As a business owner, you're likely wearing many hats, managing marketing, finance, legal, human resources, sales, operations, product development and delivery. You have lots of ideas that could grow your business and your income, but you also feel the pressure of being pulled in several directions. You struggle with feeling unfocused and unproductive.
These are the realities of the Start Up and Ramp Up stages that many businesses do not outgrow. Melanie Duncan is no stranger to these issues, but seems to have beautifully outgrown them, now running several online businesses worth millions in annual revenue while traveling the world.
Melanie and her husband Devin started their first company, Custom Greek Threads, while they were in college. Devin had run other businesses before, but Custom Greek Threads was Melanie's first entrepreneurial venture. Now, she's passionate about teaching entrepreneurs how they can work smarter and live larger.
I was captivated by her #workfromwherever lifestyle, well-documented on Instagram. In the last year, she's worked from Anguilla, Switzerland and from home overlooking Central Park. She lived my dream this summer, living and working in Paris with Devin. The amazing year she's had came while working with Todd Herman, a performance and leadership advisor beloved by pro athletes, self-made billionaires, Spanish Royal Family members and other entrepreneurs like Melanie.
Now, the two have partnered to create a three-month transformational program called the 90-Year-Day. I recently caught up with Melanie about the videos she and Todd have published and the program that closes on Dec. 16.
This all started when you and Devin hired Todd Herman to help you. How did you hear of Todd and what did you hope to get out of working with him?
I actually met Todd at a business event here in NYC over two years ago and we quickly connected after realizing that we had a lot of mutual friends in common. He lived just a few blocks away so we invited him and his wife over for dinner and became good friends. At the end of 2013, when my husband Devin and I were struggling to plan out our upcoming year we decided to enlist Todd's help.
We hoped that in working with Todd we would be able to maximize our strengths, add in an element of accountability, and improve the way we decided which projects to move forward with. That way we could focus on less projects, so that the right projects actually would happen and reach their potential.
We wanted to schedule our tasks that so that our days would have more structure and purpose. It was also extremely important to us to be creating strategic deadlines so that projects would keep moving forward, and could be launched and implemented.
And above all else, to truly scale our business, we also wanted to bring more leaders into our business and build a team that would allow us to delegate in a really powerful way.
Take me through the emotions of hiring him and working with him.
Well it was a big leap financially, but we knew other people who had worked with Todd and raved about the experience. I was a little nervous, but just 10 minutes into our first session, I could tell that this was going to be life changing for us. The breakthroughs that we had that day were so exciting and motivating. I think for the first time we were able to see what was truly possible.
Did you work with Todd throughout the year?
Yes, we have an intensive 8 hour session in January where we did a lot of the work in creating the plans for our upcoming year. Then weekly calls were used to touch base and ensure that we were staying on course.
Tell me more about the 90 Day Year program. Who is it for?
The 90 Day Year Program is a goal achievement and transformation program to help business owners focus on the right activities, at the right time, at the right stage of business that they are in.
It is for entrepreneurs and business owners who are overwhelmed with the quantity of work that they have to be doing. Those who feel oppressed and inundated by all of their responsibilities. Those who are dissatisfied with the current results that they are getting inside of their businesses (their revenue, lack of team, positioning in the marketplace, etc.)
To promote your 90 Day Year program, you and Todd produced really helpful content. Can you tell me why it was important to you to create such quality content that users could access for free?
First of all, we were introducing Todd to our audience for the first time so we wanted to provide a lot of value upfront to show the quality of thinking that his private clients get to experience daily.
We also wanted to demonstrate that there is a simpler, more elegant way to approach business and personal performance that isn't about overwhelming people with tons of content but giving them context so that they can diagnostically identify where they are and what they should be doing.
In the three videos you and Todd have put together, you go through a powerful exercise in breaking down an entrepreneur's ultimate desired outcome into performance goals and processes. How did putting this into practice affect your own business?
Well it enabled us to double our revenue in 2015 and halved the amount of time that we worked within our business. It provided such immense clarity and created a workable plan that we could use to manage our time and best utilize our team.
Once we realized where the gaps where that were holding us back from achieving our desired outcome we felt confident in bringing on some amazing people who allowed us to step into some really exciting roles in our business.
My husband and I enjoyed a level of freedom and spent the year #workingfromwherever and even rented an apartment and lived in Paris this summer (all while maintain tremendous momentum and making progress on some really big projects).
In the video about context switching Todd talks about the importance of focusing on finishing one project before moving onto the next, so you can build momentum. What advice do you have for someone who wants to take this advice but has client work that's currently paying the bills distracting them from the next big project they want to complete?
First and foremost, you should always take care of the main revenue generator inside of the business. You just have to decide. Make a committed decision to carve out parts of your day when you will only be working on your passion project.
Sign up here to view the four videos on the 5 Stages of Business, the 3 Phase Achievement Model, how to Get More Done in Less Time, and the 3 P's of a Successful Business. You'll then have a chance to sign up for the 90-Day Year Program if you're interested.