Testing: Will working on my business for 1 day a week make a positive difference?

I want to try to limit myself extremely and work on my business only one day a week. I hope this will be a substantial improvement mental and result-wise.

Note: my current lousy work schedule(as a self-employed) is “sometimes during the weekdays”. I definitely need a better structure…

Why am I doing this?

I have lost the enthusiasm

For the past couple of months I noticed I don’t want to work on my existing business.

By removing the need for creativity I painted myself into a corner effectively making my work boring. I don’t get to the creative stuff, because there is never the time for it. But you know that “the lack of time is a lie”, don’t you? The real reason is that…

I have lost my focus

Trying to fit OMFramework and all my side projects in the same day forced me to juggle with them daily, eventually dropping many of them on the ground.

My task-juggling olympics are actually known to the world as “switch-tasking”.

I would like to avoid that, please.

Switch-tasking leads to attention deficit. No attention—no focus.

Should I start working now? How much time do I need for this task? Oh no, I got caught up in researching about [insert side project]… and so on.

These are the usual thoughts during a day of mine. Questions like these only tax my glucose system, because I think about them. Glucose in our blood is essential for the non-default-decision-making mode of the brain. Important if you want your business to grow instead of just react to the environment.

Removing these questions will leave me with more “decision-making” power which I can invest in solving business-related problems.

Bonus: I have lost sense of direction

Yes, there are tasks to be completed ranging from marketing to copywriting, design and development, yet I feel lost. And I procrastinate.

I expect to feel good when working on these tasks, but there is no way I can do it if the only time I have left for them is at the end of my workday.

Why do I put my side projects first?

Because if I don’t work on them early in the day, later on I will be tired or would want to go out. Also at the end of the day I am easily distracted.

So, how do I plan get by with only one day of work?

I will return to my trusted tools, the tools that got me trough the initial war with myself that OMframework’s launch was. I needed focus, because I knew I had the time, it was just me not using it very well. Applying them was also fun, too.

My “battle-tested and trusted” tools are the following reputable principles:

  1. 20% of the work accounts for 80% of the desired effects—the 80/20 rule or otherwise know as Pareto’s law
  2. Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.—Parkinson’s law

I won’t go into details, but the application of these two alone helped me focus my efforts during initial development of OMFramework. I worked only on the most essential tasks and features applying the 80/20 analysis and kept them from blowing up with the help of shorter-than-I-wanted deadlines.

What am I going to do now?

Here is what I intend to do every monday during the time of this test:

  1. Work for the day ONLY on the OMFramework project

    This is intended to help me eliminate the questions “Is it time to stop working on this side project and get back to ‘real work’?”, “Should I work on OMFramework today?”, “When during the day should I check the Slack and Trello notifications I received?”

  2. prioritize tasks to be done for the day using Pareto’s principle(80/20)
  3. Put incredibly short deadlines (Parkinson’s law) to focus on execution thus avoiding any loss of attention

    You can’t afford to lose concentration when you are pressured by a deadline

Achievements waiting to be unlocked

Trough this monday routine I hope to achieve the following:

  1. Work regularly on OMFramework
  2. Improve the conversion rate of OMFramework’s landing page (aiming for 10–12x in general)

    Primary focus in my long-term business strategy

  3. Re-evaluate the project’s direction, it’s goals and the way we achieve them right now (i.e. work “on the business”, not “in the business”)

    secondary focus in the long-term biz strategy

When?

Starting today(June 30) this test will run for the next 5 weeks—last workday in this schedule should be July 28. Expect updates/detailed report at the end.

Posting here in the hope someone besides me will find use of this, and of course, as a public reminder. Otherwise I would have buried it in some of my awesome notebooks filled with amazing stories, brilliant ideas and clever notes… that never see the light of day.

Lone founder: Should I use “we” or “I” when communicating with my customers?

Have you ever feared customers won’t buy your product or pay for your service if they found out that they are backed by a team of just 1?

I am scared to use “I” in my website’s copy. I want to be open about the fact that I am running my business as a one-man operation, but I’m not sure how customers will react to this.

Felt the same way?

You may be scared, but you don’t have to.

People who sell have all gone trough this.

And what is the most common way people deal with this issue? Hint: you can find it in the copy of almost every freelancer’s homepage.

Let me spare you the guesswork: most budding solopreneurs new to customer communication use “we”(when clearly they mean “I”). They hope that, being perceived as a team, will make them seem trustworthy and professional.

But erecting the wall of “we” between you and your customer only limits the power of your communication. So, how can you fix this?

Stop hiding

Back in 2011 when I launched my first product I was scared, too. Putting myself on the line was challenging. To bear the responsibility for the experience customers have with my product was new(and scary) to me. It was both liberating—I was in control of the experience—and soul-crushing—“Your product broke my website”.

I never got to the point to present myself as more than one person, because I felt that being the developer who is “100% in” was in my favour. On the contrary, when observing my competitors at the time, I noticed their tendency to “peacock”.

Peacocking(trying to look bigger than you are) when communicating with customers adds no real value to your product. Worse—it creates false expectations for them.

I came to the conclusion that people try to hide behind the mask of “we, the team” out of insecurity. When you are out on your own in the scary world of entrepreneurship there are many things to be afraid from. One of them is not being able to deliver what you have promised… and the worse part—there is no one to save your ass when you screw up.

Feeling vulnerable you instinctively reach for the secure shell of the “team”, albeit only as a mask.

“More people on the team prove that we are in this business for real, right?”

Not even close. This can be easily faked. Thousands of people are afraid to come up as “one man operations”. Instead they choose to hide behind a bouquet of different titles and email accounts at the same domain. Eventually all of these accounts are being forwarded to one inbox…

Mimicking a corporate structure when you are alone won’t make you big, but it will definitely make you feel hollow. It creates unneeded distance between you and your customer.

Come closer, I’ve got something to show you

As one man operation you are responsible for everything in your project—design, development, marketing, customer support. This gives you the ability to have direct contact with your users and prospective customers if they happen to have an issue with any part of your product.

This natural proximity that you have with your customers(but may try to escape hiding behind the “we”) is one of your biggest advantages as a solopreneur.

  1. You can deliver high-quality service directly to your customers.
  2. Your work gets a ”handmade” and “tailor-made” qualities attached to it when people get personal treatment by you, the founder.

People tend to care when others care about them. Something so rare in the world of mass production, big corporations and outsourced overseas customer support.

Sincerity lets you bond faster with your customers

You buy from people you can trust, right? So do your customers.

When you present yourself as a person, express feelings and opinions, help and teach them, you build trust.

Your customers see that despite you being hundreds or thousand miles away you are still a living being. Just like them. You too have a pulse.

As human beings we can’t bond with things that are not alive. To bond we need to share memories and experiences. Presenting yourself as a company dehumanises you, strips you off the blood and flesh you have. And then people start to expect mechanical responses. Things they are used to feel bad about, or even ignore.

Yet if they perceive you as a human, they trust you to understand them. And because of this trust not only will they listen to you, but they will show understanding, too. And once you got their understanding you can acknowledge your limitations.

Sincerity manages your customer’s expectations

What is your definition of a good customer? For me—I have to get along with them easily. The people I get along with are the ones that understand me. Because they know what to expect of me.

“As a team of 1 I can’t provide 24/7 support, but I will respond to every request within 24 hours(weekends take a bit longer).”

“I work on project XYZ full-time the quality of the product is my top priority.”

“I have limited resources, so feature suggestions will be prioritized if they improve the product for all present and future customers”

You can get by with the above lines if you have their understanding.

Being frank in your copy lets you appeal to your ideal customers—those with higher expectations won’t even try to bother you since they see you don’t fit them.

Yes, this may seem like you are losing money on the short-term, but you are actually buying peace of mind for the future. This “peace of mind” will help you serve your existing users better.

And when you come of sincerely, prospective customers that feel fine with what you have to offer will like you. They will understand. You have already managed their expectations.

Don’t be afraid to be direct and sincere

The way you think is reflected in the way you write.

Acknowledging your limitations frees your mind to be creative. Your constraints, when embraced, turn into advantages that you can use to pre-select customers and guide your focus.

Let me leave you with this quote from the famous US architect Frank Lloyd Wright:

‘Man built most nobly when limitations were at their greatest.’

— Frank Lloyd Wright

Export a single PDF page on Mac

You may need a piece of a PDF document for reference later.
Here is a neat little trick to get that PDF page out of the document.

  1. Open it in Preview
  2. Press Alt+Cmd+2 to show Thumbnails (or use View > Thumbnails)
  3. Drag the thumbnail of desired page to the desktop

Now you’ve got your page in a single-page PDF document.

If it is too hard—you are doing it wrong!

When obstacles are a sign that you need to change your approach

I feel it is too hard for me to achieve this

— You are so desperately focused on your road to success, that you stay blind for the shortcuts that come up all the time. Ignoring power-ups on the way makes every journey harder than it should be. Relax into meandering towards your goals instead of fiercely chasing them and everything will fall into place.

But it is still too hard!

— Aiming for the mountain summit you may have lost your way to the starting line — break down the target into smaller chunks that look achievable and easy. The ease of the steps will suck you through a funnel leading to your goal.

But it is still too damn hard with all the work that I have to do

— Do you really have to do it all? Do a 80/20 analysis until you get to the single most important task that needs to be done. Then do it. Discard the rest.

But it is impossible, when you don’t know/don’t have/can’t

— Don’t be paralysed by what seems to be a “lack of resources”. This “lack” is your advantage, because it can make you think. What can you do with the means already available to you?

But it is still hard for me to decide

— You are being irrational if you can’t choose between two or more alternatives. Making decisions is making progress. Don’t waste your time studying cognitive biases and irrationalities. Eradicate them from your decision making process by applying Goldratt’s evaporating cloud instead.