#43: The Power of Projects (and a preview into my SaaS journey)

Today Ben walks you through how “hope” and the power of long term projects have kept him sane during the Lockdown. (and he talks about his latest business venture, Leadkit).

Episode Transcription:

Um, all of us, as, you know, kids, adults, we pick up along the way is we get into a position to where we, we sort of build coping mechanisms. We sort of build these things that, um, allow us to get through life. And the older you get, the more, um, coping mechanisms you sort of put together to deal with all the things. And that’s good. You know, some coping mechanisms are healthy, some are not so healthy. And so one of the things that I’ve always been focused on, um, as I, you know, grown to become an adults is what are some ways that I can cope with the daily stressors of being an entrepreneur? Not that there aren’t enough stresses put on us as just human beings, but how, you know, the stresses that come with being an entrepreneur can sometimes be a lot from, you know, making sure that, you know, your staff is taken care of that they continue to get paid and you know, their families are taken care of.

Um, but also that your customers are taken care of and that you’re doing all the things you can to take care of all the people that are sort of in your sphere, all the people that are part of your community. And so, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of things that I developed along the way that were sort of coping strategies and things that, you know, as the week went on. And as you know, I got my butt handed to me way or the other with work that I could get away. And for a long time I get away was work. And so that’s, what’s so funny, is it, you know, it was work, work was my hobby work was my work too, this whole online entrepreneur thing was it. And then, you know, that becomes unhealthy because there’s no escape from it. Um, it’s okay if everything’s going well all the time, not so great when it’s not going well at times.

And I’ve been through ups and downs just like most people. And so, you know, you have to develop some strategy, this isn’t. So for a long time, I developed these strategies. And for me, it was, you know, on the weekends going out and watching live music in a tiny little dive bar. Um, that that’s something that’s great for me being around people, but not necessarily having to socialize with people, just being around people in the mix is good for me. And so that, that was something that was great because, you know, I went from being a business owner that was in a brick and mortar business that was surrounded by people all the time to somebody that was sitting in a dark room, um, creating, you know, training or stuff that helps people. And that’s, it’s a great job. I love my job now and I I’ve never going to do anything else because this is my calling, but sitting in the dark room can be tough.

Okay. So all that said, what’s funny is, is about two and a half months ago, almost three months now, um, the world sort of shifted and I took it upon myself to not go outside for awhile to not do the normal things that I did to cope now, whatever it is that, you know, you think about all this COVID-19 stuff here was my reasoning. I had gone on a trip to Washington DC. There was cases of COVID-19 close to me when I was in DC. So I come back home and my thought is, I’ve got family, I’ve got friends that are potentially at risk. And so I have to do everything that I possibly can to sort of cut myself off for a little bit because I had been around people. So I did that. And after everything sort of, you know, kept going, I continued to make sure that, um, I stayed isolated.

So for about two and a half months, literally, um, I didn’t get out of my car if I went outside. And that was very draining to me psychologically because all of a sudden, the only thing I had left was my family is here, which has been great. I’m lucky to have an amazing family and amazing wife and amazing kid that have handled this with a lot of grace. Not that they haven’t had their ups and downs too, but a lot of grace, but, you know, for me not being able to have that pressure valve, that pressure release of being able to go out and be around people was hard. And so it’s funny. Um, midway through all this, I got very lucky. I put together a training program. It was called seven days to launch. I talked about it in the last podcast, how we made a $35,000 from the documentary.

What was so great about that is every day for seven days, uh, I was geared up about something. I had a lot of work to do. I had a project to do. And by the time I got to like, stay six, stay seven. I was so tired, not only from building everything that we built in that documentary in actually doing the work, but from actually presenting to. So I was tired. So I was actually looking forward to, you know, having a few days to rest. And then this is the funny thing when I got those days to rest, um, something bad happened. I thought that I was in trouble mentally because I was mentally exhausted from going through that process, even though it was a good process. I, you know, I thought that I was exhausted, but what ended up actually happening was this. I was geared up for this project, excited about this project and had all these things to look forward to every day, there was something new and there was a challenge to overcome.

And then all of a sudden it was over. And when it was over, I crashed hard for a couple of days, but then I woke up two days later and I had nothing to look forward to. I mean, that sounds terrible because listen, I’ve got a great life. I have a great family, I have lots of things that are wonderful. But the interesting thing that I’ve learned during all of this is if you don’t have something you’re gearing up for, um, it’s very easy to sort of delve into the bowels of depression. And I don’t want to go as far as to say that I was depressed, but, um, you know, you definitely start seeing some signs of that because I got angry and I didn’t know what I was angry at. I didn’t want to get out of bed and that’s not like me.

And so it was very interesting for me and I didn’t see it at first. I didn’t see it for what it was. I didn’t see that I was, you know, just dealing with it. I had nothing to look forward to and you know, there a lot of people that are a lot worse off, but here’s the thing did I still have work to do everyday? Of course I still had work to do. I still had a company to run ahead, still had staff to take care of. And to, for them to take care of me, we were all still functioning. You know, I still had the day to day, but I didn’t have like the big thing that I was running towards. It was just maintenance work. Right? Like it was at home, it was maintenance, taking care of myself, you know? So like working out those kinds of things, it was things that I could get through without having to put too much thought into them.

And so that was, that was interesting. I, and so when I finally came across what was happening to me and why my brain was so out of kilter, um, I realized that I had to change some things up and changing those things up, um, was extremely, extremely important. And this, this is sort of the thing that I want to put in front of you. And, um, and, and talk about it. It’s what, what do you do to fix yourself when you sort of get in these holes? And it’s super important during all this COVID-19 stuff. Um, it’s super important when you can’t go outside for any other reason. And there’s lots of social reasons going on right now. If you’re, if you’re timestamping this, you can probably figure out what I’m talking about. If you’re listening to this later,

You know, the thing is, is no matter what happens to be going on in your life, it’s important to understand how to self-motivate, it’s important to understand how to keep yourself moving. It’s important to understand how to keep rocking it out. And so today I come at you with some good news, I’m in a really good place, and it’s probably the best place that I’ve been in since I’ve been in this, not to say that there aren’t some mental struggles of not being able to do certain things because of, you know, COVID-19 restrictions and social unrest and being, not being able to go to certain places because of certain things.

Whoa is me. Like, I have it very easy. Like I’m not saying that, uh, you know, listen, I have it very easy compared to a lot of people. Let me go ahead and give that disclaimer, but here, but here’s the thing, what I have figured out is it’s the power of projects

And really giving Myself room and permission to run towards something that is much greater than myself. Even though it’s a lot of work coming up, even though there’s a lot of things that have to happen to make these things happen, really saying, I don’t care if it’s impossible, this is a project that I’m actually going to work on because I’ve got to get to a finish line. I’ve got to run towards something. And even if the finish line is five years away, that’s okay. And so through all this process, um, along the way I started thinking, you know what, I want to help businesses, um, more, I want to help businesses get back on their feet. So what do I do? And I think back to when I was a chiropractor and how I got new patients through the door, and it was just a simple little funnel that I ran and then with a little bit of software help that I had sort of stitched eight different things together. And by stitching those eight different things together, we got people through our doors,

We got new clients. And so I thought, you know,  Is there a way to make this process easier because stitching all that stuff together, it was very hard. And 99% of people out there that have small businesses, it’s not something that they’re going to know how to do out of the box. And so we start a building and we had this piece of software that we had built a while back, um, called lead kit. And it was something that was, you know, I always loved, um, because a lot of my, a lot of what goes on in my brain is to how to drive business to a business is in that software. But there was a lot of things wrong with it. And so for the last little bit, that’s been my focus, every little bit of focus has been on how do we prep this piece of software in a way that it gives people a versatility to build what they need to build, but also it gives them a leg up on building things to get people into a small business.

And so this is what I’ve been working on. Um, I’m really good at training people how to do things to drive new business, but what I was not so good at was building software and communicating with developers. And that, that was absolutely, you know, when we got someone in to really overhaul lead kit and make it do what it needed to do and get it updated and, you know, fixed and do all the things that we wanted to do with it. I started really realizing these weaknesses that I have and, you know, weaknesses can be scary, but also at the same time, weaknesses can be great because when I started to see this weakness, I’m like, okay, this is my project. This is what I’ve got to run towards. This is something I’ve got to get better at. And so, you know, in the last little bit I sat down and I found this cool, cool to mock up software, and I’ve been mocking up, you know, what the software like, where it’s at right now, what it looks like.

That’s great. It does a great job. And it’s simple for people to use it. And I’m excited for people to get into it when we really start pushing it. But, you know, I sat down and mocked up what I wanted it to look like in two years from now. And that was something that was amazing. And then once I got that died and mocked up, then it was finding a team to develop it, but also figuring out, Hey, you need to learn how to run a software company because you’re good at running this type of company. You’re not good at running the type of company that you want to have, which is a company that has a piece of software that does something over and over again, gets great results, but does it over and over again and show, you know, that’s been my project, that’s been the thing it’s, it’s, I’ve been putting all of the skills that I have into the project, but also it’s frustrating when all of the skills you have aren’t enough and you have to pick up new skills and it’s frustrating, but it’s good.

So that’s been sort of, my project is okay, I’ve been building all this marketing material to show people how to use this tool, um, so that they can help small businesses or they can help their own small business. And that’s been great. That’s been a great project and I’ve been building all these things. That’s been helpful on that. And I’m sure you’ll see them all soon. But I think the really interesting thing and the, the thing that really gets me is the big project for me, is figuring out how to run a team of developers and to build really great software that does what in my head, you know, helps businesses. Because like I said, I have all these tricks. I have all these techniques that if you go sit down with a business owner and you show them how to do this stuff, it’s going to work.

But a lot of the stuff that we show them is very technical. It takes, you know, putting together eight different tools together to do it. And most people don’t have the patience or the time to do that. And so with Lee kit, that’s what we did. We took the eight different tools. We put them into one instead of something that people could set up and, you know, five minutes to two to five minutes now, that’s all great, but actually running that company and making sure that software is solid is hard, but that’s, what’s kept me saying that’s what his totally, when, when I got out of the mode of, okay, what are all the things that I could do? Could I, you know, do I need to start this hobby, this hobby, this hobby, this hobby, when it came down to, how about I just get really, really good at running a software company, something changed in me.

And it was that focus on this one thing and becoming really good at this one thing, taking the skills that I already had and bringing it into that, but then picking up those new skills. That was the thing. And so, listen, I tell this story for one very important reason. If right now you seem a little lost and like, you know, you’re having a tough time and maybe you’re seeing some depression symptoms. I want you to sort of take a step back and say, is it because my coping mechanisms have gone away and I’m not allowed to cope with life and the negative parts of life with what I used to cope with. Okay. If that’s the answer, if it is the answer for you, good, at least, you know, the problem. And I invite you to do this. I invite you to say what’s something that I would like to build.

What’s something that I would like to do. It doesn’t have to be building a software company like me obviously, but what’s something that I’d like to build. And I would love to be known for this. I would love to help the world with this idea, how does it all come together and listen, if you need help figuring out, you know, what are the steps to get there? Reach out to me, go to serial progress, seeker.com, drop me a message. And you know, I’d love to jam with you on that. But I think that the thing is, is the secrets to keeping yourself saying 90% of the time during all these challenges that we’re going through is to zero in on a project, in a project that’s not going to be done in a week, a project that’s not going to be done in a month, but a project that will have a small piece of it done in a week.

Another small piece has done in a month, but all those small pieces, you know, there’s tons of things to build. And that’s really the thing with Lee kit. The thing that I kind of got behind is I can build something great in the next two months and put it out there and help an incredible amount of people. But it’s also something for me that after those two months, it’s not finished. I have tons of things that I can talk about. And as I sit and plan this thing out, I’m running this race. I’m, you know, I’m on this journey with this project that every week I get a new thing done. So there’s satisfaction in getting something done, but it’s also every time I get something done, it’s a new step to the next step for this thing. And so with what you’re doing, that’s it.

How do you get out of the maintenance mode stuff, the going to work, showing up, coming home, um, logging into your computer, logging out, doing the work that you have to do maintenance at home with working out with brushing your teeth. Those are maintenance things that all have to be done. What are the things that are really going to stretch your mind right now that are one project outside of the maintenance stuff that is going to stretch you and really stretch your mind. And for me, it’s this thing called lead kit. You know, it’s this tool that I’m working on that, uh, has been great. And, and what’s so great about lead kid is it’s led to two other software projects and really understanding how to do those with other people. And so, like I said, what is also so funny is this is this one project you’re super focused on is going to lead you down other paths too.

And all that to say this, I really, really understand if you feel down right now, if you feel like you don’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes if you feel like the world’s on its head, you can’t fix a lot of it. And, and that’s the unfortunate thing you can speak up. You can get behind people, but you can’t fix a lot of this. What you can fix is what you are building. And it’s okay to take some days off. It’s okay to chill out, but that’s not typically going to last for people like you, um, for people like you. And I, we need to build, we need to build things. Um, and when we’re not building things, we don’t have something to look forward to. We get into a bad place and we’re not contributing to the world when that happens. So that’s it.

What is the thing that you want to build? Even if it seems impossible, start mapping it out. What kind of work would it take? Can you get pieces of it done in the next month to two months? So, so that you can add something, but then, you know, you can keep adding to it. What are the things that you can keep running this one race for a long time and along the way you make a really big impact in the world, at least as you know, and when I say the world, it’s not the world at large, I’m talking about a small little group of people. How can you make an impact in a small group of people, but by keeping to develop this one thing over the years, you continue to make an impact. That’s a tough question. I get that. And like I said, if you’ve got something that you’re passionate about right now, or that you were passionate about before all this started, I want you to think about that.

What is it? What’s the one problem you see that you’d like solved and start solving it. So think about that. Like I said, you want some help with it, reach out. I’d love to, uh, I’d love to throw some ideas your way you can email me at Ben at serial progress, seeker.com. I’m always here. I don’t know if anything I said today, hit a nerve with anybody, or this is going to be like people listening to this. And I’m like, well, this was a big waste of my time to listen to Ben. Talk about his new project. The point is, is I was crashing for awhile because none of my coping mechanisms were working anymore. Um, but then I got really focused on a project that not only had short goals to achieve, but long-term goals to achieve. And that’s been absolutely huge for me.

So I hope that all makes sense. I hope you’re doing good out there. COVID-19 aside. Um, social unrest aside, all the things that are going on around us right now, be safe, take care of each other, do your best to understand what others are going through and that their story has been different than yours. And that’s why they see the world in a different way, but do your best to pay attention to others and take care of them. And at the same time, do your best to pay attention to what’s going on in your own head. Because if you don’t keep yourself solid, if you don’t keep yourself together, you can’t really help anybody else. And so I invite you to do this this week, sit down, find a project. If you can’t find a big long-term project and you can’t start making plans towards that, get a small project.

Even if it’s just going to take you a week, because while you’re doing that project, you will start opening up the doors in your brain, to the big ones. And even if it’s going out and planting a garden this week, even if it’s, you know, putting together a piece of furniture or changing a room in your house, like you’ve got, let’s say you’ve got a home office and this week you just need to shake things up and move things around, do it. Those are great things to open up some pathways in your brain to bigger and better things. And so that’s it, you know, a lot of where I’ve gotten with things is the first big project I had was rearranging my office, which seems so silly, but it opened up a lot of new doors in my brain just because of having to go through and work towards something.

And yes, that project wore off pretty quick because the office was done, but it led to some bigger things. All right. I hope that you’re doing good this week. I’m going to be here week after week after week, because I think it’s important that we meet up at least once a week right now, and talk to each other. And I want to hear back from you. So leave me a review on iTunes. Leave me a message at my email, Ben Ben atkins.com. Let me know what’s going on with you. Let me know what you’re struggling through. Let me know what you’re kicking at right now. That’s what I want to know too. And I’m here to hear you, so I hope you’re doing good. I’ll be back next week. We’re going to talk more about lead kit. I’m sure. And keep on trying to grow. That’s that’s the whole point of this serial progress seeker thing is even when times are tough, we continue to move forward and that’s it. So take care, hit me up if you need anything and I’ll be back next week to talk more about lead kit and what we’re doing with it. Uh, and also some other fun things that we’ve got going on. So lots of fun going to be dropped in the next little bit. All right. Take care of yourself. Be good. I’ll see you next time.

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