How I Setup a Productized Service Over a Weekend

On Thursday, March 6, I emailed a couple of my friends and said, “I’m considering a soft launch of watershawl.com to have a place to put those new productized services/service-as-a-product – and have a place to separate the place where I try to get more work to do vs. the place I write about breakfast. I’m not re-incorporating, but I’m not opposed to that if it comes to that. I’m just wanting to build something back up that is still a part of me. I still use the Watershawl email address and I’m still in business as “Erich Stauffer” so why not?”

Erich Stauffer Products

On a whiteboard in my office I wrote all of the products-as-a-service I could think of to sell and some possible prices. Pricing was based on previous jobs I had done as a consultant. The key would be to be as clear as possible about what I was doing and what they were getting in order to make sure both sides understood and were in agreement. I decided not to release all of the products at once, but instead to release them one at a time.

One of my friends wondered if watershawl.com, the domain used with my previous company, Watershawl, Inc., was a good idea, “What about coming up with a more business friendly name for the relaunch?” I said, “I’ve been purging so many company names from my repertoire over the last 5 years that the thought of trying to figure out a new one makes my stomach churn. Naming an idea has always been the thing I do first. I don’t want to do that anymore. Instead, I can work on developing the business model under watershawl.com and if I get more customers, I’ll have a business that I can name.”

But after some thought, I offered the following idea. After all, I was seeking counsel and I would be a fool if I didn’t at least consider the input from those who were offering to help. “What do you think about the Managing Actions name?” That was a domain I registered in 2008 and a lot of the blog posts on this site originally came from. This wasn’t the first time I had tried to start something else using managingactions.com. In 2010 I created Action Management, a management consulting service specializing in business process management and staffing models, but I didn’t take it seriously (although the idea did help get me an 8 month contract that helped save a business). This time would be different.

Managing Actions Startup

I had set managingactions.com to not renew in July, but it already had WordPress installed on it. I changed it back to autorenew and put up a new Genesis theme. I then created a homepage that explained the first product, “Web Analytics Review”. It had graphics explaining the how the product worked (i.e. 1. Give access to analytics. 2. I review. 3. Meet and go over.). I then added a testimonial from a client who had purchased the product the week before. I already had sold the product so I knew I could do it again.

The Future of Managing Actions

I’d like to use the products as an inroad to do more marketing consulting, starting with looking at analytics but then getting into a review of marketing processes, management of marketers; helping business owners setup processes for creating and managing content (i.e. either using a content management system like Compendium, Hubspot, or Eloqua; or by simply creating editorial and promotional calendars and then using a service like Bufferapp or Hootsuite to manage it).

The Overlap Technique

One challenge is that I still have my day-job and I don’t want to jeopardize that. I count on that money and I like my job. That means I can’t use LinkedIn as a platform, but I can use Google Ads or other under-the-radar things. So far I’ve setup a Twitter account and posted it out on my personal Google+ page, but I haven’t gone farther than that. I won’t be able to setup an Instagram account because I already had one under that name and deleted it, but that’s okay. Instagram probably isn’t the best channel for web analytics review marketing.

Sean Wes has a technique called “The Overlap Technique” (http://seanwes.com/book/) that talks about building up a business on the side while holding down a day job. That’s the approach I’d like to take. One of my goals for 2015 is to “do what I tell my customers to do” and those things are: blog, podcast, and create videos. So far I’ve been blogging, and I’ve lined up a podcast co-host, but I haven’t made any podcasts or videos yet. One other option is to record videos and/or podcasts in the car while driving using my iPhone. What I’ve lacked is a reason. Now I think I have one.

How Do I Improve My Station in Life?

One of the questions I get on this blog is, “How do I improve my station in life?” This may be because of a post I recently wrote about How to Improve Your Stations in Life, but I don’t think this is what the person is actually asking. What they probably want to know is:

  • How do I get ahead in life?
  • How do I make more money?
  • How do I get a promotion?
  • How do I meet new people?
  • How do I make meaning in my life?

I get it. When you’re down and out it’s hard to see how things can ever be different. When you can’t see any possible way that you can get out of the hole you are in that feeling can be crushing. When you lose your confidence your mindset changes and it can be hard to get ahead. I’ve been there – I know how hard it can be.

So if you’re asking how to improve your station in life, you may be looking for specifics, not just happy sayings like “believe in yourself” and “pay yourself first”, but mindset does matter and procedures do matter. How you think and how you act help predict how things will turn out and can improve your station in life. Here’s how:

  • Be thankful for what you have now
  • Think about how you’ve improved or grown from two years ago until today
  • Imagine a place you’d like to be in the future
  • Do one thing today that will move you towards that future
  • Write down what you did today

So that’s pretty general advice, so let’s get more specific. There is an old saying that the longest journey begins with a single step, and that’s true, but sometimes you don’t have a long time to make a change. Sometimes you need to make a change now. If that is the case, here are some things you can ask yourself:

  • What you can stop doing?
  • What can I start doing?
  • What can I do more of?
  • What can I do less of?
  • What can I change?

Sometimes things don’t change unless you change them. The world is not going to hand you anything. Most of the time you’re going to have to work for it. Work is hard. I get it. And results don’t come fast. You may work on something for months without seeing results until one day something breaks your way – unless you:

  • Get out of the building / leave the cave
  • Learn a valuable skill that adds value
  • Ask someone to buy what you have
  • Help someone without expecting
  • Be willing to fail – be confident

How to Improve Your Station in LifeThink about it – once you change your mindset and believe you can be in a better place than you are right now you’ll start doing the things it takes to get there. And over time you will start to see yourself becoming the person you want to be. And then one day you will look back and realize how far you have come. In this way you will have improved your station in life. You will be thankful for what you have and look back to where you were and be happy. You will then look forward and see where you want to be – and begin walking into that reality – one step at a time.

What Not to Do

A lot of people ask me, “How do you find the time to do what you do?”

I hate the phrase, “I don’t have time.” We all have the same amount of time and no one can “manage time”. They can only manage their actions. I have five kids, work full-time, and run a business consulting business on the side, blog, affiliate market, network, and go to meetups. It’s both easy and pointless to say what I do because that’s just truth. It’s just what is. It’s what happens when those facts are contrasted against what I’m not doing that gives meaning and a glimpse into an answer to this question.

What do I not do to make business, blogging, and networking a priority?

  • I don’t work on my house anymore – I used to work on my house a lot. I would change things, add things, subtract things. I would dig holes, go to the hardware store, and spend a lot of money. But more than that, it takes a lot of time to do these things. A house is not an asset, it’s a liability – and unless you’re renovating the kitchens and bathrooms, the changes you’re making probably aren’t adding very much value at all. Contrast this with the amount of money you could be making by investing in your knowledge, learning a new skill, or practicing your sales techniques.
  • I don’t watch TV, read the news, listen to the radio, or browse Facebook – I realize I sound like a pompous person by saying this, but it’s not like I’ve never done it before (I used to be a huge news consumer). If you do this you will notice a HUGE change in your lifestyle (for the better). Instead of letting anyone and everyone bombard me with stuff I don’t care about , the only thing I am ingesting is the things that I am seeking out. Therefore ALL of my time spent in the car or in front of the computer is spent either learning or producing something. Imagine how that time transformation can change your life.
  • I don’t get alerts on my phone for anything other than a phone call or text message – Task switching is a productivity killer so I disable all notifications from apps other than text messages and phone calls, but I have even trained myself to not pay attention to text messages throughout the day. Often times I will have to remind myself to check my phone because I faintly remember feeling my phone vibrate. This is intentional as text messages are rarely important and email is even less important. The biggest productivity booster you will get is turning off email notifications on your phone.
  • I don’t go shopping or pay the bills or make a meal or do laundry – Not everyone can do this, but it’s one of the reasons why I have the time to do what I do. Shopping is a huge time suck. So is everything that comes with taking care of a household. My wife does a great job of this so that I don’t have to. I will help her carry laundry baskets or carry a kid to bed, but she and the kids now do most of the housework. I’m very blessed to have someone make my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, do my laundry, and make sure the bills get paid so I can “focus on my business” – just like the marketer’s say :).
  • I don’t change my own oil – I used to do this. I used to spend hours changing my oil so that I could save $10. Now I pay $10 more to only have to spend 10 minutes changing my oil. I practically get paid to get my oil changed. I still mow my own yard, but that is because I use it as exercise. I don’t pay to go to a gym because that seems like an even bigger waste of time, but I do recognize the value of exercise for both mental and physical help. I even tell my clients that when we get stuck on a problem in a meeting, “Let’s go for a walk.” Often going on a ‘walking meeting’ will help you discover new ideas.

Want more? Check out Tim Ferriss’ list of 9 habits to add to your not-to-do list. If you have your own productivity tips or want to share what’s been working for you, please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.