3 questions every freelancer should be able to answer. EP #168 - Den Lennie


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Today, Den talks about strategic goals, revenue goals, and financial goals, and... how to efficiently and effectively track and measure your business's key metrics so you can save more time and make more dime.

Good stuff, indeed.

Here's a sneak peek at what you'll hear:

  • When working online, do you find yourself getting about as distracted as a baby at a topless bar? (Many creatives do. Here are some battle-tested and proven ways to keep yourself more focused, thus becoming more efficient and productive. Starts at 1:20)
  • 3 questions every freelancer should be able to answer as easily as "What's your name?" (If you sputter and stammer at these 3 simple (but critical) business questions, then that might explain why you get a little distracted or why your business is not taking off the way you know it could. Listen up at 2:30 to see if you can answer these 3 critical business questions.)
  • A surprisingly simple (and very accurate) reason why most small business owners don't hit their financial goals. (This probably explains why their sales and marketing are not dialed in also. - 4:30)
  • What an "app audit" is, and how it can save you cash, time, and... boost your focus. - 6:00
  • FACT: the speed of wireless communications is multiplying faster than a Catholic rabbit, and with that comes an overabundance of apps, gadgets, and technology. (Is there any way to slow this down? Nope. But you can still stay calm and avoid the overwhelm by applying "minimalism" to technology. Hear Den talk about this at 8:00)
  • A marketing "fallacy" that makes the average business owner's marketing dam near useless. - 9:40
  • A hypercritical piece to the marketing puzzle most video business owners always seems to ignore. - 10:20
  • How adding value creates freedom. - 11:00
  • A "no muss, no fuss" way to kill off overwhelm. Starts at 13:00
  • The hidden benefits of tracking and measuring your business's metrics. - 15:00
  • A neat little app that can help you get your time back. (If you feel like there's never enough time in the day to get things done, then you'll love this app. - 16:20)

Connect with Den on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/denlennie/
Get more great resources over at https://www.denlennie.com/ 


Episode Transcription

Den Lennie (2s):
Good day, guys! Den Lennie here, host of the How to Scale a Video Business podcast with episode number 168, 25th of March today. And we are one quarter of the way through to 2021. So how is your year going? Are you one quarter of the way through your strategic goals, your financial goals, your revenue goals. That's what I want to talk about today because we need to track these things and it's already one quarter of the way through the year. So, time to start a knuckle down and see how you're going to a 13 weeks into the year.

Den Lennie (49s):
And so with the one quarter of the way into 2021, I thought it was a great opportunity to reflect on how you doing, how is your plan going for the year. Now, or if you are fortunate enough to be in, say one of my programs, then we are big on strategic planning and we hold you accountable to that. If you're not, then I hope that it in today's session will give you some food for thought, because the problem that we face as creatives, and we can all experience, this is the inability to stay focused on one thing we're very easily distracted.

Den Lennie (1m 29s):
You know, you only need to pop on to be an itch, looking for a Lake and stand. And 25 minutes later, you've looked to everything from, You know, rads to a new, new lights and some gear that you decide that you need suddenly, right? So what I want to do is pause sort of a question to you about efficiency, and more importantly, how effective are you? Because until you are actually ready to be really honest with yourself, you are not going to, and to reach our goals and objectives that you set for yourself. You know, as jockowillink, I would say it's extreme ownership. So first question is how efficient are you?

Den Lennie (2m 10s):
And this has come about it as a result of it have doing my own audit of my own efficiency. Now the first step in and any process is having a strategic plan and working out what it is you actually want to achieve. And you're just a couple of days ago, I had talked about the power of vision boards and moving into our new home. And, and I've talked to as many times before on the podcast, but if you've got a very clear purpose of why it is your business exists and what purpose it does it do to solve the world that you were in, you know, you business community, you know, the people that you're targeting, how is your business is different enough from someone else's to provide a service that the community and the, the business community that your targeting actually we want and need.

Den Lennie (2m 53s):
And that's really critical. And, and, and what is your point of difference? This is really important when you look at your commercial objectives. So you take your purpose, which is your reason to exist as a business minds is to help the video production companies Scale fast and succeed it's act as a filter. So any opportunities that come across my way, I had someone recently reached out saying, Oh, could you just do this like a little interview for me? And I was like, no, I can't. So I passed on to Ben Amos as a company innovate median, and they are looking after it because it, it wouldn't serve my purpose. Now, when you put your purpose and you'd turn it into a commercial objective as a critical stage, because, you know, you need to be clear on what you want to do Commercially, because we are, this is not a hobby, right?

Den Lennie (3m 41s):
We've got to start with a number, you know, how much money do you want to make? What is the turnover you're aiming for? And, and, and how are you going to split that up across the year? You know, if you want to make 250,000 this year, then that's, you know, over 10,000 a month, 30,000 a month. Sorry. And so how do you generate that 20,000 a month? So, well, let's, let's take out a hundred thousand as a, as a, as a round figure for argument's sake. So you let me see a goal was a hundred thousand for this year. It was probably more, but if we take the FACT where no one quarter have way through the year, then you should already have made 25,000 this year.

Den Lennie (4m 22s):
Now these are arbitrary numbers, but if you haven't made twenty-five thousand, then you are not on target. So you need to work harder and the next quarters to make up the difference. But you can see the importance of tracking and measuring. If you are not able to know where you are at any given time, then you're simply never going to reach the goals. You have to be able to measure what's going on. And so I'm going to talk a bit about some apps and some other details that will really help you get on top of that. But I really wanna talk about the journey that I've been on and share that with you, because I never want you to feel at any point that I've got this all figured out. I know I'm just probably farther down the road than perhaps you might be maybe your father down the road than me. I don't know.

Den Lennie (5m 2s):
And, but what I want to do is always share things with you in this podcast that I think will help you to get to that next stage. No one ever has everything fully figured out. Okay. And the, and on the entrepreneurial journey is always about failure landing from the mistakes and moving on and progression. It's all about progress. So how efficient are you? The first thing I had been doing this month is actually looking at are doing a digital efficiency analysis. And so what I've been doing is auditing the apps I'm using And getting rid of the things that I'm no longer using now, as I previously had a lot of different filmmaking tools, which we don't have anymore, because I've stopped doing production, but to think about the apps that you're using, you know, if you are using Adobe, for example, then great, but if you are paying a subscription for Adobe and not using it, then why, why would you keep paying for it?

Den Lennie (5m 59s):
And, you know, for sure, I was using Adobe cloud for awhile and it was like 50 quid a month. And I'm like, is that a good investment? The fact that has, I was using more final cut pro, and I was only using Adobe for a couple of different things. So I canceled it. And, you know, I've heard stories that if you go to cancel Adobe, that they will reduce it for you. I don't know if that still the case, but I was never really a big Adobe user. I was always into a final cut pro and resolved, but I didn't work out what I was using about 25 different apps in my business at that, at that time at the, at the audit. And so I wanted to kind of go through them and work out how many of those apps are still relevant. So in the marketing side of things, I have lead pages for a while.

Den Lennie (6m 41s):
It had click funnels, I had an bones and those were three apps that kind of fundamentally do the same thing at different stages. I'd invested them for different reasons, but no, I use exclusively use it <inaudible> and we're building a new WordPress site and we use Kajabi for our content delivery. So I realized they didn't need click funnels and lead pages and save myself $200 a month because, you know, it might only have two, it seems like a a hundred bucks a month. There is not a big deal, but that's $1,200 a year. And if you are using four or five of those apps, that's $5,000 a year in your profit that you are using on apps. And the way these apps are sold is that it's like this kind of incremental monthly.

Den Lennie (7m 24s):
You don't really notice it, but of course it starts to add up. So if you're spending, you know, 500 to a thousand dollars a month on apps, you've got to be really clear that these apps are serving you. So doing some sort of efficiency, audit is a really good start, right point, you know, to kind of really understand what you need, what you don't need and, and cut the service as you're no longer using. You know, I got rid of the lead pages I'm and you know, it just saved a lot of money. Think about this process. Is it it's just right now, if you, if you are doing your books properly every month, if you get a report from your accounting software on your bookkeeper, which shows you where the money is going to go through that every month and just cut stuff you're not using, because cutting SAB is, is one of the only reduce costs.

Den Lennie (8m 13s):
But actually would you say some of that emotional overwhelm that we can feel when we feel there's just too much going on? And I used to have it myself, I've had, I've had multiple websites, multiple email addresses, and they would just getting too much, I've had multiple platforms we're measuring and tracking different things as technology evolves, app's to improve. And then if someone says, you should check it out it's app, it's really great, but sometimes we can get lost and kind of, you know, the, the weeds of app for them, where it's like, you know, some people like frame IO. Some people like Vimeo, some people like, you know, other, other apps do a similar thing at, you know, you got to just find the one that works for you, but, you know, do you need from a mile and the venue, you, you could do your client reviews on Vimeo, if you want to.

Den Lennie (8m 59s):
And, and I'm not seeing one's better than the other. You've got to find, you know, the one that works for you, but just make sure you're not doubling up a tripling up. So looking at what service is you're actually using and which ones you're not, will really help you to refine, not just your financial implications of what is going at the door each month, but also reduce some space in your head. Because one of the things that I've been observing is that its very easy to get overwhelmed with all of the different apps that are on my desktop at one time. So I got rid of the more so if an app is not helping you achieve more in less time or making you money, then it's simply a cost and a burden. So do an audit review and if necessary, get rid of it.

Den Lennie (9m 42s):
So you know that, that's the first thing. And the other thing is, is getting very clear on your marketing. You know what marketing is working for you. If, if your doing something that's working, you know, you don't need to be everywhere. You really don't. Our marketing channels are largely Facebook and LinkedIn and the podcast. This is, this is a marketing tool. So, you know, you don't need to be everywhere at all times getting very clear on your offer and knowing exactly who you're talking to. That's where I put some effort, you know, can you define your offer or can you really nail down the absolute ideal client you'd like to work with?

Den Lennie (10m 25s):
Because this is something that is hyper hypercritical. And it's something that I feel people have the most resistance to getting very clear on who you want to do business with is, is key because then you are talking to one person and one market. And so, you know, you want to be making your business, the number one place that your market comes to because you are the expert and it's as simple as that. So then you can think of it. You're products and services and assistance in processes in place to attract more of those clients and, and ultimately add more value to their lives, which will add more freedom to your life.

Den Lennie (11m 5s):
And I've been doing this, you know, a 26 years And, and the last 11 years I've been running a business and it's really only in the last year that things have really started to grow. And I've spoken to the entrepreneurial friends who say that's totally normal. Like it takes seven to 10 years to put the assets in place in to learn the lessons, to run a business effectively. And, and year 11 things started to really grow. And then we doubled our business last year. So, but I'm working four days a week. I'm working last, but making more because I'm very, very focused on my market and solving them and they are my absolute priority.

Den Lennie (11m 48s):
And then doing this podcast every week and two episodes a week means that we are able to create a constant freemium value based, engaging tool that some members will be, listeners will go, you know what? I want some more help. I want to do this faster. So let's have a chat, you know that, right? Yeah. That's what typically happens. So, you know, are you offering to any services or are you trying to target too many clients because each product and service really needs, it's a marketing campaign and you want to be talking directly to that market. And if, even if you're just trying to change to different rabbits in your business, then you are, you're splitting your time, 50 50 between each and, and this is the thing that most Video business owners struggle with is getting really focused on one core target market.

Den Lennie (12m 40s):
You know, you only need one funnel, one market, one offer to make a million bucks, right. You really do. So, you know, be very clear that you don't need to be doing everything for everyone. So I want to talk about, about how to tackle overwhelm and you know, well, I'm comes when you are just overloaded with tasks, overload with ideas and you are not only structure and discipline surrounding the order in which you're going to tackle those. So what you got to do is understand that the clarity around the plan that you have, and I mean, that's another, another topic for another, another, another session, but generally speaking, people who are overwhelmed because they are not organized enough, you know, if something gets measured, it can be tracked and it can be improved upon if you're just sticking your finger and they're licking it and hope that the wind will blow in a certain direction.

Den Lennie (13m 30s):
That's a very broad approach to measurement. And, and a lot of people just don't focus enough on knowing the numbers, doing the metrics that count. I'm talking about, you know, how many inquiries are you getting a week or a month? How many of those inquires or turning into a customer, are you, are you able to have predictability in those jobs? I hear you. I hear at time and time again, people win a big job, the core health, a leather into it. It drop the ball and the marketing, the job finishes and they haven't got any more work coming in. And it's just a lot of call, a cycle of failure, just continually doing the same thing, hoping that things will change. So you've got to start embracing the idea of tracking and measuring and it's made an enormous difference in my life and the life of the clients that I worked with.

Den Lennie (14m 14s):
Who've even now braced it. I want you to feel this level of freedom because I don't and as much as well in my life anymore. And we just moved house and it was for a while, but I've learned the skills and the tools to handle it and process and not, not trying to do everything at once. And so, you know, there are still days when I get a bit overwhelmed. It happened last week. Okay. And when I had a day where it was just what we had an organized removalists the, the, the other day letting agent for our current house, it was late. Like, what day are you leaving? We are trying to coordinate carpet cleaners and bond cleans.

Den Lennie (14m 54s):
And I was trying to get the garbage floor groaned and, and a proxy then. And then what the outside to do, the, the proxy would be dry so that the truck could come in and deliver the furniture it was full on. And on Thursday last week, I was just like overwhelmed by like two o'clock and I was exhausted and I just sat down, read a book and, and I, and then I went and have a nap for an hour. And then I went to yoga. So for four hours, I've just looked after myself and it made enormous difference than on the Friday. I was completely fresh. I only walk a half a day on a Friday. So I was up at six and it was done by midday. And it allowed me to kinda get back to the center. So, you know, it was really important to come back to center. But one of the things that you can do when you're feeling overwhelmed is, is just a question of how much time, or are you spending on, on, on different areas of your business.

Den Lennie (15m 41s):
And if you actually track what you're doing versus what you think you're doing, and it can be quite, quite an interesting journey to go on. And so what I can suggest as downloads something called rescue time, its free, it stalls on the machine and on to your phone and whenever your work on your phone or your computer, it's tracking what you're doing and it it's tracking what apps are you using and then you get a report. And so it will show you your productivity for the last day and a week. And it will show you when you were distracted or show you when you were productive. And so its quite, it's quite sobering.

Den Lennie (16m 24s):
You know that this was one particular week that I was tracking and it said that I had done I'm 57 productivity pulses I had spent in one week, seven hours, seven, seven and a half hours being very productive, five and a half hours being very distracted or three hours being neutral and 48 minutes with a productive time. And I'm like, wow. So it measured 57 tasks that I did over the week. That's Monday through Sunday. And that week, my best productivity was seven hours, 27 across the week, which doesn't sound like very much. And it wasn't, and this was back in March of 2018.

Den Lennie (17m 7s):
They did this test. And, and the thing about tracking and measuring is you can't argue. I mean like what are the numbers? I mean, I, I feel I'm a pretty productive, passionate, and I imagined this kind of thing. And I was distracted for five and a half hours that week doing my work week. And that was like, wow. And so I was being productive for two hours a day and I was like, that's insane. And what am I doing with the rest of the time? And you might be in the office for six, eight or 10 hours, but the amount of time you've actually been productive is staggeringly law. Unless you start making improvements. Now my, my productivity team now is much more focused. I probably worked four to six hours a day and I'm probably productive for four hours of those days.

Den Lennie (17m 48s):
So once you know the benchmark, you can start to make improvements and you know, you can break down rescue team into days and see, but the data was productive. Eh, this time I was looking back and I at did some work on that was working Sundays back then. So there are nearly three hours of productive work and a Sunday probably because I'm, it was quiet and it was all the distractions. And I used to work for a Sunday or a Saturday and a couple of hours can be really focused. I have reached a point now and 11 years in where I don't need to do that anymore. But even a few months ago I was still walking on the weekends. On the Monday. I had a very productive day. I was in the office for a full on eight hours and four hours to that was a very productive time.

Den Lennie (18m 32s):
So I'm obviously is going to track you and you know, on Facebook or YouTube was distracting team, but in fact I could be in there optimizing or creating ads. So it's not, it's not a a hundred percent accurate, but it is interesting to see which days are more productive than others. And so if you really want to kind of get deep into this and I get into a rescue time, it's, it's pretty cool. I like it, but it's but you got to be bold. You know, you got to be willing to look at the data and then activity reports can be pulled off and you can see exactly where you are spending time. And, and it's funny looking back at these reports because you know, three years on I'm in a totally different place.

Den Lennie (19m 14s):
And so is my business. So when I think back to the financials we were doing back in 2018 and they may, at the time I was being distracted, it's neither wonder that I was not doing as well as we all know. So, you know, I, I feel we are more profitable and Jeremy more revenue, no with less effort than I was three years ago. And that's fascinating. So really you have to be willing to explore and be willing to look at where the inefficiencies are happening and accept that The, there may be some numbers that come up there that, that are going to terrify you. But once you know what you're actually doing, the more you can track, the more you can stay on top of what you are actually doing, which is productive.

Den Lennie (20m 0s):
So I'd encourage you to install rescue time, make sure that you are actively tracking what you're doing over a month and review that. And let me know how you'd get on. I'd love to know in the comments, if you are tracking this, what your benchmarks are and where you need to improve. All right, guys, I'll talk to you soon. You've been listening to the How to Scale a Video Business podcast with me, your host, Den Lennie. If you are a video business owner, that's hit a ceiling we've benefit from mentorship, support and coaching and check out how you can work with me over at denlennie.com. Don't forget to subscribe and rate the short over an iTunes. I mean, we really appreciate you taking a few minutes to leave review and don't forget to share if you feel you've gotten value from this episode that you think it will be useful for other filmmakers, you know, and please do me a massive favor and share it on social media and in groups that you might be in.

Den Lennie (20m 52s):
So, thanks for listening. See you in the next episode.



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