Aaron LynnBusiness Consultant and Systems Expert

Expert in business systems, strategy, productivity and operations.

From Sydney, based in Bangkok. Have done business everywhere from San Francisco to London to Hong Kong.

I write about systems, business strategy and productivity at https://aaronlynn.com/

Recent Answers

As someone who has been a young, successful entrepreneur and is fast-becoming a middle-aged one, 3 weak habits come to mind.

The first weak habit is blowout.

Young entrepreneurs, especially if they become successful early, put a lot of pressure on themselves and this results in a blowout in time off.

This is the phenomenon where they will work crushing hours for 2 weeks straight and then use that to justify a ski trip for a week to "decompress".

If they just took proper breaks and care of themselves, this would be unnecessary.

The second weak habit that happens with young entrepreneurs when they hit success is that they scale their lifestyle along with their business. They literally spend money faster than they can make it.

To be fair, I believe that every entrepreneur goes through this. The first time you start making more in a week than most people do in a year, it gets to your head a bit and you want to enjoy some of it.

My advice there would be to get it out of your system as fast and as early as you can. Realise how stupid it is and start to do smarter things with your money.

The third weak habit is believing that the adults know more than you.

Some do, but many don't.

Listen to the advisors you trust, but if the business advice you're getting sounds a bit off... don't be afraid to disregard what someone says, even if they're 20 years older than you.

The smarter play is actually to do both.

Start with the online resource and build up your visitor and email list.

Once that gets going, package the problem/solution into ebook form, online course form, and maybe even a done-with-you form. Tier it out so you have a product funnel and the possibility to upsell.

Using the audience you've acquired from your SEO and marketing efforts, sell them the products you've created. You're almost always going to monetise your traffic better yourself than you would selling advertising space.

My most recent corporate position was as CEO of a student recruitment agency in the higher education space. One of my prior ventures was a successful independent online course business.

There's 2 angles from which to look at this:
1. Traditional education institutions.
2. Online course creators.

For the traditional space, universities and other tertiary education providers are going to have to look hard and deep to work out why they should not be delivering all their courses online, at lower cost.

University (college) is starting to become more and more about the campus experience and the people you meet rather than the coursework being taught.

For online course creators, many coaches, consultants and experts are going to launch their own coures - and fail, because they don't know how to market them or how to run successful online businesses.

The fallback for this will be marketplaces like Udemy and Lynda, where pricing and promotion is largely out of the course creator's control and they have to settle for a lower income in exchange for assistance in marketing and promotion.

If we put the two spaces together we end up in a situation where both traditional institutions and online course creators are going to have to work hard to prove their value in a marketplace that is flooded with competitors.

Online courses are digital - they are made of 1s and 0s. The value of those to the consumer will go to 1 if the course creator can prove they have something to offer. Otherwise, it goes to 0 as information wants to be free.

I've been through this myself with every business I have started and there's no easy answer to this - you just do.

The usual path is you'll go through a hopefully-not-too-long period where you try things and they kind-of work... and then one day it just does. It's not an overnight event - it's the culmination of that long process of trying different things.

As others have suggested a support network can help if they pull you up. But stay really, really far away from people who drag you down or try to discourage you from your ventures.

It also helps if you are currently kicking *ss in another area of your life - some sport, the gym, some other hobby you have. That will remind you that you are capable of doing amazing things and that your business is no different.

Your harshest critic is going to be yourself and that's where the self-doubt comes from. You will see others around you succeeding and doing amazing things and wonder why you are not doing the same. But you can. Everyone goes through the ups and downs, some just hide it better than others.

Talk to other entrepreneurs and business owners. Hear from them the challenges they have gone through, and recognise that in some areas you know more and have done more than them, and in others, fair enough, you have a bit to learn.

I've managed traditional and virtual teams in different industries and have gone through building them from scratch as well.

The key thing is culture. And as the founder all culture stems from you.

Whatever you do, others will follow. However you want your team members to act, you have to do the same first.

Just saying "culture" seems simple because it is - if you all like each other and get along well, that will bind your team together for the long-term better than any other fancy management or leadership technique.

Which brings me to a second thing: leadership vs management.

The reason it's time consuming for you at the moment is you are playing both leader AND manager.

As your company grows bigger, you'll likely step more into leadership and pass on your management responsibilities to someone else like a COO or GM.

The difference is this:

Leaders get people to work well and together by highlighting one vision.

Managers get people to work well and together by highlighting their differences and knowing everyone's strengths and weaknesses. Being a good manager helps you work out which teams members learn quicker on their own and which need more hands-on training.

Right now you are doing both, which is a challenge all founders go through. But eventually you'll succeed and get to the point where you can focus on leading with a vision - and leave the management to others.

I see this is filed under "CEO Coach" so I'm assuming that you're the CEO or business owner.

In which case you should lean towards unique problem solving as much as possible. And by that I include strategy work, growth work and vision work.

CEOs should not be doing technical work. They should be working out where the company is headed (vision), how it will get there (strategy) and then motivate and inspire their teams to deliver that (growth).

In the startup phase, sure, you have to do a lot of follow-up and technical work yourself. But as time goes on and processes get put in place and your team expands, you want to be doing less and less of this so that you can free up your time for the most valuable thing - thinking and solving problems.

Everyone else on your team can call clients, process orders or deliver product. But only you can think and solve the high-level problems of the business.

If this isn't a spam question...

There are basically 3 ways to get better at writing:
1. Read.
2. Practice writing.
3. Learn the technical side of good writing.

For reading you can read anything and it's actually a good idea to mix both fiction and non-fiction. Obviously if you want to get good at writing one particular thing, read more of that.

For practicing writing you just need to write - a lot. Some of it will be rubbish. Some of it will be OK. Some of it will be amazing. The more you write, the more people read, and the more feedback you get, the better you will be at writing.

For the technical side you can hope on any learning platform like Udemy and go through a writing course. Pick one that matches the genre of what you want to write about and then go through it. You'll learn the dos and don'ts, how to structure your pieces, how to properly edit, research, proofread and everything else.

I personally like Dr Clare Lynch's courses on Udemy.

Information overload is about too many demands being placed on your attention.

If you have FOMO or are having a hard time managing the pace, the best thing is to go the other way for a while - just stop everything completely.

No social media. No news. No email newsletters.

Just process what you have to for your business, and ignore everything else.

If there is something really, truly, world-changingly important... someone will tell you. That's the beauty of today's connected world.

And once you've reached this zen-like absence of information for a while... now you can start selectively adding things back in. Reactivate your Twitter. Then maybe your Pocket account.

Having gone in the other direction for a while you'll be able to accurately gauge what you really need to pay attention to - and what you don't.

If it saved you both time and money, then yes.

I'll give you the perspective of running a small services firm not in the technology space: instead of doing IT internally or hiring a couple of people full-time, we found a managed service provider with a good track record and contracted with them.

Most of these providers will have multiple support options available and you can find one that fits your budget and needs easily. Most are also happy to come present to you and you can choose which you like best.

In our case we had:
* Full 24x7 email and messaging access to the provider.
* Monthly visits to our offices to perform on-site checks and maintenance.
* Ability to request larger projects etc at additional cost.

This worked amazingly well and was worth every dollar spent.

The best bang-for-buck habit would be a solid morning ritual/routine. Have 4-5 things that you line up every morning and can successfully execute and that will get you in the right frame of mind and performance state to have a really productive day.

Discipline is something you build more over time and takes both successfully building habits and staying away from distractions before one day you wake up and realise "oh wait, I'm disciplined now".

As others have mentioned, behaviours like planning your day the night before are also extremely effective.

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