Justin Meadows, who manages WordPress and 10XPRO sites for his clients, has seen it time and again - situations made complex by tools, funnels, processes that just aren’t needed.
How do you pare an online business down to only what it really needs? Justin shares his methods in this SuperFastBusiness interview.
01:06 – Paving the easy route for people
03:39 – The work you shouldn’t be doing
05:12 – Are you stuck on the tools?
07:12 – Sometimes it takes just a tweak
08:46 – The stuff that needs stripping
10:15 – What to look for when streamlining
13:37 – Tool rules and lists
15:18 – How about changing cards?
16:14 – What switching software can do
18:15 – Remembering to be human
20:09 – The takeaway in summary
21:26 – Perfection is when…
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 709. And we’ll be talking about streamlining your business. And I’ve brought along my friend Justin Meadows, from – now, Justin, this is an interesting one, you have a couple of websites. So I’ll let you mention two.
James: Woah, that’s a new one.
James: So, tell me, what does each site do?
Paving the easy route for people
Justin: So basically, with both of those sites, we’re looking at helping people with their website hassles. We just take care of everything for them so that they can focus on doing the main things that help them grow their business – creating content, building relationships, that sort of thing. And we take care of all the website hassles for them and make the changes to their website and build out their website, look after it, all that sort of thing. So we’ve been doing that with WordPress for about 10 years, and now we’re doing it with 10XPRO as well.
James: Right. Well, I appreciate that, because we’ve got a lot of 10XPRO users in my community, and there needs to be a supplier who’s good at doing the stuff they shouldn’t do. Because over the years, like, if you go back early days when you and I were first doing work together, it’s a while now, isn’t it, Justin?
James: You know, I had in-person workshops where I would encourage people to bring their laptop. And in that workshop, we would pick a domain name and find an offer to promote and then write some salescopy and then build a website and then publish it. And that was like, what we were doing 10, 11, 12 years ago.
That’s not what I teach anymore. Now I work with people who already have an existing business. And I actually encourage them to have other people look after their website and other people doing most of the features in their business, or via a team.
Justin: That’s right. Yeah.
James: So you can either have in-house resource or you can use an external supplier, but the most important thing is try not to be doing this stuff yourself. And I came up with this idea that I want to be one layer back from the logins, from all of these things. I don’t want to log into WordPress. We have a 10XPRO installation as well, on a site we’ve been building out, but I don’t log into that either.
Now, one could argue that all of these platforms are fairly easy to use. WordPress is easy to add a post, I know that. I did it for years. 10XPRO’s easy to build entire funnels, and because it’s got the cart, and it does all the other features you want, like the membership upload and stuff; you don’t need to now glue together 16 different plugins and bits and pieces to turn WordPress into a membership platform.
10XPRO’s straight out of the gate. So it is technically easy to use by yourself. However, I’m still seeing it applied really well for a bunch of my members, especially at the SilverCircle level, where at the SilverCircle level, they are already in motion; they’re really good at what they do. They’re not a web developer or a techie or even an admin person. They’re not editing their podcasts. They’re not writing their own emails, in many cases, they’re not loading them up to the CRM to send out and push to members. They’re not even doing their social media quite often. So we’re at a level in SilverCircle where they want an easy-to-use platform for their team that’s in one place without having to band-aid things together, but they still want someone to use it. I think that’s where your Tuned10X is going to be a really great service.
The work you shouldn’t be doing
James: But in your capacity, as being the person helping organize people with all their digital assets when it comes to the website, I bet you’ve seen some nightmares, Justin.
Justin: Yeah, we have. Firstly, on the point, like, with 10XPRO in particular, it is easy. There’s no coding required to be able to get up and start running. But it is still time that you’re fiddling around, and it’s the sort of work that’s critical for, certainly the business owner should not be doing that sort of thing.
James: Unless you’re Tuned10X where that is actually your business.
Justin: Yes, exactly.
James: That’s really the only excuse, isn’t it?
James: Unless you’re just starting out and you have no budget, you haven’t proven an offer. So I totally get it. If you’re in the very first phase of discovery, then it’s the simple platform that you can tinker around with. So it’s really just an equation of time or money. If you want to put in the time, do it yourself. If you’ve got money, and you don’t want to put in the time, get someone to do it. And we’re all different stages in life at that, and not just websites as well. This applies to everything, from food. My greatest example of this is, have you ever eaten at a restaurant?
James: Because if you have, you’ve said, okay, rather than me go and look up menus and go and source all the ingredients and cook up this amazing dish over the next five hours, I’ll just walk into this place, order it off the menu, and then they serve it up to me in 10 minutes’ time. Done.
James: They’ve done it all for you, and you get to enjoy the meal. And that is what should happen with your website. If I have an idea for a website or a campaign, then I tell my team and the team gets it done. I’m not tinkering around in the back end of my WordPress or my 10XPRO installation. The team is doing that stuff.
Are you stuck on the tools?
James: So I think we made a good distinction. There’s different levels of tech ability, but there’s also different levels of things we should be focusing on.
Justin: Yeah. Even when you are starting out, that’s what you want to get to, is that stage where you are…
James: As quickly as possible.
Justin: …hands off. And so yeah, you need to take the plunge as early as possible. I know that you pushed me to do that with my business as early as possible. I hired someone to handle those sort of things.
James: I prefer the word “encourage”.
Justin: But yeah, that really enabled me to grow my business a lot faster.
James: It’s really common. Getting stuck on the tools is the most common obstacle for growth. Because you know, when I speak to someone, they say, Oh, I’m just so busy; I’m flat out, I don’t have time. I say, What are you actually doing? Like, remove Netflix and Facebook, social media time from the equation, alright? Let’s pretend that doesn’t exist. And that does. Let’s remove email from the equation, because that’s a huge one. What’s left is then messing around with their autoresponder or their website, or graphics. You know, most people shouldn’t be doing that stuff.
Justin: Yeah. But as you mentioned, like, I’ve seen some different businesses, they’re trying to do all these different things, and they’re pulling in all these different services and plugins and subscriptions. And they’ll see, like, a new offer that comes out for a special bit of software that’s going to solve this problem, and then they buy that and then they start fiddling around with it, and then they go, Oh, this is a bit too hard. And they put it aside, and then they don’t end up implementing it and using it. They’ve got these extra bits of software, and they’re trying to plug all these bits together, and it just ends up a massive Frankenstein monster. And they’ve got all these things that they’ve paid for, and they’ve never actually got any return off that investment.
“How to avoid shiny objects and adding too many things into your business.”
So I think that’s definitely a big issue that a lot of entrepreneurs run into, is those kind of shiny objects and trying to add too many things into their business. And they sort of lose sight of the the core of what they should be doing, and yeah, their main focus of their business and providing value to their customers.
James: Yeah, it’s such an essential thing, and it can get away from you. Like, we’re pretty good with bright shiny objects. We wear dark sunglasses in our business. We’re not distracted very easily.
Sometimes it takes just a tweak
And recently, I reached out to you, Justin, and I asked, could you please help us speed up our website? Because we’ve made changes to the level that we were able to comfortably, and we needed to bring in some outside help. So we’re not spending too much time getting bogged down in it. And you immediately went for a few obvious things that stuck out for you, where we still had a few extra little bits and pieces that could be consolidated, eliminated, moved somewhere else, etc. I’m not going to get into the technical stuff, because I really don’t know what I’m talking about. But I did follow the Slack channel, where there’s a bit of back and forth. But would you say that’s an assessment, that we were already in a reasonable shape, but just a little bit of refinement made a big difference?
Justin: Absolutely. Yeah. And I find that’s true with a lot of websites that I look at. They’re doing a lot of the main things right, but there’s just a few little tweaks and things that we can take away or replace that just make a big difference. And when a business is up and running and growing and you’re putting through a lot of traffic and a lot of money through your website, those sort of small tweaks can make a huge difference to your bottom line.
James: Yeah. So in our case I think having to buy an SSL security ticket and putting a CDN server to a subdomain sped our site up dramatically, making it a much better experience for SuperFastBusiness members. And anyone who’s listening to a podcast and heading off to get the show notes at the episode or get a content upgrade, then it’s going to be a better experience for them, because of a tiny little change. It was probably a small amount of money to get that fixed compared to the huge return on investment that will come back from making it a better experience.
“It’s a benefit being an outsider looking in on someone else’s business. You can see everything with outside eyes.”
And that’s the benefit of being an outsider looking in on someone else’s business. You know, that’s my advantage when I’m coaching someone. I can see everything with outside eyes, where they’re used to the furniture.
James: And it sort of blends in.
The stuff that needs stripping
Now, what sort of things do you typically like to strip back from the monstrous businesses that you get to peek into, and when you look in there, it’s like some hoarder’s house where they’ve just got rubbish from the front door to the back door, all the way down the hall and in every single room? In fact, recently, a lady actually died in Australia, I think, where something in her house actually tipped on top of her and crushed her. Her own rubbish killed her.
Justin: Oh, wow.
James: Like, that’s when you’ve got too much stuff in the house.
James: And we all do it with our business. In fact, at the time of recording this, it just happens to be the phase of my year where I like to purge, chuck, strip away remove, delete, consolidate things in, you know, my housing environment. There was a council cleanup here recently, and I actually didn’t have much to put out on the pile this time, because I’ve already been running it lean. And in business, we can just get bloated, can’t we? There’s too many bits and pieces, too many pages, too many funnels. I don’t like that word in the first place.
And often when I’m speaking to a customer and they brief their designer, the design will come back too complicated, and I’m always stripping it down. I’m saying, do you really need 17 different page type templates? Could you have two? You know, often simple is more effective.
James: Russia proved it by launching Sputnik into space and beating the Americans, in the space race to get the first orbiting satellite. It was just a ball with a little antenna. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s nothing fancy.
Justin: No, but it worked.
What to look for when streamlining
James: So what’s your favorite? What’s your go to to clean up? What’s a checklist we could go and ask our webmaster or ask you for help with to eliminate?
Justin: For sure. And definitely this time of year, and like, end of financial year as well, really should do it more often than most people do. But yeah, New Year is a good time to really take a sit back and reevaluate everything in your business.
And some of the things are main pages in your navigation. Quite often, you’ll have services that you’ve added over time as your business has grown. And some of those services, they didn’t really sort of kick off as well as you’d hoped or you don’t really like doing them anymore. They’re not the core focus of your business. Or maybe your business has changed slightly or your target audience has changed. So some of those might not be as relevant. So have a look at every single one of your main pages across your navigation bar at the top of your website, and think, does the customer that I want to work with need to see that page when they first land on the homepage or as they’re navigating through the site? Because chances are that it might be something that you can still offer to some of your customers, but it’s not something that needs to be taking up that high-value real estate at the navigation bar.
The other things are, like, you’re saying about funnels, but just landing pages and offers that you might have had over time and you’ve added those to your website, and quite often they just sort of sit there and gather dust. And you’re better off just removing those if they’re not working. If it didn’t end up becoming a core part of your strategy, then you’re better off just removing it and removing the clutter.
A lot of people have several different lead magnets, so they’ll make one ebook and then they’ll make a second ebook and then they’ll have some video, and they just add these things to the sidebar or down to the bottom of the page or in different parts of the blog….
James: It becomes a bargain bazaar.
Justin: Yeah, exactly.
“Ask: How could your process be simpler for your team and for your customer?”
James: We have a lot. Like, every single podcast has a content upgrade, and we used to create a separate page for every single content upgrade, and separate autoresponder, per post. And when we went to two podcasts a week, it’s like, Okay, guys, we need to simplify this. So we put all the downloads on one page. You opt into any one content upgrade on SuperFastBusiness, and you’ll get every episode content upgrade we’ve ever done on one single page now. And it was a bit of work to do, but it was much easier. Now they just add one every time we do an episode, instead of creating a whole new system. So think about, how could your process be simpler for your team and for your customer?
Justin: That’s a much leaner approach. And when you have that many different pages and stuff, you’re just bloating the website database all the time.
James: We did. And you know, at the same time as asking help from you, the main thing that caused us to ask you for help with the speed was, we went through a really strong SEO audit with Gert Mellak. And he came back to us and said, Well, you’ve got a few pages that are dead, that aren’t getting traffic or duplicated. And you’ve got too many tags on some of these category pages. And it sort of led to, and also we could do some things to speed the site up. So that was really insightful. The navigation can always be done. And the bigger the site gets, and we were adding content to our site every single week – we’re doing a video every day; we’re doing two podcasts a week; we do a weekly summary. So I don’t know how many that adds up to – that’s five, six, seven – that’s eight pages a week we’re adding to our site.
James: We’re driving a lot of search engine traffic. And it’s good for us to keep it as simple as possible, or else it’s just going to turn into a monster. And then of course over time, some tools and subscriptions and so forth become redundant or no longer required. Especially if you go to 10XPRO – you basically scrap 10 of them at once.
Tool rules and lists
James: You suggest keeping a list of them, right?
Justin: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what I do in my business, is I have a spreadsheet. So every time I go, right, we’re going to be adding this tool, I add it to that spreadsheet. And then once every couple of months, I’ll review that spreadsheet and and just say, Yep, okay, each one of these is still relevant, we still need it, it’s still the best solution. Or I might go, actually, Maybe we should check that one out. And it also allows me to see, I put the price, how much that’s costing me per month, so I can see when we’re starting to spend too much on tools and which one’s costing us the most, and is it worth it? You know, is there other solutions?
And I think that with people’s websites, there’s one case just recently where I had to look at a client’s website that was having some problems with conversions. And we started looking at, where are people becoming leads on your website? And they had one of those Hello bars at the top of the website, the pop down with a special offer that had a little message, live chat thing that had another messenger bot live chat that popped up over the top of that. And they had WhatsApp popping up in the other corner.
James: Do they had them all firing in your face before you could even read anything?
Justin: Yeah, exactly. You’re not even sure if this is the right website for you. You’ve got to close all these things to see what’s going on.
James: That might have been too many.
The tool thing is good. Sounds like you got some tool rules as well. We have three tool rules: Is it the best tool of its type? Do we need it? And, Do we know how to use it? The last one really relates to how much of an ROI you can get on that tool. So what we do in our business is, we have a profit and loss statement at the end of the month, by line item. Like, absolutely every product we’ve sold, the team labor costs, every tool we have. And we can review our tools on a monthly basis.
How about changing cards?
But the other great way to fix up your tool subscriptions, if you got out of control, is just change credit cards. Because that’s going to get you all the notifications when your tool’s credit card’s expired or no longer valid, and they’re going to get in touch with you. And you probably eliminate a third of your subscriptions straight out of the gate if you change credit cards.
Justin: That’s definitely something that’s worked for me as well.
James: Although just one caveat. Be sure to fund your domain names, because I did lose a two or $3,000 domain last time I changed my credit card, just because of a renewal gap of just a few days. And I lost the domain that I then sold, and then I couldn’t transfer, so I had to give up a couple of thousand bucks on that one. My error.
Justin: That hurts. Yeah, you gotta be careful with the domain names for sure. Yeah, I’ve done that as well, just when I switched to credit card going through. As I’m, putting in the new credit card details, evaluating every single… actually, I think that was the time when I thought right, I really should have a spreadsheet for this and keep track of it all.
James: It’s a great event to cause change.
James: What other things do you see that are inefficient?
What switching software can do
Justin: Well, yeah, I think one thing, just we were talking about sort of reducing those subscriptions. That’s one of the reasons that I decided that 10XPRO was going to be a good solution for us to work with. Because when I was working with some clients and building out membership sites on WordPress, there were so many other tools and subscriptions that we needed to add to the WordPress website in order to make it work for a course or a membership. So just that simple action of changing to a different software eliminated a lot of subscriptions and tools.
“You can replace a heap by just switching to a new platform.”
So sometimes it’s not just finding which one you need to turn off or replace, but sometimes you can replace a whole heap by just switching to a whole new platform. And so yeah, that’s definitely something worth considering. And if you’re starting out, so coming from a WordPress point of view, WordPress has always been something that I’ve focused on and when you’ve got the hammer, everything looks like a nail. So I’ve been trying to bang holes in wood when I should be using a drill with WordPress. And building out membership sites, there’s some things that WordPress is just not good at. It does get a bit unwieldy when you’re building out courses and memberships and those sort of things that you need to have a membership software, you need to have the learning management system, you need forum software, you need the subscriptions software, all those sort of things that if you’re adding in webinars, you’ve got something completely different.
James: And deadline funnels and surveys, and it really does stack up.
James: I mean, that’s why I’m a fan – I’ve been recommending anyone starting membership or an info course, just get 10XPRO, save yourself the hassle and get someone to drive it for you. Save yourself the hassle. That’s why people are getting results much faster than they used to get, because you could go into a deep, dark hole where you’re stacking software on top of software on top of software and having learning obstacles. You got to learn this one; you got to connect that thing; you got to have an API integration; you got to get a token; you got to have a integration. Like, all this stuff, it just gets hassle. And often you’ve got to add a cart, and so forth.
Remembering to be human
Justin: And when you’re doing that, you lose focus of the the human connection with your customer. You’re just focusing so much on being tricky with technical bits and making It all fit together. You really should be focused on building relationships with the customer and providing value. I’ve made a conscious effort in my business, and probably I’ve gone a bit too far with this and I should be automating a little bit more, but I’ve always erred on going low tech and having a manual process when it comes to contact with our customers. We send emails back to each other; I don’t have autoresponders set up that send out automatic responses saying, you know, Thank you for sending a support ticket, we’ll get back to you in four hours’ time, or something like that. We have a real person responding to every email. And I don’t have tricky funnels going on. And I think that when you try to get technical and complicated, you quite often lose focus of that real human connection that business is all about.
James: I agree with you. We’re not using a lot of chatbots and stuff. I know it’s a big thing in our industry, people using a lot of automation and tools, and then they’re also pretending to be there, but they’re not, they’re just hiring people to be them and stuff. And I think that’s one way to do it. But there’s certainly other ways. I like the organic, natural way. And maybe it doesn’t scale as well, and maybe I’m not making as many dollars as possible by taking it bigger, but then, is bigger the goal?
And when it comes down to it, I just want to do good-for-human stuff. I think a good simple website with a clear offer, and you can deliver on, that helps people, is a great simplification of the process. And we’re constantly trying to eliminate and not add to our business. Even my business now, it’s very simple. When you look from the outside, we have SuperFastBusiness and we have SilverCircle. We run an annual live event, SuperFastBusiness Live, and this little surf trip to the Maldives. I got a book. It’s just a really simple business.
I used to have the SEO business, I used to have the website development business. And I think I’ve mentioned this to you before Justin, but my hat’s off to you running a website development-related business – it’s a very hard business to run, because there’s just so many special challenges that come up. But I’m really happy with a simpler business. It’s more profitable, it’s more fun, it’s easier to focus on.
The takeaway in summary
So I think the real takeaway from this is, go and have a look at your website environment. Pull up all your tools that are on subscription; pull up all the bits of navigation; check out the way that you’re opting people in; check out the backend of your system; see how everything’s integrated and decide, is this what you need? Or could there be a simpler way? What could you remove, and it makes no difference?
James: Like, the 80/20, or even the 64/4. Probably only a few things on your site matter. And that’s most likely your homepage or any landing page, where you’re driving traffic to. The opt-in process, and then the subsequent follow up communication, that’s going to do the heavy lifting. And a lot of the rest of the stuff is just frills that are getting in your way, in fact, even costing you a lot extra for no reason. It’s like the people who move house every year or two and they hire the mover, and they’re carting like 20 or 30 boxes or old furniture that goes from one garage to the other garage, when they could have just put it out in the front lawn, and stopped paying for people to move boxes from one garage to another garage for the next 10 years. Dump it, get rid of it, remove, simplify. If you need some help with this, just ask Justin. His team can have a look at your site, as they did with ours, and say, Well, here are the things that we would suggest.
Perfection is when…
Justin: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a good place to start. And I think even like, looking at the homepage of your website, there’s quite often something that you can take away from that. It’s not going to make any difference, but it is going to make it simpler and clearer. Even just removing some of the wording. Perfection is when you can’t remove anything else. I think that’s the quote. I think I’ve really butchered that quote.
James: It’s very similar to that. It’s been attributed to two separate people when I do my research, but it’s like Saint, someone or other. But see, it’s like, when there’s nothing left to take away, I think, is the essence of it. I like that quote. It’s a good one. And it is hard to get to that, where there’s just only the essential. But it’s also very calming.
James: It’s like, there’s no extra noise or buffer or distraction or friction for people.
Justin: Yeah. And having those additional costs and things that are clogging up your mind, like, your headspace and your website and just adding that extra weight to your business that you don’t need really allows you to push forward a lot faster and work on the more important things. Because to be creative, you need to have that clear mind.
James: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery is one of the people credited for that.
Justin: There we go.
James: There you go. Well, that’s a nice place to end. Justin, thank you for coming along. You’ve been a regular guest on SuperFastBusiness, always knowledgeable with especially the tech-related stuff, and also a lovely guy, and that makes the difference. I like what you’re doing, and thank you for helping us in particular. If you’ve been enjoying the experience at SuperFastBusiness, it’s in part because Justin and his team have given us some good suggestions on making it a bit more usable. And also been looking after a lot of my customers and I’m getting great feedback. I spoke to one yesterday, actually. Been doing a big job for, and it’s almost done. And I’m sure that’ll be a relief for everyone.
James: And I think the future looks bright, too. We’ve got a whole wave of 10XPRO users coming through the ether now, and they’re going to be getting results quickly. And it’s good to see, finally, there’s a solution. And I’m looking forward to seeing how our installation performs as well in 2020. That’s going to be a big focus for our business. Because I often get asked, you know, do you use it? The answer is yes. And I’m also helping a lot of my clients use it. And I am involved in helping grow that business, so that’s why I talk about it a lot, because I believe in it. And one of the values for SuperFastBusiness is we want to do things that are good for humans. And if you have to pay 16 less subscriptions and the thing does what you want it to do with these, then I think that’s a good thing.
Justin: Cheers, James. Always a pleasure to be on here.
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