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180 – Simplifying Your Business

Wandering Aimfully Through Our Podcast: What is it all for?

180 – Simplifying Your Business

In this episode, we hope you learn something that you can apply to whatever skill you teach people AND some business simplification tips.
Jason ZookJason Zook Jason ZookJason Zook

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Jason Zook

Listen to our full episode on Simplifying Your Business below (with full transcript) or find our podcast by searching What is it all for? in your favorite podcast player.

Five Key Takeaways for Simplifying Your Business

1. Simplifying for a calm business

We noticed a recurring theme emerging from the introductions in our WAIM Unlimited Slack community. An overwhelming majority of folks expressed a desire to simplify their businesses. We pondered the topic of simplification in our own teaching approach and ended up creating a framework to help our members streamline their businesses, drawing from our collective experience in making businesses more straightforward.

2. Determining flavors of overwhelm and complexity in business

We identified distinct patterns within the realm of overwhelm and complexity, which led to recognizing distinct “flavors” of business complexity. Simplifying a business requires a nuanced understanding of the specific flavor of complexity you are grappling with. We encourage you to identify your own unique blend of business complexities to help you personalize solutions that you can apply in your own business.

3. The flavors of business complexity

  1. Content creation: We talk about choosing the one platform that you can stick with and then branch out from there.
  2. Task ineffectiveness: We challenge you to ask yourself, How much time is going to things that are not getting you a big return?
  3. Offer complexity: In the beginning, offers may not be the ones you can simplify and that is okay. For the next year, it’s okay to say, “I’m going to experiment with different offers because one offer is going to lead to a different problem that I can solve in a different way.”
  4. Marketing complexity: Take a full-picture view of all the marketing things you’re doing. Which ones are actually providing you with direct revenue?
  5. Team complexity: There is a certain time that you spend doing the same thing over and over again that you can teach someone how to do and it could be removed from your plate. This can open you up to do more creative things for your customers as opposed to continuing to do the same thing.
  6. Process bloat: When you adopt a new productivity system or process, do you know why you’re doing that? Do you know what you’re trying to solve for and what you’re trying to make easier? And at the end of that process, do you feel like it solves that problem of making this easier? We also hone in on the importance of a “one in, one out” rule with your productivity tools for smoother transitions.
  7. Schedule imbalance: How we operate our lives is we schedule our life tasks on our calendar first. We encourage you to do the same if you feel like you don’t have enough time for life stuff because you’re overwhelmed with business tasks.

4. Crafting effective frameworks

Our initial step is having conversations to define the problem at hand and gain a deep understanding of what needs to be addressed. Following this, we start identifying patterns and breaking down the problem into more specific and manageable components. This analytical phase lays the groundwork for developing our frameworks. We think an integral part of the process is our brainstorming sessions, where our different perspectives help contribute to the pool of potential solutions. With this systematic approach—starting with conversations, recognizing patterns, and fostering collaborative ideation—we are able to come up with frameworks to address and solve complex problems within our business.

5. Calm Business Confidential

We pick a business that the other person knows absolutely nothing about. The business has to be making some money, but not more than a million and a half a year. We settled on that number to make sure we get a diverse range of fascinating businesses to dive into.

👩🏻‍🦰 Carol’s pick: Delphine of (digital pattern-maker)

👨🏻‍🦲 Jason’s pick: Julien Nahum of NoteForms (Notion form software)

AND, if you have a calm business you think we should talk about, send us an email and share it!

Show Notes for Episode 180: for Simplifying Your Business

This week, we wanted to record an episode about simplifying your business, but also share how we look at a topic that might become one of our coaching sessions or a bigger article/video.

If you like hearing how the proverbial sausage is made then you are going to LOVE this one! We walk through how we take an idea and concept and break it down, answer our own questions, and create frameworks that we can teach.

We hope you learn something that you can apply to whatever skill you teach people AND some business simplification tips! Also, maybe a few walrus bucks or muffin hair laughs??

Full Transcript of Episode 180: Simplifying Your Business

⬇️ You can also download the .TXT file of the transcript

Jason: Do you feel like your body needs a green powder mixed with water? Well, that’s not the sponsor we’re talking about because we don’t get paid by those companies. We get paid by us.

Caroline: Ourselves. That’s right.

Jason: It’s our own online business coaching program, and it is Wandering Aimfully Unlimited. Our Fall enrollment is open until October 17.

Caroline: That’s right. So if you are thinking about your online business and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you don’t know how to improve your business to make it more profitable or more predictable or more peaceful, and you’re looking for some direction, this un-boring coaching program that we run is for you.

Jason: Specifically if you are a client based business owner and you are trying to move to digital products.

Caroline: Something more scalable.

Jason: We have a ton of resources for you, including our Build Without Burnout program, which makes this very easy to have week by week lessons to go through to make that transition in a six month time, as opposed to trying to cram it into 30 days and feeling burned out. So that’s a big thing for you, as well as our Client Off-Ramp OS system that gives you a Notion system to walk you through that transition as well.

Caroline: And if you’re just looking for a community of like minded business owners who are all sort of in the trenches, wanting to live really satisfying lives while also growing their businesses at the same time, we have a very bustling Slack community.

Jason: I do keep it bustling. As the person who runs our Slack community, I bring the bustle and you all bring…?

Caroline: The not hustle.

Jason: The not hustle. This is our very last enrollment period with our $2,000 lifetime pricing, which is paid by a $100 per month or $400 per month plan. That $100 per month plan will go away after this enrollment. You will never be able to get that pricing plan again. So if you’re on the fence about joining Wandering Aimfully, now would be the time to join to lock in our best price ever, as it is going up in 2024. You can find out more at

Caroline: Welcome to What Is It All for? A podcast designed to help you grow your online business and pursue a spacious, satisfying life at the same time. We are your hosts, Jason and Caroline Zook, and we run Wandering Aimfully, an un-boring business coaching program. Every week, we bring you advice and conversations to return you to your most intentional self and to help you examine every aspect of your life and business by asking, what is it all for? Thanks for listening. And now let’s get into the show.

Jason: And I’m here too.

Caroline: Welcome to…

Jason: The show. How many different ways can we get someone to not want to tune into our podcast when we start?

Caroline: There they go again.

Jason: You know how there’s like, you gotta have the hook? Like everyone does this in all the popular podcasts. It’s like the one line in the beginning. It’s like, you won’t believe what twelve walruses did with $16,000. Listen now to find out. And you’re like, well, yeah, obviously I need to listen.

Caroline: Why would they have money?

Jason: For us, we’re like, here’s some noises. Listen to our show.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: So we’re good at this.

Caroline: Start with noises.

Jason: We are good.

Caroline: That’s our best podcasting tip. Start with noises.

Jason: Start with noises.

Caroline: Also, it weeds out the riff raff. People who need that walrus hook?

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: Sorry, you’re gone. We don’t have walruses for you here.

Jason: What do they do? What do they do with the money?

Caroline: Is it American currency? Why?

Jason: Why is it? Is it like walrus laundering? Is that what they’re doing?

Caroline: Do they go to a bank?

Jason: Are they doing deals with narwhals?

Caroline: Is it bitcoin?

Jason: Now, if I can watch walruses do deals with narwhals.

Caroline: That’s hard to say. Walrus and narwhal.

Jason: I can watch some deals. Like a beluga whale getting thrown in there. I have some whale knowledge. What’s up?

Caroline: This concludes the sound portion of our intro.

Jason: This includes the audio test to start the show. That was one small tidbit here. When I was recording my audiobook, that was always a fun thing. There was like, we do a little audio test before we record. And we don’t say anything important. You just say words so that the sound engineer can listen.

Caroline: You’re really good at it.

Jason: And I’m the sound engineer here. But when I was doing my audiobook, he would always be like, hey, just like, say some things for me. So I’d be like, all right. A zebra walked down to the store and bought some shoes.

Caroline: Your improv brain…

Jason: Shoes were too big, but he had hooves, so that was really weird. And it was the width of the shoes. And he would just look at me and he would be like, what? Like, where did you?

Caroline: Yeah. Hey, bro, try being married to him.

Jason: He almost didn’t want me to stop.

Caroline: Sometimes I just let you rip.

Jason: Yeah. And then I had…

Caroline: Where is it headed?

Jason: Do stupid business stuff, which is what we’ll do in this episode.

Caroline: I do think, like, small aside.

Jason: Another aside to the aside?

Caroline: Yeah. Do you know one thing that I feel like you will be really good at in the future?

Jason: Here we go.

Caroline: With kids, like, making up stories.

Jason: Going to have no problem with that.

Caroline: No problem.

Jason: Yeah. I already make up stories for you.

Caroline: ChatGPT has nothing on you.

Jason: That’s not true. That has all the information ever created.

Caroline: Okay, ChatGPT has a lot on you. But in this particular area, I think you have a beat.

Jason: I mean, I might just outsource my parenting to ChatGPT. We call ChatGPT Tobor, by the way, if you don’t know. So Tobor is going to be…

Caroline: We just think he’s more inclined… Sometimes, he’s a he. Sometimes, he’s a they. Sometimes, but they are, we think, more inclined to be kind to us if we associate a name.

Jason: Absolutely. You’re not just a robot, you’re a person named Tobor, which is robot backwards. Let’s get into the actual thing we wanted to talk about in this episode, which is kind of a recurring theme that we have experienced for our entire careers as business owners. Me dating all the way back to my design boutique in 2007.

Caroline: I thought you were going to go, Me dating. And I was, like, dating whom?

Jason: Heidi Klum. Me dating back to my design boutique.

Caroline: Cool reference, bro.

Jason: Well, you said, like, whom? And then I rhymed with Klum. There you go. You got to keep up. It’s quick around here. Hello. What’s up? So all the way back then for you going back to the Caroline Kelso Design days of 2011.

Caroline: Twenty eleven.

Jason: Yeah. So we’ve been doing this for a while, and I think there’s one kind of thing that we have always been striving for besides the very obvious, which would be like, making money and maybe work life balance, but it’s also simplification. And so we have been working on this big project, the Calm Business Encyclopedia.

Caroline: You may have heard.

Jason: Yeah, we’ve been talking about it ad nauseam the past couple of episodes, and if you want to check it out, it’s almost finished. I think by the time this episode goes up, it might be done?

Caroline: No, there’ll be like, one more.

Jason: Oh. Very, very close to being completed., if you want to check that out. But this entire process has, let alone, showed us another example of well, but how do you simplify this?

Caroline: No.

Jason: Even for me, as I’ve been going through… We haven’t even talked about it. I’m like, how do I make my editing process simpler and faster?

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: How do I make the article process simpler and faster?

Caroline: Totally. I didn’t mean to bring an umbrella to your brainstorm there. It’s okay.

Jason: I have Heidi Klum to fall back on.

Caroline: Exactly. You’re about to run away with Heidi very quickly. The reason I said no is because, for me, the Calm Business Encyclopedia, the reason why that is related to simplification is because we’ve been talking about this whole idea of predictable, profitable, and peaceful. And I think that that has really been top of mind for people. So for me, something that immediately comes to mind when I think of a more peaceful business is just more simple, more simplified, less things to think about, less things to manage, less things to just less complexity, right? And so I think you were probably working off of my notes that said, Calm Business Encyclopedia. So it’s interesting to see how you interpreted that for yourself. But I think we’ve gotten a few new WAIMers now through…

Jason: Because our sponsor…

Caroline: Our sponsor did mention that the Fall enrollment for WAIM Unlimited is still open.

Jason: Just a couple more days.

Caroline: A couple more days left.

Jason: I got a note in my ear from them. They said if we could just do like a quick plug. So here it is. Check out Wandering Aimfully Unlimited or their un-boring coaching program. Not ours, because it’s not us, it’s our sponsor. And you can get in for the last time at our $100 per month plan ever. We will never offer that plan again. The price is going up in 2024. This is the last time you can lock it in How did I do? Did I do okay?

Caroline: What an advanced podcast sponsorship where you have the brand sponsor in your ear.

Jason: Yeah, they pay extra for that. You know those walruses? We’re getting paid walrus money around here. We are getting twelve walrus money around here. Yeah, that’s… Anyway.

Caroline: Going back to… Let me just trace that thread all the way back to the beginning. Okay, got it. We have some new WAIMers who obviously have joined us during the Fall enrollment. And one recurring theme that I have seen in their introductions in our Slack community is, I’m looking to simplify my business. And I think that this is also a function of a lot of people did find the Calm Business Encyclopedia helpful, so that maybe put them over the edge to join WAIM. So, of course, you’re attracting the type of people who really want calmer businesses. But that’s why we thought it would be fun to talk about this idea of simplification on this episode of the podcast. And then another fun sort of meta topic that I thought we could bring to the podcast.

Jason: Not related to Mark.

Caroline: Not related to Zucks.

Jason: Nice.

Caroline: I was like, Where is he going? Meta. Got it. So people have been introducing themselves, saying they want to simplify their business. And then, of course, my teacher brain goes, okay, people clearly want this. How could we come up with a framework or a teaching concept that would help people simplify their business? So I’ve been noodling on that in order to pour it into next month’s coaching session, which is another thing that we love to do, is when we see a pattern of something that a lot of people need, usually, we’re going to teach on the topic because we have a lot of experience, as Jason mentioned from the beginning of our careers on how do we make a more simple business. And I think we have a very simple business, but it could definitely be simpler.

Jason: Well, yeah, and I think even just to touch on that for a moment, if you’re listening to this, I really believe there is a spectrum of incredibly not simple businesses and then very simple businesses. And I think even for us, we have a very clear example of this. In 2014, my JasonDoesStuff business was not simple at all. I had three software products. I had like, five online courses. I was so scattered. It was like I didn’t even know what to write about in the newsletter. I didn’t know what to talk about in the podcast that I had for myself. I didn’t know what to promote. There were just so many things. Nothing was simple. And then when I moved to the BuyMyFuture project, that simplified everything for me because it became this consolidation of all of it. I only need to market one thing. I only need to promote one thing. I only need to talk about one thing. And it was really helpful. And I think for a lot of business owners, you end up, as you experiment, you try a bunch of stuff. You have all these different things that are out there.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: And a really helpful exercise is like every year or two is just to take a big step back and go, how do I consolidate? What’s actually working from what I have out there in the world and what’s not so that I can kind of come back to it?

Caroline: Yeah, I think we’ll talk about that. Just to pick up on where I left off in that point is the meta part of this is, as I’ve been thinking about ways to help people with simplification, I haven’t yet landed on sort of the way that I want to teach this. And so you and I thought it would be interesting to basically hop on the podcast today and just talk about this as a general topic to show people, how do we come up with teaching frameworks? So it’s kind of a two parter. It’s like, yes, we’re going to talk about simplifying your business. But also if you’re someone who, which is probably a lot of people listening, have some type of knowledge business or a teaching business, or you’re creating digital products or courses, you likely are teaching things that you know. And a question we get asked a lot is how do you distill everything into a framework? What is your process for that? And it starts with this, just talking about the topic, bringing all of our knowledge and experience and just seeing what kind of sticks. And I haven’t gotten very far in how I’m going to walk someone through the process of simplifying their business because I’m just at the stage of what do I think the pain points are? What do I think got people to maybe something that is more complex than they want? How do I diagnose the problem? And that’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode. And then what I do is, once I know all of that, I sort of think about what experience, what knowledge can I bring to a solution to that problem? And then how would I communicate that solution in a systemized fashion that I feel like anyone could follow? So that’s kind of my process. So we’re going to talk about the first part in this episode of what do we think the issues are when people are looking to simplify their business. And going back to the point that you just made, which I think is a really good one is that there are times when you do need to make something more complex because you’re experimenting. And we talk about this a lot. We discussed this in our mindset video, the M video for the Calm Business Encyclopedia. So I believe the URL for that is, if you’re interested. But in that video, we talk about the ideas of experimentation, which is such an important mindset for how we’ve gone about business, but experimentation plus essentialism. And this idea of experimenting with a bunch of different offers or a bunch of different marketing tactics to see what resonates with you, what resonates with your audience. But then if you only have experimentation, that’s where you get a bunch of complexity. And so there comes a point where you need to reel it in and have this essentialism mindset, where you go, what is the 20% of this that brings the 80% returns?

Jason: Absolutely.

Caroline: Cool. Let me strip it all away. And so I just want to point that out because it doesn’t mean that complexity is inherently bad in a business.

Jason: No.

Caroline: It just means that, if you’re getting to the point where you’re sensing that you’ve been in a season of expansion, you’ve been in a season of experimentation and creativity and trying a bunch of different things, but you look up and you go, whoops, it got a little out of my hands.

Jason: Listen, it’s like baking muffins from scratch.

Caroline: Go ahead.

Jason: You have a bunch of flowers. You have a bunch of fillings. You have a bunch of different even, like, sizes and shapes.

Caroline: Do you fill your muffins?

Jason: You can. Blueberries, chocolate.

Caroline: But like filling?

Jason: Well, not like a… I mean, come on. Don’t split hairs here. Don’t split muffin hairs. Know what I mean?

Caroline: Don’t you split the muffin hairs.

Jason: But you could be in the kitchen, and you’ve got all these different ingredients that are disparate about, and you’re trying to bake little batches. Oh, this batch came out. That’s terrible. This batch came out. Ooh, that tasted really bad. This batch came out. Oh, I’m figuring it out. And then by the end of it, you’ve tried 20 different batches. You got a great batch of muffins, like a go to banana, blueberry, just delicious. Like a little crusted top with sugar muffin. The ratios are perfect. But guess what you also have?

Caroline: What?

Jason: A super messy kitchen, and there’s just so many ingredients strewn about, and you got to come back in, you got to clean it up, and you got to go, okay, now I know what works. I got to get rid of all that stuff. And now I have my muffin recipe. That’s my go to.

Caroline: And you go, next time, I don’t need to get out the chocolate.

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: I don’t need to get out the…

Jason: You know what it takes.

Caroline: I forget what muffin we landed on, but you know what it takes. So you’re going to have a much tidier kitchen.

Jason: You’re welcome.

Caroline: So if you are listening right now and you are feeling like you need to simplify your business, this episode is for you. We are…

Jason: I’m glad you’re telling them that around the 20 minute mark.

Caroline: Well, I think they figured it out already, but just was trying to bring it back away from muffins and back to the point of the podcast.

Jason: Why would you ever do that? Why would you ever leave Muffin Town to come back to whatever you want it to go? I will stay in Muffin Town. Thank you so much.

Caroline: I want to go to Business Town, and I want to bring the muffins there. Is that a compromise?

Jason: I think Business Town is in Muffin Town, is the way that I’m looking at it.

Caroline: See, no, I think Muffin Town is in Business Town.

Jason: All right, we’ll find out.

Caroline: Okay. So what I wrote down here, again, I haven’t landed on anything here. But…

Jason: Also, I just think it would be fun. Sorry, we’re sharing this a little bit more of a messier, less structured episode here and how we’re going through this. But I think this is also a really fun look into how we operate, which is like, Caroline is the… She is the frameworks builder of our business. I’m the muffin maker. But where I think this is really helpful is I tend to just throw a lot of actions and ideas and tactics and things at you, and then you kind of wrangle it all in based on the important parts of it, and you see, like, okay, well, here’s like… That we need to put this somewhere, and let’s put it here. But then you also kind of come back out and you go, what’s the bigger picture here?

Caroline: Exactly.

Jason: And do that. I think I help, but like, oh, we need a way to solve this specific problem or question. I’m like, okay, well, here’s an answer. But I think it’s really helpful when you’re the one who kind of organizes everything. So I’m just sharing for the listener. You know that. That’s our life every single day. But they don’t know that. They don’t know how we’re making the muffins around here. So I was just sharing a little bit of how that kind of comes together.

Caroline: Are you specifically referring to the notes, like, what…?

Jason: No. Everything. Whenever we make anything. So, like, when we were building the Calm Business Encyclopedia, we’re talking about it, and we’re in the weeds of it. I’m very much in the like, I can answer any question and give you a thought, but you’re like, well, let me look at the big picture and organize all these thoughts. That’s what I was trying to share.

Caroline: For sure. And I think you need both when it comes to… yeah, just to go back to the meta idea of how do you build frameworks. I think you need someone who maybe over indexes on, like, say, freedom of thought, imagination. I think that’s you.

Jason: You don’t think that’s you?

Caroline: Imagination? I think I have a very good imagination but nothing close to you ever. I’ve never met a person with a more active imagination. But I think someone who… I do know this about myself. My thoughts are very filtered. Yours are very unfiltered. And you need both because what you get with the unfiltered thoughts is this… I don’t know if I’m using this term exactly right, but it’s what comes to mind is like divergent thinking. You’re just going all over the map and your brain is allowing you to jump from this to that to that all the time, which is fantastic. My brain works more in, like you said, organizing things. My brain loves a pattern. So I love looking for what’s the connective thread. And so that’s just a tip for you. If you’re trying to develop a way to teach something, look for the patterns, look for grouping thoughts together, look for sequences. That’s what I’m always looking for is like basically ways to group information into more compact, bite sized parts. And that’s something that I’m better at than maybe you. So that’s where our balance comes in. So going back to what I wrote down here, I was just doing that exact thing. So I was thinking about what have Jason and I been talking about the past few days? What have new WAIMers in our Slack been talking about? What kind of businesses do they have? What are the details they’ve mentioned about what is stressing them out or what feels disorganized?

Jason: Also, what have we learned over the many years of…?

Caroline: What have we learned.

Jason: All these different things.

Caroline: Exactly. And so where I started was… The first pattern that I saw is that, in order to provide a solution to someone to say this is how you simplify your business, you actually need to decide what flavor problem do they have? Because as I was thinking about this idea of someone coming to me and saying, I’m overwhelmed with my business, I want to simplify, I started realizing there’s different flavors of what I think that problem is. And I wrote down the different flavors here. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. So eight different flavors of kind of overwhelm and complexity that I came up with. And so I figured we could just talk about those.

Jason: Sure.

Caroline: And maybe if you’re listening, you can just nod along and pick out which ones are your flavor of complexity. The first reason that I thought people might be overwhelmed and needing to simplify was just content creation because this is going to be you if you are overwhelmed with the volume needed to keep up.

Jason: In quotes, keep up.

Caroline: To keep up with what you think is needed in order to promote your business. And I actually wrote down two subflavors, which is either… I think either if you’re feeling like there’s too much complexity with content creation, either you’re trying to keep up with a cadence that you just can’t keep up with so let’s say daily Instagram stories or whatever, that’s just like a cadence that is not sustainable for you. Or it’s that the cadence plus the process isn’t sustainable for you. So for example, a newsletter maybe once a week could be possible for you, but you’re spending 4 hours writing the newsletter and that’s just like not a sustainable process, right? So that’s one flavor of complexity is just, if you feel like the thing that is actually overwhelming you right now is content creation in some way, shape or form?

Jason: Are we trying to offer up any in the moment solutions for the simplification of these or we’re just acknowledging the problems right now?

Caroline: I haven’t gone that far to solutions. I mean, if anything comes to mind, I think definitely share it in the moment.

Jason: Yeah. And again, I think this is where we work well, is like I just like throw things at the wall here. So I’m just throwing a muffin at the wall and seeing if it bounces. If it sticks, needs to go back in the oven. If it bounces, ready to be eaten. Yeah, when it comes to content creation, and even I think this fits for social media, even though we don’t use social media anymore for our business. But I think the idea is, and this is such a simple answer to this, but that’s probably the point of the answers to all of these eight things, which is you have to find the way of creating content that is the Venny, the Venn diagram of it works in attracting your audience and keeping your audience engaged and helping them. But also it works in that you can do it consistently.

Caroline: Exactly.

Jason: And I think that’s where so many people have problems with content creation is TikTok pops up and they go, oh, this is the popular thing. I have to get on TikTok. And the problem is your Venny of does it work for your audience and does it work for you in a process for TikTok is probably like the circles are way apart. There’s not even any overlap in that, especially for business. I do think there are some opportunities there, but I think we all are seeing like TikTok is really just like a mindless scrolling application, whereas you have to find the place. Like maybe LinkedIn is actually where your audience is hanging out and then if you can find a process for creating content on LinkedIn, your circles get close and now you have that overlap and that’s where you actually find an audience. Just as an example.

Caroline: Absolutely. And one of the big, I think, missteps that I see people make is… and I understand why because we were in the same boat, you try all the different channels because you don’t know which one’s going to pop for you or which one’s going to hit. And that’s going back to that experimenter’s mindset. I don’t think that’s a bad approach but there does come a moment where if you’re in this boat right now and you’re saying content creation is the reason for my complexity and my overwhelm, you then have to go, cool, this isn’t sustainable. I got to scale way back. I have to see the one platform that I can stick with and then branch out from there.

Jason: Which muffin batch came out good enough that you can keep going with it?

Caroline: Right.

Jason: You’re gonna find there’s no perfect muffin batch.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: Lemon poppy seed.

Caroline: The second it came out of your mouth, I was like, you know that’s not true. There is a perfect muffin.

Jason: Okay, next up.

Caroline: So I think that’s going to be a lot of people. The second bucket that I could diagnose would be task ineffectiveness. And I think we have a little bit of this in our own business, but you feel busy all the time, but not like you’re actually moving the needle. So a lot of these tasks that you’ve fallen into, that you’re working on are probably from some idea that you set previously where you’re like, this is the way it has to be done, or this is important, but you have never stopped to take a step back and be like, is it that important for me to spend a half hour creating a custom blog image? I don’t know. Is it?

Jason: I think you definitely fall in this bucket. And again, which we do, if at the end of a workday, you go, what did I just do? What are the actual things I just did? And what needle did they move in my business? Did it help me get more people signed for my email newsletter? Did it help me sell more of my things? Did it help me feel like my client got the work done that I need to get done? Or was I just playing in the weeds all day?

Caroline: Exactly. Playing in the weeds is a good way to put it.

Jason: And I think that that is definitely something that, to me, this would be one of the highest things in the levels of what causes an unsimple business is task ineffectiveness because you’re putting so much time into tasks that aren’t effective. And I think you have even a solution here that’s helpful that we want to start playing around with a lot more.

Caroline: Yeah. And I can definitely see in the framework that we eventually developed, something that immediately comes to mind is like walking someone through doing like an effort versus impact, which we talk about input, output, exercise. How much time is going to things that are not getting you a big return? And also just questioning all of your assumptions and going, have I been doing this a certain way that it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate? But also some solutions there might be, okay, is it time to delegate some of these things? Are you actually just spending time on tasks that are not well suited for your skill set? Or can you cut the 50% that aren’t necessary in tasks? So that’s what I could see could be the solution for that. So maybe your flavor of complexity is task ineffectiveness. Actually, I wrote down your chaos cause, but we’ll call it your flavor of chaos.

Jason: I mean, flavor is more fun.

Caroline: Yeah. So is your flavor of chaos content creation?

Jason: Also it goes with muffins. Like, I could see this being all different types of muffins.

Caroline: muffins. Okay.

Jason: Really on a muffin kick.

Caroline: Do we need to create another quiz? No, we do not because we’re simplifying.

Jason: Which muffin is your business?

Caroline: We will get to marketing complexity in a second. Okay, so the third one is offer complexity. So this is what you were discussing about JasonDoesStuff is you have been in the experimenter’s mode because you don’t know what digital product or what offer even, like, service is going to really be the one that is most resonant with your audience. So you’ve tried a bunch of different things, and now, unfortunately, you have three different programs you’re trying to service and three different things you’re trying to sell. And this creates an intense amount of complexity because you have fulfillment with all of those. You have marketing with all of those. You have people… You’re confusing your audience because they’re like, wait, am I right for the accelerator or am I right for the group program? I don’t know. And we talk a lot about we have another video on our channel in the Calm Business Encyclopedia for O, offers, and it talks about our idea of a Chef’s Kiss offer. And I cannot even tell you the difference that it made in our business when we went from trying to sell a bunch of different things to just selling WAIM Unlimited and just putting it all and positioning it in a way that was really compelling, putting it at a right price point.

Jason: I think this is just the reality, too, that it’s kind of like a permission slip for everybody listening to this. You kind of have to go through the process.

Caroline: You absolutely do.

Jason: Of making a bunch of different types of offers, muffins, until you finally find, like, the one muffin to rule them all.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: And I think that, if you’re listening to this and you’re just at the beginning stage of your journey, you may not in these eight buckets of things to simplify in your business, offers may not be the one you can simplify in the beginning, and that is okay. It’s okay to go, for the next year, I’m going to experiment with different offers because one offer is going to lead to, oh, here’s a different problem that I can solve in a different way. This is actually more helpful and more profitable for me and gives more value to my customers. Great. I actually need to move to that, not simplifying down to like, well, I have, like, three offers right now, or I only have one, and I’m just going to go all in on that one for the next couple of years, and it’s actually not solving enough of a problem for people.

Caroline: Totally agree. Here’s the thing that I wish I would have done though back when I had Made Vibrant before WAIM Unlimited. So I had my own business. I was definitely in this category of offer complexity. I had several different online courses, everything from hand lettering to branding to drawing to personal development. I had all these different things, and I loved that creativity. And I don’t wish I would have tried less things. That’s certainly not what I wish I would have done. I wish, though, I would have sort of trimmed the tree sooner.

Jason: Yeah, exactly.

Caroline: So when I noticed that a course was only making me $1,000 over the course of an entire year.

Jason: Right. Yeah, not even a month. Like over a year.

Caroline: Over a year. I let some courses go on way too long under this guise of passive income, not realizing… because it’s like, well, who would say no to an extra $1,000 a year? And it’s like what you’re not seeing is the hidden cost of that $1,000 a year. Yes, it’s quote unquote, passive income, but it’s having to think about an entirely different website, sometimes having to think about…

Jason: Just the mental taxation.

Caroline: It’s the mental taxation you don’t see. So you might still be in experimentation mode with your offers, but ask yourself, are there a couple I need to prune right now that aren’t actually doing it?

Jason: Prune muffin those offers.

Caroline: He wants muffin to happen so bad, and I’m grateful. I want it to happen as well. But I don’t know if prune muffin is the appropriate…?

Jason: I’m not here. We already know the winning muffin, so it doesn’t really matter. So I’m just having…

Caroline: What was it again? Banana…?

Jason: Seed.

Caroline: Oh, no, that is the real answer. But in your metaphor, the early story you told, what was the winning muffin?

Jason: It was a blueberry banana.

Caroline: It was a blueberry banana.

Jason: With a sugary crusted top.

Caroline: Okay, but that sounds delicious.

Jason: Oh, I know, but it’s not better than a lemon poppy seed, let’s be honest. Okay, next up.

Caroline: The next one. Our fourth flavor of chaos is marketing complexity. So I would say we fall into this one. You might have a streamlined offer, but maybe you’re in experimentation mode with… You’re in the bucket of I have 13 different lead magnets, and I have twelve landing pages, one that’s not even useful anymore. I have these funnels that I set up six months ago, and I haven’t checked even if they’re effective at all. And so again, it’s taking up that mental clutter, and you never took the time to check in on those experiments, and so they’re just popping up all over, and it’s creating a lot of complexity in your business.

Jason: Yeah. And again, this is another one of those that, if you’re in the beginning of your business, you need to experiment. So you can’t just pick one lead magnet, cross your fingers and hope that it works because, if it doesn’t work, then you’re putting a lot of good time towards a bad tactic. In the beginning, you do need to be spending more time on this. And not even just in the beginning of your business life, but if you’re pivoting to a new business. So if you’re like a client service business pivoting to making online courses, you’re going to have to start over in your experimentation of marketing with your new business. It’s not going to be the same type of marketing to land customers for your online course.

Caroline: But if you are someone who feels like you’re at this place where marketing is too complex, what would you do?

Jason: Yeah, I think that’s where you kind of take a full picture view of what are all the marketing things I’m doing?

Caroline: Exactly.

Jason: Which ones are actually providing me direct revenue? Or at least direct audience growth that’s not on social media. It’s like captured in an email list. I need to amp that one up. And I do think this is also where it’s, as a business owner, this is where a little bit of risk comes in, where you might not have one marketing initiative that’s working gangbusters, you have one that’s like kind of working better than the rest.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: That’s where you have to go, okay, I am going to take a risk on that one and pour more effort and energy into it and believe that it’s good enough to move my business forward.

Caroline: I think one of the important solutions here is creating a system for yourself to actually evaluate your marketing bridges. So part of what gets you into the weeds in this area is never having a plan on how to follow up on your marketing initiatives. And it’s just because solo business owners, small team business owners, that’s probably who you are. If you’re listening to this, there’s only so many hours in the day, right? But that’s why you do need to create systems when you do initiatives of like, how are we going to check in on this? What are the KPIs? What’s my system for managing that? Because if you do that and you do a little bit of that thinking ahead of time so that you get the calendar reminder that says, hey, check in on the funnel stats or whatever, that’s how you can prune as you go instead of letting it all get weeds. There are muffins and there’s a garden and there’s weeds. And so I don’t know how that…

Jason: I’m getting a note in my ear from our sponsor. They’re willing to give us a couple more Walrus Bucks.

Caroline: Okay.

Jason: That if we mention that, when we create the coaching session for this how to simplify your business, the people listening to this who are like, this is me. I need these solutions, these frameworks. Yeah. I’m hearing that it’s going to be included in Wandering Aimfully Unlimited. So if someone wanted to join and they want to get access to that coaching session, that coaching session is going to come out a couple of days after this podcast airs, in, like, the real time of it happening.

Caroline: Correct.

Jason: So you could check it out, You’ll get this coaching session with all the solution to all these problems we’re bringing up. Yes. Okay, I got it. Yeah, we got the Walrus Bucks.

Caroline: How many Walrus Bucks did that get us?

Jason: Seven… thousand.

Caroline: Wow.

Jason: But they’re Walrus Bucks. What are they actually worth?

Caroline: I have three more here that I thought of, and I’m curious…

Jason: Also, 7,000 Walrus Bucks buys you 800 muffins.

Caroline: I love that.

Jason: You can do the maths.

Caroline: Those are the economics. Jason just reached out his hand in telling me about the Walrus Bucks and I just held it and he hated that. We have three left. And I’m curious if you have any additional that come to mind as we… or if you think I really covered it because I got…

Jason: So far.

Caroline: Quite a game.

Jason: Yeah. Nailing it.

Caroline: This is one that I don’t think applies to us… well, I guess a little bit, but this is team complexity. So even if you are a small business owner or even a solo business owner, you might work with contractors and you might find that managing people beyond… like, you’re managing too many people beyond your capacity, basically. And so the solution there would be either can you streamline the team or can you come up with a better process for team management? Or can you even just hire someone to be the team manager because your skill set is not in managing people? We still are just the two of us, and we have a few contractors that we work with regularly. So I wouldn’t say that managing the team is too far beyond our capacity at this point, but I could see a situation where, by trying to solve the task ineffectiveness problem, we might need to widen the team a little bit. And then you do run the risk of then creating complexity with managing people. And so you just have to be kind of mindful of balancing all these different things, right?

Jason: Yeah, it’s definitely one of those things that we have been putting off for as long as possible, which is hiring and delegating. And part of it is just because we love the parts of the business that we spend time on every single day.

Caroline: We like getting our hands dirty.

Jason: But yeah, there is a certain time that you spend doing the same thing over and over again that you’re like, okay, I could teach someone how to do this and they could remove this. And then it opens me up to do more creative things for our customers as opposed to continue to do the same thing.

Caroline: Exactly.

Jason: Okay, two more here.

Caroline: And then I think process bloat is one that I wrote down. So this one’s kind of funny because I think for a lot of the ones we mentioned before, the answer is better processes. But it’s ironic because there comes a point where you can actually over process something. You can over systematize something. I was watching a Notion video this morning where I was like, I just got to be honest.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: You’re overdoing it.

Jason: A little too much. Yeah, I think this definitely rears its head for those of us who love new productivity tools and love new way of managing our tasks. And an Ali Abdaal or someone like that comes out with a new video of here’s how I’m doing, you’re like, Whoa, that’s exciting, I want to try that. And then you end up with like ten different ways to accomplish the things on your calendar every day, but yet it’s taking you more time to manage all the ways you’re accomplishing the things than it’s just to accomplish the thing. And I think that there’s something to be said… For us, I think we do a really good job of like, as much as I want to work within your Notion system, the amount of time and friction that it takes me to work in Notion, I just get the thing done faster when I use Apple Notes and I just do my tasks. Things that we collaborate on…

Caroline: Exactly.

Jason: I do need to work within the system that works best because Notion has been a game changer for us and I totally acknowledge that. But I think it is worth for you listening to this. A solution here might just be maybe it’s the simplest version of whatever productivity system works for me. I don’t need to do the super robust Notion system or Airtables or whatever. I can just do what works for me and it’s fine.

Caroline: Yeah, every person needs to decide that for themselves. But I think what it comes down to is when you adopt a new productivity system or process, do you know why you’re doing that? Do you know what you’re trying to solve for? Do you know what you’re trying to make easier? And at the end of that process, do you feel like it solves that problem of making this easier? Like a perfect example is we manage our content calendar in Notion so we always know podcast episodes and it associates all the tasks with podcast episodes. So the notetaking gets put on my calendar and both of us can see the notes at one time. That is a process that streamlines everything for us so that we’re not going, wait, what is the podcast about? That saves us time, right? So that is an effective process. It saves miscommunication all these things. And then also we have someone who does the transcripts. They’re able to see in that page. What is this about? What are the notes? How do I create the article for this, et cetera? That’s an example of a system that works. However, what you just brought up is a good point, which is you only participate in the processes to the extent that they are necessary for collaboration. So you’re not writing the newsletter in Notion, right? You’re writing it in Apple Notes or whatever you want to use, and then you’re copy and pasting it into the content calendar so that we can see it. And I think that’s the point you’re trying to bring up is like, don’t try to create more complexity by… And also, actually, what more I was thinking of when I wrote this was like, just because you can track or measure something, doesn’t mean it’s so helpful. Believe me, I have tried all the things of like, and I track all my habits and I do this and that, and it’s like, it ends up being more trouble than it’s worth if that’s not something I’m trying to actively work on.

Jason: Another thought that just came to me here as a potential solution would be the one in, one out rule of this. So it’s like, let’s say you’re moving from Airtable to Notion. So Notion is your new piece of clothing that’s coming into your productivity closet and Airtable is the existing sweater that has been in there for years. As Notion comes in, Airtable needs to be phased out because what happens is the mental taxation and the lingering tasks between two things become overwhelming. And I think for us, we’ve done a really good job of like, when a new tool comes in, we phase out the other tool without even really thinking about it. It’s just a natural thing. But I think for anybody who hasn’t actually made that an intentional practice, that is how you end up with a lot of productivity bloat and process bloat and app bloat.

Caroline: App bloat.

Jason: And it’s like, just use one to do a task and then get rid of the other one so that you’re not thinking about, oh, well, I still have this working with this and this and this, and it’s just too much.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: All right, the last one here before we get into the Calm Business Confidential because that’s back, baby. It was back last week. I just forgot mine.

Caroline: Yeah, so the last one I just wrote was like, schedule imbalance. And I don’t know if this really fits into the other ones, but the person I was imagining in my head is the person who just goes, yeah, I don’t have time for the things that I want to do in my life, not my work. And so something is telling me that I have to simplify. It’s kind of the catch all of just being like, I don’t know which one of these it is, but all I know is that time… my business is taking up too much time.

Jason: Yeah. And I think this is definitely applicable for those of you listening to this who are like, I wish I had more time to spend with my family. I wish I had more time to spend with my friends. I wish I had more time for myself, to just have my own time in the day. And just a solution that comes to mind for this is one that changed kind of how we operate our lives is we schedule our life tasks on our calendar first.

Caroline: Exactly.

Jason: So simple things like going to the grocery store, Saturday movie nights, going for walks, exercise, time together, those things go on the calendar first. Everything else then gets wrapped around it. And I know that sounds like the most unbelievably simple solution ever. And maybe you’re someone who’s been like, I’ve tried that, it doesn’t work for me. Maybe there’s a different way you can do it and maybe we’ll come up with some different options in the coaching session for how to do that. I think that for us is the absolute number one solution to this, which is just to carve out time for your life first, fit work in around it, and then you end up with constraints which are beautiful for getting your work done.

Caroline: That’s what I was going to say is that’s what’s great about that approach is, if you put everything on your calendar that you want to have more time for, then you see, oh, I actually only have 5 hours of work a day. Cool. Now I have this amount of tasks that I thought I was going to be able to do this week. So I have to do the 80/20 rule or the 50/50 rule in terms of cutting, recognizing what gets cut. And that is going to give you a natural way to prioritize and simplify.

Jason: A really easy thing to do is just cut the bottom of the muffins off and just have the tops. Just the muffin tops are the best. Just cut all the bottoms off. No one wants to eat those. You do because it’s still good, but it’s not as good.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: All right. Anything else you want to talk about with the business simplification topic here?

Caroline: No, I think that’s it. So like I said right now, just again, if you’re following along with how do we come up with frameworks. We first start with conversations. We figure out what problem we’re trying to solve for. Then I look for patterns. Is there a way that I need to kind of break this problem down into more specific problems, which is what I was doing with the diagnosis part of this. Normally, I would just come up with a framework for simplifying, but it became very clear to me that simplifying is such a broad topic that there’s a lot of different ways you can simplify your business. So that’s why step one was kind of diagnosing. And then I will work on, okay, if I was going to come up with a solution and we did a good job of brainstorming, I think, solutions for each one.

Jason: You saw it happen real time. You heard it happen real time.

Caroline: And so what would that look like, and how would I walk people through that?

Jason: Yeah, if you enjoyed this, kind of, like, look behind the scenes of how we kind of break down a topic, especially for something like a coaching session within our program, but also just a bigger topic that we want to talk about and share, let us know. Send us an email, Leave a review on whatever podcast app you want. Now let’s get into the Calm Business Confidential.

Caroline: Okay.

Jason: Would you like to go first?

Caroline: Sure. I’ll start.

Jason: Yeah, sure.

Caroline: Okay. My business is… My business owner’s name is Delphine.

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: Which I love that name, and I don’t know her last name because I don’t think she shares it online. But Delphine owns a business called

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: And she sells digital downloads of sewing patterns for different items of clothing.

Jason: Okay, so I have heard of this.

Caroline: Exactly. And this is just one of those examples of I’m like, man, what a cool time to be alive because… a little bit of her story. She said, she’s been sewing for myself since I was… since 1999. She started because she was obsessed with garments that she couldn’t afford, and so she took pattern making and draping classes at a couple of fashion schools and now basically turns… I don’t know anything about sewing, so I’m sort of talking out of my butt here.

Jason: Neither of us do.

Caroline: But I understand the concept, which is I understand that the concept of making a pattern is how to cut out the panels and the pieces of cloth that you’re going to then sew into an article of clothing. Okay. I’ve watched enough Project Runway to know that’s how that works. But I think…

Jason: Again, we don’t have to know the intricate details of how these businesses work. We’re just sharing that we found them and that they’re fun.

Caroline: Exactly. And I think it’s cool because people… It’s all digital. And so you take something that is so physical, like clothing, but then you realize someone can DIY clothing. They just need the template in order to cut out the pieces. Tell them where to sew, tell them how to sew, and then they can make their own piece. And I know there are people listening to this right now who are very plugged into this world.

Jason: Of course.

Caroline: And they’re like, Come on, you didn’t talk about this.

Jason: No, we don’t.

Caroline: I’m so sorry. I know I read a couple of blog posts, and there was something about the Big Four, and there was something about Indie Pattern World. And so I’m not aware of the intricacies of the politics and the culture of the group, so I apologize if I’m missing all of that, but I think this is so neat because it’s a whole industry that just couldn’t have existed before the online world. So Delphine has just patterns. And then what I think is really cool is she also shares her growth story. So she does income reports once a year, I guess. The last one, I couldn’t find one from this year and the one that she posted at the end of last year was actually for 2021.

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: So anyway, the information is like a little bit… Oh, also I’m doing all this research, she’s from Paris, then I find out she moved to Lisbon. Isn’t that fun? I couldn’t tell from her Instagram if she was still in Lisbon, but I thought that was cool. But anyway, so I was reading her growth review, and what I think is cool is she shares in that review what the growth was and what she thinks led to that growth. So, just to give you by the numbers, basically her total net sales from 2021 was $37,334.

Jason: Amazing.

Caroline: Which is amazing, but it was up from $10,695 in 2020.

Jason: Wow.

Caroline: So she basically almost 4x’ed her sales in one year. And again, I like highlighting businesses like this that are sort of at that stage because I know that’s the majority of people listening to this. And as much as we love, even on our show, where we don’t share businesses that are making hundreds of millions or millions or whatever. But it’s like if you’re sharing a business that makes 300,000, I know that that’s a lot further ahead than some people.

Jason: Absolutely.

Caroline: And so I want to diversify the revenue amount so that people can connect with businesses that are sort of at their revenue stage. And yeah, so also interesting breakdown that it breaks down to basically 4,411 patterns sold.

Jason: Wow.

Caroline: That’s a lot of sales.

Jason: A lot of patterns.

Caroline: Delphine, raise your prices.

Jason: Yeah.

Caroline: But 91% just from her website. 8% on Etsy, 0.6% on something called Makerist, and 0.3% on something called Pattern Review.

Jason: Cool.

Caroline: And I think she even mentioned that she’s like, yeah, I should probably cut those last two.

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: Very related to our podcast episode.

Jason: Does she say how she gets the website traffic? Is it through content articles?

Caroline: She did say that… Well, I did notice I found her because of organic search, so I think a couple of her blog posts have done really well with organic search. But in her words, the things that she can attribute to her 2021 growth, I think she attributes that to… She had two very successful releases. So I don’t know how many patterns she has in her catalog, but she did the Claudia tank, which got a lot of visibility upon release. I’m guessing social media visibility and the Helena wrap dress, but she said really it was due to increased visibility on social media. I’ve done partnerships with sewing magazines before, but the collaboration with Peppermint magazine was the most fruitful. So if you’re in this realm trying to collaborate with magazines and getting some digital exposure, sounds like that really moved the needle for her. And the last thing I wanted to share about Delphine is that she just mentioned right at the top of her income report, which I thought was cool. The three elements that are most important to her are flexibility. She says, I actively avoid physical products, like paper patterns, to avoid the logistical constraints and to not have to adhere to a release schedule. And I think this goes back to knowing what your priorities are in your business and knowing what those values are so that you’re not coming up with offers that are steering your business in a direction that is actually not where you want it to go. We talk about this a little bit in the Inner Compass volume of this Call Business Encyclopedia. Her second element is just breaking even. She said, so far, income has always covered direct expenses. In 2021, she finally started paying herself. And so this is something we talk about in WAIM as far as your MMM number. So it sounds like all she really was trying to do with this business was to make her MMM number, basically cover her expenses.

Jason: Minimum magic number.

Caroline: Exactly. And then finally, which I love, her last point is pleasure. It has to be fun. I don’t want to ruin my hobby of 20 years. I only release patterns for clothes that I want to wear and that I’m passionate about making them, even if they may not be a commercial success.

Jason: Love it.

Caroline: This is like when I read these three things, I’m like calm business alert, calm business alert. So I love this. And to anyone listening who is very tapped into this industry, I hope I did the…

Jason: Again…

Caroline: Pattern Making 101 justice, but I think it’s a really cool business to be involved.

Jason: That’s a great one. Love the different size of business.

Caroline: I do also want to say, though, because I know a lot on this podcast, we talk about trying to get yourself off of social media. And I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be a world where you could have this business and be off of social media, but I think this type of business is the perfect example of some businesses just…

Jason: Will thrive.

Caroline: Thrive with digital media exposure. And this is one of those businesses. And so if you know that going into it, I think it’s worth doing an audit of, am I going into an industry where I know that social media is going to be a pretty big prerequisite? That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but is it going to be a pretty big prerequisite? And am I okay with that?

Jason: Yeah. All right. Great job. I’m back in the Calm Business Confidential saddle.

Caroline: You know what we didn’t do at the top of this…?

Jason: What’s that?

Caroline: Segment? We didn’t tell everyone thank you for writing.

Jason: Oh, yeah. Sorry about. That. So, yes, did want to acknowledge we got a very good sized handful, like a walrus sized handful of…

Caroline: Sixteen thousand walrus bones. I meant money, but it came out bones, and it was gross.

Jason: I think we got as many emails as we pretend have listeners of this show, which definitely shows you that every single person who listens to the show pulled their car over. One of my favorites was we got an email from someone who said, I pulled my car over, I put it in park, I grabbed my phone. Didn’t actually do it, but it was very funny.

Caroline: I just want to take the time to acknowledge everyone who sent an email and to say, thank you so much for the feedback and taking the time out of your day to do that because it was extremely… Getting that feedback is the reason why we’re going to continue to do this segment because you go, oh, no, people are actually enjoying it.

Jason: Yeah. And it takes us time. It takes us probably more time now to research the Calm Business Confidential than it does to write notes for the thing we just want to blab about for the episode.

Caroline: Very true.

Jason: Okay, my Calm Business Confidential. I’m curious to see if you’ve heard of this. This is a company previously known as Notion Forms, but now known as NoteForms. Have you ever heard of this?

Caroline: No.

Jason: Okay.

Caroline: It was known as Notion Forms?

Jason: Yes. Julien Nahum was working for Amazon and left his job back in 2021 to focus on his own ideas. So he worked on Amazon, saved up a year of runway, and was like, can’t work for a big company anymore, want to go work for myself. So worked on multiple projects in 2021, but never kind of fully built anything because he kept getting to this place where he would get excited about an idea, he would start to build it and then kind of get unmotivated, have a shiny object, want to move to another thing, and decided that that had to stop, basically, because he was never getting anywhere. And then there was this moment where Notion released their API and a light bulb went off because he was already using Notion to manage all of his different projects and things. So in four days after Notion announced their API, Julien went from an idea to a simple form builder that would show any results in a Notion database. So he basically has a form, and then immediately the results go into a database. I thought about this for us. Like, this could probably replace TypeForm for us because we basically want all of our TypeForms to go into Notion anyway.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: This is great. So at the same time he’s building this, he’s getting excited, and he’s like, oh, I’ve been watching people build in public forever on Twitter. I had a Twitter account for years, never used it. I’m just going to fire my Twitter account up and I’m going to build in public and just share what I’m building. So he does that. And his first tweet got six likes.

Caroline: Nice.

Jason: So not a ton of motivation, not a ton of like…

Caroline: That was my first… when you said that, first instinct, I go, Man, I think that that’s what so many people think to themselves, is like, okay, I’ll fire up this social media, but it’s so daunting to go, well, no one’s going to listen.

Jason: Exactly. And I love that he shared like, two screenshots of his early tweets. One had six likes. I think one had seven likes.

Caroline: Congrats.

Jason: And no replies. They’re just people liking it, but just wanted to share how much we love building in public. It’s like one of our favorite things to do. And I think if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking about building anything, find out a way to build in public because it is such good built in marketing. So anyway, instead of building a fully fledged product in those four days, he was only able to build this very simple thing. It had no logic jump, no customization, no multiple page forms. It was just an ugly… and he has screenshots. Just an ugly form builder. It wasn’t pretty. And he decided he was like, because it’s ugly, because it doesn’t have a lot of features, I’m just going to give it away for free and see if I can build up an audience. And then eventually monetize using the freemium model. So his costs were really low. The app was very buggy, as he was saying on Twitter, and he just wanted to get validation from real users and what they wanted because he could pick features out of the hat, but it wouldn’t do anything. So after three months, a bunch of user feedback, he started a Facebook group where he was having the users submit what they wanted. He was fixing bugs. He added some features based on what people were saying. He decided to start charging $15 a month. He was like, okay, I want to do this. And he picked that price because it was two times cheaper than TypeForm and other form builders like it. And he was like, okay, well, I still am not very confident in this that people are going to pay for it. So I’m going to offer a 40% lifetime discount for early users. So I don’t think he had an email list. I think he just had his Twitter account and his Facebook group with however many users were using it for free. How many sales do you think he got on day one?

Caroline: On day one?

Jason: Yeah. 40% lifetime discount, $15 product.

Caroline: 32.

Jason: One sale. I love this so much because it’s so freaking relatable.

Caroline: So relatable.

Jason: One sale, even discounting the product almost 50%. So it would have been like $8.

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: So he tried not to get discouraged, although he said it was very depressing that he didn’t get any…

Caroline: My empathetic heart is thinking of him on that day and just going, oh.

Jason: He has this little chart of his emotions throughout the life of the project, and it’s just how we all feel. But two months after the launch, he stuck with continuing to work with the customers, continuing to promote that it was a paid product and decided to launch it on Product Hunt. And it got to number one for the Product of the Day, which was really helpful. But what I love is that even after those two months, even after being number one on Product Hunt, at the three month mark, it had only gotten to $400 recurring revenue with 30 paying customers.

Caroline: But still, from one sale to 400. ROI is pretty big.

Jason: And it was at this moment where he basically had to decide, I have to take on freelance work. Like, I can’t keep running this thing because he had quit his job, he has that one year of runway. He’s like, maybe halfway through the year now, he’s got to take on some work. So at this point, he had gotten to $400 recurring revenue, but it wasn’t enough to sustain him. He had to get some freelance work. This is where his rock bottom kind of he felt at the project. And he also had this moment at the same time that was like, and this is the moment that I had with my IWearYourShirt project in the very beginning, which is you launch a thing. You kind of, like, broadcast it out into the world in a way that you think you’re putting it in front of everybody that could possibly hear about it. Nothing happens. And then you take a step back and you go, hold on, I have to do more if I want this to exist. So he basically said, I’m just going to go all in on marketing, and I’m going to go everywhere. I’m going to be in all the Reddit productivity groups and Notion groups. I’m going to get in all the Facebook groups. I’m going to answer all the questions that people have. I’m going to start writing helpful articles and just…

Caroline: Throw everything at it.

Jason: Yeah, essentially said, I’m just going to do everything I can to see if this will succeed. And if it doesn’t, then it’s fine. At least I know I tried everything.

Caroline: Exactly.

Jason: Which I love. So slowly but surely.

Caroline: That inspires me just about Teachery too, going back to our previous episode and thinking about really going all in on marketing next year. And it’s like eventually a flip has to switch where we go, are we always going to look back and wish that we would have really gone for it?

Jason: It’s the all in mentality. And that doesn’t mean you do it to burn yourself out. It means you do it and you go, yeah, but I’m not doing enough and I need to do more. So slowly but surely, more people started signing up for Notion Forms, which recently had to change to NoteForms because Notion rolled out all these brand guidelines. You can’t do that anymore. But he really found a good loop of marketing, like a good flywheel, as they call it, with his product, where he was in these different areas, Reddit, Facebook, et cetera, even posting some YouTube videos. He was starting to get traffic to it. People were signing up. They would use the forms for free. It had his logo on the forms, then other people would see it. Then some people started signing up. So he reached $8,000 MRR a year later. So from $400 MRR to $8,000 a year later. And again, $8,000 MRR is great, but that’s still not replacing his Amazon salary that he had. But that’s a really good fantastic leap and it shows you what can happen, right?

Caroline: Yeah.

Jason: And I think that that is like a really fun example of how this went. So from there, just continued to say, let me simplify a little bit. So let me focus on the content channels that work, let me hone the product, let me listen to users, be active in the communities. And at the two year mark, he hit $16,000 monthly recurring revenue.

Caroline: Wow.

Jason: So two years to get to that place. And the best part is, at that two year mark, and I love this, he only works on the product 1 hour per day.

Caroline: Wow.

Jason: So he simplified so much and he started delegating all of the content creation.

Caroline: That’s more impressive to me than the money.

Jason: Yeah, and again, he still, like, that’s not replacing his Amazon salary, but it’s really good money then. And he can afford to pay freelancers. And his workload has just decreased so much. And he loves working on the business. And what I found really fun is that… So he had his first big ambitious goal. Well, actually, I think even before, I couldn’t find the first one. But the first one I could find was $200,000 yearly revenue for the business. And he hit that at the end of 2022. His goal by the end of 2023 was to get to 330,000 yearly revenue, which again, I like that these goals are not like…

Caroline: They’re so realistic.

Jason: $5 million.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: He hit his 330,000 goal like two months ago. So he’s got like a little counter on Twitter, which he also built a second product that does the little progress bar that shows it in Twitter. So you basically sync if you use like a revenue capturing tool, like Profit Well, or it doesn’t work with Baremetrics, which is what we use, but it’ll then plug it into the little emojis to show it, which is fun. And that’s just a free tool. But yeah. So I love that he hit those two goals. He’s just continuing to make these little goal moves that are not huge and not audacious. And he actually said, the last thing I could find that I really thought was interesting was he’s now starting to work on another business. Because when Notion made their big change, it really scared him. And it’s when you put all of your chips on the back of another product exactly. It can be dangerous. So he’s trying to think of other ideas.

Caroline: It can be incredibly helpful because the only reason he’s able to do all of that marketing push right, is because he’s going into Notion Forms. He’s going into…

Jason: Exactly.

Caroline: So he’s off the back of their…

Jason: We talk about this all the time. If you’re starting a business right now, go to an existing marketplace or tool and become an expert, become someone who makes things off the back of that thing because there’s already such a huge audience that loves it. And if you can find small improvements, after reading the story, I literally thought to myself, I think we could be a customer of this product because it could replace TypeForm, save us money every month and actually be more integrated into our loop of productivity.

Caroline: Which goes back to what we were saying about one of the solutions for the marketing complexity is if you don’t have processes in order to check in on the metrics. And part of the reason is that we don’t check in on the metrics as often as we used to is because we have to do it manually and put it into Notion. You know what I mean? I think that’s interesting.

Jason: So that’s my Calm Business Confidential. Julien of NoteForms, previously Notion Forms. So, yeah, I hope you all enjoy those.

Caroline: What do the forms look like? Are they like…?

Jason: Yeah, they look decent.

Caroline: Okay.

Jason: Yeah, I think Tally, which is another form builder that I talked about in Calm Business Confidential…

Caroline: Well, what’s interesting about Tally is, isn’t their product based off of the interface of Notion? So it’s kind of interesting.

Jason: Yeah. I just apparently love form building as a business, as a tool.

Caroline: Apparently.

Jason: Yeah, I find it interesting. But yeah, that’s our Calm Business Confidential. And then a little bit of Postugal here. Just talk about small…?

Caroline: Not too many updates, but you wanted to talk about the hurdles with our car situation.

Jason: I don’t know how many of you listening to this are potentially thinking of moving to Portugal, but I think this is actually a piece of advice. If you’re thinking of moving anywhere where there’s a new credit system that you have to get acclimated to.

Caroline: Totally.

Jason: One piece of advice that I wish I would have been told earlier on is, if you’re ever going to try and get any type of financing, an auto loan, a mortgage, et cetera, especially if you’re someone who’s not just going to buy things in cash. Like we don’t have enough cash to just come and buy a car, a nicer car. We could buy a very cheap car, but we also don’t want to drive around a cheap car in a country we don’t know the roads. We want to feel safe in the car. You definitely want to build up credit. And the fastest way to do that is something I wish someone would have told us, which is instead of moving like, let’s just throw a number, $20,000 into a bank account in the new country.

Caroline: Which you’re going to have to do a lot of times for getting…

Jason: Your residency card or whatever.

Caroline: Your residency card, your number.

Jason: Approved for the visa.

Caroline: Government stuff.

Jason: You have to have like… because it’s showing that you have enough money to sustain yourself in their banking system. While you may have to do that at the very beginning, the thing that people want to see that I have now learned in talking to too many banks in the past couple of weeks is monthly inflows of money. So as soon as you possibly can, start transferring money every single month as like a, I’m building up money and I have a business that pays me into this account. I know this is, like, insanely specific advice for only a very few of you who might be thinking about this, but if someone would have told us this ten months ago, we’re in an auto loan situation where we’re trying to get approved for an auto loan right now, and they just don’t want to approve us, even though we make plenty of money on paper. But it’s not enough money here, and we don’t see the inflows. But basically what the banker told me was like, just for the past three months, if you had put in $3,000 a month into this bank account, you would have been approved immediately because it shows that you have monthly money coming in and that’s what a bank wants to see. Not that you have a big chunk of money in there relative to whatever anybody thinks a big chunk of money is, but this is just like a little life hack that I just wanted to share. If you’re thinking about moving to any country, as soon as you possibly can, start setting up some monthly transfers into that bank account and keep it going consistently. It is a very boring…

Caroline: Hot tip.

Jason: Very specific tip to people who might be doing that. But yeah, it’s just something that we have run into that I wish someone would have told me earlier this year because it would have saved us a bunch of headaches.

Caroline: Fantastic.

Jason: So I’m passing along the headache medicine here for everybody else.

Caroline: Way to go, babe.

Jason: Also, life here is just great. We’re just happy.

Caroline: We love it here. We just talk about it every single day. Best decision we ever made. I feel like this is like one of the happiest years of our lives.

Jason: For sure.

Caroline: So far.

Jason: We are going back to the US in November for three weeks and I think we want to talk about in our Postugal section some of the stuff that we are looking forward to because a lot of times we talk about how great life is here, but there are things that we do miss. And so I think we want to share some of those things that we’re looking forward to. Like, man, I cannot wait to have…

Caroline: You’re going to throw them all out there now.

Jason: A thing. And then also one of those.

Caroline: Yeah, and then a couple of those, too.

Jason: And then one of those big…

Caroline: Oh. Yeah, the big one.

Jason: You know what I’m talking about.

Caroline: Oh, I want two of those.

Jason: Oh, gosh. All right. We hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. And again, as of this, going live on the day that it goes up here, our Wandering Aimfully Unlimited program is closing the doors in just a few days. So if you are on the fence about joining us, if you enjoyed the majority of this episode where we talked about simplifying your business, content like that is waiting for you on the other side. Our un-boring roadmap will take you through all of the things that we have taught over the past five years to help you build a calm business that’s peaceful, predictable, and profitable. And we have a ton of other stuff, including Teachery, which is an online course software. We have our audio coaching robot, if you want, 220 little coaching sessions whenever you need them. Just, like three minutes of us chatting in your ear to help you get through overwhelm or different things in your life that you’re stuck on. And just lots of fun, amazing stuff that I think is very different from the coaching space, normally.

Caroline: I would agree with that.

Jason: You want to hit them with the URL?

Caroline: I’ll hit you with the URL. You can head

Jason: And it’s the last time we’re offering our $100 per month pricing model, so make sure you check that out. Okay, that’s it. Goodbye.

Caroline: Goodbye. Have a good day.

180 – Simplifying Your Business

(Big Fat Takeaway)

This week, we share how we take an idea and concept, break it down, and create frameworks and some business simplification tips.


This article written by

Jason Zook

I'm all about that Cinnamon Roll life (that just seemed like a "cool" way to say I love baking and eating cinnamon rolls). Also, I co-run this WAIM thing as well as Teachery. Currently, 75ish% completion of Tears of the Kingdom 🧝‍♀️⚔️.

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