The Adaptive Agency

No More Hamster Wheel: 7 Mindset Shifts To End The Grind

by | Dec 9, 2022

Ever feel trapped by day-to-day busy work?

It’s not just you. We’ve all thought big thoughts and then been too busy to act on them.

Here are seven mindset shifts that will help you get out of the hamster wheel and start growing your business deliberately.

Pick one and see what happens in 2023.

1. Decide where you’re going and why.

If your destination is unclear, it’s hard to do the right things to get there. But what if you could tell which of your activities are moving you in the right direction? Then you could say “no” to things that aren’t helping. That’s what deciding where you’re going will do.

Your first attempt might feel pretty shallow. As you think about it over time, though, you’ll see that life is signaling you more than you realize. After a few tries, your destination will be much clearer, as will your justification for it.

Then you can communicate where you’re going (and why).

It’s not easy to go in the right direction if you don’t know where it is. Even harder is leading other people who don’t get it. That’s how you get stuck supervising.

But if you communicate where you’re going clearly and often, your people will have something to align with and believe in. People love to come together on an enterprise that matters. They don’t love running in the wheel and waiting for a nut to fall down the chute.

Finally, you’ll be in a place to stop doing things that don’t align.

Your biggest obstacle will be your addiction to the grind. Maybe you feel guilty if you’re not “busy”. Or you feel safe doing familiar work. That’s the wheel. You need to take ownership of what you’re doing with your time.

Deciding where you’re going and why you’re going there will get you and your people out of the hamster wheel.

2. Leverage talent.

Business owners understand leverage when it comes to tangible assets.

You spend (or borrow and spend) money on things that will produce more than they cost. A 3x ROI is ok. 5x is great. 10x? Wow, now you’re talking.

But great talent also has a 10x factor compared to weak talent.

Fully empowered and trusted, great talent doesn’t just do their j-o-b. They spot opportunities. They innovate. They share intel. They make great recommendations. They not only take things off your plate and make you you more effective, but they also help you lead your people to the promised land.

Too many of them work for bosses who see their people as a labor cost to minimize rather than a talent asset to leverage.

If you can pay 10% more for someone who can return multiples of value, it’s worth rethinking your relationship with talent. Hiring great talent and leading them right will get you a much bigger ROI than hiring cheap labor and supervising them.

Leveraging talent will get you out of the supervision hamster wheel.

3. Segment your book and focus on your ICP.

All of your customers deserve to be treated right. Plus, your reputation is only as good as the way you treat your least favorite customer.

But if you’re going to focus on growing your bottom line, start with your ICP—your “Ideal Customer Profile”.

Your ICP is a profile of customers who provide you with the highest ARR (Annually Recurring Revenue) for the most years. And that means they provide your top CLV (Customer Lifetime Value).

And that’s not all. Here’s what else they do:

  • They trust you.
  • They want your value, not just a better price.
  • They refer others and spread good word-of-mouth.
  • They give you all of their business.

You can spot these customers easily if you sort your book by annual premium.

This doesn’t justify neglecting other customers. It means having strategies and processes around your ICP that help you:

  1. retain and monetize them
  2. attract and acquire more of them
  3. promote more customers to be like them

Doubling down on your ICP will help get you out of the customer churn hamster wheel.

4. Transform intent.

Customers and employees come to you because they want something.

Customers typically want to save some money. Employees usually want to make a little more money. That’s their intent that you inherit.

If you don’t transform that intent, they’ll leave you for the very same reasons.

So you’ve got 2 jobs:

1. Motivate customers to stay because your value outweighs a cheaper price.

2. Motivate employees to stay with you because the benefit of working for you outweighs a few extra dollars.

Make sure you have something compelling to offer so that they aren’t easily enticed by the next person who puts money on the table.

Transforming intent will get you out of the customer and employee churn hamster wheel.

5. Be different, not just better.

Everybody claims to be better. Better price, better service, simpler process, etc.

Better is ok, but nobody cares much. What really makes them pay attention is “different”.

In fact, there’s a saying that goes like this: “Different is better than better.” When you’re different in ways that matter, you create a new category. You don’t pull ahead of the competition—you separate yourself from them.

Being different will get you out of the “competing with the folks down the street” hamster wheel.

6. Grow the bottom line.

Too many businesses confuse cash flow with profit.

They look in their bank account to see how the company’s doing. Paying the bills? Great! Next round of purchase orders signed? Cool! But that means you’re having a great month, not a great future.

If you want to grow, you need to engage in growth activities, such as:

  • attracting better talent
  • overstaffing slightly
  • running experiments in marketing and advertising
  • investing in long-term, strategic initiatives

All these things cost money. That money can come from the bank, from investors, or from profit.

I vote for profit.

Not just profit margins. It’s better to make 1% of ten million dollars than 10% of ten thousand dollars. But 10% of five million dollars beats them both.

So profit margins and profit dollars matter.

If you’re competing with businesses who brag about their revenue and their employee count, focusing on bottom-line growth will make them irrelevant.

Optimizing your business for profitable growth will get you out of the cashflow hamster wheel.

7. Do things that compound.

Hyper-tactical small businesses basically start over every month, quarter, or year.

That’s because they’re not building things that compound. Or they are, but they don’t know it, nor do they use it to their advantage.

You already know what compound interest is: money you make on the money you’ve already made. But the same is true for many other aspects of business.

The goal is to build things into your business that (a) produce value perpetually and (b) give you a better platform for creating more value. For example:

  • Customers who (a) provide you with ARR for a long time and (b) produce referrals are a compounding asset.
  • Employees who (a) stay with you for a long time and (b) develop their ability to provide more value are another.

The same is true for your strategies, your processes, your marketing hypotheses, your tools, etc. Every choice you make can lead to a “start-over” or a “next step”. If you’re thinking tactically, you end up with lots of do-overs. If you’re thinking strategically, you end up stepping up with each new initiative.

Doing things that compound will get you out of the start-over hamster wheel.

There’s life outside the hamster wheel, and it’s way better.

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