Each quarter Anita, who does our accounts, forces me under extreme duress to go through our company expenses spreadsheet with her.
It’s like going to the dentist.
I’m not a fan, but I also know it’s important and needs doing.
So I play ball.
She works her way down the list, asking the same question each time, “Do we still use or need this?”
“And this?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say.
“Um .. no, not really.”
“Can you cancel it then?”
“Um .. no, not really?”
“I think we still have some legacy links in our system using it.”
“Um .. yup. Can’t be sure.”
“Can you check?”
“Um .. we have hundreds of pages.”
(The solution to this was simple. I asked Leo, our tech guy, to run a database query for “geni(dot)us”. He found four results, put the pages in Google Sheet, then buzzed me the link on Slack. I opened each page containing the geni(dot)us link and swapped ’em out. $10/month saving.)
And this goes on and on.
Like I said, it’s like going to the damn dentist.
Important, but painful.
Ten years ago I shared an exercise with my audience. Where you list all your core expenses down, like this:
Once I had recorded all expenses, the next part was to convert everything to a daily value.
In that old ten-year-ago screenshot above our daily total was $115.54.
That paid for everything.
The next part — the fun part — was to build Tiny (Little) Asset Engines (read: recurring income streams) to cover each of these expenses.
The idea was to always have assets out on the inter-webs what would earn a tiny little bit of income each day, and cover all the expenses.
This way you get to live “for free,” right?
And when this happens, the balance of power shifts.
When you don’t have to stress out about making rent and putting food on the table, you’re FREED up to do your best work.
To focus on LONG TERM strategic thinking…
(Instead of having that short-term results-now mindset.)
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about Jeff Bezos, and how his long-term thinking has resulted in Amazon becoming one of our most loved (and feared; depending on who you are) and valuable businesses today.
Magic can (and does) happen when you get to focus on long-term over “I GOTTA MAKE COIN NOW!” thinking.
At the time of writing “The Battle Plan” exercise, an Israeli guy named Igal was in the Israeli army (mandatory service).
He loved the idea I had presented and ran with it.
He then found an old World of Warcraft affiliate campaign that I had created back in 2006 and shared with the world.
He then pretty much copied it verbatim.
And Igal started to make money (and cover all his expenses):
I caught up with Igal last year.
He’s doing well. Very well.
He’s got a little team now, and he still builds affiliate campaigns (just now at scale). They’re doing around a million a month in gross commissions.
Here’s why I’m sharing all of this…
Ten years ago I was just focused on building these Tiny (Little) Asset Engines. Our business was still essentially an early stage startup.
Traction was everything.
Now ten years on, our thinking has matured.
One of the things we consistently do is identify waste, then eliminate it.
We all have waste in our businesses, no matter the size of ’em.
And like Anita does for us, we should be proactive in identifying waste, then eliminate it.
Case in point:
Earlier this year we moved from ActiveCampaign to Drip.
I moved everything over.
But I kept ActiveCampaign going. You know, just in case.
Anita flagged it up in our Q3 meeting.
“Why is ActiveCampaign still charging us $168.75/month? Didn’t we move to Drip?”
“Um … yup. But I just wanted to make sure the move went well before I deleted our ActiveCampaign account.”
“And all is fine, right?”
“Cancel it today,” she commanded.
That was a $168.75/mo saving right there.
It’s small, but these things add up.
Same thing played out with an old AWeber account.
Even though it was an empty account that we hadn’t used for years, I felt guilty canceling because we had a grandfathered plan.
Like seriously, dude!
So we continued to pay the $50/mo for it. For years.
Not sure how that one slipped past Anita’s beady-eye. But she eventually caught it. Then eliminated it.
The thing is, I still, after all these years, continue to build incomes streams to cover expenses…
It’s an automatic behavior.
Something I enjoy doing.
Which is why I didn’t care too much about the $168.75/mo of waste because our ActiveCampaign income stream earns us around $2,000/mo in commissions.
Which is flawed thinking, of course.
Waste is waste.
In our Q3 expenses meeting in October, we (well, Anita) identified a little over $300 a month that we no longer needed or used.
After doing this for so long, I would be surprised if everyone couldn’t find at least $100 in monthly waste. Easily.
Okay, a recap…
1.) It’s good to build out online assets that cover all core expenses.
These Tiny (Little) Asset Engines should be external to your core business activity and revenue.
These income streams are gravy.
They generate monthly recurring income that is entirely external to your main business activity.
(I can cover how to do this in detail if enough people are interested. Lemme know.)
When our monthly outgoings are taken care of (external to our core business activities), something magical happens.
We are freed to strategically think long-term.
This shift in thinking will always trump a short-sighted approach to business.
2.) Proactively seek out and eliminate waste.
Ask hard questions:
* Do you REALLY still need this service?
* Are you perhaps just using it because the switching cost to a cheaper and/or better alternative is (perceived as) too high?
Too much of a pain-in-the-ass to move?
We already used YOURLS (a self-hosted link shortening and tracking script), so also paying Geniuslink $10/month was a waste.
* Is there a better alternative?
If so, move (switch).
Over to you now.
How much waste can you find and eliminate?
(Lemme know what you find and what you end up saving, okay?)
Earlier this week I received Tribe of Mentors in the post (if you get it, get the print version).
I cracked it open to a random page (233), and read this:
That right there has been one of our guiding stars for a long, long time.
When you learn to love the PROBLEM (where almost everyone else is just focused on banging out mediocre solutions), opportunities open up.
When you put in the effort to understand the deep customer problem, you win.
Competition becomes irrelevant.
Because you get to do and say things that no one else is doing and saying.
And you get to “connect” with the people you want to matter to, on the whole different level to *everyone* else.
Let that sink in.