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Principles & Tools I've Used to Build a 7 Figure Business

Published or Updated On: 
March 24, 2023

If there was a competetion between me today and me from 2017 to see who could accomplish the most in 6 months, I would shit all over 2017 version of me. It wouldn’t even be a contest. Mike Tyson vs. your grandma. 👵

Turns out that if you really hammer away at your craft for years and apply yourself to learning, you get better at it. Who’d have thought? No magic, no talent, just some good old fashioned elbow grease.

This blog post is a list of principles & tools that create the performance difference between 2017 me and today me. It’s my pile of hard-earned gold nuggets, and I personally guarantee that it will make you one billion dollars this year if you use them (two if you share this post).

For maximum impact, I’ve limited this list to tools and perspectives I’ve used for longer than 1 year. The way I work is constantly evolving and I’m always trying new things. This is what has stuck.

Work Principles

This is by no means exhaustive but it’s a list of things that I rely on regularly. This list is more useful for someone who has a business setup already. Many of these will be useful for a person employed by someone else too. It's geared more towards "how to think about work", rather than "how the world works", i.e. no lessons in here about supply & demand.

🏃Sprint model

  • The forty hour week was invented for the industrial age. It does not work for knowledge workers. It is a relic. Forget about it.
  • If you try to do 8h straight on task of knowledge work, what happens? Your quality of work degrades rapidly or you take breaks anyways (e.g. find yourself staring out the window). A big opportunity is to be more strategic about your break use. You’ll get more done AND have more free time.
  • I do 1 hour or 30min work sprints. I use a timer (described below). No distractions. I go deep. Sprints are followed by short or long breaks depending on how many I’ve done.
  • I don’t do anything too indulgent on my breaks, like start a movie or play video games. I don't do anything that would be hard to stop. Usually I go for a walk, eat, meditate, talk to someone, or read for a few.

🙅‍♂️ Aim for “no day job”

  • I aim to not have a day job with my company. This doesn’t mean I don’t find high value projects to work on, it means I’m not required or involved much in the day-to-day activities of each department.
  • You are the main person responsible for having trajectory-altering insights. Want to know when these don't happen? When you're in the weeds of a day job.
  • This is key. You cannot be drowning in tasks daily. You need the blank space to be able to stumble into, and explore, a trajectory-altering opportunity.
  • If you’re just starting out, this does not apply to you. You should focus on creating a manual valuable process, doing everything yourself, before getting out of the day-to-day. 

🔧 Create leverage

  • Build systems, then automate or hire.
  • Use money to make something that’s working happen at a bigger scale, or happen faster (e.g. scaling purchase order size of a best seller, scaling marketing spend on a profitable return).
  • Know the best points of leverage and apply force accordingly.

✋ Don’t do work:

  • Below your hourly
  • That you really don’t like
  • That someone else could do much better

⬆️ Think big

  • There’s a book I keep on my desk called “The Magic of Thinking Big”. It's self explanatory, and it's powerful. See what can be, not just what is.
  • Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement to scale up our thinking, strategies & goals.

👔 Work like a Professional

  • I’m a Professional (head nod Steven Pressfield), which means my butt is in seat at my scheduled times, whether I feel like it or not
  • This is especially true on days where I slept 3h or something. I double down on getting time in early, knowing I’ll be mentally impaired later.

🧪 Minimum viable everything

  • Whenever I want to do something, I ask myself “What is the simplest, fastest way I can try to get the desired result?”
  • Your earning power as an entrepreneur is directly proportional to your ability to come up with simple & cheap experiments that test ideas ⏩ fast.
  • Get to the “live testing” phase of any project as soon as possible, and let real world feedback guide you.

🗄️ Concept: Eisenhower Matrix

  • A great way to categorize the types of work that come your way.
  • Ruthlessly delete/decline/indefinitely shelf work.
  • Understand that work which is important but not urgent is where great gains can be either achieved or missed.

🔋 My formula for getting energy from work:

  • 1️⃣ Know where you want to be & have a Believable plan to get there.
    - By Believable, I mean you’ve got some pretty solid real-world proof (not just hunches) that your plan will work, and you understand why.
    - If you don’t have a Believable plan, your job is to make one. This is the #1 job of a leader.
  • 2️⃣ Be decisive - most decisions don’t matter much. Being decisive builds a sense of momentum.
  • 3️⃣ Use leverage - delegate, spend money, or use technology in order to make things happen without you, happen faster.

🌟 You get 3 to 4 peak quality hours per day

  • I used to not believe this, but have found it to be true when comparing the clarity and speed of my thinking at different times of the day. For me, an hour of work at 330pm is not the same as an hour of work at 800am.
  • Know when your peak hours are and build your work day around them. Mine are first thing in the morning, approximately one hour after waking, so I front load the day & do my most important work first thing in the AM. 

🔬 Limit your focus

  • Narrow focus to one or two major projects at a time if they’re going to require heavy lifting. E.g. if you’re building something you’ve never done before. Don’t try to learn 3 new marketing channels at once. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, prioritize and narrow.
  • Focus on delivering excellent quality work for those one or two major projects, then snoozing or terminating them once complete. This keeps mental RAM clear & improves work satisfaction.

🚫 Restrict your hours

  • Periodically, I like to work restricted hours. It keeps my "hour to value output" ratio high, and encourages me to think in these terms. The game is not about hours, it is about value. The world rewards you for value created, not hours worked. This is an amazingly liberating fact.
  • Restricting hours is also about setting boundaries - e.g. I will not work after 400pm. This has been key for keeping energy high.

🚀 Decisions follow a power law

  • Most don’t matter, but a few great decisions per year can be chiefly responsible for your success (head nod Peter Thiel). Another very exciting fact.
  • A few of the right things in place can be the difference between $1m and $20m.

🧮 80/20 

  • Another pointer to non-normal distribution of inputs and outputs. A majority results come from minority efforts. Identify those critical few and focus on them.
  • I use this all the time. E.g. the majority of your email revenue will come from a minority of your automations.
  • It’s about the idea, not the specific ratio.

✨ Being organized = better decision making

  • Good decision making comes from clarity*. Clarity comes from organization. Take the time to get organized.
  • Writing is a great tool to help with organization & clarity. “What is my goal?” Is a prompt at the top of many of my notes. Another tip is to braindump thoughts onto a note sheet, then organize. If you aren’t sure where to start, just start writing ideas, considerations, problems etc. Get it out first, then organize.
  • *among other things. Good decision making is it's own blog post.

⚙️ Simplified Getting Things Done method

  • Description here for how I handle task management.
  • The main things are: 1. Working out of a single place for my task management. For me, this is an app called Things. 2. No open loops. There are no “To-Do”s stored in my brain, ever. I literally never have to worry about remembering something. This is key for making non-work hours restful.

Work Tools

Everyone seems to think that they are just one special tool away from riding the exponential growth curve, from finally blasting through their projects. Principles are more powerful than tools. The tools I use below are pretty basic, but they're all I need. Again, this is geared more towards personal work than domain-specific work. I.e. I'm not going to talk about the app I use for returns or Facebook ads here.

📝 Time Tracker Sheet

  • I’ve been tracking my time for about 1.5 years. It takes me a few minutes to do and goes well with the sprint model of work. If you’ve only got 3 or 4 peak quality hours per day, it’s a good idea to know where they’re going.
  • I created this sheet to help me track it easily. ➡️ Download the worksheet here. Then select File —> Make a copy.
  • How to use it is a pretty self explanatory with the examples populated in the sample sheet, but here’s a couple of important pointers:
  • 1️⃣ Create a list of what you want to accomplish for the day (not what you want to do).
    - Don't write: Work on setting up A/B tests
    - Write: Get A/B tests live by the end of the day
    - This is a subtle but very important distinction. It prevents Parkinson’s Law, keeps you focused on real milestones rather than hours worked. 
  • 2️⃣ Eat that frog 🐸 — don’t start with emails or light shit, start with a needle mover. Why? Builds in a win for the day, no total losses. Prevents a situation where you look back on the last month and feel you haven't actually done anything important.
  • 3️⃣ During your peak hours, do not do work as it comes to you. E.g. when you get a Slack notification or whatever. Stick to your original plan unless you consciously decide to reprioritize. 

⏲️ Timer RH

  • I use this for my sprints. I usually float it on top so that it serves as a reminder to stay focused.
  • When timer runs out, you take a break.
  • In general, try to stop working & take a short break when the timer goes off. I’ve found my quality of work is reliably better even after 10min of stepping away. It’s a great way to avoid rabbit holes and zoom back out.

📒 Apple Notes & Stickies

  • I use Apple Notes because it’s free, works great and syncs readily across devices. I think I have 3,500+ notes. I break them up into folders by category (e.g. Paid Social, Influencers, Media) etc. I use this app & folders for personal shit too (Cooking, House, Training etc)
  • I use the Apple Stickies app for fast thoughts that I later move to a note, or float on top (e.g. when doing research, keeping the question I want to answer close at hand to avoid rabbit holes)

📥 Things

  • The app I use for my simplified GTD method. The main reason I like it is because it does a great job with the small set of features you really need, is highly intuitive & not bloated with shit I don’t care about.

What is the most valuable principle or tool in your arsenal? Would love to hear from you:

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