I have so many projects, I don’t know where to start….
At work, with your sideline business or for life in general, I’ve observed that many people can’t manage their time well. They all have tons of things to do and work super hard over long hours. But the result is always the same; they can’t make it.
If you feel overloaded, under pressure, crumbling under your pile of work, this post is for you.
Honestly, it’s difficult because you want it to be that way. My boss once said:
You can keep shuffling paper all day. At the end of the day, you will have worked 10 hours in a row like donkey, but nothing will be done.
The problem is not if you are working hard or not, the problem is that you are not working on the right things. I’m known for my sense of productivity. I’m actually obsessed by efficiency. If there would be a religion based on effectiveness, I would be one of their greater preachers . I have never believed that working long hours was the solution to achieve any task. Get smart instead. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned to make sure I keep my focus on the right thing.
One of the biggest time consuming items in your life (after traffic, lol!) is probably email managing. In order to become efficient, you need to have a clear view of what has to get done. You need to look at the entire forest, not just the tree in front of you. If you attack one task after another, you’ll be a good soldier, but you will never lead the army.
What bugs me the most is my mailbox. I can’t start my day with an inbox full of email. This is why I always start my day by cleaning it out. In reality, there are only a few emails requiring immediate attention. Chances are that it’s not even 1 a day! This is why I scan through all my emails, delete the ones that are useless, forward a good part of them to other people who can work on them and answer 1 or 2 crucial emails in the morning. This way, I know that my mailbox is almost empty and the rest could be cleared towards the end of the day.
Each morning, after cleaning my inbox, I look at my week and at my day. I make a list of things I absolutely need to finish. Those are added value task that nobody could do. I’m not here to shuffle paper, I’m here to add value to my company; regardless if it’s my employer or my own company. The point is to add value when you work on something.
The short list will lead to the rest of my day and help me prioritize tasks. Every time a new thing to do hits my desk, I look at my quick list and determine if it should be part of it or not. Most of the time, it shouldn’t. So I put this task aside and continue my focus. I do exactly the same thing with my online company: focus on my quick list and put the rest aside.
Towards the end of the day, I have less “brain energy” so I can handle the rest of my emails, shuffle paper around and clean up other small tasks. The important things have been done, so I can spend time on things that don’t matter as much.
People say you need to take a step back to have a clear view. I don’t think it’s appropriate. I think you need to run a mile, go to the top of a mountain and then turn back and look at the big picture. At each beginning of the year, I take an hour or two to make my plan for the year. This plan is good for my day job, my online company and my personal life.
I listed my goals for 2013 for my personal and online business aspects on this blog. I do the same thing at work to make sure I’ll be on target with my objectives. You know what? This is why I never fail at doing a good job at work .
It all starts from setting your priorities. Most people don’t know which priority to set as first. I find it easy: take the one that adds the most value. I have seen people working on 10 sites at a time and my questions was: why don’t you focus on your top 2 earners and see if you have time left for the rest?
We have been putting a lot of projects on the shelf throughout the years for this reason. I don’t have the time to work on a super project? That’s not a problem, let’s put it on the shelf and work on a super project that is already working and generating money. In 2012, we had an insurance website project. We clearly don’t have the time to build it right now. So we just forgot about it and have focused on other money earners. This year, my main project is a membership website. Last year it was my book. You know what? I’m still selling 40 books per month after almost 9 months since we launched it.
So keep this in mind: choose what bring the most value as your priority. It’s not that complicated once you use this single rule, is it?Google+ Comments: 3 Read More
I’ve made so many mistakes in my personal and professional life, that it’s only fair that I share with you guys what you could learn from my mistakes.
We all make mistakes. That’s normal. What sucks is not knowing when you’re doing something wrong. How are you supposed to know that you’re on the wrong path when everyone tells you that you’re the best? This is why I love to receive harsh criticism. Just because someone is honest with you or doesn’t like every single idea of yours, it doesn’t make them a “hater.” We should be thankful for those that don’t sugar-coat.
Instead of calling critics “haters” we need to open our eyes. We can’t always be told that we are the best at everything.
This article is about the mistakes that I made and about how others helped me realize I was messing up. This isn’t about feeling sorry for yourself. It’s about fixing things.
What are 5 little known factors that could be killing your business?
What’s your target market? Who are you marketing to? Who do you want to reach?
The biggest issue is that most of us can’t answer this one question. It seems simple enough, but too often do we try to approach “everyone.” That’s unfortunately not a target market. You can’t please everyone. You don’t work for everyone.
You need to stop focusing on the wrong people. I focused on the wrong people for far too long.
How do you know if you’re focusing on the wrong people?
It’s time to go after those that matter and want your help.
I’ve done this before. It’s easy to get lost in your own little world.
Are you selling the wrong product? First, how do you know if you’re selling the wrong product?
The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. No reaction is the worst reaction. I embrace being hate. I enjoy being loved. No reaction sucks.
You need to stop selling the wrong product and offering the wrong services.
Oh I’ve looked in the wrong places many times. Not just with business, but with life.
What are the wrong places exactly? It’s difficult to tell to be totally realistic. Nobody goes out of there way to look in the wrong place. It just sort of happens by accident. The best way to tell is if you keep on trying something and it doesn’t work.
My best tip here is to experiment with different ideas. You can try guest posting, Kijiji, Twitter, other blogs, and so on. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. I’m just suggesting that you don’t dump all of your resources into one place. Try everything out.
For my friend’s tattoo business, Facebook works amazing. For me, Facebook is just an excuse to make inappropriate jokes on everyones’ walls. For my one buddy, Kijiji helps him find clients. For me, well we won’t get into that.
There are just so many things that don’t matter at all. Seriously. I’m the king of wasting time on trivial things. Wasting time will only hurt the growth of your business. That means you get to help less people. You make less money. And you don’t make the impact that you were hoping to make.
What are the biggest time sucks?
Please stop wasting time when you can’t afford to!
It’s too easy to lose focus. There are distractions everywhere. The other night I went on YouTube and started watching old UFC fights for no good reason. I lost my focus and fell behind.
Once you lose focus, it might be near impossible to gain it back. Nothing seems to click. You’re in a slump and it feels like you’re going to be stuck forever.
I’m not going to be a hypocrite because I’m the king of losing focus. So um, I say, try your best to keep your eye on the prize!
Have any of these factors been holding you back? They’ve certainly held me back at one point or another.
Google+ Comments: 3 Read More
“For the marketer, the freelancer, and the entrepreneur, the challenge is to reset your comfort level, to be okay with the undone, with the cycle of never ending.” — Seth Godin
Last week, I highlighted most of what we had done during our annual meeting. One other thing I didn’t mention was our company shares valuation. Each year, we crunch the numbers together and assign a value to our business. For the first time in 5 years, the company value is lower than the previous year. That sucks!!!
A classic method to value our business would be to take the net profit, adjust it with amortization and apply a multiplier. For example, our last year’s financial statement show a net profit adjusted with an amortization of roughly $40K. This means that, after taxes and all other expenses, our business generates $40K per year. If we use a multiplier to value our business, it would have to be 3 or 4 times the profits. Therefore, the company would worth between $120K and $160K. People who think that you can apply a big multiplier to value a company are not in the real world. You may think that your company is worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars or even a low 7 figure due to its big potential. Let me tell you; potential income worth only for the owner! A few episodes of Shark Tank or Dragon’s Denwill teach that!
We thought the classic valuation model wasn’t right for a web business. Especially because there is no way to appreciate the true potential of this business since we run it with only 20 hours/week (10 hrs from each partner).
If I had to sell my blog empire tomorrow, I would certainly base my asking price with the valuation model I use to buy blogs. According to this model, I could sell my sites for as high as four times the gross revenues. Since we broke the 100K figure for the third year in a row, I would not be afraid to ask for $500K. But I would certainly not sell quickly!
When we put a share value to our company, we decided to create our own business share valuation model. We thought it would be a good idea in order to:
#1 Keep the same model to see the shares value evolution through time
#2 Design a model considering both the real market and the potential of this business
#3 Establish a value for our shares upon our death as our wives would benefit from the life insurance we purchased.
Here’s our quick formula to determine the business value:
So we built a valuation model which considers the classic valuation model for websites (a multiplier of gross revenues) and added the cash and debts composites. We did that as we were sitting on over $60k in cash one year and we thought this was worth something. The situation is currently the opposite right now as we have corporate debts.
According to this model, our shares are worth $126,000 compared to $131,000 last year. It’s a drop of nearly 4% in a year. This is mainly due to a drop in our gross revenues. The drop is not astronomical, but when you look at our model, each time we lose $1 in revenues, it affects our business valuation by $3. Since we have concentrated on paying down our debts in 2012 and not growing our gross income, we affected our valuation model at the same time.
For the first time since we created our company in 2008, our revenues didn’t grow. Even worst, it has dropped by a few percent! Still, I’m convinced my company is worth more today than it was worth a year ago.
It’s been a while since we havebeen concentrating on diversifying our business and make it more sustainable. Almost 70% of our business model was based on private advertising only a year ago. This part of the business was continuously growing and I was even expecting revenues as high as $15K/month by the end of 2012. An important Google update happened at the beginning of last year and forced us to change our business model to survive.
Last month, we had our best month in term of gross income for almost a year! The best part is less than 25% of our income is now coming from private advertising! We even cleared some of our websites completely! We can now expect to receive money each month from various other sources:
Book sales (Dividend Growth)
Small eBook Sales
Ad campaign brokering services
It is true that we made less money in 2012. But the point is that we are making more passive income than ever. We are making money from so many other sources that our business model is not dependent on anything anymore. We even suffered from traffic loss and are still making more money since we are able to attach our readers through our newsletter.
With the addition of videos, podcasts and a membership site by the end of 2013, I’m convinced that we will continue to break the $10K/month and eventually reach $15K/month in 2014. At that point, our business will be worth a lot more! Hahaha!
Readers, do you think my shares value worth more this year? Would you invest in such a company if you had the opportunity?Google+ Comments: 5 Read More
I know the trend on financial blogs is to tell you to pay off your debts… but what if this advice is wrong?
A rich person is an individual with no debts. I’ve often heard that quick line explaining that paying down your debts is the universal financial advice. Since the beginning of 2012, I’ve embarked on a quest against my debts. At the end of the year, I quit on paying debts and decided to turn back to what I do best: make money.
This doesn’t mean I’m not paying off my debts. In fact, my latest net worth statement shows that I’m now attacking my consumer debts with success. I’ve also mentioned on this blog that we are concentrating on paying off our corporate debts at a fast pace recently. Over the past 12 months, we have paid down about 30K of our corporate debts and we should pay another 20K this year to finish paying off our debts towards the end of 2014.
Quick accounting tip: you are better off paying your corporate debts over a few years since you need to use after tax money to pay it. Therefore, if you pay everything in 1 year, you will have a big fat check to write to the tax guy!
My partner was quite happy to see my perception of debts changing over the years. After all, I was the one who mortgaged his house to buy our first site 4 years ago…
While most people like using a conservative approach regarding debt, I usually think that using other’s people money is the best way to make money. I’ve been thinking this way since I was a kid. I guess it’s in my genes. My life has been covered by leverage stories:
Back in high school, I was 12 when I first borrowed money (it was school money) from my friends to play dice. While it was a very bad idea to borrow money to gamble, I won a lot more money than I lost and was able to quickly reimburse my friend and run with my own money (and keep winning).
Back in College, I was thinking of applying for a student loan to invest in the stock market. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I was too lazy to fill in the paperwork in order to get the loan. Instead, I borrowed $5,000 on my credit card to buy a new car and fund enough cash to move into an apartment. Overall, it was an awesome move since I got a super nice deal in a great area of Montreal for cheap. My car was new and therefore I had never to go to a garage. Within 12 months, I cleared my credit card debt with my first day job.
Right after paying off my credit cards, I bought some land with a personal loan. I wanted to build my assets as fast as I could. Since I didn’t have many payments going on, I thought of borrowing 25K at a bank to buy a piece of land. I sold the land a year later with a profit of $4,000. That’s pretty nice considering I didn’t use my money!
Borrow to invest in the stock market. At the same moment, I wanted to start investing in the stock market. I was following several stocks daily and thought I could make a few dollars out of my new hobby. I borrowed 20K in 2003 and turned it into a profit of 50K in three years. This was the cash down payment for my house.
Borrow to buy the house of my dreams. I borrowed from my parents the amount of 25K a few years ago because I absolutely wanted to put 20% cash down on the house of my dreams. I knew I had to pay back the 25K (plus interest) after 5 years. But I also knew that my career was booming at the time and my income was set to be a lot larger 5 years later. I struggled a bit to pay them back on time, though I did it. In the meantime, I lived in an awesome house where I made a nice profit to buy my third house. I actually used a part of my profit to pay off my parents. This was definitely a great move. From a loan of 25K, I made a profit of $75,000 in four years.
Remortgage my house to buy a website. In 2009, I decided to borrow almost $30,000 using my house as collateral to inject into my online company. This transaction opened the door to many other deals and was definitely one of the pillar moments for our business. Since this purchase, we have been making over $100,000 in annual gross income. I took about 23 minutes to decide to buy the site or not and to remortgage my house. In fact, 3 minutes was for thinking about it and 20 minutes was to explain to my wife why she had to sign all the paperwork .
After all these great stories about leveraging, I can say that borrowing money is definitely a good idea. I would not be worth 250K at the age of 31 while affording to have a stay-at-home wife + three kids without my leveraging abilities.
However, it’s been over a year that I’m focusing on debt repayment. My goal in 2013 is to drop under $300,000 of debts and would like to clear all my consumer debts other than my mortgage by the end of 2015. Our online company went up to nearly $100,000 in corporate debts last year and we are now down under $70,000 and counting.
Both my personal and corporate finances have been growing year after year due to several leverage maneuvers. Nonetheless, I’m taking the decision to clear my debts in the upcoming years. By the end of 2015, I should only have a mortgage over my head and my company will be free of debts. Can you see me coming with this?
That’s right: I’m preparing for financial freedom. In two and a half years, I’ll be 34. By the age of 35, I wish to be financially free. This doesn’t mean that I won’t have any debts but if I can clear everything and have just a mortgage to take care of; I can basically live from any kind of income and still be able to make it.
While leveraging has been the only solution to generate income over the past 10 years in my life, it’s time to clean my balance sheet in order to move forward a lot faster. You know I’ll start borrowing again at the age of 35 to grow my income & assets to a whole new level. I’m just preparing my balance sheet for another big jump in two years…
What about you? Have you ever borrowed money to accelerate your asset building?Google+ Comments: 15 Read More
Who ever thought of making money out of their passion? Is it not the best financial scenario? Making money while you do something you truly enjoy. Most hobbies and passions require that you pay to enjoy them. If you can find a way where you can be paid to enjoy your hobbies, you have just found the Holy Grail! I’m not sure it’s true. A few weeks ago, I read a very interesting article about not turning your hobby into a money maker @ Retire By 40. Joe outlined a list of reasons why making money from your hobby isn’t as perfect as you may think.
A few years ago, I would have argued actively with him. I turned my blog into a business back in 2008. At that time, I saw the same thing as Joe: I can make money online. I can make money out of my hobby. Where I’m a bit different than him is that I started The Financial Blogger back in 2006 with this objective in mind: making money online.
When I start writing my blog, I knew I could make money from it. My friend (who became my partner in this adventure) was already making money from his website. He made enough to pay for his tuition fees and go on a 6 months foreign exchange student program. He never had a summer job, he was simply working online a few hours per week from his bedroom.
Then, I started to do some research and found John Chow. He had the first “make money blogging” blog I followed. When I was telling people in the Personal Finance Blog niche (we were less than 100 at that time) that I was in to make thousands of dollars per month, they all told me that I would be lucky if I could make $200 monthly! I decided to continue nonetheless as I knew that other people were making money.
This is why I started blogging: to make money. I wanted to share my financial knowledge as I thought that most people don’t get the right advice from financial advisors and journalists. The second goal was to improve my English writing skills. But behind all that, I knew I could make money from this business.
What happened is that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. I’ve always love writing and even thought of becoming a writer when I was a kid. When I realized that most writers are starving, I thought a career in the financial industry was a better idea .
Slowly but surely, my passion for blogging and this whole “new world” started to grow inside of me. At that time, I was thinking about my blog non-stop. I used to get ideas at any time of the day and night and sent myself emails to keep track of them all. I developed a passion for building a business online.
At that point, I had reached the perfect balance: doing something I truly enjoy while making money from it. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect…
I mentioned this on the blog already but 2012 was a crappy year for us. The combination of having a new (very demanding) job, not sleeping with our newborn, getting stuck under $10,000 of unexpected expenses plus getting kicked in the nuts by Google was a lot of downers in a very short time span.
My passion started to fade away and I temporarily lost the desire to work like a maniac on my blogs. I still liked the fact of having a company and running projects but it looked a lot like a job at one point. The obligation of writing weekly, the tracking of our income and expenses, the projection updates we are doing to make sure we are on track with our objectives… All that sounds a lot like a job vocabulary and not a hobby or a passion.
This was a rough period as I know I need this money in my budget. A good part of my overall income is derived from my online company now. It represents roughly 30% of my income; I just can’t let it go. But having a second job (on top of being a father of three!) seems just like a recipe for a burnout later on. It hurt to think that I needed to work on my company instead of wanting to.
I can describe myself as a very difficult individual when it comes to work. I’m a real beast of productivity and do not fear completing humongous tasks within a ridiculous timeframe. However, I must be happy to do so. If I don’t have fun doing what I do, I become mediocre. I didn’t have the flame burning inside throughout 2012. This is when I started to question myself.
I had to go back to the reasons why I was having so much fun with my business and pulled them back to the top of my priority list. I love managing my business and seeing growth. Results are definitely the most inspiring factors for me. This is why I started to concentrate on how I can bring results to the table.
Cutting the crap, do what I love was the first thing I changed. I decided to write only the stuff that I want to write about. Too bad for Google and too bad if you don’t like it, I’m going to please myself with this blog!
Being part of a Master Mind Group was a clever move. I now have a weekly meeting with motivated people that help me bring results to the table. This is a true motivator for me.
Having a meeting with my partner was another great idea. Each year, we meet-up over the weekend to work on our company. We had a great discussion about the future of our blogs and our involvement. This has boosted my motivation through the roof.
It is! I’m feeling free to do what I like and this is probably the most important thing when you have a business or a hobby; never feel that you are forced to do something. This is probably the beginning of the end if you keep on to this route.
Do you find it difficult running your blog now that you are making money out of it? Is it changing anything to your writing style?
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