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223: Are You Addicted to Your Business? The Truth about Entrepreneurial Burnout

Posted by Austin Brawner on October 29, 2019

 

You look up at the clock and realize you’ve been working for 14 hours.

You’ve still got a dozen more emails to respond to before you can go home, maybe spend a little time with your family, then get 4 hours of sleep and start the cycle again the next day.

Sound familiar? This, my friends, is the recipe for burnout.

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get addicted to your work and feel like if you’re not spending 16 hours a day trying to grow your business, the person who is will beat you to the top.

Burnout isn’t talked about enough in the ecommerce world.

But today we’re changing that in our conversation with Mike Jackness, Co-Founder of EcomCrew and someone who has built and sold multiple businesses.

Mike shares the story of how he got started in ecommerce, his criteria for buying a business, and what it means to deal with entrepreneurial burnout.

This conversation really hit home for us, and we hope you get a lot out of it.

Episode Highlights

  • 6:28 Mike’s life on the road for the last several months.
  • 7:52 Who is Mike Jackness and how did he get started in ecommerce?
  • 9:30 From ice wraps to adult coloring books: the variety of businesses Mike’s been involved with over the years.
  • 11:49 Big opportunities in ecommerce right now that will help your brand stand out.
  • 14:27 The criteria Mike’s looking for as he’s thinking about buying another business.
  • 18:53 Strategies for increasing average order value and customer lifetime value.
  • 23:24 If you’re going to launch a new product, make sure it has synergy with the rest of your brand.
  • 26:05 The truth about entrepreneurial burnout and the importance of having connections and support.
  • 30:05 Things to watch out for to help prevent yourself from burning out and the ongoing struggle of running a business.
  • 34:35 How do you create an environment where you don’t have to compete?
  • 36:25 The importance of identifying the time when you’re actually being productive.
  • 39:12 Technical challenges of living on the road.

Links And Resources

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Transcript

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Austin Brawner: Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: And I'm Andrew Foxwell. Man, how you doing today?

Austin Brawner: I am doing fantastic. Went for a lovely walk. I've been going for some midday walks or workouts recently and it has just made my life a lot better.

Andrew Foxwell: Total game changer. Yeah, it totally is. It's crazy. I feel as entrepreneurs we're getting better at dealing with our mental health a little bit. Maybe.

Austin Brawner: I think so. Or maybe just you and I have been doing it long enough that we realize that it's really, really fucking important.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, yeah. Oh, my gosh. I mean, if you go on a 30-minute walk and you just don't think about anything or you just are walking or you're thinking about stuff and you're trying to take in your surroundings... I'm reading this book on mindfulness. So I'm thinking about it. It's insane what that'll do for the rest of the day for me.

Austin Brawner: 100%. It's very hard to have a bad day no matter what's going on if... recently it's been what's coming up. It's if I go for a walk in the morning when I wake up with my wife, if I cook some lunch, workout, and then have a nice dinner and the food that I eat is really solid and it's good nutritious food for me I really have a hard time having a bad day. Just that.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I agree. Yeah, I agree. It's interesting. Even when I've had bad days recently I've reflected on it and been like, "What went wrong there?" And actually a lot of it is my attitude. I recently tweeted that, something I was reading from Thich Nhat Hanh, which is "the sky and nature is neutral. The weather is neutral. It's your reaction to it, and that's a choice." And I just been thinking about that a lot. I'm like a lot of stuff that comes up I'm like, "Okay. Well, I can I have a choice here to be weird about this or not."

Austin Brawner: Embrace the winter.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I mean, I'm glad we're talking about this because... well, embrace the winter. I mean, that's a choice. I'm making a choice to embrace it.

Austin Brawner: I've made the choice to move away from the winter and live it off in Texas. That's also a choice.

Andrew Foxwell: Congratulations. Awesome.

Austin Brawner: No. But go ahead and do what you were saying. I kind of cut you off there.

Andrew Foxwell: No. I mean, I think it actually goes directly into our guest today, and the podcast that we just recorded with Mike Jackness. It was a lot of discussion on business and his story, but then getting into how he moves forward in his business and how he thinks about everything from creating more revenue for yourself to creating more time and kind of mental clarity as well.

Austin Brawner: Yeah. Mike is a really interesting guy. I've met him a couple of times, most recently had dinner with him and a bunch of other ecommerce entrepreneur friends. And we had a discussion about burnout and about keeping yourself moving forward when you're not feeling like you want to move forward, what you can do. And he most recently sold his house, hopped in an RV, has been cruising around the country.

And we actually catch up with him in one of the few places where he find the internet. And it's a great discussion, both tactical and strategic mindset and just gives us some nuggets on what you can do to drive more revenue. So I think you guys will really enjoy it.

Mike, welcome to the show, man. We're excited to have you.

Mike Jackness: It's great to be here.

Austin Brawner: We semi-recently side each other in Austin, Texas, and at that time we were like, "Oh, you know what? We should do a podcast, talk a little bit about... " We had an interesting dinner with a bunch of other people who have ecommerce podcasts actually. And we were kind of chatting and I was like, "We should do an episode," talking about kind of some of the things that we had talked about.

First off, I want to dive into, you have been bouncing around like crazy. Why don't you tell our listeners a little bit about who you are and what you've been doing for the last six months, eight months that you've been on the road?

Mike Jackness: Yeah. So I'm officially right now on this trip since July 5th, and we're recording this in early October. So yeah, we bought an RV and it's our second time doing this. So I appreciate it a lot more than I did the first time around. And we started in Dallas. So that's where I had last left the RV and then basically went up through the middle of the country to places like Denver and Yellowstone, Montana, Glacier, Banff and Jasper, the Wine Valley, over to Vancouver and did the West Coast Trail.

And now we're starting to head south again because we like to chase the warm weather. So we did Seattle, Portland, Bend, Oregon, Crater Lake, Reno and Lake Tahoe. And as we're recording this we're in Las Vegas and the next stop to San Diego. So it's been an interesting journey.

Austin Brawner: And Mike, why don't you give us... we kind of gave a little bit of an intro to our listeners, but why don't you give us kind of a rundown of who you are and tell us a bit about your ecommerce expertise and what you have focused on for the last handful of years.

Mike Jackness: Yeah. So I mean, the last six years or so I've been doing ecommerce. Before that I was into affiliate marketing and SEO content marketing stuff and I've been doing that since 2004. So I've been in the online space for quite a while.

And in that journey, in the online marketing and affiliate space, I really got into buying what I call keyword domains. And one of those domain names was treadmill.com, and that's actually how I eventually got into ecommerce. It was my first ecommerce site. And we ended up selling that in January of 2015, and along the way I kind of realized that what we were doing in ecommerce was different and special. And so we started documenting that along the way at our blog Ecom Crew and started doing a podcast as well. It seems everyone has a podcast these days. I wanted to be one of the cool kids and we're 280 something episodes into that.

And I think the reason things were a little different because I came from a background of technology, that's how I approached e-commerce. Everything was in this technology realm where a lot of people come into e-commerce from, "I just want to start a home-based business." They don't know exactly what they want to sell yet or they approach it from, "I have this invention or this thing that I think I can make better," and they don't know the technology piece. So I'm jealous of them, and they're jealous of me. And it's an interesting world to live in.

Austin Brawner: And, Mike, so you got into this. Obviously you built treadmill.com, get them the keyword domain side, then you started Ecom Crew, and you have had a number of different businesses. Why don't you walk us through some of the businesses that you've started, bought, run over the last couple of years and how they relate to kind of what you're doing now.

Mike Jackness: So after we sold treadmill... I think everything in life is just like this stair step of learning, kind of journey. So first got into ecommerce, "This is going to be awesome." And then I learned kind of the pitfalls of ecommerce with a drop shipping site in shipping big heavy pieces of equipment. So I'm like, "I love e-commerce but don't want to do that any longer."

So we got into ice wraps. I had bought off of BizBuySell I found this website Icewrap.com and it had been around for seven years and it wasn't these big heavy pieces of equipment and it wasn't drop shipping. So I got into that. And then realized I wanted to do more of my own stuff. I didn't want to be selling other people's products.

We started doing private labels stuff for IceWraps, which is now turned into this mid-seven-figure business a year. It's been our workhorse for quite a while. And we also owned Cuttingboard.com. So we started developing that and also went off into that same thing where we developed our own products. We were selling other people's products. We started manufacturing our own stuff.

The one that I'm probably the most known for is this brand called ColorIt, which sells coloring books for adults, which is probably the most random thing you could ever think of. But it started checking off all these other boxes that I learned about, which was I wanted people to be passionate about what they were buying. So they would be good user-generated content for me. And I wanted a direct Facebook audience to line up with things, consumability of the products, and things of this nature.

So that was the next thing that we did, which is the business we recently sold and which has kind of got us back to location-independence again. And we have two other ecommerce brands, which are Wild Baby and Tactical.com that we own as well.

Andrew Foxwell: So you've been doing this for a while as we've learned and you kind of are a serial ecommerce entrepreneur as some would term it. Obviously you're doing this on your own, but you're also giving advice through the podcast and I assume doing a lot of chats with different people in the space and consulting.

As you look at this overall, just starting really broadly, where do you see a kind of the big opportunities as it relates to ecommerce right now?

Because I think a lot of people feel like this space is shrinking because the Facebook and Instagram ad space is shrinking and the opportunity that was there is going away slightly and they're having to do more things from marketing inbound. I mean, what do you think are the big things that right off the bat people are kind of missing or aren't being talked about as much?

Mike Jackness: Oh, that's a great question actually because it's something I've been talking quite a bit about. In fact, I wholeheartedly admit that I don't think I could start Ice Wraps now, even though it's this great business that we have and we make a ton of money off of that. If I tried to start it now I think it would just crash and burn and fail.

And so I think the big change has been everyone in this information space is talking about the same things. It's like everyone was running over to that side of the room and when everyone is doing the same thing it becomes very difficult to compete.

So I think there is a spot in ecommerce that is definitely shrinking. I think it's a great observation and it is getting harder. But I think that the reality is for people like me who think a little bit bigger picture and longer-term those opportunities are as strong as ever, which are in more of this building a brand type thing and really focusing on content building and turning people, one, to really big fans of your business and working on building an email list and having off Amazon marketing capabilities and not just doing all the same things.

And there is one component that you mentioned that definitely makes it more difficult for people like me. And that is the fact that Facebook and Instagram have gotten exponentially more difficult and more expensive over the last three years. And that part is something that I'm still trying to figure out because that was a great source of revenue for us. But SEO continues to be a great source of revenue for us as well.

Austin Brawner: So with a lot of your businesses, I mean, the way that you drive... when you're looking at creating a brand, and you touched on it a little bit when you talked about ColorIt and some of the factors that you looked at before creating the company, consumability, people being really passionate about it when we create user generated content.

For a lot of your businesses now what is the primary driver of traffic for these businesses? Is it SEO still for these? Is it Facebook? How are you typically driving traffic and how do you think about if you're going to maybe potentially invest in another business, what are the factors that you look at when choosing to invest or choosing to buy a business that you might want to scale up?

Mike Jackness: Yeah. It's actually from a timing perspective the perfect question because it's literally what we're looking at doing right now. After looking at all the different things out there and what we can do, what our skillset matches up best with, and what would make really interesting content buying another business is definitely what we're looking at.

So first things first, I'd to find something that's established. I'm not going to go out and buy a business that was started six months ago. I want something that has longevity. I mean, Ice Wraps had been around for something six years when I had purchased it.

So I want someone else to kind of figure out the perils of that industry because you could have a really great idea but there's no way to know for sure if that's going to be the thing that's going to work. So you get that data.

Again, something that's consumable. That's where I think Ice Wraps doesn't line up with that any longer. It's a one and done kind of product. You sell someone a good ice pack and you fixed their shoulder problem and they don't need to buy anything from you again. So that was where ColorIt really excelled because it's expensive to acquire a customer, and if you can sell them something 10 times over their lifetime of their being a customer that's obviously worth a lot more to me.

So another thing I look for is that content marketing play. Ice Wraps does really well at this actually just comparing brands. There's lots of content to be written about the pain relief space and just the anatomy of a shoulder and how to heal shoulder pain or what's causing my pain and the different types of treatments and stuff this and being able to rank for shoulder ice wrap and stuff this. But I'd much rather rank four and put content together that people are going to be more interested in and willing to share.

So if someone's got a pain problem they're probably going to keep that to themselves. If someone is in the coloring space and finds a good article on how to blend and shade pencils they'll probably share it with their friends. So that's another thing that I look for. I think that's really important.

And then in the Facebook world, what I think is really important is that there's a direct audience that matches up with the brand. So again, with coloring really great direct audience. There's literally an audience on Facebook of people who are into the coloring books as adults. It's a million people in the United States, just an absolute gem of an audience to target.

It is basically impossible to target people who are in pain. How do you do that? That's not an interest group. Do you just target old people? Not old people are into pain or have pain. Or can you talk to about people who play sports? Well, not everyone who's playing tennis, for instance, has tennis elbow.

And Facebook has gotten more expensive and more difficult as we've talked about. Basically everyone that's looking at your ads needs to be a potential customer. And so you got to be thinking about that audience alignment. There's a few other things, but I think that those are the high-level things that I'd be looking for in terms of something to purchase a business for.

Andrew Foxwell: I would completely agree with you, things that I would say as well, and, I mean, I don't have the capability of purchasing a business unless it was a lemonade stand at this point, but I think looking forward, the thing I keep hearing, it's similar to what we're hearing in other places. And brand being a big part of it as Austin said, SEO, the content side of it being big. I think the point that you're making that differentiates a lot of what other people have said is that it's content that's shareable that's going to be helpful versus just content for content's sake which is obviously a huge differentiator there.

I think the other thing that you have touched on too is being able to sell again to people. A lot of the e-commerce brands that I work with, and we do Facebook and Instagram advertising consulting specifically, a lot of them when you talk about adding a new product line they're like, "That's great. I want to do that because they're trying to help increase that lifetime value." But they don't know necessarily where to start.

When you're working with a company or one of your own companies and you're wanting to raise lifetime value obviously introducing new products is going to help. But what are the other tactics and strategies you're taking to help do that over time, to cushion some of the initial customer acquisition costs?

Mike Jackness: So a few things here actually that I got really excited about as we were running ColorIt. First of all, I'm a really big fan of Ezra's One Click Upsell product. Someone has already purchased something, they put their credit card in and they've already made that purchase and they trust you. They went over that hump and you got past the, "Are they going to become a customer or not?"

Offering them something at a discount, something special, right after they've made that checkout, even if only 3% or 5% people take advantage of it, and for us, by the way, it was closer to 11%, that really immediately can raise your average cart value and immediately raised the lifetime value of that customer because if they just went from a $50 order to 75 you've increased their lifetime value already by 50%. So that's a really big one that was working well for us.

We're sitting here talking about all this advertising stuff. Something that's often forgotten about is just email marketing. I know people think email marketing is dead, but 50% of our revenue or something 48% of our revenue for ColorIt was through email marketing. It's an incredible tool.

And over time I got more comfortable with it because personally I absolutely hate email. It is probably one of the top three things that take away value to my life or just make me more miserable. It's gone out of control. But you can't always think about the way that you're doing email.

I mean, for me email has gotten out of control because I get a lot of spam, because three-quarters of the emails that come in are people offering to do a link trade with me or telling me about this great guest that they have for my podcasts and stuff, just time wasting. But for our customers that we have built and made fans out of they wanted to hear our stuff.

And the way that we became successful with email marketing is we follow the 80/20 rule with 80% of what we're going to send out is going to be valuable to these people. We're not going to just send out emails about new products and about a sale that's going on and a coupon and a discount. Most of the emails we're going to send out are going to be about what our community is doing and tips and tricks for coloring or giving them other free stuff. And so that was a really great opportunity for us to increase our lifetime value of a customer.

We use Klaviyo. And so in the ads world the ads that produce the absolute most return on ad spend for us were these bought this, not that ad. So we would create a segment in Klaviyo, someone who purchased a set of gel pens from us as a for instance, and if someone bought a set of gel pens you know they're pretty likely to like coloring with gel pens. I mean, you can probably put that in the 95th percentile or something that they weren't just testing them out, that they like coloring with gel pens. So why not offer them our other set of gel pens as a marketing play?

So we'd create a segment in Klaviyo for people who have bought gel pen set A and then send them an email eventually about gel pen set B. And if they hadn't purchased within a few days then they would get Facebook ads for the same thing. And these ads would run somewhere between 12 and 20X return on ad spend. And so they were by far and away our most profitable ads.

So what I really learned was how to start looking at a blended rate when it came to advertising and customer acquisition, because in the early days when we were doing Facebook ads, we would get let's say five X return on ad spend from our initial ad. And it was a no brainer and it made perfect sense to just run those ads. And I didn't have to do any further thinking.

But when the ROI started getting below 2, let's say, on our initial ads then I need to start digging in and looking at, well, when I bring those customers in what actually happens and what's the full lifecycle of that customer? And the reality was that we were still really, really crushing it with advertising. So that was another thing that was really helping with, with increasing our lifetime value.

And I think the last thing I'll mention here before I start rambling on too much is synergy. People launch other products and aren't thinking about the synergy of the products they already have. So we were really thinking about customers that would buy this product that we already have out. What are they in the most likely to buy as a second purchase? So again, just direct obvious things like, we released the Mandala coloring book and it was doing very well.

And Mandalas are these geometrical shapes that you would color. But why not make a volume two of that? If people are buying that book why not just release the volume two to get them to buy that? Or we would do a lot of customer polling asking them what they wanted to see as the next title or as the next product and getting to know them a lot better.

And so the products that we released, a large portion of our customers were already primed and really wanted. And obviously, when you're making these second, third, fourth, fifth sales there is no customer acquisition costs. Now you're just spreading that initial cost over the lifetime of these additional orders. And it made a huge positive impact for our business. So these are things that we'll be thinking about to tie it back in when we purchase another business as well.

Austin Brawner: Sure. No, I mean, those are all absolutely key, especially where you talked about email marketing and it being around 50% of your revenue. When you've got a consumable product it's very possible to get up to that point and I've seen it happen time and time again for people who focus on email. And it's crazy because those purchases are four, five, six times more valuable sometimes than just acquiring somebody straight from Facebook.

I'm going to shift gears a little bit and talk a little bit more about more of what you're working on now because we had a really interesting conversation at dinner about just kind of thought process around building businesses around work specifically and how much time it takes to build businesses, how much time it takes to grow and how you're thinking about growth.

So why don't you walk us through... I know this is the second time you've gone on the RV. You mentioned towards the beginning that you're enjoying it a little bit more. What was kind of the catalyst for, you were in San Diego, I believe before, for selling your house, hopping in the RV and going on the road?

Mike Jackness: Yeah. I mean, burnout. I mean, I think that entrepreneurs go through this a lot and it's not talked about a lot. And it's talked about more in my life now because of who I am and what I've been doing. So knowing people like you when we get to have conversations at dinner and realize that we're pretty similar in a lot of ways when it comes to that. And we were at a dinner with a bunch of other entrepreneurs that are going through similar things, and I'm in a mastermind. So you start hearing these things more and more and realize it's not just you.

And so the first thing is I would encourage everyone out there that's listening if you're not in a mastermind, you don't have other people in your life that are like you, then that's a problem, because I was definitely more isolated when I was younger with that because I didn't know any other entrepreneurs. I started my business and didn't know anybody else that was doing that stuff. But I think that... if you think of a rollercoaster or some crazy stock graph that's just up and down, up and down, up and down, that's pretty similar to how entrepreneurial life is.

So we were in this, going back a few years, on this RV trip, which was pretty cool. I had been burned out from the previous business, but then you start... if you're a true entrepreneur your mind starts wondering like, "What else can I be doing?" And so you get sucked into this thing. And we got into ecommerce and if they seemed clear to me as we were in year two let's say of that journey that this was one of these other 'once in a decade' type opportunities. And I didn't want to see it go by.

So we pushed the pedals of the metal as hard as we possibly could for a few years and we did quite well, and I'm happy with those results.

But there's a shadow to that as I've heard from another great person I've met in this industry, a therapist for CEOs basically, that says "there's a shadow, a dark side, to everything." And so yeah, everyone is high fiving everybody, and on a podcast it sounds amazing that you made $1 million or whatever, but the dark side is that you're in the office a lot. All you're thinking about is this business. It kind of starts consuming you and over time that kind of wears you out. And so we're kind of back at that level again.

And so my thing now is identifying repeatable patterns, seeing this happen multiple times in my life and then how to do a better job of that moving forward. And I think just like an alcoholic is always an alcoholic or a heroin addict is always a heroin addict it'll probably be a problem I live with the rest of my life. I just try to do better at it. Not to be dramatic but I think it is to that extreme for a true entrepreneur addiction a lot of people have.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I completely agree with you, Mike. I mean, it's something that Austin and I talk about it a lot, something I personally deal with too and I think other people can totally identify with that. I mean, even to the point where sometimes I'll have a free day and I'm like, "Am I going to take the day and just think?" And I end up thinking about and coming home with three new ideas. So I completely identify with that.

I think what I have been trying to meditate on... because we run our own ads for clients but we also do consulting a lot with agencies and agency owners and then business owners that are running ads internally. And a lot of what we've more recently, it's not therapy, but it's support and it's kind of coaching to some degree.

And the thing that I'm trying to help them prepare for is the insulation of, not insulating yourself, separating yourself, but insulating in the sense of keeping yourself warm, keeping yourself protected, and watching out for that.

I mean, when you look at running a business as an entrepreneur and the people you're working with how do you think about those protection measures, or what are the things that you say to people like, "Hey, watch out for this"? Is it time that's one of them or is it just journaling and keeping track of how you actually feel on a certain day or on a certain week? I'm just curious how you kind of think about that to kind of protect yourself over time as an entrepreneur.

Mike Jackness: Yeah. I mean, I'm definitely not qualified to protect other people because I haven't figured it out myself yet. Oh man. I think I'm at a level where I'm finally cognizant of it. And so I think the first step to getting help is to admit that you have a problem. So I'm kind of at that stage and still working through a lot of the other things.

But certainly committing to not working 18 hours a day would be would probably be a good start, and I certainly haven't been doing that the last few months and it feels good. But I also already kind of feel a little lost because I don't know have my baby to go take care of any longer or whatever. And again, this is a pretty typical entrepreneurial pattern.

And here's the thing that I've really been struggling with lately is how do you produce a great business, and whatever the next thing is that we do, how do you produce a great business without doing the 16 hour day thing? And then how do you compete with a guy who is or a gal who is?

Because people would ask, "What makes you successful?" This actually just came up in my mastermind and we were kind of going around. It's look, it's not because I'm smarter. I barely made it out of high school. I didn't go to college. I'm not the smartest guy in the room. But I won't stop. I'm like the Terminator. I will at all costs figure out a way to not fail at something.

And that tenacity and being able to stick with it and just putting your ego aside and not worrying about like, "I don't know what I'm doing and I might not win at this particular aspect of what I'm doing today but I'm thinking longer term. I'm going to figure out a way to win at this business."

I think that that's a quality that I possess that a lot of people don't have. A lot of people would have given up on some of the stuff that I succeeded at a long, long time ago, especially at the first business I had that became successful. That's another story for another day.

But I mean, I was certifiably crazy. Let's just put it that way. But it took that level of just continuing to get yourself deeper and deeper and figuring out a way to make it work until it did. And that requires obviously a lot of time and energy.

And there's that whole four burners theory of you got work, family, friends, and health. If you want to be successful one has got to I get turned off. If you want to be really successful you got to turn two off. And that's what ends up happening. So how do you prevent that? And so that's what I'm working on. I don't really have the answer because I think first of all it's probably different for everyone and I'm still trying to figure it out.

Austin Brawner: No. It's definitely one of the most interesting conversations that isn't being had in a public space. These are the conversations that are had constantly in groups like a mastermind or when you're at dinner with people that are in the same boat, but it's not in the public sphere nearly as much as, it's not the normal podcast conversation. But I think it's definitely the most interesting thing to go into.

I want to go back to what you said a little bit, which was about just grinding on something for a really long period of time. I think this is so interesting as a business owner, as an entrepreneur. As you become more seasoned the more you realize that staying in the game is the most important thing. The longer you can stay in the game things just start working out and that's often why you have "success."

It's like, all right, I just stayed in the game and I kept trying things and that is a massive competitive advantage, just being able to stay in the game.

The other side was competition, which I think is really interesting. And the thing I've been thinking about this more and more is I think, I heard this somewhere and it's some quote, but it really resonated with me, which is, "the biggest winners don't compete."

And I've been thinking about this more and more because I totally resonate when you're talking about the competition side and competing with somebody else who's working 18 hours and you only work 12 hours, it's really freaking hard to win.

What I've been thinking about more and more and talking with my clients about and other friends it's how do you create an environment where you don't compete, because that is the most fascinating thing to me. If you could be in an environment where you're not competing and you're still achieving what you want you truly are a winner. And I think that is so freaking hard to do, but also incredibly powerful.

Mike Jackness: Yeah. So I mean, I guess the way that you do that is by hiring people. So I mean, you can leverage your time by paying to have someone else work another eight hours a day for you. And at the end of the day it's probably healthier because one of the things that I realized towards the end of this last burnout cycle was I'd be in the office, I'd be there 10 hours a day physically but mentally I just wasn't.

You're just kind of not focused on stuff and your mind is drifting off on all these different things, and there's 70 tabs open and you've been trying to respond to one email for an hour.

So the reality is that working too much previously to that and the years past before that it was leading to this other situation where, yeah, I'm there but I'm not really actually productive.

Andrew Foxwell: It reminds me of the episode we had with Drew Sanocki. And Drew is like, "Yeah, I go into the office and... " because Drew is the CEO is big company. And he's like, "I go into the office and I go in from..." whatever he said. It's like from 9:00 to 5:00 or whatever, 9:00 to 4:00, "Because I know that if I go in during those hours I will be productive. And if I'm there any longer it won't do anything for me. I'm not going to actually be more productive."

And, I agree. And kind of the time thing of I hope that we can move towards and understanding because I've certainly seen this in myself, that there are differences in the productivity levels of time where you work and when you work. And the more that we can move towards that the better off we'll all be, the better off a company is going to run, the better off your employees are going to be if you empower them to say work when you can, I mean, within obviously the guidelines you need to, because if you're sitting there, like you said, you're there but you're not there, and it's not doing anything, and it's potentially even detrimental to the company at that point.

Mike Jackness: And I think when you have a tighter time window or you have other things going on in your life where you're balancing things out more the times that you're sitting behind that keyboard you will be more productive, at least it is for me.

And I can give you some examples. I mean, today I'm working a half day. I've got one more thing to do after recording this podcast, and I'm in Las Vegas right now as we mentioned. And we used to live here. We have a lot of friends here. So we're going to go hang out with them the rest of the day.

Well, since I only had three and a half or so hours at my computer today instead of futzing around on a bunch of stuff I didn't need to be doing it's just hyper-focused because I know that I only have this little bit of time to get it done and I'm closing my laptop and leaving for the rest of the day and I have to get it done.

And when you're there for 14 hours or whatever, then the tendency is like I can get that done an hour from now and I'm going to go look at this other thing that isn't going to probably actually add any value to my life and my business. So for me that's been a really good productivity tool, just physically having less time to get it done. I feel blessed to have the time at work, rather than the other way around. And so I'm really hyper-focused on trying to get it done at that point.

Austin Brawner: I would love to dive a little bit to the technical aspects of this because taking an RV, driving around the country, it sounds like a lot of fun and something that when I look at why I built my business the way that I have it's to do opportunities like that.

How do you actually equip yourself so that you can go work in your RV? What does the actual tech behind your setup look like? So you can work those three hours, be productive, we're obviously podcasting from your RV. How does it work?

Mike Jackness: Yeah. One thing that will probably shock you is how difficult it is to get good internet around this country. And that was ultimately what forced us to stop RVing almost 10 years ago when we were doing it. But if you think that back 10 years ago the infrastructure just wasn't there. And now I thought, well, it'd be so much better. And the reality is that it's not.

So it has, been a struggle. It's been really, really frustrating. And ultimately it probably will stop us from doing it as long as I wanted to because for the three hours that I do have per day a lot of times I'm spending it cursing that I can't get on the internet or it's not very good. And it just happens to be right now we're in a major city. We're in Las Vegas. The Internet's been pretty good here.

But if I went 10 miles out of town it would be a disaster right now. It's crazy how quickly internet speeds degrade. And so that has been the biggest struggle.

I mean, the rest of it is easy. I have my podcast microphone here. I probably sound fairly good. It's a nice road podcast microphone. I have my MacBook and that's all I really need. And what I really need is a good internet. So I've tried every possible combination short of a satellite on the roof of the RV, which is not really realistic, but that's been the biggest issue.

So there's been all the things that we'd done going to coffee shops and things that. That's not great for a podcast environment because it would be loud in there. But you just happened to catch me on a day where the Internet's been in pretty good, although there was some pixelization on your voice earlier when you were asking another question. I had to kind of put it together. But for the most part the Internet's been good here, but it is a struggle.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I identify with that a lot. When my wife and I launched Foxwell Digital Art company we drove around the country, and we still do road trips all the time. I think we drove 12,000 miles last year.

Mike Jackness: Nice.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I'm with you. I mean, I'm from Northern Wisconsin. So it's rural area, and the other day I actually called my dad and I was like, "Hey, have you seen this article in the New York Times about X, Y, Z with whatever the president was doing?" Because my dad is very politically engaged and he's like, "All the neighbors, something's got going on with their internet." And I was like, "What's with the neighbor's internet?" He's like, "Well, that's how I get my internet."

Mike Jackness: That's awesome. I love it.

Andrew Foxwell: "You're stealing in neighbor's internet?" He's like, "I don't need to pay for that." But I'm with you, man.

It coordinates with the most beautiful places usually is where there's absolutely nothing and you can't get to it. And it's tough because, I mean, you think about those areas, one, economically, obviously that's a huge issue. And I think if we were to upgrade the infrastructure people think about, "Oh, it's just those areas." Well, it's not. It's people like us that are traveling around, more location independence. People want to be where they want to be. And it would aid in that a lot.

But I'm totally with you. It's tough and that's a really hard thing to figure out. I mean, even when you need just a little bit of internet somewhere, like you said, three hours. It's not like it's... and it doesn't even need to be blazing fast.

Mike Jackness: No. I just need to respond to emails. I mean, it's not that difficult, but I can't even do that sometimes. And it's really frustrating.

Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I think that's very true. And I think when you're planning if you're going to do something you're doing you have to try to have at least places that you are in major metropolitan areas every week or something so that you're able to at least have a day where you're getting things done if you're not able to in the previous four days or whatever.

Mike Jackness: I think the thing that we're going to try for December through April is we're going to be over in Asia and we're going to be renting Airbnbs. So we'll be in major cities with good internet and stay in places for a little bit longer each time. And so you don't feel as forced to get everything done touristy in that town in the 24 hours you're there. If you're there for a week you can kind of immerse yourself a little more in the culture and stuff and then have good internet along the way. So we're going to try that as a next option for a little bit.

Austin Brawner: We've had success with that. My wife and I have gone a bunch of times booking a place for a month and a half, two months. It's great because then, like you said, you can kind of get a little bit of a routine. You have plenty of time to see the stuff. You get to explore. You find your favorite places to eat. It's a lot of fun. And there's way less pressure.

But yeah, man, it's really interesting. I love hearing your story and what you're working on right now just because it's really interesting, and I think it's something that a lot of people can resonate with.

I know you talked a little bit about it in the beginning. Obviously you've got the podcast. Where would you direct people the best way to connect with you more, learn more about what you're working on, and the best place to basically to go to find more about you?

Mike Jackness: Yeah, I mean, everything is Ecom Crew. We've got the same Twitter handle and it's obviously ecomcrew.com. The podcast is called Ecom Crew. So it's E-C-O-M C-R-E-W .com, and then same thing on the podcast. If you want to email me it's Mike@ecomcrew, or if you really want to get a response you can send it into support@ecomcrew and someone that actually has time to repsond and has internet and they'll make sure that I get it. They're really good about that. But yeah, I mean, it's been awesome.

We're doing a couple interesting things. One thing that we're doing now is called the roadshows. So we've been as part of the RV thing going out and interviewing entrepreneurs and helping them. So we give them two free days of consulting and help them and then turn that into a podcast episode. So we got a couple other interesting things going on as well that people can find out about over at Ecom Crew.

Austin Brawner: And you can sign if you are interesting in being on the roadshow. It's totally free for companies that want to get selected, right?

Mike Jackness: Yeah. Ecomcrew.com/roadshow. You can find out more about that over there.

Austin Brawner: Awesome. And if you've shoulder pain Ice Wraps.

Mike Jackness: Yeah. Icewraps.com. It's like I got this business. It makes lots of money but it's not exciting to me. So I need to fix that thing, and that's the next thing we're working on.

Austin Brawner: Cool, man. Cool. Well, it's been fun catching up and thanks so much for hoping on and chatting with us.

Mike Jackness: Absolutely. It was a pleasure.

Austin Brawner: Hey, there. It's Austin again, and I have a quick message for you. If you enjoyed this podcast I have something really exciting for you.

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Hope to see you guys inside.

Austin Brawner: Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.

Andrew Foxwell: And I'm Andrew Foxwell. Man, how you doing today?

Austin Brawner: I am doing fantastic. Went for a lovely walk. I've been going for some midday walks or worko...

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