Shortcut To Nowhere

I tell people all the time, “If you want to be successful, you have to put the work in.”  This is something I just fundamentally believe in.

I find many people who talk about success in the online business having this strange conflicting dichotomy of “rise and grind” and their almost farcical devotion to appearing to do as little work as possible.

Often times these same people are trying all kinds of “growth hacks” and looking for other ways to avoid putting in the work required to build something of value and set themselves up for proper success.

Meet Shortcut Sam

They are the folks that I refer to as “Shortcut Sam”.

I have a whole list of these stereotypes that I’ve profiled over the years that are an amalgam of characteristics you come across in the business world online.  At one stage I actually wrote a whole post for another site about them but strangely I never got around to actually posting them.  Maybe I’ll resurrect those one day.

Anyway, I digress.

What got me thinking about “Shortcut Sam” was a discussion I was having today with someone who was telling me about how she spent all day researching a “hack” to prevent her from having to do something in her business.  This process was, at least in my opinion, vital to the success of onboarding her new customers, which I’ve always felt was a strength for her.

Wasting Time On Meaningless Shortcuts

I asked her how much time did she think this “hack” would save her per customer in terms of total time.  Her answer absolutely floored me.  She said, “Probably close to five minutes per new customer.”

Now, without being disrespectful, this lady’s online business is not Amazon or Netflix.  She’s not pulling hundreds of thousands of new customers per month.  In fact, her customers are all pretty high value, so the volume is fairly low – we’re talking maybe 10 – 15 new customers per month in a monthly recurring model with very low customer churn.

She had spent about six hours by her own admission trying to “solve this problem” today.  Again, I was astounded.  I honestly didn’t know of a nice way to tell her how much time she wasted.

Effectively, she was spending about an hour performing a single customer onboarding task across all of her new customers every month.  That’s it, one hour per month in total.  Today, she spent six hours trying to “hack” her way out of that part of the process or about six months of “potential” saved time.

More importantly, the actual task she was trying to automate was a really nice personal touch.  As a customer, I would have loved it.  In fact, her core market is women and I think they probably would have appreciated it even more.

Focusing On The Wrong Things

The easy answer is to say that she lost sight of the bigger picture trying to solve what she thought was a problem in her business.  It happens to me all the time, I start trying to find a better way to do something and I lose several hours.  I’ve been waging this war myself for the last month periodically with the checkout process for Casual Marketer, so I totally get that.

The problem is, that wasn’t why she was doing it.  When I asked why she felt this was a problem that needed solving her answer was, “I want to free up more time for myself, so I can work less.”

To quote the unparalleled genius, Bart Simpson, “Ay Caramba!”

Immediately, I realized she was a “Shortcut Sam”.  She was willing to sacrifice quality in her service and her own long term best interest so that she could have more time to take pictures of herself drinking mojitos with her BFFs at lunch.

I’m not being flippant (ok, maybe a little) but to me, if I have 4 hours to work on my business every day, if I find a way to save an hour, it’s not so that I can spend more time watching Netflix, it’s so that I can work on other things in the business.

Success Requires Hard Work

One thing I try and tell everyone who is a subscriber to the Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter and people who get my daily emails or read the blog is that when this isn’t your main gig, you’re going to have to work hard to succeed.

It’s just that simple.

You’ve chosen to do something that’s hard; I applaud that and congratulate you for making that choice, but you’re going to have to put the work in.  There will be sacrifice along the way.  For me it’s a bit of sleep and time watching TV or relaxing – effectively, I’ve traded my leisure time in to do Casual Marketer.  For you, it may be skipping a yoga class a couple times a week or the once a week catch-up with mates at the pub.

But there will be sacrifice and work required, let’s just be clear with ourselves.

And do yourself a big favour right now, stop trying to look for shortcuts.  I’m not saying that you should be manually doing meaningless things that would be better off automated or you that you should stop trying to find better ways to do things.  No, what I’m saying is, don’t take shortcuts.  We’re all adults here, I don’t have to explain it to you.  You know when you’re trying to cut corners, so just don’t do it.

The other favour you can do yourself is to subscribe to the Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter.  It’s just $29 per month at the moment, but it will be going up to $49 in May 2016.  If you want to lock in your price for the life of your subscription, you should click the link below and sign up now.

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