In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Jeffrey Shaw. Jeffrey is an experienced speaker and small-business consultant. He helps self-employed and small-business owners gain control of their businesses in what otherwise seems like uncontrollable circumstances. He’s also the author of a book called: The Self-Employed Life: Business and Personal Development Strategies That Create Sustainable Success.
To be self-employed means more than employing oneself. It’s a choice to challenge yourself to grow personally while building a business. As we develop ourselves, we raise the bar—we’re capable of even more success. What self-employed folks need is both business strategies and personal development to reach and maintain that success. In this episode, Jeffrey Shaw shares his holistic approach to sustainable, self-employed success.
Questions I Ask Jeffrey Shaw:
- [1:55] The term “self-employed” used to be looked upon differently — has the perception changed now?
- [4:36] In your mind, what is self-employed, and what space are you trying to carve out?
- [11:20] What’s your approach to personal development from your own experience?
- [14:01] When you’re working with small business owners and self-employed folks that you work with, where do you see people commonly kind of fall down?
- [16:01] What is the self-employed ecosystem you’ve mentioned?
- [19:02] What are some of the traits and habits that you can identify that really serve people trying to achieve balance and build this ecosystem?
- [22:22] What are some of your thoughts on self-employed individuals in terms of hiring them to do work for you?
More About Jeffrey Shaw:
- His book: The Self-Employed Life: Business and Personal Development Strategies That Create Sustainable Success
- The Self-Employed Summit
- The Self-Employed Assessment
More About Certification Intensive Training:
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Jeffrey Shaw (00:44): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jans, and my guest today is Jeffrey Shaw. He's an experienced speaker and small business consultant. Uh, he helps self-employed in small business owners, gain control of their business and what otherwise seems like uncontrollable circumstances. Nobody feels that though, really, do they?
(01:35): It does indeed. So let's talk about this term. Self-employed. Mm-hmm.
(02:22): And that's my biggest concern. Yeah. You know, we're often too small to get some of the benefits that say government financing might offer to a small business. And I think it's important we take ownership of this self-employed. What, what I think has changed even more so, honestly, John, is the, is kind of the, comparing it to the term entrepreneur. Yeah. I think entrepreneur nowadays means like, you know, you're in between jobs. Where what I like about self-employed is that it, it describes the lifestyle and the business model. So I, I favor, I definitely favor that. Well, yeah, and we could break cuz I think people have defined each of these terms, but can I bitch for a minute? You said that about the mortgage, you know, thing I, you know, I've owned my own corporation that
(03:13): No, exactly. It's, it's, uh, yeah, the banking industry, I've always felt that the banking industry should require coaching with small business loans in order to increase the rate of success, which in the long run would hopefully make us more bankable. And I'll stop ranting here, but I, I literally had, so a banker or a mortgage person ask me why I had so much money in the bank, and I was like, well, I I I make more than I spent. Yeah.
(04:00): Entrepreneur, let's throw a freelancer in there. Let's throw gig worker in there. Let's throw pride, hustler. I mean, all of these kind of have a nuanced meaning. I mean, where, what, what is self-employed? Because obviously you can be self-employed at and, and be an S-corp, not have any employees. I mean, so what do you, what in your mind is self-employed? What, what space are you trying to carve out? Yeah, so to me it's what I'm, the space I'm trying to carve out is to also recognize the lifestyle, right? Because being self-employed is, is unique in so many ways, and it's what the, it's those problems that I want the book to address. You know, so some of those problems are for one, you know, the old adage in business that it's business, don't take it personal
(04:46): Not only do you take things personally, there's an integration, like what's going on in your personal life will affect your performance at work and vice versa. Of course. Then there's also, uh, you know,
(05:35): There's personal development. I mean, I've got over a thousand hours of training as a coach, so I'm throwing a lot of myself into this book as a coach and 36 years of business experience entirely being self-employed so that people can have right sized business strategies, because so much of what we see in the world just isn't meant for our size business or our philosophies. Yeah, I was gonna say, because because sometimes people equate size with choice or not choice. And I think that the idea here with the self-employed life might be that people are actually, there's an intention about, you know, not just saying, oh, here's what everybody else does. I'm gonna run off and, you know, chase revenue and then have, you know, 10 headcount and all that. But then it's actually a decision to, to use this as a tool to give yourself the life that, that you choose.
(06:22): Right. And you know, it Exactly. It is a tool. I mean, for one thing I've always said, every business decision I've ever made has been based on how I wanna live first. Right? I live in Miami now five years, a little over five years I've been here, complete lifestyle choice, which actually wasn't pre-planned. I just came down for three months and never left, you know? But it's, you know, I can, I, I will adapt my business to fit how I wanna, just as I did when I was a single dad for a number of years. You know, you, you, you recognize the lifestyle you're gonna live. So it is, it's a tool. What, the other thing I think that's really shifting, John, is that there is a huge movement of people that are going into owning their own own business, self-employment in later years. You know, midlife we could call it.
(07:05): And whether it's by choice or by force, you know, right now we're looking at the highest unemployment rate we've had since the Great Depression. That means the rate of self-employment is also going to go up. So, but I also think there's choice. I think there's a lot of people that are sitting in their corporate jobs getting that steady paycheck, but also feeling like, you know, this is not making me happy. And if we haven't learned in the last year that time is that life is short, when are you gonna learn it? So I think we have a different level of maturity of people come becoming self-employed, and with that comes the ability to wanna, to integrate your personal life. And that's why I think self-employment as a, as a model and as a term is so important because it's about giving people control to live their lives and their businesses integrated.
(07:50): Yeah. And it's interesting, the fastest growing segment of, of whatever we call them, self-employed individuals, you know, is 50 plus. And I think that and the most successful, right? The, the actual, statistically the most successful businesses self-employment are 47 and over. Yeah. And yet we somehow give all the credit to the 20 year olds hustling,
(08:30): You know, uh, man, woman, or, you know, in between, you know, it's, yeah. I work harder now than I probably ever did more hours. But because, you know, it's the whole work balance, door cut, life balance thing is a complete misnomer. I mean, I don't like the word balance in there. I'll go for midlife, I'll go for worklife integration, but not balance, because it's never in balance. But it, it feels okay when you're, when it's your empowered choice. And the fact matter is, I work more now than I did when my kids were, were younger, or even at home. I have nobody at home anymore because I can. Yeah. But when I have kids at home, you know, you, you're trying to make sure you have time for everybody. So I, I don't mind working the longer hours I do now and working harder to getting this next iteration of my life off the ground because I've got the power to do it.
(09:11): I've got the freedom to make those decisions I've been using internal for a long time. So it's that work life rhythm, uh, because you're right, it's never, you know, you're never gonna have the perfect wheel, you know, in balance. But the fact that you are paying attention to what all those elements are, that, that have to be in rhythm, you know, it does allow you to, because sometimes you just gotta put, you know, you, you write books. I I've written books, and a lot of times I have to put way too much emphasis on, you know, finishing that writing project than I'd like to. But I know that, I know that the other part of the, the, the rhythm is there and we'll get back in sync. Yeah. And I'd love that you use the term rhythm. Cause I think that also reflects the rhythm of life. You know, it, it reflects how at what stage of life that we want to live a certain way and put a certain amount of effort in. I, I love that.
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Jeffrey Shaw (10:59): So one of the things you started talking about was this amount, amount of personal development that you've done. And I, I really think that, you know, I've been sort of jokingly saying that, you know, owning your own business is one of the best personal development programs ever created. Because if you don't, you know, it's over
(11:37): Yeah. Well, to your point, I agree. I mean, I've always said being in business for yourself is, is personal development on steroids. But I look at, first of all, I'm always careful to use the word personal development. Cause I look at this as a forward moving progre positive progression, not self-help, right? It's self-help is its own category. But, you know, I look at it as personal development, how we develop. And I think, you know, for me personally, I, I can honestly say I've been in business since I was 20 years old. I, I became a professional photographer at 20. I grew up very lower middle class. I wound up serving the wealthiest families in, in the country as their family photographer. That is a personal journey story. Unlike one, I could even wrap up in a, in a 20 minute conversation, because it's everything. I mean, it was, it was a constant series of being pushed outside of my comfort zone.
(12:25): I literally became a photographer because it was the most reclusive career I could come up with, because it involved a dark room back in the day. And you always had a piece of equipment between me and the world. And, and as an innately shy person, and particularly at that point in my life, that was the perfect career. The, the ultimate, you know, the joke of it was though that I was good at it. So next thing I knew, I was being thrown into center stage, if you will, literally even as a speaker, uh, to talk about what I was good at. So for me, it is un has undoubtedly been a personal development journey. What I think is really interesting about the personal development com component of self-employment is that it comes in both directions. So, on one hand I look at it as capacity, and this is a very big thing for me in a big cornerstone of the book, that an anchor of the book, which I is a quote by Jim Roan, which I say all the time, which is, your level of success is rare, will rarely exceed your level of personal development.
(13:23): So I look at it as capacity. The more success you want, the more you have to develop yourself to increase the capacity of what you're capable, of, what you can handle, and what, what abundance and success is waiting for you. So you have to increase the capacity by constantly developing yourself. In the process of doing that and simply being in business, you're also encountering everything at a faster pace. So your buttons are being pushed more often. Your challenges are being put in front of you at a much more rapid pace than if you're punching a clock. So there's personal development coming at you in both directions, in one direction. You're leveraging personal development to increase your capacity for success. And then the other hand, your buttons are being pushed to grow at a faster pace than I think any other existence in, in business can offer.
(14:10): So you're working with small business owners, a self-employed folks that you work with, you know, where, where, what's the Achilles heel? I mean, where do you see people commonly kind of fall down? They, you know, it's kinda like they get their idea out there, Hey, this is gonna work, and then sort of like phase three, the wheels come off. Yeah. Literally. I mean, you know, in my previous book, lingo was all about working with your ideal customers and identifying them, attracting them, and identifying. And I know immediately I have an ideal customer in front of me, or a client in front of me when they, they contact me and they say one of two things, I'm all over the place. Or I'm a hot mess.
(14:55): We wind up, especially nowadays, we hire, which is a good thing. We hire a specialist for every different part of our business, right? We hire the email marketing specialists, the social media specialists, even the Instagram part of social media. We hire all these specialists. And as the, you know, self-employed owner, that's a lot to manage. And we end up wind up, we end up feeling like we're pulled in so many different directions that we, we lose the integration of our business. And that is the, the heart of my book, the self-employed life, is introducing what I call the self-employed ecosystem. Mm-hmm.
(15:51): We can't control everything else around us, but I do believe we can have a lot of control over the environment We set up that we have the right person to development, the right business strategies, even the right daily practices to keep us on track if we get everything in place, you know, success is almost guaranteed. And if it isn't, you gave it your best shot. So, so does maybe unpack this ecosystem a little more because I, I, I think as I hear listening to you describe it, it it, it's almost like a plan or a strategy for, you know, making this a holistic journey. Yeah. It's funny, I, my, the advanced readers of the book, it was amazing how many of them come back and thought that this was auto autobiographical, which was never my intention. Like, I didn't write a, I wasn't my intention to write a book about me.
(16:32): It was a book in service to the people I care about, which was self-employed business owners. But undoubtedly, there's, this is, you know, as I've said to others, and I, you're, you're a serial author. How many books are you on, by the way? Number seven coming? I kind of lost track, by the way. Gosh, this is number two for me. But I, I aspire to, to hit seven. And you know, in some ways I wonder if this isn't my legacy book, to be honest with you, because everything is in there. Everything I've learned in 36 years and everything I've s I'm a masterful observer, if nothing else. And I think that's the root of why I became a photographer. That shy kid, watched everybody else around him, became a photographer to observe everybody else. So I, i, if I, I have no, I have no degree from university, but I have a really strong degree of life because I'm a masterful observer.
(17:26): So that's how I run my business, and that's how now I support others. But I've taken all those observations. And my biggest observation in business, particularly for self-employed business owners, is that if you think about it like an ecosystem, just like in nature, if one part of the ecosystem is off, it can destroy the whole thing, right? Right. If the water temperature is too warm, the coral reef dies. And that is the primary problems for self-employed business owners. What, what I see most often is they're running like a hamster on a wheel, applying a lot of action, because that's what we've been told to do. Hustle it out, grit, grind, apply a lot of action. The reason why so many small business owners feel like they're working really hard, but hardly getting ahead is because they haven't done the personal development work to raise the capacity.
(18:17): So they're, they are literally and figuratively hitting their head against the ceiling. They're putting their efforts into a container that's not big enough, even if that container is their own mindset. And then on the other side of it, which is also a core problem is if you've got things rolling is sustainable, do you have those daily habits, affirmations, and clear intentions to keep it going? And if, if not, that's when you start experiencing the ups and downs. Like, we have these surges of success and we come off a cliff, we have another surge, we come off the cliff and we wonder, are we gonna survive the dip
(19:06): Yeah. And I, I certainly see that expand and contract patent all the time with businesses. So, so what are some of the traits and habits that you've seen that, that you can identify that, that you think really serve people trying to do this balance and build this ecosystem? Yeah, so, and their habits of sustainability, and, and I have for the, the, I have a three month small business coaching program, and I start off by offering an assessment and everyone shows weakness in the same area, which are these daily habits. And yet everyone also identifies, it's what they know they need the most. Like, I know I should do that, and if I did that, it would help, you know, my, my position in business, but I don't have time for it. Right? So the ones that couple that I have found to be really solid, one is how one sets their intentions.
(19:56): Now I am, you know, as I said, I can get as woo woo as anybody
(20:40): Right? That to, so that's one practice getting very clear in your intentions. I think it is powerful to have one statement of affirmation, right? As our, I think we have a mutual friend, Brant mens mm-hmm.
(21:31): 15 minutes, right? So I medic, I meditate for, right? Yeah. I, I meditate for 10 minutes and then five for five minutes. I do what I call a what's going right journal, which is writing down what's going right in my life. Now that can sound a lot like a gratitude journal, but here's the difference. Gratitude is too broad for me. I, I'm grateful for a lot of things in life. I wanna get really clear and I think we all need to get clear on what's going right. When we start acknowledging more of what's going right, it starts re reprogramming our brain from negativity to positivity. Yeah, I love that. So, so I wanna touch on one, uh, subject of sometimes, most times people consider self-employed and solopreneur maybe to be similar, but certainly there are a lot of self-employed people that come, even if it's just managing freelancers, you know, it feels like you have a team or a staff.
(22:18): Now, I, it's probably the, the aspect of business that I hear from most self-employed people is the hardest for them. It's the people, it's other people. It's hire, it's do I hire people? Do I need to hire people? If I use freelancers, how do I keep them, you know, accountable? I mean, what are, what are some of your, uh, thoughts on self-employed, uh, individuals and the fact that, you know, leveraging the work of others might be the, the true way to success? Yeah. I, I think there's, again, talk about capacity, right? Uh, another way of looking at it is when we hit a ceiling in business, we can't go to that next level and be scalable until we hire other people. And, and in a logical sense, and John, I'd be curious if this is your Ben or your experience, but I see when a lot of businesses are sitting around the 200 to $250,000 gross year and not breaking through, it almost always seems to be they, they haven't hired people.
(24:00): Yeah. So I hire really good people and then just leave them alone and trust. I'll tell you what I have something I always said to every single person I've ever worked with is I want them to know first and foremost, there's no gray area with me. I think I'm a hundred percent wrong, right? I think, I'm sure I'm confident I'm a hundred percent right, but I'm equally open to being wrong at the same time
(24:40): And if they know that ahead of time, we work well together. Yeah. And I think that one of the things people discover is if you don't give people that freedom, then they just, then they wait for you to tell 'em what to do. And so then, you know, you're not really delegating anything
(25:16): And you know, John, I think there's a lot of the speakers on the summit are people, you know, there's 10 amazing speakers, many of which I think, you know, and as you know, but I, I called probably what might, I called in on what might be my one and only favorite card
(26:06): And I'm like, oh, okay. I think it's because a lot of people sitting there unemployed. So the place to find out about that is, uh, self-employed summit.com. Um, the other tool that we're working on, which I'm really excited about, I think will help anybody starting out is, uh, a self-assessment tool. And you can get that at self-assessment dot com, excuse me, self-employed assessment.com, self-employed assessment.com. And that's a great, it's a discovery tool so that you could know your starting point as to what your strengths and weaknesses are in the ecosystem so that you can then figure out your next action steps. Awesome. Well, Jeffrey, thanks for so by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. And, uh, hopefully, uh, when we all get back out there on the road again, we can, uh, run into each other in real life. I hope so, and I look forward
John Jantsch (26:49): To it. Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co. I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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