I recently almost triggered an avalanche when backcountry skiing near Breckenridge. In reflecting back on it, it taught me an important business lesson too.
Apologies if you experience a slight clicking during this episode. I recorded it on AirPods while driving in my car.
Hey, what’s going on everybody? So I am currently heading up towards the mountains to spend a few days at the ski cabin for the weekend that we’re renting for the winter. And as I’ve been driving along, I’ve realized that I learned an important lesson a few weeks ago that I think might be relevant to all of you as well.
There’s a lot of entrepreneurs, and freelancers, and agency owners, and that sort of thing listening to this podcast. So I think this is relevant.
A few weeks ago we were up in the mountains, and we went backcountry skiing. So my wife and I love to ski in the winter. It’s our thing and we do a lot of backcountry skiing, so a lot of touring where basically you put things on the bottom of your skis called skins, and that lets you climb up the mountain wearing your skis.
So we basically have these special bindings that we put the part of our boots into. They’re called pin bindings. And the rear, our heel, is free. So these aren’t telemark skis, they’re backcountry skis. We can flip the heel piece around 90 degrees and tamp down our heels and ski down regularly. But so basically we do this.
Part of the fun is climbing up. We call it earning your turns. You’re climbing and you get to the top, and it’s a beautiful run, right? Untouched powder.
Because it’s not officially a ski run, it’s just a mountain, and you climbed up that snow on it that you’re going to ski down. And so we went out onto this slope that we’ve been out on quite a few times now, and we had our daughter with us. We pulled her up, and I believe my wife pulled her up in her little [inaudible 00:01:50] chariot behind her.
And so Courtney was going to hang out down in the meadow while I went up with the dog and skied this slope. I was going to come back down, hang out with Tatum so Courtney could go and do it herself.
So there’s been a lot of snow this year in Colorado. We’re actually over 300 inches already in Breckenridge, which is the earliest that they’ve hit that mark in 15 years, or something like that. So it’s been a phenomenal snow year. I’ve gotten in great shape from shoveling snow, let me tell you what.
And so we went out to the meadow, skied up there, and then the dog and I kind of take off and we’re skinning up. And I’m like, man, the snow’s a little crusty, right?There’s kind of some layers here as I’m walking up, and taking my ski pole and punching through, just to kind of feel where the layers of snow are. I feel there’s maybe a layer that’s kind of weak, and the top is a little gnarly.
It’s a little crusty, but it feels okay down lower. And so I’m skinning up through the trees and I start getting off and I’m like, man, that face that we usually ski, it’s not super steep. And so basically when you’re skiing up like this, and then you’re going to ski down these slopes, you’re looking up for avalanches, right? And I’m going to say an avalanche is a bad thing. If you get caught in it, you can die. We’ve had avalanche training and you know… so I know what to look for and I know this… the contour of the slope, we’ve seen it a couple times. It’s beautiful, and we… but these are the… You go over this one knoll, and then it’s kind of a divot, for lack of a better word. And then you go up the next one, and you get to the top.
It’s usually a cornice up there. You know, you kind of want to avoid, don’t want to break that off inside the slope. And I was looking at the middle part, and I’m like, man, that’s kind of wind loaded, so I’m not going to go up that. I’m going to go up this other face, which is a little more southwest facing than the one we usually ski, but it’s like south-southwest, so it’s basically South.
And I’m going up there, I’m kind of traversing back and forth across, taking my angles and going. And I’m going up with the dog, he’s coming behind me. I’m like, all right, I’m going up and I’m [inaudible 00:04:01], it’s still a little sketchier the further we go. But it’s feeling okay, and I think I can ski it. And I’m going and I get up [inaudible 00:04:12], I’m going to that tree.
I’m only going three quarters of the way up. I’m not going to try to go all the way to the top, because it’s pretty exposed. It was windy that day. And I get up there to the tree, and I’m looking back, kind of in the shelter of the tree to my right, skiing slope is to my left. And looking back and the dog’s behind me, kind of shoved into the snow, because, like I said, there was a lot of snow and he’s kind of sinking in. And all of a sudden I felt a [floof 00:04:39], and it was a [whoop 00:04:43]. It’s the snow settling, and I drop about six inches. The snow settles down about six inches, which is like, this thing is going to go. This thing is going to slide if I’m not really, really careful.
And so I turn around and I’m just like, holy crap. And I used stronger language than that. But my adrenaline spikes through the roof, get this sinking feeling in my gut. I haven’t even taken my skins off yet. And I turn around and I yell at the dog, “Butter, back up.” And he sees me and I start kind of moving towards him, as controlled as I can, back in my same track that I’d take him before, that I had just skimmed up.
And long story short, we were fine. We backed off. I backed off a couple of turns. I took off my skins and I skied down, and honestly it was horrendous snow. I’m punching through, trying to turn and punching through this crust. And my boots are getting caught by this crust, and… I get back down and Courtney was like, yeah, we’re out of here.
And you know, I think this is an important lesson in business. As you’re going, you’re moving forward and you’re like, yeah, I’m doing this thing. I’m working on this new product, or I’m working on this new offering, or I’m trying to get this new business off the ground that… A lot of times it’s fine, and you’re going and it’s not a risk to anything. But sometimes things just go awry. And I’m not saying this because something has gone awry in my business lately. We’ve been through a lot in the last few years, but nothing’s gone awry in my business lately.
But at some point, you just have to cut your losses. In business, often there is this. And a lot of people feel this and tell me about it as well. And I’ve felt it before. It’s called the sunk cost fallacy. Where you’re like, I’m in this thing. I’m ready. I’ve already put in all this effort, or time, or budget, or I’ve got a person on it.
You know, a lot of skiers honestly get into this when you’re in avalanche training. They are… It’s called your AIARE levels. There’s level one, two and I believe three. So AIARE level one, A-I-A-R-E, is the first one that you take, and they tell you about… It’s a lot about decision making as a group, where people will get in and we’re like, man, we just climbed this ridge, got to this thing, and man, the snow looks horrible. But we’re already here. Right? How bad can it be? And that’s when you really, really get into trouble. And so it’s called the sunk cost fallacy. I’m ready to [inaudible 00:07:31], I’ve already done this budget, or put this budget towards it, these people towards it, all this effort, and we [inaudible 00:07:37] this thing. It tested and it’s ready to go.
But it’s not going to work. It’s essentially going to be quite dangerous to your business, [inaudible 00:07:47] to your life, but to your business. And sometimes you just have to cut your losses and say hey, this isn’t working, and if I put more effort into this thing, the upside just honestly is not there. And I’m going to risk a lot by doing this.
So I had this happen a couple of years ago actually, [inaudible 00:08:11] where we’d get a lot of people coming to us asking basically if we’d be a recruiter. Like, could we help them hire a director of marketing? I’ve had people offer me… They’re like, we will pay you half… We’ll pay you 50% of this person’s first year’s salary, or we’ll give you twenty grand if you help us recruit this person.
And I was always like, you know what, that’s not the business we’re in. And it’s still not the business we’re in. And so eventually I’m like, man, people are asking us for this thing. Let’s just… Let’s build out a job board, right? Full-time jobs board, Credo can become the solution for hiring all these different things. You need an agency, we got you. You need a consultant, we got you. You need a director of marketing, we got you. And eventually I’m like, you know what? I can’t keep from doing this. I’ve got to do it. And so we did it and we built it out and we’d launched it. I pre-seeded it with a bunch of jobs. I was doing all the things that people had told me you got to do. I optimized the pages. I had the [inaudible 00:09:27] out. We started ranking for stuff. We had traffic coming through.
I put it at like $69, or something like that, per job posting. Sixty days live, tens of thousands of people a month coming to the site. And I could not get anyone to pay for it. I think we had one or two jobs total posted on this thing in 12 months time, right? We had these… We had auto-expiring, we can extend it, these various add-ons. And we went out with the stuff that we’re supposed to go out with, and people were like, yeah, I’ll pay for it, right? I did coupons for specific groups and all of this. Friends were like, oh yeah, send me a coupon code, I’m recruiting these three jobs, if you give me a three for one, I’ll do it. And I’m like, you know what? Let’s just try it. Let’s just see. Nada.
I was going through [inaudible 00:10:27] the other day, cleaning up this stuff, and I’m publishing pages, and I got a [inaudible 00:10:33] going. We took this offline a year ago. Stop linking to it, and just declare it as like, you know what, this thing just isn’t going to work. And so business is hard enough as it is. It’s tough to build a company that works, that meets a need that people will pay you money for, and then growing it to the point where it’s going to sustain you, and all of that. You know, I’ve been very fortunate that Credo has done that, and it’s growing and people are finding success. And there’s challenges, and there’s stresses and anxieties along the way, but overall, the core business is strong and growing, and hiring people and the team and all of that.
But you know, this thing, this job board was taking up a bunch of my time. And so eventually, I just said screw it. I probably paid my contract developer 1000 or 1500 bucks to build out a bunch of these things. I took care of bunches of taxonomy and that sort of work myself. And I could have kept pushing on it, and be like, I got to recoup my investment, right? At the end of the day, it was $1,000, right? And for a company doing what we’re doing… We’re not huge. We just passed the seven figure of revenue in our lifetime mark, which feels like a milestone. I’m very proud of that. And it’s a tiny thing. It’s like, okay, we’ve lost $800, $900 on that, plus my time, right? So who knows, really, what the investment was, but I kind of kept trying to make this thing work, and kept pushing on it.
And maybe it would’ve worked. I don’t know. And maybe we could have started getting traction, and three to five jobs a month, but even so, just the investment wasn’t worth it. You know, at the end of the day, it would have taken… Even a hundred jobs a month at $69 just wasn’t going to get us what the value is. A hundred jobs a month at $69 would have been $6,900, right? Plus some support and that sort of stuff. But at the end of the day, we can make $6,900 a lot easier than grinding it out and trying to give this new thing traction. And so I think there’s an important thing to think about. Going back and A, being willing to declare that this thing is not working for my business. I maybe put a bunch of time into it.
I’ve hired some people, we built out processes, we’ve gotten their proposals, and we’re cross selling, and upselling. We’re doing all the things we’re supposed to do. And man, this thing just isn’t working. And being willing to cut that out. It’s not working for clients, they’re turning out. They’re doing it for a month or two and they’re saying you know what, let’s just go back to the core. It’s diluting your offering. And just ask yourself, what am I putting time into, or what have I invested in? But just… We’re looking at a lot of time and a lot of effort to get that back, and it’d be easier to grow the company and provide more value just by doubling down on the things that we’ve already been doing that we’re known for that are already working.
And I know that this is hard. One thing that I do actually to kind of try to identify these areas is every three months, I go back and I try to optimize my time. I look at my calendar. What have I agreed to? What are the things that are going on that just aren’t worth my time anymore? And also what are the things that I’m doing? Where am I spending my time? So I look at my calendar, but I actually go through… And I have an Excel sheet that I follow for Monday through Friday. One week. And I don’t try to wait for a “normal” week, because no week is normal in the life of an entrepreneur. One week you’re focused on marketing. Another week you’re focused on sales. Another week you’re traveling. And you have the day where you’re not doing anything. And you’re putting in a bunch of hours one week, because you’re building up to something else or you’re trying to fix something in your business.
No week is normal. So just pick a week, and literally all you do is take this Google Sheet and do Monday through Friday. I do 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. And every 30 minutes, I go in and I look at what was I working on in this time? Was it phone calls? Was it sales calls? Was it coaching calls? Was it qualifying leads? What is it that’s going on here? Is it blogging? What am I spending my time on? And then I can kind of go back and audit that and say this is revenue producing, this is not revenue producing. This is something that’s under leveraged. This is not working. This is something that…. It’s a $10 an hour task that I should get my assistant to do. That kind of thing. So I would encourage you to go and do this, and this can often help us realize where we’re spending a lot of time.
Well, I was spending five to ten hours a week on this jobs board that was doing no revenue, and that’s five to ten hours a week. That’s a lot of time. That’s almost… I mean, it’s a day a week. Over a day a week, right? That’s basically a week a month that I was spending on something that wasn’t returning revenue for us.
And so I went and said, you know what? Let’s cut this thing out. So I want you to think about that as well. In your job, what do you and your company… What are you working on that you need to backtrack from to bring it back full circle to the avalanche story, or the potential avalanche story. It wasn’t actually an avalanche. I didn’t actually slide. I was fine. But bringing it back to that, what are the things that you’ve gone in and you could be a little bit [inaudible 00:16:07] committed and you actually need to back off.
And you need to get back down and say, you know what? That thing’s not going to do what we wanted it to, and it’s actually risky, and I can’t keep spending time on that because I have the core of my business to really take care of. So I hope that’s helpful to you as you’re building your business, whether you’re running a service business, a SAS business, whatever. Whether you’re in the weeds operating for clients, or you’re an executive, you’re a founder. And there’s maybe a combination there. But asking yourself, where do I need to optimize, and where do I actually need to back off and not be doing this thing because it’s not actually going to work, and it’s not actually going to be good for us. So that’s it for today. I hope you’ve appreciated these thoughts from the car, and… Yeah. I’ll be back with you soon here on the CredoCast. Thanks for tuning in, and I appreciate you, and I’ll speak to you soon.