269: Embracing Obstacles for Opportunity

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When you're building something all by yourself, you're always constantly juggling way too many

things. And there's always something to do that you just can't seem to get to, right? Welcome to

the Bootstrapped Founder. Today we'll be talking about constraints and how to overcome them. Shout out

to aquire.com, the sponsor of this episode. More on that later. I recently experienced something

quite horrible. We had a 12 hour power outage. And for this location here, that is a pretty long

outage. I'd forgotten to charge my laptop. All my devices were just these expensive black mirrors,

really. It was completely useless. I was limited to writing on paper and reading books. And most

of the time I was in the dark so that it didn't even happen. I didn't have enough candles. It was

pretty horrible compared to, you know, a productive time that I could have used. And this made me

think about how I make the best of my time in such situations. Interruptions, unexpected

limitations, external events that impact my productive hours, that kind of stuff. It got me

thinking about constraints really in our lives as solopreneurs or small business owners and

independent creators. We face plenty of constraints in what we do, but there are also ways to turn them

into opportunities. And I was talking to Channing Allen of indyhackers.com about constraints this

week. And he explained to me that dealing with these kind of restrictions is the reason why the

Indyhackers podcast is currently on hiatus. It's just not releasing new episodes anymore. Much

to the chagrin of a lot of fans out there, but Channing and Cortland just have other and more

important things to do. They have constraints. So let me share a few of my own constraints and

my own journey here today. And then I'll try to show you how I approach overcoming them.

One constraint that I often feel is my limited ability to do several things at once, which is

a problem for a solopreneur. When you're alone, you have to wear all the hats at the same time.

And sometimes even for multiple independent businesses, I run this media business and several

SaaS businesses simultaneously. There's a lot to do, lots of hats to wear. And to manage this,

I have to be extremely intentional with my focus, the thing that I'm focusing on at any given point.

I set aside specific time blocks for each of my businesses. And my media business is my current

main focus. While the SaaS businesses, they need less attention. I built them that way, but I guess

I also give them less attention. Also probably because I can, because I built them to be more

passive kind of projects. There's so much that I actually could be doing there. I could be building

features or increase outreach and amplify my marketing efforts, but I choose not to. I'm

currently all in on building my media empire. So I spend a lot of time online and on social media

to gather information for my media work, come up with ideas and interact with people. And all of

my media stuff includes my newsletter, the blog, the podcast, the YouTube channel, everything that's

media related. So to avoid dividing my attention too much, I focus on my deliverables. I set out

to create one product each week. That's all. One essay or article doesn't have to be much more than

that, but it's just one a week. That is my schedule. And this then serves as the foundation for all my

other content. I turn that essay into a newsletter, a podcast, a video, and whatever other format I

want to see it in. But ultimately I allow myself to focus on just one thing. And as a solopreneur,

I need to control my time and schedule. No one else will do it for me. So I focus on building a

process with one source of truth and all other things built on top of that. That's the process

I use in everything I do. I dedicate most of my time to writing my weekly essay and article,

which is understandable because it's the one thing, right? It's the source, at least one day,

sometimes even two a week. The rest of my week is then divided between recording interviews for my

podcast, other tasks like consulting calls or doing my Twitter teardowns. And if I want to find the

time and then do find the time working on my SaaS products, my focus here is time boxed very

intentionally. Monday and Thursday are for working on my solo show. Tuesday and Wednesday are for my

interview shows that I do on my podcast. And Friday is for everything else. By setting these

boundaries and focusing on one major task at a time, I can make the most of my time and manage

my constraints effectively because there are plenty and they are imposing. So I need a process.

During the week, I work on my media properties and I save weekends for myself and my family.

And I've been following this routine for a while now. So when I look at the constraints here,

they are mostly self-imposed really. I want to make sure that both of my weekly podcast episodes,

the interview and the solo show are exciting, that instructive and something that I will be

proud of 10 years from now. I want the quality to be high. And at the same time, I want to enjoy

my family life and not drown in work, which is another balance to strike. And then there's

my biggest struggle. And I hear from my fellow creators that I'm definitely not alone with this.

And it is consistency. Pretty much unsurprisingly, I think like at any age doing anything consistency

is one of the hardest thing to get right. The challenge that I face the most is really just

staying consistent in my output. And I admit I'm terrible at it. I always struggled with routines

and habits in my life. But with now 269 podcast episodes under my belt, I guess I've managed to

stay consistent. I haven't missed a week. Well, how have I done this? Well, I'm forcing myself

to show up by having set up accountability systems. Here's what I was thinking when I started

writing for my blog in late 2019, when I just came off the exit of Feedback Panda and started

something new. I knew that if consistency was my struggle, and I certainly had proof of that back

then, because I've dropped out of university twice, that's an indicator, I guess. Well, if that's my

struggle, then I need a process that makes it easy to stick with writing to keep writing, my mind

needs to believe that people want what I create. So I found a way to signal that to my brain. I

asked for opt in. When people sign up for my newsletter or subscribe to my podcast or my

YouTube, I know that they want to hear from me. They enjoy learning from whatever I present to

them. They find entertainment in it and they deserve to see new content every week. That's

why they sign up. And this mindset helps me overcome my own inconsistency, the tendency

to be inconsistent. I can see these tangible numbers, the readers, the listeners, the viewers,

such as yourself right now. Your mere presence right here is the reason I can show up every week.

That's how I'm tricking my own brain. And when you have trouble motivating yourself and you ask,

who is this all for? Why am I doing this? The answer is the people who opted in, the people who

said yes, find them, ask them, and then serve them. And that brings me to another huge and definitely

self-imposed constraint. The belief that we have nothing new to say or that everything has already

been said. There are many versions of this, some kind of imposter syndrome or some kind of

what does it matter feeling. Particularly subject matter experts fall prey to this fallacy a lot.

And yes, people may have discussed similar topics before, but it's never a reason to not talk about

it again. Your unique voice and your experiences make your content valuable and interesting and

maybe most importantly, relatable, approachable. Your followers want you to write about topics that

they care about. And you can rephrase this, your followers want you to write about topics they care

about. It's not about the topics really. They're not just there for the content. They're there for

you, for the person, the creator. And this is a strange thing to lean into, particularly if you're

an introvert. I consider myself one most of the time. We tend to try and stay away from the limelight.

We'd rather be in the audience than on stage, but we do have a lot to share and someone is always on

the same journey as us. It's an important thing to recognize. And these people can learn even from

our most mundane experiences. If we choose to share them, just consider how much you've learned

in let's say the last year alone. It's probably a lot of learning that happened for you right there.

If you could go back in time and tell yourself what knowledge you would absorb in the next year,

wouldn't you be amazed? Wouldn't that be awesome? Well, you can do that right now for others,

people that are waiting right now all around you, ready to learn. I still fall into this

constraint a lot. Whenever I write about a commonly discussed topic, I wonder if my

interpretation even matters. But every single time I'm pleasantly surprised. But every single time I'm

pleasantly surprised by the emails and DMs that I get after having written about it. Now, four years

in, I get a lot of these messages back in the day when I started there were few, but people who

resonate with what you have to say, they will find ways to show it to you. Constraints like this,

they change over time too. That's something important to recognize. The system that works

for you right now might not work in the future or under different circumstances if they were to appear.

It's important to regularly analyze the constraints you're facing and then adjust your work,

your process accordingly. I recommend something that I do regularly. I have this self-reflection

summit at least once every quarter just to evaluate where I stand in this constantly

changing world around me. I have new things that I do. I have new people that I talk to.

This impacts what I should be doing in the future, right? So as a creator or an entrepreneur,

working with a system that is not aligned with reality, that will just hinder your success.

So your process isn't or should ever be set in stone and regularly reassessing what limits you

and what defines the boundaries of your work that allows you to outgrow these often self-imposed

limitations and then start focusing on the actual limitations in the markets that you operate in.

So recognizing and understanding constraints is crucial to achieving success in any creative

endeavor or business venture. So keep them in mind without letting them make decisions for you.

You're still the arbiter of your own success, but it's always good to think about these things.

And that's it for today. I will now briefly thank my sponsor, Acquire.com. Imagine this,

your founder who's built a really solid SaaS product, you acquired customers and everything

is generating really consistent monthly recurring revenue. That's the SaaS dream, right? It's the

world that we all want to live in, a profitable business that we really enjoy, but maybe it's

not growing. Maybe you don't have time to focus. You are constrained by other things. You don't

have the skill. You just are not interested. You feel stuck in the business. Well, what should you

do? The story that I would like to hear is that you buckled down, that you did all these things

like marketing and sales and you made more money over the next couple months and everything is

great. Well, in reality, that kind of story is pretty much a fairy tale, right? It's unfortunately

not reality. And the situation that you might be facing right now is different for every founder

who's facing this crossroad. Too many times though, story ends up being one of inaction and

stagnation until the business becomes less valuable or completely worthless over time. So if you find

yourself here, or you think your story is likely headed down there, down this road, I would consider

a third option and that's selling your business on acquire.com. Capitalizing on the value of your time

today is a pretty smart move. That's something you're constrained by, right? Like the amount of time

that you have. And if you value that more than keeping running this business that may or may

not go anywhere with you at the helm, acquire.com is a great place to just list the business and see

what you can get for it. They've helped hundreds of founders already. If you want to check it out,

and I highly recommend it, even if you don't want to sell right now, it's always good to just invest

in it a little. Go to try.acquire.com/arvid and see for yourself if this is the right option for you.

Thank you for listening to the Bootstrapped Founder today. I really appreciate it. You can find me

on Twitter @arvidkahl and you will find my books on my Twitter course too.

If you want to support me on this show, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, get the podcast

and your player of choice, and then leave a rating and a review by going to ratethispodcast.com/founder.

It would make a massive difference if you were to show up there, because then the podcast will show

up in other people's feeds. Any of this will help the show. I'm really, really grateful for

you listening today. Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day and bye bye.

Creators and Guests

Arvid Kahl
Arvid Kahl
Empowering founders with kindness. Building in Public. Sold my SaaS FeedbackPanda for life-changing $ in 2019, now sharing my journey & what I learned.
269: Embracing Obstacles for Opportunity
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