Ryan McLean : Slightly Unconventional

What Would This Look Like If It Was Easy?

A great question I’ve been asking myself lately (about business and life) is “What would this look like if it was easy”.

It’s an amazing question and thanks to Tim Ferris for suggesting it.

In business when I think about what it would look like if it was easy I think of:

No emails to attend to, a 5 hour work day where I sit down, create some content and then finish the day.

The money comes in as it does through advertising, affiliate fees etc but my business doesn’t create any immediate pressures and I am able to be free and creative with the content I create.

It also means no permanent office and no big computer, just a laptop or writing device. That one is a bit of a head spin for me who has loved having my own office for so long.

That is what easy looks like to me.

So I’m going to focus 2017 on creating a business that is easy.

That means focusing on things that will make less money now, but will create the business I want in the future.

See I think most people focus on how to make the most money now. They don’t look ahead and think “What business do I want and what actions do I need to take to have that business?”

That’s what (I think) makes me different from a lot of other business owners.

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Something So Good

Recently I have become disillusioned with my business. Not because it isn’t going well but purely because there feels to be no challenge left in it.

I had a goal – to make enough money to support my family through my business. I have achieved that goal and achieved it in such a way that I could literally work 4 hours a week if I wanted to.

Now that’s not to say my current success or income level would be sustained long term working only 4 hours per week, but for the near future it likely would be.

I don’t have a desire to earn more money, thus the thought of simply working to grow my businesses beyond their current state doesn’t inspire me.

Recently I have turned to a competitive game I love to quench my satiating thirst for learning, a 2001 Gamecube game known as Super Smash Bros Melee.

This game is so easy to pick up and play, yet so technical and deep if you want to be good that it is a perfect outlet for me.

Obsession With Business

For year’s I have had an obsession with business, online business in particular.

I would spend countless hours listening to business podcasts, audiobooks and reading blog posts about different marketing strategies or approaches to innovation.

I remember not being able to turn my brain off as it churned through different product ideas and ways I could make my fledgling property website grow it’s traffic or make more money.

Yet over the last 6 months or so that passion for business learning has all but completely dried up.

The proof it in the hundreds of business podcast episodes piled up on my phone that would have previously been listened to as soon as they were released.

Or the fact that I haven’t bought a business book in months when I would usually churn through 1 or more a week.

A Passion For Melee

I first started playing Super Smash Bros Melee in April 2015 after my 3rd child was born. My first tournament was 3-4 Months later in July or August 2015.

What started as a random hobby to help me relive my childhood playing Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64 soon turned into a passion.

Weekly meetups on Tuesday nights, weekend tournaments once a month and practicing every day from home.

It’s been the perfect outlet for my need to learn and improve, which I feel hasn’t been happening in business lately.

My First Glimpse Of My Next Project

I was driving in the car today listing the Start Up Podcast and an ad came on for Blue Apron. The ad described their service and a dish you could make (which didn’t sound up my alley).

But I remember having this strong sense of not wanting to create a product/service/company that requires crappy advertising to succeed.

Instead I want to create something so good that people can’t help but tell other people about it.

That is all I’m going off at the moment. A random sense that I want to create something really good and something that people want to talk about.

It’s a tiny breadcrumb and I have no idea where it leads of even where the next breadcrumb will be. But it’s the first food I’ve had in a long time so I am cherishing it and excited to see what’s next.

In The Meantime

In the meantime I am continuing to maintain my business and might even put in a little bit of work to grow them.

But most of my focus is on 2 things.

  1. Getting better at Super Smash Bros Melee
  2. Learning how to learn things faster and become an expert quicker

It’s really the 2nd thing that is driving me at the moment.

I know in the future I want to study neuroscience, I know that I want to somehow be involved and have an impact in the area of education…but I have no idea what those things look like.

Exploring ultimate performace and how people become the absolute best in their field is something that I feel will pay dividends down the line.

Melee makes me zero money and pursuing it costs me money. To be one of the best in a competitive computer game actually means very little to me when I look at my entire life.

But this. Pursuing something with the goal of being the best you can be at it, the immense focus and learning required to achieve that, and any shortcuts to making that happen…are so valuable to me.

I am interested to see how this pursuit of mine plays out in the future and what part my role to become better at Melee has on the project I choose to work on next.

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The Inspiration Episode

iniartworksmallThrough demotivation came inspiration and I’ve decided that I will now only work on things that inspire me, otherwise I won’t work.

I’m going to call this one The Inspiration Episode because Out of Demotivation was the last episode. If you haven’t listened to that go back and listen to the demotivation episode. I actually got some inspiration from talking to my wife after recording that episode.

In the Demotivation episode I spoke about how I spent the whole day in the box which is what my office is now called and just couldn’t think of what I should be working on. And so I basically achieved nothing that day because I didn’t know what to work on.

I make enough money; I’ve got multiple businesses; there’s so much opportunity and things to work on, I just wasn’t motivated to work on anything and nothing seems like a big enough challenge for me. So that was where I was at.

And I spoke to my wife about it and the clarity kind of came. It was like, “Well, do you really think you’re going to find your motivation? Do you really think you’re going to find your inspiration sitting inside a box all day which is your office?” And I was like, “Well, no of course not, that’s not who I am.”

And I also spoke to my friend Ross the same day and we were talking about it and he was like, “Well you’ve got the van.

You’re going travelling in the van in a couple of months. Why don’t you just put that front and center and just go through the mundane writing articles for your niche sites, creating content for On Property and just go through the motions knowing that in a few months’ time you’re going to move in the van and hopefully that’ll change things.” And I said to him, “I can’t do that.

I can’t do mundane. I can’t just go through the motions.” And while that can be a negative sometimes because I don’t do the work I know I should do to achieve the results that I know the work would bring it can be a massive negative. It’s also been a huge positive in my life because I won’t  do something that’s boring.

I’ll seek out the new. I’ll seek out the innovative. I’ll learn. And through learning so much I’ve had so many breakthroughs and achievements in business that I feel like I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I kind of like that about myself and that I can’t just do the mundane thing.

I was actually listening to a podcast and it was a swimming coach talking about mastery. He was talking about the same problem about how we can’t just go through the mundane and do it and the fact that things are boring and aren’t challenging that’s more difficult than the actual work. And I’m exactly in the same place. So I said to him, “I can’t do that.” And he was like, “I can, that’s just what I do to get through things sometimes.” And I was like, “Okay, well I can’t do that.” So to get to my point, the realization I came to was: a) I am not going to find my inspiration in the Box; b) I’m not just going to sit down and do mundane things which would be in the box as well. That left me with c and it’s just that I’m not going to work unless I feel inspired to work.

Therefore my business is at a point where it’s basically on autopilot and making me enough money to get by. In fact once we move into the van our expenses will go down so we’ll be in an even better position than we are now. So if my business is making this much and really my focus and motivation has been that I want to generate some more passive income that’s going to protect us from the future.

That would be great but as we know I don’t work well in mundane things. So instead of doing that, how that I take this time to not work unless I feel absolutely motivated to work. That’s what I’m going to do so there’s no pressure on myself to work. I can take the whole week off if I want but what I found is that’s not going to happen because I always find some motivation of little things that I want to do and achieve during the day so generally I’ll work a bit.

I also spoke to my wife about Melee. I play this game, if you’re not familiar with it it’s called Super Smash Brothers Melee. It’s a game that came out on the Nintendo GameCube but it’s actually got a competitive tournaments scene mainly in the US. That’s something that I feel like I want to pursue.

I’d like to be top 100 in the world. That is like my ultimate goal that I don’t tell many people about but I’d love to do that. But that requires a fair amount of practice and so I spoke to my wife about it and she said to me, “Well, why don’t you just spend some time do a bit more practice on that.” She was like, “Because when you do that you’re happy or you’re a better dad around us when you’re pursuing things that you love.”

That made sense to me and or course I would absolutely love to do that. So I’m at the point now where when I feel inspired to work I’m going to work on what inspires me. And I always know that I’m motivated by challenge. And so if we get to the point where we’re not making enough money anymore then I can just challenge myself and I’ll go back to work because that’s the challenge to try and make some money.

Therefore if we find that we’re not making enough then I can just go back to work and that’s going to find because I’ll be challenged. I’ll have a goal to try and make enough money again and it’ll be fine.

That’s where I’m at, at the moment in terms of inspiration – I’m only going to work when I’m inspired to and otherwise I’m not going to work.

That’s it for me today guys. Until next time if you want instructions go and buy some furniture.

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The Demotivation Episode

iniartworksmallToday I am completely demotivated. I feel like I don’t have any work that inspires or challenges me.

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Will I Always Be Average?

iniartworksmallDo I have it in me to create incredible content or will I always be average?

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Did I Make A Big Mistake Doing Video?

iniartworksmallI’m starting to think that maybe I made a big mistake trying to do so much video. Should I just have been doing audio instead?

I’ve just driven home after listening to the StartUp Podcast on the way home as well as some Invisibilia which is a pretty cool podcast and it got me thinking as to the medium in which I present the information that I give.

The way that I like to learn is I love listening to things. I love listening to podcasts in the car. I love listening to podcasts while I work.

If you look at my habits on YouTube a lot of the stuff that I like to consume are talks where you can watch the people talking but you don’t really need to in order to get the information across. It got me started to thinking.

I decided to invest more in video because I know that largely that is a big way that the internet is going to go and that’s a big way that people are going to be consuming information in the future.

However, on questioning myself as to whether that is the right decision because I’m not as good at video and I feel like I could potentially be a lot better with audio only than I could be with video and audio.

Therefore I’m actually exploring the idea of doing a lot less video and instead focusing on audio but making it better, making it more engaging because when I’m doing video I’ve got to think about so much more. It’s definitely not as natural to me. My editing skills are not there.

I don’t really have the passion to edit things in a good way like someone like Casey Neistat who is a famous YouTube vlogger. He does these amazing edits of his daily vlog and that’s something that I’m just not interested in. But when I listen to the StartUp podcast, when I listen to well-produced audio content it really gets my juices flowing, it really gets me inspired.

Therefore I’m not sure whether I’ve made a big mistake. Say that I made a mistake obviously it’s going to be good to create video content and good to get that sort of exposure. It’s good to try that.  And it also created audio content for me as well so I haven’t lost anything in doing it.

However, if I want to put pursue some sort of passion project that is not just to make money but something that I could do to try and have an impact, try and push my skills to the next level then I feel like maybe it’s going to be an audio. Maybe audio is going to be my thing maybe it’s not going to be video after all.

It’s kind of annoying I guess to just go through this process and to say well actually I’m pretty passionate about audio. And even though there may not be as big an audience in audio as there is in video if I can do audio well then chances are I am going to reach more people through audio that I am through doing videos that just aren’t that good.

So this is something I’ll continue to think about, something I’ll continue to explore moving forward because there are some video things I still want to do. I tried streaming for the first time today so I play a game called super smash brothers melee I want to become top eight in Queensland within the next six months. Currently I’ll kind of top 20 and so that means I probably need to do about an hour practice a day – the goal that I set for myself. And I thought you know what I might just stream while I do that practice.

That’s a video that I’d probably still like to keep doing. There are a lot of great reasons to do video in different scenarios. However I’m just thinking if there’s something that I wanted to do that will really push my skills and that would really force me to create something high quality then audio would probably be it. So I’ll keep thinking about that.

I’ll keep you guys updated and if I ever release anything that is audio content that is going to be top quality I’ll be sure to let you guys know.

It is quarter past eleven and I’ve just pulled in home from being out playing Melee all night. Sometimes inspiration and insights just hit you at the weirdest times.

That’s it from me guys. Until next time if you want instructions go and buy some furniture.

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Multiple Websites Makes Ryan’s Head Go Crazy

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iniartworksmallI’ve started building out mutliple niche sites, but the tangle of decisions is becoming increasingly difficult for me

Hi guys, Ryan here from Instructions Not Included. Just a quick video to talk about the problems that I’m having with having multiple different websites.

The best thing that I can equate it to is actually my box of spare cords. So these are the cords that I don’t use all the time. Sometimes I need them, most of the time I don’t but when I do need something as you can imagine it’s pretty hard to find the right thing.

I got so many different things in here from like inverters that go from your car power to a power point to this drawing pad to calboards, to stuff for playing super smash brothers to a whole bunch of camera cords and everything like that.

So there’s a whole bunch of stuff mixed in there and it’s really confusing and really hard to try and find a cord when you’re looking for it and you just hope that it’s in there.

I kind of feel the same with a lot of my websites at the moment because I run so many websites. And part of my goal to generate more passive income is to actually have more niche websites that are kind of spread across the board rather than having all my eggs in one basket just in On Property.

Therefore, I’ve got all these new niche websites. A bunch of them make money but it does get very hard to know what to work on. They are not that hard to manage.

I can leave them there and they’ll just keep generating money. I need to update the plugins every now and then. I need to pay the bills and so on but they’re not that hard to do.


But what to work on next, that’s hard because you’re not just thinking okay I’ve got one business which is On Property what do I need to work on next what episode am I going to create next? No, I’ve got like 10 or more different websites that I could be working on and now I’ve got to think about for each website what is the next article or video or whatever that I could be working on.

You got to actually think of that and then you got to think about what actually is going to deliver the best return on investment for me and so which of those 10 different things should I be working on. Adding to that the fact that I’ve got emails coming in everyday, things that need to be dealt with, finances that I’ve got to do for my business, a bunch of other tasks that I’m doing as well as converting the van at the moment.

Also, there are just so many different things on my plate and I’m not good with focus generally anyway. I’m not a very focused person. I jump around the board a lot and so to have all of these different things and not have a system that helps me make decisions I’m actually finding it really difficult.

I don’t know what I’m going to do but that is one of my struggles at the moment – actually not being able to know what to work on because there are so many different things that I could be doing and not necessarily choosing the right thing.

I think I probably need to create a system to help me make decisions – maybe some sort of to do tasks. I’ve got this great spreadsheet for all my episodes and so when I create a new video or a new article or something like that it goes into the spreadsheet and is tracked. I can therefore look at that spreadsheet and know where I’m at and what needs to be done at any point in time.

That’s really great but I kind of need it for my whole business. So that’s something I’ll think about over the next week or so and try and come up with some sort of system to help me structure my life and make decisions because I’m not good at focusing or necessarily choosing the right things to work on anyway. Hopefully that will help.

It’s not easy running this. It’s not easy making these decisions and therefore I need some help. There are no instructions included guys. That’s it from me, just a quick little update.

Until next time if you want instructions go and buy some furniture.

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We Bought A Van and are Becoming Travelling Hippies

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iniartworksmallA lot of people are unhappy in life and do nothing about it. We, instead, decided to buy a van and travel Australia with our three kids.

We Bought A Van and are Becoming Travelling Hippies

We all know those people who kind of go through life and are not really happy, but they don’t really do anything about it. Well, my wife and I decided not to be those people and we made a pretty drastic decision. This is going to be our new home.

There’s not a lot going on at the moment as this is a completely empty van. We actually stripped it out. It was a people mover and had about 15 seats in there but it is no longer. I just painted the floor and I stood on it.

I’m going to have all white feet now. I wanted to take this episode to talk a bit about making unusual decisions or what seemed like unusual decisions that are actually going to be the right decisions. So let’s go ahead and get some privacy.

This is something I find really hard to communicate – the decision to move into a van to fit myself, my wife and my three kids, all of us to live in a van and go traveling.

For so long, online business for me was a goal that I wanted to make a decent living online. I wanted to achieve stability for my family and to achieve financial freedom. I want to be rich and all those sorts of things. But when it came down to it at the end of the day when I actually achieved what I set out to achieve I wasn’t really happy with the result. And it made me realized that online business isn’t the point or running a business isn’t the point.

I want to be rich and all those sorts of things. But when it came down to it at the end of the day when I actually achieved what I set out to achieve I wasn’t really happy with the result. And it made me realized that online business isn’t the point or running a business isn’t the point.

The point is always going to be something else. It might be family. It might be adventures. It might be experience. And often we just spent so much time trying to achieve some goal that we set for ourselves that we don’t actually realize what it is that we’re looking for. I’ve achieved my goal of pretty much financial freedom. My business pretty much can run itself if I want to. It does require some maintenance but no way near the nine-to-five job that most people work.

My business kind of pays us enough to get by and I’ve achieved that goal but yet life isn’t fulfilled. I’m not completely happy because I’ve achieved that. And I think I thought in my mind that if you achieve your goal then you click your fingers and you’re just happy every single day. And the fact of the matter is that we are not.

It’s just not as fulfilling as we thought it would be just to achieve financial freedom and continue living a pretty standard life. We rent a pretty standard three bedroom house in a pretty standard neighborhood.

It’s a nice neighborhood on the Gold Coast of Australia about five minutes’ drive to the beach. There are lots of parks around us and stuff like that but it’s not as meaningful as we would have hoped for both me and my wife. We get a lot of time to spend with our kids. We home-school our eldest daughter and I do a lot of that which is great. But all-in-all it’s just not what we originally thought it would be and so we’re looking for something else.

We are both not happy and so we decided that instead of just staying unhappy or creating some other goal for ourselves to become even richer to actually try and explore this concept of what is going to make us happy.

What do we want our lives to look like actually? Because we spend so much time trying to pay the bills and so much time thinking about the shopping to buy, the cleaning that has to be done, the house to maintain, getting a nicer house, a nicer car, just everything to maintain your lives. And when that stops like when I didn’t have to keep working ten-hour days in my business because it was doing alright and we didn’t have to keep doing all the school trips because we decided to home-school we have a lot of time and it makes us think about things. And there’s no clear solution.

It is like you think someone would have figured this out by now and talked about it and stuff like that but I don’t know. We are kind of at the point where it’s like well we’re not happy with what we’ve got. We have no idea what is going to make us happy but this is a good start.

What do we want our lives to look like actually? Because we spend so much time trying to pay the bills and so much time thinking about the shopping to buy, the cleaning that has to be done, the house to maintain, getting a nicer house, a nicer car, just everything to maintain your lives. And when that stops like when I didn’t have to keep working ten-hour days in my business because it was doing alright and we didn’t have to keep doing all the school trips because we decided to home-school we have a lot of time and it makes us think about things. And there’s no clear solution. It is like you think someone would have figured this out by now and talked about it and stuff like that but I don’t know.

And there’s no clear solution. It is like you think someone would have figured this out by now and talked about it and stuff like that but I don’t know.

We are kind of at the point where it’s like well we’re not happy with what we’ve got. We have no idea what is going to make us happy but this is a good start.

So let’s go ahead and try something. We’re going to try to renovate this van, moving it and go travelling and see if we like it. The back-up plan if we don’t like it we’ll just come back and get another house and the van will be used for weekends or for school holidays when we go away as a family. Therefore it will still get used and it won’t be a waste. But we’re going to try something and see where it takes us.

I don’t know where we’re at. I don’t know how this is going to go but I’m excited for the adventure. I’m excited to do something different. And it just really makes me think that online business isn’t just about online business. It isn’t just about achieving financial freedom because really you get there to the end of that and you’re not super happy anyway.

So you’ve got to have something else in your life that is going to make you happy. And generally we just spent so much time working that we never actually get to that point where we can assess what makes us happy. Therefore I’m really grateful that I’ve gotten to this point.

Again, I’m frustrated at the way that I communicate this because I don’t really know what’s going on in my head and so it’s hard to communicate it to you guys. So at the moment in my business I’m still continuing to work on it but I’m putting more time into the van. So I probably spend about an hour to two hours a day on it – no that’s not true. I probably spent about an hour a day on the van.

I spent more time because my dad came out recently. But I do that so that’s an hour less of work a day so I’m probably doing about six to seven hours work a day still but I don’t necessarily know what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. Yes, to grow my business, to continue to have passive income but it’s becoming less and less motivating because I don’t need to work. So finding something that I’m passionate enough about to actually work really hard on is a challenge that I’m having right now and hopefully something that I can work out in the near future.

As we travel I’ve got stuff to do that keeps me fulfilled but that continues to add to society and continues to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Because that’s what I really love – having a positive impact on people’s lives.

I hope that I can find a way to do that through my work because I feel at the moment that I’m not necessarily doing that. I don’t know who I need to be or the skills that I need to have to do that but I’m definitely excited to explore new things and to find out what meaning do I want to create in my life and how to want to add value to other people’s lives above and beyond the internet businesses that I already run.

So that’s where I’m at today. I am still not 100%sure where I’m going to be moving forward. I’ve got a whole bunch of websites that I can work on but it’s just whether or not I will work on them or can be bothered working on them or feel like that’s going to move us forward in our lives in terms of happiness, fulfilment, etc.

That’s where I’m at in the journey. Not everything is always great. There are always so many questions and so many things that you have to learn along the way. And as the motto of this show goes Instructions Not Included in this so I am working out along the way. I wish you the best in your business today and in your life as well.

There are always so many questions and so many things that you have to learn along the way. And as the motto of this show goes Instructions Not Included in this so I am working out along the way. I wish you the best in your business today and in your life as well.

Until next time if you want instructions go and buy some furniture

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Whinging About My New Business Model

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iniartworksmallYesterday I found myself whinging to my wife about how my new business model doesn’t create any emergencies.

Hey, I’m Ryan from Instructions Not Included – podcast about me trying to make a decent living online. Now that I say that, I kind of need to change the catch phrase as I do make a decent living online, but let me think about that and get back to you guys.

But, anyway, I was talking to my wife last night about my new businesses that I run. Which is basically creating content for niche websites.

One of the things that I’ve gotten used to over the last 3 years that I’ve worked online full time, there’s always emergencies with On Property. There’s always something that has gone wrong. There’s a customer who needs a refund. Someone needs a question answered.

Often, throughout the day or even after I finish work, I’ll be checking my email just to make sure there’s someone that’s not really cranky that I need the problem for.

This thing is attached to me. This phone is attached to me. If it’s away from me, I get anxious. I don’t even know what’s on here. Clash Royale, I’ve got my email, I’ve got messages. I’ve got some stats. I don’t know why I get so anxious when it’s away from me, but I do.

I need to separate myself from that phone. I guess that’s part of what this new business model is about. About running niche websites that don’t generate emergencies, that don’t generate customer interactions of any sort – is to free me up to go and live the life that I want to live. So if I want to travel in the van with the kids like I do, then I can.

It’s a hard transition for me because I’m going from full time worker striving to try and make a decent living online. But, I can cut back and I probably should cut back. That’s not an easy transition for me to make in terms of lifestyle business and actually enjoying the benefits of the lifestyle business. I’ve been making conscious goals of myself to be like, “I’m okay doing nothing today.” Which sounds stupid.

We all want to be in this position where we have a lifestyle business or we have financial freedom, but once you get there, it’s like, what do you do with that? I’m not the only one who works really hard and then when you achieve it, you don’t know what to do. Now, I’m really happy with how my niche websites are going.

Something that has been frustrating me is Amazon checks. Amazon, there is a delay between when you earn the money and when you get paid, which I’m not used to because I sell my own products and the day that I sell it is the day that it basically goes into my account.

Now, with Amazon, it’s like 3-month delay before they send a check out to you. A freaking paper check. It’s like this is 1983.

I don’t know why they do that. I hate it. I go down to the bank. The bank almost has no idea what to do with a foreign check. Half an hour in the bank, computer systems always stuff up whenever I need to bank a foreign check. And then, they’re like, “Okay, it’s a $18 processing fee.” Look, that’s fine, you process it. That’s fine.

They’re like, “Oh, now we send it off back to America and so, you’ve got a 20-day holding period on this check before it ends up in your account.” 3 months to get paid from Amazon then another month. 4 months in total. When I finally do go on the road in about 6 months time.

Where are these checks going to go if I don’t have a home address? It is 2016. Checks should not exist anymore. Why are there checks? There’s online banking. There’s Paypal! Just pay me into Paypal. Come on.

So, yeah, that’s where I’m at at the moment. I need to come up with a new tag line for Instructions Not Included because I do make a decent living online. How can I working so much mentally? I feel bad going to the beach. I feel bad going for a surf. Like this TV, okay, not this one in particular because it’s a bit too small and doesn’t play my game properly. But, I have a bunch of old TVs like this one, probably from 1983, and I play a game called Super Smash Brothers Melee. I feel bad playing that game because I feel like I should be working.

I feel bad sometimes spending time with my family because I feel like I should be working even though I actually shouldn’t. I should be embracing the beach, embracing surfing, embracing spending time with my family, stressing less about work. But, for some reason, I can’t seem to do that. That’s kind of what I’m trying to move towards and work out. I need to get better at being happy with where I am. So I’ll work on that and in the meantime, if you want instructions, go and buy some furniture.

If hung around to this point, then you must be a super fan. And for super fans, I have something very special. You just wait there. Wait there one second. I will get the very special thing. How good is this? Nutella. Do they make Nutella in other countries or is this just an Australian thing? As you can see, this has been licked clean. I love Nutella, it is so good. I eat it with a spoon.

My wife puts in on toast, complete waste. Just get a spoon and dig into this thing and it says “I love you” on this one, which I absolutely love. That’s really cool. That’s just a little fun fact about me. The hang you around until the end. Nutella is awesome. Alright guys, peace out.

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Will Your Business Grow Up To Eat You?

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iniartworksmallAre you creating a business that will grow up and eat you?

Hey guys, Ryan here from Instructions Not Included – a show about me, Ryan, as I try and make a decent living online. Today, I wanted to talk about whether or not your business is going to grow up and eat you.

There’s actually some insects and some spiders that grow up to eat their mothers. That, obviously, doesn’t sound very nice.

I say a lot of times that people’s businesses grow up and end up eating them alive. What do I mean by that? I mean that the business grows up to a point where it takes away the very thing the entrepreneur was trying to get in the first place.

Some people want to build big business, you know? Wolf of Wallstreet, million-dollar businesses, you know, maybe not that dodgy, but you know what I mean.

They want to build this large businesses and they’re happy working 80-hour weeks and doing business. They want to build the next Airbnb or Uber or something like that.

I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about people like me, who want to build a business that’s going to generate some lifestyle for them. It’s going to give them some freedom for their time. It’s going to give them some financial security.

It’s going to give them the ability to spend more time with their friends and with their family doing the things that they love, like playing Super Smash Brothers Melee or going surfing or whatever it is that you may want to do. There’s people that want that sort of lifestyle, but they build businesses that will actually take away that sort of lifestyle.

Let me use and example. I have a property blog in Australia and a common business in this industry is what I call “property marketers”. So they sell new build developments to people as “investments”.

These are generally overprice properties. I hate this part of the industry because people buy these properties that lose them money because someone’s selling it to them and pretending it’s an investment. Anyway, the moral compass and things aside, that sort of business is one where you’re doing one-on-one selling with people. You’re making a commission from the developer, so you’re making anywhere between maybe $5,000 and $40,000 for the sale of a property.

But what happens overtime as that scales and you get more and more people, because it’s so heavy one-on-one interaction, you’re making so much per individual client, then as that scales, you’ve either got more and more work to do yourself and so, that takes away from lifestyle or you decide, okay, I want to get other people to do this for me.

So you bring in sales people that you hire or “mentors” or whatever it is want to call them. You get offices and things like that. Eventually, you get to the point where your business is going well, but you need to make X amount of sales per month just to cover the expenses of your business.

You can imagine that as you have more and more staff working for you, these are staff on the ground in Australia or whatever country it may be. As you get more and more people working for you, then you’ve got to pay them and so things get expensive.

And so, you get to the point where if you were to stop, unless you’ve designed your business immaculately, you’ve got managers running it for you, if your business was to stop, you’ve got all of these overheads and expenses to pay that the business would eventually eat you alive because you’ve got all these expenses that aren’t getting paid that you’ve got to find money to pay it.

And so, you’ve created a business where it needs to keep going and it needs to keep rolling every single month and you need to keep putting work into it. Otherwise, the expenses are going to eat that business alive.

I see a lot of people start lifestyle businesses and they get to the point where they’re at this point and their business is eating them alive. Either they’re really successful, but they can’t stop or they’re not as successful as they want to be and they’ve got too many expenses.

There’s quite a few people who are in that boat. I always try to design my business different. That’s what I really want to talk about today is more my experience. Because I’m not a guru, I’m not someone who wants to tell you what to do, but I want to talk about what I did and so, maybe you can take something out of that. When I design my business, I went full time with business about 3 years ago. And at that point, I was making $500 to $1,000 per month total in revenue. Not a great deal of money, but I had some government support for a year through a program called “NEIS”.

There’s an Australian program for new businesses so I had some support from that. There was a lot of opportunities for me in the early days, even now, to make a lot of money quite quickly through methods like property marketing. I’ve got an Australian property blog that gets over 100,000 visitors a month.

If you count up all the podcast downloads, Youtube views and stuff like that, you’re probably looking 150,000-200,000 visitors, uniques, whatever you want to call it, a month. Which is quite large for an Australian property blog. It’s a very niche topic, very highly valuable traffic and stuff like that as well. People spend a lot of money on property, it’s a big industry.

Anyway, there was a lot of opportunities for me to make more money by becoming a buyer’s agent or becoming a property marketer by working one-on-one with people, whether it be through coaching or through selling them properties or helping them buy a property. I could make $6,000-$10,000 per person if I was a buyer’s agent. I could make $10,000+ if I was a property marketer. Rather than a membership site where I sell monthly memberships for $29 per month.

There was a lot opportunity to make a lot of money and I’ve got a friend who’s a buyer’s agent and he does really well for himself. And so, there was those opportunities for me. But, I always projected forward and thought, “Okay, in 5 years’ time, what’s this business going to look like? What sort of lifestyle do I want for myself? Do I want the money? Do I want the $500,000 a month or whatever it may be if I could get to that point?” and I thought, “No, I don’t.” I don’t care that much about money, which is weird to say from someone who’s got a podcast about trying to make a decent living online. But, what I care about is 2-fold.

It’s about having a positive impact in people’s lives through the work that I do. Through the businesses that I run, I want to have a positive impact on people. So I always try and be really genuine, try and be transparent, all of that sort of good stuff. That cancels out a whole bunch of money-making ideas for me on the Wolf of Wallstreet guy.

I want to have that, but then, I also want the freedom of my time. So I want to be free to spend my time on whatever it is. That might be working on my business, but it might also be spending time with my family, spending time with my friends. Me and my family have this idea that we’re going get a camper van and we’re going to travel around Australia and I’ll work from the van. And so, that’s our idea now, but 3 years ago, when I started this business, I didn’t know what we would be doing. But, I always thought in my mind, I want a business that can run without me and that doesn’t have all these crazy overhead that I need to think about. So I want a simple business.

On Property, I always came back to it because it was the one that was doing the best and had the best opportunity and I had so many options to go ahead and to make a lot of money, but they never fit inline with the lifestyle that I wanted and the business that I eventually wanted to have so I said “No” to a lot of things. It was a frustrating business for a long time because there’s no simple affiliate stuff that I can just market.

It’s not an Amazon site where I can link people through to Amazon and they purchase products, I get a commission. It’s not a site that works really well for advertising because (a) the advertising doesn’t necessarily make enough money and then, (b) the people who are paying to advertise are people that I don’t really want to associate myself with. I was kind of in a pickle there so I had to create my own products in order to sustain myself.

The product that eventually worked after many iterations, trial and error, so many different things. I’ve now got a main membership site where I sell memberships for $29 a month and I go out and I find particular types of properties that people are looking for, called “positive cash flow properties” and I share them with people. As well as a bunch of training and tools in there as well.

That is the website that I’ve got setup at the moment. I got around 150 members, so you go ahead and do the math on that. Obviously, I’ve got business expenses as well and I’ve got other websites that aren’t just On Property, which I’ll talk about in a minute.

The business that I run, I could effectively run this business now probably one day a week. I think I would need one day a week to do customer service, to do admin, to do the maintenance stuff that needs to happen on the site and the site would basically just run. Don’t get me wrong, this is not something that just happened overnight.

I spent 3 years creating content, doing a video a day, doing an episode a day, doing all this blog content, getting the video transcribed, paying all this money to get it transcribed, put it on the blog to get all this traffic. But, I’m at the point where the traffic comes in every month, thousands of people everyday because I spent years doing this.

That was always my marketing strategy to begin with. Property marketers would go out and spend money because if they can spend $1,000 and get a client who makes them $10,000, that’s worth it. But for me, the marketing I did, I wanted to do marketing now that’s going to work into the future for me. Because originally, when I was starting, I had no idea what I was going to sell.

No idea what product I was going make or affiliates or whatever it may be. I didn’t know how I was going to make money. So I thought, I would build up an audience and I would just find out how to make money from that audience, which luckily worked out for me over the last few years.

So the marketing that I have, I built up overtime so I could effectively work one day a week on this site and it could make enough. I call it “survival money”. It makes enough for us to survive, but we’re not extremely rich. This is my office.

I am in a garage. So I’m not extremely rich or anything like that. But, the business is at a point where it’s sustainable. Moving forward in my business, which I think is what I really wanted to talk about and this episode is going way longer than I expected, but I hope this is interesting to you. Moving forward, we’re looking at moving into a van.

I’ve got 3 children. We’re going to be living in a sprinter van with 5 of us in there. So, this may work. We might go and hate and last 2 weeks and come back or we may go and love it and go for a year. We don’t actually have any plans on how long we’re going to do this for. But, I need a business where I’m going to have sporadic internet, where I may not be able to get online every single day, but I still want to be able to work on my business and grow my business.

Over the last couple of months, that’s led me to make different decisions about the businesses that I run, about where I focus my time. It’s funny because something like On Property where it’s a membership site, where I kind of need to check in everyday because there’s new members coming through, old members leaving. Check in everyday to make sure everything is going all right, answer emails and things like that. That can be frustrating. When you’re looking at living on the road, that won’t necessarily work.

I don’t know what internet is going to be like, etc. I’m sure it’d be fine. But, I wanted a business where I could literally not have maintenance work for that business.

Maintenance work would be dealing with hacks, paying for your website hosting, upgrading plugins, things like that. That sort of maintenance is fine, because that’s so sporadic and you hardly need to do it. But, maintenance in terms of customer service or something, that I wanted to – not eliminate from my business because I always want On Property, but for each of the new work that I do, all the new effort I put into websites, I wanted websites that didn’t generate customer inquiries.

That may sound like rude. I don’t know if that sounds arrogant or anything like that, but I wanted a business where I feel like the best work that I do is communicating. So that might be like this episode with you guys, that might be an On Property podcast episode, that might be a product review article that I write. I feel like my best skill and what I enjoy the most is creating quality content that really helps people.

So that’s what I wanted to be spending my time and as I built my own products and membership site and things like that, my time was taking away through customer service. Yeah, you could hire virtual assistants and stuff like that, but I wanted to think, is there a business that I could create where I didn’t need a virtual assistant? I didn’t need to do customer service. Kind of over trial and error and things like that, I’m kind of in the product review market now.

I create websites, I review products, I do a really good job of it. I compare products to each other. I answer common questions about products. And I either make money through advertising that traffic through advertising to that traffic, you know, Google AdSense, things like that. Or I can make money through Amazon affiliates or eBay affiliates or different sort affiliates and things like that.

I’ve got a variety of different sites. Some are physical products that I review. Some of them are online products, like the email marketing service I use, ConvertKit. I’ve created some videos on that, how to do things with that, a review of that and I get some monthly commissions from there. So that’s one example of things.

But, what I love about these sites is that you don’t have any emails coming in. If I check my email inbox from my review sites, I don’t get any customer emails. I might get one in a month. I might get some comments on Youtube that I can choose to respond to if I want. But, it’s not customers who have paid me money directly that I need to respond to in a quick amount of time because otherwise, they’re going to get angry at me and need a refund.

I absolutely love these types of businesses because firstly, they’re really exciting for me. I never thought that I would love review products, but exploring new products, finding out what’s good, helping people make the right decision to get the best one.

That’s really fun, I really like that. As well, trying out all these different things. But, as well, of the business model where I can create this quality content that really helps people, that might help them for years to come if the products don’t change. Or, it might just help them for the next 6 months or something like that if the product’s, you know, there’s new iPhones coming out every year. Not that I review iPhones, but you know, there’s new products all the time.

This business is something that I can do on the road, reviewing products, researching products, writing articles I could do without internet access, filming videos I can do without internet access, editing I can do without internet access. And so, I try to think about – okay, my business, with the lifestyle that I want, what are the things that I need? I need work that I can do while not connect to the next, check.

I need work that doesn’t create emergency situations because I might not have access to the internet, I might not be able to deal with emergencies. Okay, check. I need work that I can continue to grow this business, but as I grow it, it doesn’t demand more from me.

And so, that’s always been great with the content that I create because it goes up on Youtube or it goes up on a podcast like iTunes or it goes up on the blog and traffic comes in, people Google, people find it, but I’m not having to interact with those people personally myself each time they come in. The more content I create, the more people can find me, but it’s not actually generating more work for me, so, check.

The business that I’m creating now is moving me towards my ultimate goal. On Property and the membership site and the survival money there is great. I can work on that one day a week and it gives me 4 days a week to work on these new businesses that require even less time if I was to start them. N

ow, I am working my ass off, don’t get me wrong. I am working an extremely long period of time. I’m doing a lot of work to create content and things like that. But, the content I’m creating will live on and will continue to make me money into the future. I’ve got websites now in total, separate from On Property I’ve made, there’s probably coming out to about 10-20% of my income is coming from these new sorts of websites. Eventually, I’d like to have that up to 50% of my income or even more than that.

The goal, I guess, eventually, is to have these new websites, separate from On Property and the membership site, create enough survival money for me in and of themselves that if I wanted to close down the membership site and not have to deal with that anymore, that is a decision that I would have. I’m not saying that I would make that decision, but it’s a decision I could make if I wanted to.

That’s my goal for my business at the moment. I encourage you to think about your business. As it scales up, what will it look like and will it eat you? Will it take away the very lifestyle that you’re trying to create for yourself? So think very specifically now about what your business will look like in 2 years, 5 years’ time. Because I made so many sacrifices and missed out on so much money in the early days where I had all these opportunities to make money.

I said, no, I don’t want to make that money because it will lead down a path that I don’t want to be down. So I made all those sacrifices and now I’ve got a business where I can work one day a week if I want and I can work on these new businesses. Now, I’m saying “no”. Again, I’m making the same decisions. I’m not going to make that decision because I want my business to end up here in the future.

I just encourage you to do the same thing. I hope you have an awesome day. Hopefully I can throw out more of these podcast episodes more frequently because it has been a while since I posted. I’m going to finish if off there. Don’t create a business that eats you alive.

If you want a lifestyle business, make the sacrifices now and design a business that in 2 years, 5 years’ time, is going to generate the lifestyle that you want.

I’m Ryan McLean, you can check me out at ryanmclean.net or you can search “Instructions Not Included” on iTunes or Youtube. And until next time, if you want instructions, go buy some furniture.

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