How I Utilize A Low-Info High-Output Diet
As a “bootstrapping entrepreneur” there are only two things that I consider myself on the road to being an expert at.
- Business Strategy
- Resource Management
These are the two things that I have been forced to do regardless of what I’m working on. These are the two constants in my life, so I’m pretty darn good at them.
Outside of that, I know a little bit about a LOT of stuff, and my knowledge of a certain aspect of business goes up or down depending on what I’m working on. You might call me “well rounded” or “versatile.” But again, I’m not truly an expert in anything.
This is because I practice a low information high implementation diet.
The art of cultivating a low information diet was one of the most impactful things I got out of reading Tim Ferriss’s book, the Four Hour Work Week (yes this is my second time referencing this book in two articles, if you’ve read the book you’ll understand.) Tim practices this in a very basic way.
- Has a skill he wants/needs to learn
- Learns the minimal amount to function with this new skill
- Practices his newfound skill as he sees fit and to his benefit, as early as possible
Many would-be entrepreneurs first approach one of the many broad subjects in our field, such as online marketing, and they read up on as much as they can. We see these “experts” and decide that in order to compete with anyone, we must be as good as them. So we keep reading, watching videos and listening to podcasts, waiting for that moment when we’ll finally have a moment of Nirvana and Master Guru Sensei can tell us “You Are Ready.”
If you’re ambitious, you’re also probably a bit anxious to learn as much as you can as quickly as you can, so you hyper-consume.
Unfortunately, hyper consumption of information is not something the human mind was meant to do, and most people quickly run into information overload. When this happens, the implementation part doesn’t happen.
Back in 2003, I had this problem, and did the exact same thing. I was just out of high school, and I was starting to read up on anything I could get my hands on that would eventually lead to me starting a business.
There were two pivotal moments that led to me doing things differently. The first, again, was reading the Four Hour Work Week, and finally being told what I was doing wrong.
The second was the day I read a post on reddit from a young mobile app creator named Allen Wong, who had just posted a picture of his second Lamborghini. I was already working on a project called Rentobo, which I was really excited about, and I was already an “entrepreneur” but I wasn’t on the tech side. I felt that not knowing ANYTHING about programming in the startup space was holding me back. But Allen was a making millions and he was in his early 20s.
I decided that day that I was going to learn how to program.
This was just over 3 years ago. Am I a good programmer now? No, and I wouldn’t even call myself a true programmer today.
But I can (and do) build business websites. The day I saw Allen’s post, I jumped onto CodeAcademy, did part of a course on Coursera, and part of a course on Edx and I built my first site. It wasn’t very good, but I was able to understand the basic concepts of programming, and I gained a pretty solid grasp of html/css. Rather than become a full stack programmer, which would have taken years, I began to build template websites on WordPress, which makes creating and implementing quicker and easier.
This skill, which I am mediocre at, has allowed me to develop dozens of websites that have converted millions of dollars in sales for my own companies and others.
I set out to learn exactly what I needed to build a decent looking website, and I stopped taking in much information on that subject once I learned how to build one. Once I could build a site, it was on to the next thing.
This is the difference that made the difference.
Once it came time to tackle SEO, I did the same thing. I knew next to nothing about SEO basics, and I had no intention of being an SEO guru, but it had to get done, and I didn’t want to pay anyone (yet.)
I read a quick but good 30 page Ebook on SEO to get the basics down, and I zeroed in on 4 important things:
- Making sure your site is set up correctly with the proper attributes
- Using software to track how well my pages are set up
- Writing or commissioning SEO-friendly content
- Building a good link structure
Once I got down the basics, I went to work, and saw results. As an example, Vicky Virtual has spent $0 on SEO, and we were able to rank first page nationally for our main keyword, beating out thousands of sites in our industry, many with large SEO budgets. I now pay people to do the complicated stuff.
There are a tremendous amount of things you can learn to get yourself from 0%-100%, but it takes a month or two to get to 90% proficiency, and years to get to 98–100% proficiency. What is the opportunity cost of that last 10%?
Focusing on building rather than studying has resulted in unintentional knowledge as an added benefit. When you do things, you learn things books don’t teach you.
But again, what’s my end goal?
I’m an entrepreneur, but I’m also a “bootstrapper,” so my goal is leverage without the costs. I don’t just decide what I want and then throw money at the solution. With a low info high output diet, the goal is not ZERO information, but to learn the basics so you can be more efficient. To put it another way, you use the information you have to build the foundation of your home the way you want it, then you hire specialists to finish the job under your direction.
So focus on learning what’s required only, then start building stuff ASAP.