VAs can write up effective consultations and quotes whilst sounding like they know what they are talking about.

Thank you for bringing the issue up!
 

Xavier X

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The issue I have there is that I would need a VA who can speak professional English without costing too much.

My current VA is U.S. based because I need someone to speak perfect, professional English. And I even have trouble having her handle client consultations/quote builds because you have to be an experience copywriter to know what to look for and tell the client, "you need this, this and this."

And then each client is so different that it's hard to systematize. My current VA asks me a lot of questions to be able to provide effective consultations and quotes.

So I guess again it's a matter of me working hard to create a system in which my VAs can write up effective consultations and quotes whilst sounding like they know what they are talking about.

Thank you for bringing the issue up!
Hire a VA in Australia or New Zealand. That effectively covers both the time difference and the native English speaker angle.
 

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GoGetter24

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The issue I have there is that I would need a VA who can speak professional English without costing too much.
Use Filipino women then. That solves that problem easily, timezone and language ability and price. To many people they just sound kind of like Canadians.

2-3 hours: Answer prospect inquiries/draw up quote and make the sale - dislike.
Sounds like a software solution. You could hire someone to make some scripts or to find some existing tools/services to automate much of this.
Also sounds like FAQs would help if they keep asking specific questions.

1-2 hours: Editing work from main copywriter - dislike.
This should go down over time as you give them exact feedback on what you're looking for.
 

Almantas

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Don't have solid answers for you, so will keep my mouth shut. Anyways, sending my remaining rep bank, because you rock! Raising back from depression and living in a van with a dog - I call this a win already!
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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Sounds like a software solution. You could hire someone to make some scripts or to find some existing tools/services to automate much of this.
Also sounds like FAQs would help if they keep asking specific questions.
I was unaware of Filipino language ability. Thanks for that.

For context on what it looks like for me to make a sale, here's what it is:

Hi Josh, I just had a look. What I noticed right away with your draft is that you're not connecting with the readers pain points right off the bat. You want to hook them with their main concerns, you know? They are coming to your website for a reason, because they have a problem, and you have to immediately address those problems so they know you understand and then you have to pose yourself as the solution to those problems.

I can condense all the main points and benefits and connect with their pain points within 300 words, and I can do it in the attractive format similar to your competitors, but the difference will be that my writing would be much more creative and compelling than theirs.

As for the about me page, it's making the mistake that most about me and about us pages make, and that's talking way too much about yourself. You have to do that a little bit to establish credibility but the main goal is to continue relaying benefits in a you-oriented style. People don't really care about you, they care about what you can do for them. It's also much too long. I would like to rewrite it to stay within the 250 word range and broken up into smaller chunks of text.

That would come to 550 words, for which I charge $X. If all sounds good to you, let me know and we can proceed with a contract. If and when we get started, I will send over a questionnaire I've designed that will help me write more targeted copy for you. Here are a couple examples of some coaches that I've written for in the past:

This one is a separate sales landing page: https://docs.google.com/documen...............

Here is web content for another life coach: https://docs.google.com/docu.............

And then even before all that, there's a good amount of back and forth where I need to ask questions to learn about their company and needs. I really don't think software could accomplish this effectively.

Don't have solid answers for you, so will keep my mouth shut. Anyways, sending my remaining rep bank, because you rock! Raising back from depression and living in a van with a dog - I call this a win already!
Thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate it :)
 

kelvinfernandezm

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I would love to help you grow your business in any way possible. I do copywriting on upwork too. If you're interested DM me to see if I'm the right fit. I'll tell you more about my schedule and you can tell me more about what direction you want to take your business.
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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Ever thought of selling it?
Yes, but I think it's too early. I think even with my limited work capacity, I can turn it into a quarter million dollar business by this time next year.

Plus, I wouldn't know what to get into after I sell it.
 

GoGetter24

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Solid copy. Anything you can do to reduce back and forths, make it approach "1 conversation ending in sale", is the aim. Dan Lok has good videos on this.

You'd be aiming to find patterns in your required text work. For instance, if that paragraph about the "about section" is common, you'd make a template for it. Same for the price & example bit. You'd also count how many times you read over it. Ideally you'd type (or template-insert) it out perfectly once without reading, like a typewriter.

Keep pressure in that direction and the hours will come down.
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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Solid copy. Anything you can do to reduce back and forths, make it approach "1 conversation ending in sale", is the aim. Dan Lok has good videos on this.

You'd be aiming to find patterns in your required text work. For instance, if that paragraph about the "about section" is common, you'd make a template for it. Same for the price & example bit. You'd also count how many times you read over it. Ideally you'd type (or template-insert) it out perfectly once without reading, like a typewriter.

Keep pressure in that direction and the hours will come down.
Yeah a lot of what I wrote in there is pretty common I suppose. I could probably create some kind of template where I just need to plug in a few things to tailor it to their specific business.

Thanks for the info I will check him out!
 

AgainstAllOdds

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2-3 hours: Answer prospect inquiries/draw up quote and make the sale - dislike.

I have my VA do as much as possible. The barrier: I need someone to answer inquiries as they come up, which is unrealistic to ask of an employee, but also critical to my business because people want things yesterday, PLUS I have to sell to them before they lose that flame of motivation on their new idea (I work with a lot of startups).

I attribute a lot of my success to being available to prospects and clients within minutes.
Hire another VA in another timezone.
 

DVU

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The issue I have there is that I would need a VA who can speak professional English without costing too much.

My current VA is U.S. based because I need someone to speak perfect, professional English. And I even have trouble having her handle client consultations/quote builds because you have to be an experience copywriter to know what to look for and tell the client, "you need this, this and this."

And then each client is so different that it's hard to systematize. My current VA asks me a lot of questions to be able to provide effective consultations and quotes.

So I guess again it's a matter of me working hard to create a system in which my VAs can write up effective consultations and quotes whilst sounding like they know what they are talking about.

Thank you for bringing the issue up!
Seems like you have trouble trusting people.

You are looking for someone to come in and be able to everything perfectly from day 1. That's not gonna happen. At least not for what you are currently paying them.

Find someone who is willing to learn, work closely with them and teach them the ropes. They will F*ck up in the beginning, make mistakes, miss deals, but if you find the right person and persist, it will pay off in the long run. It just depends on how determined you are to make the thing work.

It's better to try and fire them after 2-3 months than to wonder "what if" and do nothing.
 

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André Casal

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Hey Jake, I think the best possible thing you can do is find a good personal coach. If you have the money, a good coach will catapult you to the stratosphere in your personal and business development.

Good luck bud, we've all been there with depression. I'm glad you're doing better :)
 

Pat D. Rick

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DUDE! Yesterday I set up my own Fiverr account and I wasn't really sure what it should look like.
So I searched for the best copy writers and your profile popped up first (so thanks for the inspiration).
Now I oppended this thread out of curiosity and find you again. How funny is that?

Maybe you can teach me a bit as I'm just starting myself :)
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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DUDE! Yesterday I set up my own Fiverr account and I wasn't really sure what it should look like.
So I searched for the best copy writers and your profile popped up first (so thanks for the inspiration).
Now I oppended this thread out of curiosity and find you again. How funny is that?

Maybe you can teach me a bit as I'm just starting myself :)
That's crazy! I had another crazy coincidence today too with someone else.. very strange. PM me and I'll give you some pointers.

Anyway, in regards to continuation of the thread, I think a large part of my problem is having 0 social life.

I was just in Williams AZ and I was just hanging out in the woods by myself working and was like... "I need to be social and surround myself with likeminded people"

Then I remembered I had a dog and was like dammit.. I feel limited. Then I kind of jokingly googled dog-friendly co-working spaces and Denver has like 10 of them!

So I immediately started up the van, drove 12 hours to Denver and toured 4 coworking places and finally settled on one yesterday. Love it here. Dog hanging out with me at the office and I'm around a bunch of cool people.

And there's local beer on tap 24/7!

So feeling pretty good about everything right now. I feel like my work capacity has gone up significantly just being here.
 

LittleWolfie

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Hire a VA in Australia or New Zealand. That effectively covers both the time difference and the native English speaker angle.
England(UK) is also an excellent location for finding native English speakers to work for you. One VA in AUS, (or in Manilla, which I believe is on a similar time zone)one in USA, and one in UK can give you an excellent round the clock availability.



Jakeeck member: 24278 said:
Thoughts, advice?


I attribute a lot of my success to being available to prospects and clients within minutes.
Perhaps you just need people to act as receptionists and take calls while you are unavailable.

Jakeeck member: 24278 said:

1-2 hours: Editing work from main copywriter - dislike.

The barrier: Finding someone who will edit with as much care as I do for a price that makes sense for me. Also, I give my clients quick turnarounds so I would need a very available, skilled editor.

.
Have you thought about a piecework arrangement with an editor, so that skilled editors get a better hourly rate and thus care more, perhaps add in a profit share? Or perhaps they would love to be mentored by you in exchange for lower pay?
I would love to see the style guide and an unedited piece of work, if your willing to share. I think you should figure out what kind of price makes sense to you first.

Jakeeck member: 24278 said:
And then even before all that, there's a good amount of back and forth where I need to ask questions to learn about their company and needs. I really don't think software could accomplish this effectively.
A number of companies use chatbots to accomplish this. Do you have a FAQ or set of regular questions that a bot could run through as a pre-screen?


Jakeeck member: 24278 said:

The barrier: I need someone to answer inquiries as they come up, which is unrealistic to ask of an employee, but also critical to my business because people want things yesterday, PLUS I have to sell to them before they lose that flame of motivation on their new idea (I work with a lot of startups)
Does someone actually need to be there, or do you only need to give the client the appearance of someone being there. Would being on "hold" improve the situation to the client compared to as of now?

Can you do a similar breakdown for your employees day? If there is something there, that is easier to automate then you can look at pushing more tasks to them.

This is less fastlane, however I managed to get 10k of debt wiped off by my creditors. How much would a similar reduction help you? What % interest are you on with your current cards?
 

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@Jakeeck

Congratulations on your success so far, you've definitely started something worthwhile here.

Reading through this thread, it seems like to me that you want to be leading the team and being a part of the bigger, more lucrative deals that come your way.

In order to do that you are going to have to trust your team to take care of all those day to day tasks that are just filling up your time and not allowing you to progress forward.

Also, it does seem that you want to have that balance in your lifestyle and not just work 24/7.

@Tom.V could definitely give you some insight on his work/life balance as he seems to have nailed that one out of the park.
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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I'm going to use this thread as a bit of therapy for myself and I'll try to provide some value along the way.

Things are moving forward but I must admit, the stress has been absurd the past week and something happened today that almost tips the scale so I'm here to blow off some steam.

I'm way too hard on myself for mistakes/letting people down.

I think this is part of what has made my business a success so far, but it's also why I'm stressed beyond belief almost every day.

It feels like I can't turn it off. I even dream about clients not liking the work and telling me to F*ck off.

Today, one of my writers made an honest mistake in writing for a big client. THEY (the big client) lost the account because of it, and while they have been really kind in telling me "it's ok, mistakes happen" I feel F*cking terrible about it and can't get it off my mind. It makes me want to curl into a ball and give up for the day.

But logically I know that's ridiculous. And I know logically the best way to handle this is brush it off and get going on everything else I need to do today.

Why does that feel so hard, even when I know logically it's the best way to proceed? Why can't I just forget about even when I know nothing good comes from agonizing over it?

Maybe it's because I tell myself "don't think about it" and what's the first thing that happens when someone says "don't think of a red elephant"? You think of a red elephant.

So I've got to stop telling myself to stop thinking about it and instead put all of my focus into the task at hand and let it naturally fade into the background.

As far as the business goes, everything is going overall well. I've hired someone to do some prospecting for me on Linkedin. I recently got the job writing for Conor McGregor's new clothing line, so I'm going to try and utilize that to its utmost potential and have him prospect fashion companies in Ireland, since Conor is a god there.

We'll see what happens.

I also started meditating again a few days ago and it has really helped, but I get discouraged when something still stresses me out this much and can ruin my attitude for the day. But it's silly to expect a major transformation after only a few days back to meditating.

If anyone is reading this and has any advice/comments, I really appreciate it, and thanks for reading.
 

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There's a distinction between Perfection vs Excellence.

Through the lens of Perfectionism, you agonize and curl over when something didn't go as well as you expected or wanted it to go.

Through the lens of Excellence, you take the path of mastery. Mastery requires you to fail, over and over again, until you get it right.

It's just an inner stance you adopt. You might be beating yourself up because possibly you adopted the (completely irrational) lens of a perfectionist.

This tension that lets you curl up into a ball is energy that's trapped inside of you. What if you used that energy in your favor, and asked a better question? For example "Why does that feel so hard?" vs "How can I use my tremendous commitment to my clients in SERVICE to them, given this situation?"

Let me know if that helps.
 
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Jakeeck

Jakeeck

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There's a distinction between Perfection vs Excellence.

Through the lens of Perfectionism, you agonize and curl over when something didn't go as well as you expected or wanted it to go.

Through the lens of Excellence, you take the path of mastery. Mastery requires you to fail, over and over again, until you get it right.

It's just an inner stance you adopt. You might be beating yourself up because possibly you adopted the (completely irrational) lens of a perfectionist.

This tension that lets you curl up into a ball is energy that's trapped inside of you. What if you used that energy in your favor, and asked a better question? For example "Why does that feel so hard?" vs "How can I use my tremendous commitment to my clients in SERVICE to them, given this situation?"

Let me know if that helps.
That's definitely the issue. It's perfectionism. There's a conflict within my mind regarding it. I see it as a good thing because even if I don't reach perfection, I'm far above what most others are doing, but then at the same time, I know it's the source of my stress.

Excellence is a great way of looking at it, and seeing failures as a journey to excellence is a great way of reframing it that I'll start practicing. Thank you!
 

Tom.V

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San Juan
I'm going to use this thread as a bit of therapy for myself and I'll try to provide some value along the way.

Things are moving forward but I must admit, the stress has been absurd the past week and something happened today that almost tips the scale so I'm here to blow off some steam.

I'm way too hard on myself for mistakes/letting people down.

I think this is part of what has made my business a success so far, but it's also why I'm stressed beyond belief almost every day.

It feels like I can't turn it off. I even dream about clients not liking the work and telling me to f*ck off.

Today, one of my writers made an honest mistake in writing for a big client. THEY (the big client) lost the account because of it, and while they have been really kind in telling me "it's ok, mistakes happen" I feel f*cking terrible about it and can't get it off my mind. It makes me want to curl into a ball and give up for the day.
This resonates with me as I have experienced this feeling enough times to kill a normal man. The main thing to keep in mind is the type of business we are in. It's a service business. We have direct and instantaneous feedback from our clients and market which can be both a blessing and a curse.

The curse being it is never easy taking an uppercut to the chin due to a mistake on something you or your team has done. While I can say it hurts less the more you fail, it will still always hurt. But this pain is a GOOD thing if you use it as such. It's a guidepost...

The blessing being you get that IMMEDIATE feedback in regard to your failure and how you can immediately fix the potential issue and how you can avoid such a problem moving forward. This allows you to RAPIDLY change and adapt based on the needs of your clients.

Just today I had an employee send a client an email suggesting some new campaign ideas for maybe 1 or 2 months down the road as we like to plan ahead. The client took it ENTIRELY the wrong way and became upset. I immediately pounced into action and poured sand on the spark to prevent a full blown fire. I could have just curled into a ball, but it's all down to our choices.

  • Do you want your business to prosper?
  • Do you want your life to continuously change for the better?
  • Do you want to constantly implement systems and processes to significantly reduce or prevent the likelihood of such a scenario from happening again?

If the answer is yes, then take a stand whenever duty calls. It's tough, but so are all good things worth doing.
 

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