Why You Should Warm Up Everyday

I spent a season of my life training at Aegis Team Crossfit. It benefited me a lot, and I recommend the coaches there.

The biggest lesson I learned was the lesson of the warm up.

The lesson of the warm up. Basically, at Crossfit they begin with a vigorous batch of 10 or so exercises that you know how to do. Some are fairly easy (like PVC Passthroughs). Some are more challenging, like plate overhead walking lunges.The point, though, was that we dial in. The 10 minutes or so of time we spent warming up leaves the outside world behind, and we move our head into what’s happening at the gym.

At the end of it, we went from self-congratulatory BS (hey, we’re here), to eagerness to pick up what’s next (what can we do.) That emotional journey works really well in either large or small groups. The work that the rest of the group is doing also helps a lot.

The lesson learned isn’t obvious. Warming up marks a deliberate spiritual journey from one place to another. That applies to your life.

Further Application

Hal Elrod’s book THE MIRACLE MORNING is the perfect way to warm up for your day. Issac Stegman shared this with me some time ago. I loved it when I read it but I “fell off the wagon,” after I got sick in March of this year.

I saw it before Issac recommended it, but I blew it off for whatever reason. I picked it back up a couple of months ago, and it’s worked wonders for me. I’ll give you the broad strokes of the process:

We control our days by controlling our time. We know we need to be at our best, and an entire day is made up of 16 waking hours. What if we spent one of those hours, preparing our minds, and our bodies to have a great day?

Before you “check email” or social media, you have a few moments to identify yourself and remind yourself who you are. To visualize what you’re going to get. To get a mini workout in & to dial in what you want to be when you grow up. To get out of your head and read a little bit.

Then you process your emotions – an underrated tactic – via journaling. That’s the gist of the warm up. I’ll respect Hal and not say too much because I want people reading this to buy the book.

The Benefits Of A Morning Warmup

First, I’m naturally a “scoffer”. It takes some doing to get me back into the miracle morning habit and discipline. My inner monologue sometimes trolls the world. I was – and am – skeptical.

But to be skeptical doesn’t mean anything bad. It just means we need proof it’s working.

So, this year, I had more adversity than ever. In the past, I’ve always covered everything with new sales, but I got to the point in my life where I had to create a better delivery system.  New sales wouldn’t help when our delivery system was broken.

The breakdowns in my business caused friction, broken relationships, and I was ultimately betrayed by a former friend. Loads of ugliness both financially and emotionally.

On the days that I did Miracle Morning (roughly half) I lived peacefully and I advanced the ball by doing my core tasks (prospecting, writing, proposing).  Those core tasks solve my problems. On the days that I didn’t, things fell apart.

I was centered and fluid and “in flow” on the days when I behaved correctly.

Habits Matter When You Have a Mountain To Climb

The biggest excuse we have for not beginning our healthy habit is that we have a mountain to climb. We’re behind, we’re about to miss quota. Something is wrong in our lives so we simply don’t have time for that.

We’ll get to “optimization” someday. Right now we have to worry about (whatever problem we have).  Except that, that’s a ruse. We won’t be effective in our dealing with (whatever problem we have) unless we control our days.

On the weeks that I did the Miracle Morning routine, I closed more, prospected more, and lived closer to flow. On the weeks when I didn’t, I usually simply fought to tread water.

It’s during my season of adversity – especially – when we need to be circumspect and we need to build good habits. When things are going well, it’s a simple matter to just roll on.

Warming up – spending an hour on your mind and body first thing – is a core habit we should build. It will allow you to act in a way that’s closer to the “right” version of who you are. If things are messed up, you’ll be able to get a 30,000-foot view and figure out how to fix it. A few minutes a day is meaningful because things didn’t get messed up in a day.

What about you?

Things I Learned In Kent Littlejohn’s High End Client Link

I’ve been following Kent Littlejohn for a little while now. I met him briefly while at Kevin Nations’ house sometime in 2015.

He was into LinkedIn.  He said it was like crack. That there was tons of money to be had there. Linked In? Really? The place where MLMers spam you and you put up your resume?

Not for me. I mean, I’d use it when I’d have to staff Simplifilm, and find good animation talent, but otherwise, it wasn’t for me at all.

But I watched him.  He told good stories on LinkedIn.  He hung out with classy people, and he was forever upbeat and encouraging. I spoke with him a few times, but the timing was off.

Bad Actors

Then I made a big mistake. Someone I met at a networking group was offering similar services. A “small business marketing coach.” Did a webinar, I didn’t connect but the stories were good. He made an offer to help me in a Facebook based group and to bring me on and help me make an offer and build a funnel.

This seemed low-risk. I would learn LinkedIn from this guy at a fraction of the price.

5 of 6 calls were either missed or rescheduled. There were, at last look, 9 total posts in Facebook, 4 of which were from other client victims looking for guidance that had been promised.

My time was wasted. The money was several hundred dollars, but the time was the bigger deal.

I then wanted to cancel, was told no, and even though the agreement was broken, told I’d not get a refund.  So I did my only chargeback of my life. The money was returned to me.

Kent’s Offer

I spent a year working on our process. Becoming impeccable. Making our company better. Money was coming in, and we had decided – on purpose to stay a small boutique. To do 3-5 projects a month at a higher fee ($12-15k) and eschew everything below $10k.

Then Kent made an awesome offer:

 

He offered to put a few people who take action through a Facebook group.

I’d been very embarrassed that I hired the other guy. But Kent was gracious and let me in.

Instantly amazing.

What I’ve Learned

Before this group, I’d sort of gone on “shutdown mode” for the rest of 2016. Pack it in for the year, it’s fall, and it’s time to call it good.

Now? Hell no. People are still taking meetings.

In the first week, I booked 6 appointments from LinkedIn. These are bonafide pipeline appointments from people that know me now because I reached out. There was work involved, I had to prepare a few questions and I had to grind through my 2041 contacts.

I got a sale.

So there is business on LinkedIn.

Then I learned that the same method that Kent teaches works on other places:

  • Email
  • Texting
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

The method works.

I also learned that when you generate business, you don’t have to be afraid or tolerate anything.

The other thing, prospecting works. When you focus on $/hour and not $/action, it works very well.

LinkedIn is a valuable, viable platform on which to prospect.

Concerns

There were 10 or so – out of 2,000 – people that didn’t like my outreach. I wound up blocking an angry guy that wanted me to drop everything and produce a project for free (I told him to ask me again in March, and that wasn’t good enough). Had I not reached out to everyone, I wouldn’t have had to have had that. I would have been spared his rudeness had I not been committed to reaching out to everyone, but I also would have missed out on earning a client.

So, when you have high-velocity efficient contacts, a couple people that are unhinged bubble up, and you encounter people you might not otherwise.

Conclusion

I learned more from the FREE stuff in Kent’s program than I did from an idiotic marketer’s PAID  program. Kent’s the real thing. His stuff works, but there’s a caveat.

You have to REALLY work. Not just sorta work, but do the deep, focused, intense work that moves the needle.

I’m a little more than halfway through the program. I know that in about 1 hour a day I’ll be able to mine $70,000 or so a month out of LinkedIn in gross revenue. The first few days get great results, and I know that as time passes this will continue to get easier, better and be more fun.

I know that I’ll gain efficiency, and I have gone from level “O” on linked In to level 2 has been a blast.

I’ll keep posting what’s happened in real time.

The Truth About “Legacy Issues”

I spent quite a bit of time on Autopsy HQ.  The more I read, the more I understood something was happening. Everyone blamed legacy issues.

  • They started without enough money/burn rate too high.
  • The customer acquisition cost was too high.
  • They started with some systemic disadvantage that they couldn’t overcome. (Legacy isuses)

And they’ll write 10,000 words around this. Hemming and hawing and making excuses and bullshitting themselves. They didn’t know why they failed, not really.

Later on, my friend Len Markidan mentioned the same issue here as part of a conversation with  Laura Roeder and Ryan Delk:

Ryan and Laura were tweeting back and forth:

What we see here is really the Dunning-Kruger effect.  From Wikipedia:

 a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.

More specifically, when you’re bad at a skill  you’ll be in a position where you won’t know how to measure aptitude. So you’ll rate yourself as better than you are.

Do We Even Know Why We’re Failing?

As I read through Autopsy.IO it became obvious: most of the founders have no earthly idea why they failed. The reasons that they cite are bedtime stories, not data driven analysis.  A lot of them were feel good excuses. It seemed – from the outside – that the were blaming one thing for another. They had reasons that they mentioned for sure, but they weren’t generally the same as why they failed.

Most of the reasons were  “outside of their control,” and you only had to be there to understand why that they failed.

But as you read these stories, the repetition becomes boring.

What If *You’re* The Clueless One?

I’ve blamed legacy issues for everything that ails my business. I made some mistakes which led me to say – over and over again:

If not for the legacy issues, we’d be rolling right now. 

That’s what I’ve told myself and that’s what I tell myself. But that’s an excuse, right? It’s nice to believe that the problems are confined to our past and that recently we’re on the right track. It’s also a delusion.

The mistakes are not in the past. We’ve made big mistakes and we failed to solve them. By that failure, that means our past mistakes persist to the present.

To construct a metaphor.

Let’s say you’re driving at 70 MPH down the highway. And let’s say you’re headed from New York to LA. But around Chicago, for whatever reason, you turned around and started heading east again.  And you continue to drive east saying “Yes, I made a mistake but that’s in the past, things are going great now.”

As long as you’re in the wrong direction, you’re still making the mistake. As long as the issue remains uncorrected, the mistake is sill killing you.  Going faster won’t help when you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Fixing It:

So it falls to us to fix it.

First, have a tool that assesses where you are. What direction are you heading?

If you’re working to overcome a mistake, let’s be sure we’re working in the right direction. Are we? How do we know?

Finally, make a sunset date for all the legacy issues to no longer be an excuse. Because as long as they are the mistake is still being made.

Minimum Viable Impeccability

Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean.
-Don Miguel Ruiz

When companies make big promises, customers expect big things.  Those big promises draw us in, we want to see what it’s like to try that new amazing restaurant. Get the legendary service. Have that emotional experience. That’s what we’re after.

These big promises work because they connect us. They excite us and they speak to our deepest hopes. We want to be emotionally connected with every company that we work with. We want to be connected and inspired emotionally.

Except that when we make a promise like this, then we have to keep it.

And if we fail to live up to our standards, then we have to send the money back. All of it. Without being asked. Because that’s what we have to live up to.  When you make a promise -no matter what –  a start date, a delivery date, a result – you must keep it. When you make an error in delivery, you correct your systems.

If you break your word, you can’t keep their money.

Or else you are a fraud. Plain. Simple.

If we promise on time delivery, and we’re FedEx, then we’d have to give the money back the instant we knew that any order was a second late.  Before the customer complained, asked or engaged.

Second: You Are Responsible For the Actions of Your Vendors & Subcontractors

So many providers blame their vendors.

“It wasn’t my fault your site went down, there was an error with our DNS provider.”
(No. You failed to secure a backup.)

“Cover Oregon would have been great but Oracle screwed it up.
Except that Oracle has delivered for every other client.

“Your Amazon Prime Order is Late Because UPS Screwed it Up.”
Except that it was really predictable to know this before hand and you should have adjusted your systems to account for edge cases.

This is typical of a failure. Most providers select their vendors, then blame their vendors when anything goes wrong.

Anytime anyone does this, run.  (Instead: “Hey, the vendor we chose for you is having trouble. We’re working hard to support them so we can be back in integrity.”

When a vendor fails, and you’ve vouched for them, then you pony up.

Because otherwise, what good is your word?

So, What Is Minimum Viable Impeccability?

“When you hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else can imagine, you always soar above the mark others have set for you.”

Anthony Iannarino, in The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need

Great question. Here’s what the baseline is.

Firstany time you make any promise, you’re saying to your customer: if we mess up any of these things, you’ll be offered a refund.

This includes (at a minimum)

  • Project Start Dates
  • Delivery Dates
  • Amount of interaction they’ll get
  • Amount of work they’ll have to do.
  • Promises you make that are specific to your industry, company or standards

There are many other elements to a good service. That’s one of them.

Second, never wait for the customer to ask for the refund. That’s making them beg for your honesty and beneath the standards of all but the most wretched charlatans.

If you break your word on anything under any circumstances…be unreasonable with yourself.

Initiate the request and give them the option of having their money back. That’s basic honesty, and it will create a situation where failure becomes impossible really quickly

If you break your word you can never keep their money. 

Third, continually increase your standards so that there is no possibility of failure. Create redundant systems when you make and keep promises.

That’s the kaizen philosophy. In the book The Lean Startup by Eric Reis, the most moving passage is when a new engineer made an error that cost lost productivity and server crashes . The reaction of the supervisors wasn’t shame on you for failing.

It was shame on us for allowing you to fail. They blamed the system, not the person. That must be your business.  Make promises, keep them and improve your system.

For a smaller business, this could mean investments in extra hands, this could mean saying no when you’re 99% sure that you’ll be successful.  But being impeccable in your word, as an owner is a core component of your own integrity.

Next Steps:

  1. What promises are you making to your customers?
  2. What implied promises exist?
  3. Are you currently impeccable?
  4. What are you doing to come into integrity in your own business?

Wasted Work

A minor detail that one person – or department – does poorly can screw up the work that the rest of the team does. Imagine going to a hotel. Everything is perfect. Dozens of people work in concert to provide clean rooms, a well lit interior and a great experience.

Except one person. A housekeeper leaves a bag of stinky trash in your room. Or one waiter is rude. The work, then, that the rest of the team did is ruined by this. It doesn’t matter, any more, that the bed was turned down or that there was a mint on the pillow. One person can ruin the work of dozens of other people. Of a whole institution.

5 minutes eating cheese sticks can undermine the results of an otherwise good day.

One press of the snooze button.

It’s so easy to multiply by zero.

Most of my mistakes are in this category. Undoing great stuff because something was a day late.

Preventing these mistakes would (and would have) make a bigger difference than most innovations.

 

The Push: October 2016

Each month, I post my goals publicly. I don’t promote this blog, so by saying it’s “public,” is somewhat of a misnomer. 

I entered 2016 a little burnt out (probably even depressed) from making a ton of preventable mistakes (see “failure series” for details, extrapolate to my personal life). Sometimes time simply has to pass, storms have to blow over. Wounds need to heal.

So I’ve been “watching the wheels” a little bit.

Now – more than ever -I want to go after something.

So this month’s theme is “The Push.” It’s a one time month where I’ll be focused and fierce (and probably somewhat bored, as huge amounts of effort do grind). I’m rested up for it, and I’m focused on behaviors, which I know will lead to great outcomes.

Why THE PUSH Will Work:

  • I have the gym habit.
  • Sales has always been simple for me.
  • I have the “wake up early” habit.
  • I’m not going to be screwed by a refund, so I can keep my clients in line.

What I need To Do (Cornerstone Habits)

  • Go to bed earlier (start winding down at 9:30 with a goal of 10:35 lights out).
  • Pull the coffee back to one press a day.
  • 15 Minutes of Stretching
  • 15 Minutes Jump Rope/Daily
  • Finish work by 6:pm.

Business Behaviors & Projects

  • Start prospecting again. We have 2,262 leads at Simplifilm, and most haven’t been reached in years. My experiment with Edgar proves they are viable. We have an 21 working days. We will make 35 phone attempts/day = 735 attempts. We’ll spend 90 minutes creating a SMART VIEW in close.io for this stuff.
    • I will prospect each day from 1pm-2:30 pm, after I’ve eaten lunch, showered and written content and contracts.
  • Email: We will email our list (6,000) 4 times and offer inventory.
    • I will work on content each morning from 9-10:30am, excepting Mondays.
  • Create funnel & get email list & newsletter back running THIS WEEKEND.
    • This will take 10+/- hours as I’m about 1/3 done and the “hard part” is done.
  • Write and Deliver 2 Webinars: both on scripting.
  • Plumbing – from lead to close.io has to work correctly, site has to make sense.

Business Goals (i.e. revenue).

I am focused on creating a company that doesn’t consume all of its resources and has a good reputation and relationships with everyone.

We have done less revenue than our norm because we came into this year with a $100,000 backlog of undelivered/delayed projects. Most of it was on us (ah, my ego SCREAMS at that). We had to clean that up before we could sell new work, and we were able to process about $25,000 a month more than we put out. That was expensive and difficult and hard.

And as I’ve said – I missed a month in Feb/March.

By the end of October, we will eliminate every (financial) legacy issue and we’ll be in integrity with all of our people. The Push is just a little more daily effort and daily discipline.

  • Contract 6 Projects at an average fee of $11,000 per project.
    • Collect $33,000 in revenue (2/3 on the first 4 + 1/3 on the second 2.)
    • This will require 24 appointments and 10 proposals (normally I choose to pitch about 40% of the people I meet with & we close 70%. This creates padding).
  • Complete 6 Projects & $52,000 in revenue (we sold one too cheaply to a loyal existing customer that’ll throw off our averages).
    • Income Due: $24,000.
  • Collect: Total: $57,000 in revenue at .40% margins or better ($22,800 ).
  • Close: $30,000 worth of legacy debt to close out the legacy issues that have dogged me all year.

Network

Because Simplifilm was not delivering great work on demand, I stopped reaching out to my network. I lost the hustle habit.

A vicious cycle is vicious. It clobbers everything. It started in the fall of 2014, when we were late on a key project. My desire to sell was lessened, but we acquired a lot of leads.

I let my network erode, and it’s time to restore, renew and recover that. It will probably have an ancillary business effect. I’ll spend 10 hours during the month on network building for the long haul. I’m looking for high value referral sources.

Physical Results & Behaviors

Results:

  • Weigh in at under 250.
  • Run 2 mies at 10 min/mile and one mile in under 9 minutes.
  • Have Double Unders at least 1/3 of the time.
  • Have handstands on the wall by month’s end.

Behaviors:

  • Hit the gym each morning by 5:30 x 5 days per week. No excuses, no sneak peak at the WOD. I was very consistent with going to the gym in September, and missed only 2 days scheduled.
  • Complete weeks 4-7 in Couch to 10k with my family.
  • Meal plan: follow daily.

Family

Organize & formalize our family meetings and have them all 4 Sundays (rescheduling when Heather is out for Monday or whenever). (New Family Meeting Must be done shortly). Calendar the time they are spent there.

Have an upgraded dinner program.

Organize the garage (it’s been a mess since we moved)

Foundations & Projects

  • Create scorecard in Google docs for us to use as a company and personally.
    • Have it output to a public facing place.
  • Create Schedule.
  • Create Funnel

Education:

I’ve avoided business & Sales books over the last 2 years. Mainly because I’d read too many in the past. It was a heavy part of my diet. Now is a good month to catch up because they generally take less effort, and the ones below are highly regarded.

  1. The Art of Explanation – Lee Lefeveer
  2. X: The Experience when Business Meets Design: Solis
  3. SPIN SELLING: Neil Rackham
  4. Mastering the complex sale:
  5. Challenger Customer – Dixon Et Al
  6. MAJOR ACCOUNT STRATEGY: Neil Rackam
  7. Hug Your Haters: Jay Baer
  8. The Magic of Thinking Big – David J. Schwartz
  9. Pivot: Jenny Blake

I have fairly low expectations for reading this month, but I will see where it takes me. It’s certainly easy reading and that’ll be welcomed when I’ve been dealing with histories that are really difficult to slog through.

Extras:

If I want to podcast or Blog or whatever, it has to be in unscheduled time this, and not in lieu of it. We have to be on pace with all of our objectives before we can really do this.

No-Nos.

No drinking: I went without alcohol for a few months, and had some while watching the debate. It confirmed my belief that Alcohol isn’t For Me right now.

Not judging drinking, just something I can’t currently handle. That can be reevaluated.

No Video Games: Video Games are something that I’ve determined cannot continue to be a regular part of my life. Even games like WordsWithFriends erode margins and cause me to miss some more important goals and to get off track.

Schedule (Project #1)

At the core of everything here will be the schedule. Everything that’s going to be achieved will go on the recurring calendar and I’ll make sure that I do it. When an appointment legitimately overrides an existing commitment, I will be sure to reschedule the time I’m putting in.

There’s a functional maximum to doing things like working out. You can’t “speed up” some processes. Stuff like 2 a days have diminishing returns (and in some cases negative returns).

And there’s some things you have to have on the schedule to do them. Family time. Reading time. Fitness time. The challenge is to be in integrity with yourself. Everything here goes on a schedule.

Rules:

  • Nothing will require more than 90 minutes/day, 4 days/week.
  • 30 minutes of padding between each event.
  • Mondays are the “big day” and the most scheduled day to set the week up right.
  • 60 minutes of family time each day, in addition to being a good example.

Scorecard: (Project #2)

I’ll have some type of scorecard to measure this stuff. I’ve used Google Docs before with aplomb and success, but I need to measure some habits and track them and publish them. I’ll have that done to my satisfaction shortly.

What To Do When You Hit Rock Bottom

At its nadir, in 1997, Apple had DAYS of cash left in the bank. It was in danger of missing payroll and it had to go to its banks for astonishingly small sums of money. This happened to them.

We were in the same boat, but it was easier to fix and on a smaller scale.

Realize: if Apple survived, so can you.

Once I got better – late March – I resolved to work through the issues.

Realize You’re At Rock Bottom

You have to decide it’ll never get worse. That this is the worst place you’ll be. This – is hell.  You can’t get out without declaring that you will never be here again.

Passion? I rarely argue for it. I think it’s generally a distraction. But in this case, when you have slid, when you have to come back? There can be nothing more important than passion to guide your next steps. There can be nothing more important than the humanity, the spark that says “I AM.”

Define what it is that’s rock bottom.

For me:

  • I couldn’t pay vendors or designers on time.
  • I couldn’t be generous.
  • We were fragile.
  • The business needed me every day.

That was the bottom. That was where we failed, and that’s where I can never be again. To become impeccable.

Identify & Pay Legacy Issues Next

Since our issues were financial, we had to handle them as fast as possible.

Next we did was separate legacy costs (things we’d inherited) from current operations. This was to treat old debt like old debt, and not let it “run into” current operations. The idea was to use profits to close the gap. And to have the gap not run into things.

This meant we paid bills in a “LIFO” manner. The upside is that new vendors get paid, the downside is that relationships with other vendors are strained. And you have to stall for time, and equivocate. Neither are fun.

The next thing is to plan to cover the legacy issues. We didn’t dig the hole in a day, and we couldn’t dig out in a day. But we had to figure out some way to make it so the business was sustainable. On our end, our debt was 35% of annual revenue. Not terrible, but not ideal, and we didn’t have corresponding assets to offset it. So what we did was had a plan to cover this WITH PROFITS over 6 months. We are currently 4 months through the plan and will be out in mid November, 2016.

Core Principles

The last thing is to figure out core principles of your business. Exactly why do you exist? Revenue? Mission? Lifestyle? What are the boundaries?

You have to define them. We did this just recently, midway through our debt reduction plan when we were moving up Maslow’s hierarchy far enough to start solving second order problems.

My mandate was “more” and a mandate of “more, always” isn’t sustainable. And worse, it collapses in on itself when it succeeds. It’s uninspiring – to the nth degree – to just chase money. But to change the world? To chase story? That’s it, man.

Finally, you realize – exactly – what caused it and more specifically what will defend against it. The cashflow shocks of an independent business always stink, and you have to guard against it. For me, it was:

  1. Having a messy personal life.
  2. Not having redundancy in my sales role.
  3. Having a boundless appetite for overhead.
  4. Trying to grow too fast (i.e. hiring before the revenue was consistent and the last cycle was paid for).
  5. Not having standards to grow by. I.e. all vendors paid, $50,000 in the bank, whatever.

These are the things that I can’t do again, because the growth will come – if at all – in fits and starts, and the risk of doing-what-happened-last-time will remain.

Tomorrow I’ll speak frankly about the process that we’re using and how we live and die.

Things that Happen In a Death Spiral

(Part II of IV in the Journey)

When you’re failing – as we were-  things get fried.

First, you don’t apprehend the situation you’re in. It’s A Dunning-Krueger thing, maybe, or it’s a perspective thing. If you’re in a burning house, you don’t know how bad. You have had this business for a long time, and it’s only been struggling for a short time. Everything feels like a surprise.

Then, you have to do things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Like stall for time. Like send out work you don’t love. Like take a client that doesn’t share your values.

Like get testy when something goes wrong. Bite the head off of a good vendor.

Or indulge the need to tell someone who hurt you what impact they had.

Later, you’ve compromised (or capitulated) for the greater good. You believe if you get through this one phase it will all be worth while. That it’ll pan out and you’ll be back on the path to getting that BusinessWeek Cover Story. You’ll be an unfunded Inc 500 candidate.

You believe that your character hasn’t changed. That the swirling cycle of doom has happened and you are unscathed, underneath. That you’re not stalling someone’s check but you’re a good guy.

Little things become big things. A vendor hijacks you for payment in order to complete a job. They can smell the decay. You don’t have the money because he’s the second guy you had to hire on this job. Or because a client on another job didn’t pay.

You’re spending valuable sales time – time that should be productive – on dealing with penny ante nonsense. Small beer. And you can’t get out of small beer shit. Let alone work on your business.

What good are more sales?

That’s what a death spiral feels like.

And you’re no longer comforted by the start up hustle feeling because you have had success, man. Things were hoppin’ last year.

So you doubt yourself. Impostor syndrome sets in. Every decision you make, you question. You pull inward, you lose friends.

And you’re in the hospital with pneumonia, wondering if the cough will ever go away or not.