Here’s the date today and again I’m back with some of my musings.
Today we’re talking about this book:
This, for trying to run my business better, has probably been the single most insightful book I’ve read over the last month that I’ve been on this reading odyssey.
If Deep Work, Atomic Habits and Digital Minimalism were all focussed upon how to improve myself – this book is definitely focussed upon how I can improve my business.
If I just compare the number of notes I’ve made from this book as compared to the others – this may well perhaps stand as the longest;
This is one of those books that you don’t ‘read’ per se – you study them.
My routine is that I will go on a walk and fire up Zenkit and take notes where and when I think there is something to take away or learn from it.
Then I’ll either immediately action it (by sending an email to Lydia) or it’ll simmer in my mind and I’ll start working upon it over the next few days.
This book is undoubtedly a true operating manual for how to run a business better.
Given I’ve never read a book about how to actually run a business – this book has had a huge impact upon me. Although I’m not confident that any of my entrepreneurial friends like me who haven’t had a ‘career’ to speak of have either.
Wickman gives you an insight into every element of your business as you can see from the list above which is broken down further into multiple checklists.
The information for me was so shockingly applicable that reading this book has definitely made my head hurt and it wouldn’t be right if I glossed over leaving a review (as I’ve already moved onto my next book).
So with that in mind, let’s consider some of the things that I’ve learnt and have/am in the process of implementing and ignore anything that I’ve yet to do – because until that happens it remains solely theoretical.
I’ve asked key members of my team what they want for the next few years to make sure we’re all in alignment:
This is important to make sure my key team is happy with their path and that we adjust where is needed.
Gino talks about the right person for the right job, and that they must have the motivation and skillset to thrive in that position.
Sending out these messages have given me great clarity and led me to offer Lydia a full-time position – especially once she gave me clarity on her desires, path and needs:
Other significant inclusions have been to introduce time-tracking to the team via Clockify. Not because I will track time – but because it’s human nature to be competitive and I’ve already found in our Whatsapp group screenshots are coming in of people’s times.
Giving your team a ‘number’ as well as ‘north star’ to aim for is important as well – so a number is one metric that’s critical to track that is discussed in our weekly meeting.
Some examples are that Fares our designer is aiming to develop 10 wireframes per week. Tenny is aiming to message 20 people a week about Wordpigeon and Lydia is aiming to reduce her Trello tasks to as few items a week as possible – right now she’s on 5.
So again this gives my team a sense of direction and gamifies the whole process of striving to get better.
As you can also tell – we’re beginning to build out our operational procedures in-depth as well:
I’m wary of building a list ad nauseam so I’ll stop here.
I have my forthcoming co-founder in a new development project Shripad to thank for this.
He runs a development team in India of 22 full-time staff but also seems to live a very relaxed life. He has multiple software apps that he has with partners as well as some of his own and does extremely well.
Historically, he used to run a development agency where he also had clients and rightly mentioned he found it to not be as satisfying as running a development team focussed upon his passion of building software products.
To me, knowing I run an agency he suggested I should read Traction, and that it was a game-changing book for him.
And so that’s where this advice has come from.
Ultimately my quest for development continues and this has definitely been another leap I take as hopefully some of those screenshots above outline.
Currently, I’m actually reading Cal Newport’s ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’, and when I combine this with Traction something very interesting comes out from it.
I used to often tell Strawberry how much I hated running an agency and how stressful it was and what problems there were that came with it.
Actually, I was simply in a stretch zone as I was figuring out how to run an agency in real time, and had extremely limited business experience. This whole experience made it stressful and at many times far from enjoyable.
This is what Cal Newport in the latest book I’m reading refers to as a ‘stretch zone’ and was a particularly intense period for me where I worked to build a better agency as the needs of my clients demanded it.
What’s interesting is that a year ago, running my agency was SIGNIFICANTLY more stressful than it is today as the operation is vastly improved, and now we have a process that is relatively smooth.
What I takeaway from reading Traction and Newport’s book one after the other is this – and both books make reference to it:
The importance of focussing upon problems within your own business and improving as much as you can.
This is how you become excellent and the reward is the journey towards excellence itself.
For me, if I take advice from Wickman & Newport this means the following:
- Learn more about how to run an agency (I’ve just purchased a course about how to run an agency more effectively)
- When I get excited by something ‘different’ ask myself – what is still WRONG with my business (as I’m discovering tons)
- And to focus deeply upon my own business
This week that draws to a close marks the first time in perhaps as long as I can remember (although my memory is terrible) that I’ve actively focussed upon ‘Deep Work’
Unfortunately, it’s been driven by the departure of a great member of my team Sam Vanmeter. Meaning that it was more a reactive shift than a proactive shift.
However, the timing has been perfect in line with the books I am reading as it’s made me dive headfirst into improving the delivery of our lead-generation services.
In the space of one week our system has gone from:
LinkedIn outreach and messaging to book calls to….
LinkedIn outreach, a follow-up email drip campaign, adding people to a Twitter list and then leaving them a voicemail all automatically.
Furthermore, our reporting has gone from bi-weekly to weekly and is actually easier to produce than the historical reports and now clients are getting ‘lead notifications’ on a daily basis whereas previously they had to wait for the report…
Thus reducing client dialogue by 50%.
The improvements continue and because of the new framework these books have given me I’m actually more excited by growing my agency than I have ever been, as now I feel I’m much closer to riding the hard path to success.
So thank you Shripad for the amazing recommendation and thank you Wickman and Newport – what an impact you’ve had upon me.