Dave Ruel is a former competitive physique athlete turned into a serial entrepreneur, speaker, leadership mentor, and author of the best-selling book, Done by Noon: How to Achieve More by Noon Than Other Entrepreneurs in a Full Day.
In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss Dave’s entrepreneurial journey and a few lessons he learned about freedom in the process.
Dave’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Dave’s journey started with his passion for fitness. In 2007, he competed in a bodybuilder show in Newfoundland, Canada, and he met Lee Hayward, a competitive bodybuilder, and owner of Total Fitness Bodybuilding. Hayward told Dave he was making six figures a year from his fitness blog, inspiring a drive and desire for Dave to do the same.
Dave traded his passion for fitness for an obsession with business. He learned as much as he could about starting a digital business until he could go full-time with his own blog and business, Muscle Cook, in 2009. His business aimed to help fitness lovers with meal plans and nutrition.
“Becoming an entrepreneur is like becoming an athlete,” Dave said. “You can start with natural tendencies or natural talent but eventually you need to acquire the skills to become a champion.”
Dave launched cookbooks, and from there he started getting attention. Dave explained that his biggest home run was creating that first product, the cookbook since it was the first thing that helped propel his career forward. Since then, he has helped found and grow multimillion-dollar online companies in the field of health, fitness, and sports nutrition for nearly a decade.
However, Dave saw the dark side of entrepreneurship, and the side gradually robbed him of his freedom, leaving him burned out and unfulfilled. Refusing to conform to a broken business culture that promotes workaholism and non-stop hustle, Dave created sustainable structures and systems for his life and business to reclaim his freedom without sacrificing the growth of his companies.
Fueled by his passion for entrepreneurship and human performance, he launched Ethic, an innovative leadership development company that helps busy entrepreneurs maximize their impact and freedom.
5 Truths About Entrepreneurship
As entrepreneurs, it can be easy to get buried in our workloads and overwhelmed with to-do lists; we get lost and burnt out. In the process of trying to find our freedoms with entrepreneurship, we end up losing them, just as Dave did in his fitness businesses. In his book, Done by Noon, Dave shared five truths about life and business as entrepreneurs we should be aware of to help us avoid burnout.
1. All Entrepreneurs Want Freedom
Dave explained that entrepreneurs want one thing: freedom. We want the freedom of time, the freedom of creation, and financial freedom. That’s why we do what we do.
The freedom of time allows us to do what we want to do when we want to do it. With the freedom of time, we can choose to spend more time with our family or choose to go on frequent trips. We want the freedom of creativity to work on whatever we want. Instead of working for someone else, we can choose to design new products or create new services to help others. And we want financial freedom. We want a business that can provide enough income for us to live the lifestyle we want.
However, in order to achieve these freedoms, we need to work hard. In Dave’s book, he explained that we need to learn to juggle our skills and use our time and energy as fuel for our businesses.
2. Entrepreneurs Love to Work
Entrepreneurs love to work. In his book, Dave explained that when he asked entrepreneurs what they would do if their business made them enough money to never work again, true entrepreneurs said they would still continue to work. That is because our work and our businesses give us creative freedom. If we aren’t working, we miss an important link. We may have the freedom of time and money, but we won’t be able to be as creative as we’d like.
In his book, Dave wrote, “In the early stages of your entrepreneurial journey, the truth is that you’ll be focused on earning enough money to support your lifestyle. Then, once you’ve achieved financial freedom, you can start enjoying the freedom of time and freedom of creation.”
Deep down inside, we are creators. The desire to create and have momentum and growth fuels our desire to work.
“You could be a great business owner . . . who has amazing, fantastic business management skills, . . . [but] this doesn’t make you an entrepreneur necessarily,” Dave said. “An entrepreneur is like a practical artist.”
3. Drift Happens
Even though we want freedom, we will eventually start drifting away from that freedom because business happens. At one point or another, we will find that we wander off the path of our main goal.
“The truth is along the way drift will happen,” Dave said. “Why? Because of business habits. You will do things that you never thought you would do. You will do things that will prevent you from working. . . . It happens to every single entrepreneur.”
When we start a business, our main goal is often very clear to us. We know our expertise. But, as things get busier and busier, we may find ourselves doing other tasks that lead away from our main goal. We begin to drift. This will often lead to wasted time and energy as we slowly move away from focusing on our area of expertise.
To avoid drifting, we should constantly check in on our daily tasks and make sure we are focusing on our superpowers, strengths, and what we are best at to maximize success.
4. Work and Life Balance Doesn’t Work
“Work/life balance doesn’t work,” Dave said. “And the reason being is that when you look at it from a perspective that work and life are two different things, they compete against each other.”
Instead of trying to balance two separate lives, our work life, and our personal life, we can strive to merge them together. Dave’s entrepreneurial journey started by forming a business around his lifestyle. He had a passion for fitness and began to share fitness and health information with others. His life’s passion became his business.
5. Our Priorities Will Change
Over time, our priorities may change. As entrepreneurs, we could start off with one goal but slowly shift to something else as things change. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s okay for us to make new goals and start new projects.
We talk a lot about business tectonic shifts on this show, and if we aren’t willing to change or switch our priorities when we see business tectonic shifts, our business may suffer.
3 “S’s” of Leverage
In addition to the five truths of entrepreneurs in business, Dave shared the three “S’s” of leverage. These three things will help us beat out our competition.
We need to understand our strengths. What are our superpowers? What are we the best at? We should focus our time, energy, and resources on working in areas we are the expert in.
“Using your strengths is the best way for you to manage your resources properly,” Dave said. “Every single time you’re going to do something that you’re not that great at, it’s going to take quite a bit of effort, quite a bit of energy, and more time.”
By focusing on using our strengths to grow our businesses, we become more efficient. It may not be easy to understand what those strengths are at first, but we can start to review our work and performance to determine what areas we are the best in.
When I asked Dave to share a secret for entrepreneurs to achieve sustainable performance and productivity, he said it is to manage our resources effectively, and one of the best ways we can do this is to understand our strengths. Efficiency is the ability to produce something with the least amount of resources.
As we manage our time, resources, and attention based on our strengths, we will find more success.
“If you don’t have structure, you will not get the results that you want. Leverage a good structure that is sustainable, that is solid and that obeys efficiency,” Dave said.
In order to be successful in our business and maintain efficiency, we need to establish a strong structure that will help us run the overall goals of our business. To start building a strong structure, we need to set clear goals and objectives.
“What’s the desired outcome? What do you really want to accomplish? Be very, very clear on that,” Dave said. “And based on that, look at your input and say, ‘How can I manage my three finite resources: my time, my energy, and my attention? Those are resources that I have as an entrepreneur. How can I manage that to make sure that the machine has a long life?’”
The third “S” we need to focus on is our systems. How can we efficiently use systems to work within the structures we have in place? “Understand that you will need to implement different systems in your life and your business in order . . . to optimize what you’re doing,” Dave said.
The systems in our business help the day-to-day tasks run smoothly. We should have clear communication within and between systems so that everyone can stay on the same page and do their job effectively.
“It’s [about] understanding . . . what my strengths are, understanding what’s the best structure for me and my business, understanding what the best systems are for me and my business, and using that as leverage to really create what you want,” Dave said.
Thank you so much Dave for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
1. Entrepreneurs want the freedom of time, the freedom of creation, and financial freedom, and entrepreneurship can often help us achieve those freedoms.
2. Entrepreneurs love to work their craft because it gives us creative freedom. The desire to create and have momentum and growth fuels our desire to work.
3. Instead of trying to balance two separate lives, our work life, and our personal life, we can strive to merge them together in a healthy way.
4. Over time, our priorities will probably change. That’s normal. When that happens, we can set new goals.
5. We should develop and leverage our strengths, structures, and systems to create and manage a successful business.
Connect with Dave
If you want to learn more about or connect with Dave you can:
-Connect with him on LinkedIn
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