A paradox of work, time, and money is that by working too much, you often actually profit less.
In today’s post: how to make more money by working less (whew!), and working on the right things.
The MAGIC of Shoestring Step Five: Now WRITE Everything DOWN
All I have to say to Tim Ferris is, “Four-Hour Workweek? Dude, I call B.S.!!”
Entrepreneurs work harder and longer hours than anyone I know. Even His Tim-ness.
Of course, it IS truly possible on occasion to cut back your workweek to four hours or even less when YOU own your business(es) instead of them owning YOU.
This is the magic of Shoestring Step FIVE: Now WRITE Everything DOWN.
Paradox: Work TOO Hard, Make Less Profits
As you know, on this blog and in my books I’ve made the claim that I’ve started dozens of businesses… and that three of them have reached the level of five figures per month profit.
I’ve further bragged that these three businesses are in no way related to each other:
- one is a sticks-and-bricks physical location,
- one is international info product sales,
- one is a service biz where the workers come to the customers.
Trouble is, I can’t help but feel a little disingenuous since at THIS time (November 17th, 2014) not one of those businesses is generating five figures all by itself.
I mean, between the three I still do VERY well… but while at one point or other each of them was generating at least $10,000 per month in profit individually, and right now none of them are.
So I’ll be bumping them all back up into the five-figure zone. ONE at a time. And I’m inviting YOU to watch over my shoulder as that’s done.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be documenting the Steps I’m taking to work a little LESS… but boost the profits in each of them.
The secret is the same as it’s always been: get out of your own dang way.
Business Systems: Real Ownership, True Freedom
Q: Why is the “Five Steps to Five Figures”, you-can-start-a-business-on-a-shoestring “GURU” complaining about working too hard for too little?
A: Recently, I’ve been running WAY too hard trying to handle every aspect of all three businesses. I’ve been emphasizing Shoestring Steps One through Four but forgetting the most important Step of all… Shoestring Step FIVE: Now WRITE Everything DOWN.
There’s a very real phenom called “decision fatigue”; it seems that each time you make a decision it takes a little out of ya.
And too many decisions is too many decisions.
Business legend Peter Drucker observed that after making a decision or solving any problem, the best business managers do this:
They make a rule, a policy, a written procedure or a checklist.
So that when they are faced with that same situation again, they don’t have to “reinvent the wheel.”
More importantly: with proper documentation about every process in your business… you can now hand that rule, policy, written procedure or checklist over to someone else… so that someone else is empowered. and doing the job instead of you.
Oh… and this is important! They’re also NOT bugging you every five minutes to answer the same questions over and over again.
Good ol’ Michael Gerber of “E-Myth” fame established the same fact:
By systematizing your business, by working on your business instead of always working in it… you are able to free yourself up and, ironically, produce MORE. For yourself, your employees, and your customers.
The Coolest Paradox: Work Less, Earn More
The 1st time one of my businesses broke the $10K profits per month mark was about six months after I read the E-Myth.
You’d think that I busted five figures per month profit with some gargantuan effort, but that wasn’t the case. Believe it or not, I was on my first vacation in six years when it happened.
After spending some six months writing out procedures, making checklists, making systems for each aspect of my martial arts business… I took my family on a drive to see the relatives in Texas. The fam and I were planning on spending Thanksgiving.
And the most qualified full-time employee I had at the time was a nineteen-year-old kid named Jason.
It was very, VERY tough to let go of the apron strings. But after spending six months on refining checklists and procedures I bit my tongue… Held my breath… went on vaca… and came back over $10K richer!
Make Good Business Systems, then Hand Them Off
With good business systems in place, and good people there to implement them, you don’t just free yourself up. You create value for your employees and for your customers as well.
Here’s what happened while I was away: Nineteen-year-old Jason received an info call and followed my telephone script to a “T”.
He invited the caller to come in for an introductory program.
When they came for their first visit, he followed the “white belt 1st and 2nd class” procedure.
After two classes the whole family wanted to join. Jason explained that he was new to the sales process and to be patient with him… then he actually read the sales script I left with him, word for word off the printed page. Then he shut up and let the family decide whether to join.
Afterwards he went down the checklist and outfitted everyone with the properly-sized safety equipment and gave ordered replacement items for the pro shop in our studio.
- I didn’t have to shut down my lead generation programs for two weeks… just left them in place.
- Jason… armed with procedures… handled calls,
- set appointments,
- got Students enrolled,
- taught their classes,
- ordered replacement items to restore inventory,
- deposited checks,
- basically ALL of the day-to-day operations I would normally be doing.
At the time we had two payment options: pay monthly or pay yearly with a 16% discount. The family chose the yearly route and wrote out a check for over four thousand dollars.
That $4K, added to the $9K that I had already built the school to in monthly revenue, tipped the scale to where I had my first five-figure month.
WHILE I was on vacation.
Great things happen when you get the hell out of your own way.
What to Expect While Documenting Your Business Processes
It’s a natural law that what you sow, you will reap in due time.
If you want peas, what do you plant? PEAS, duh.
So if you want to reap time, what should you plant? Right again. You plant time.
Take the time to write down every process that it takes for you to do business. Not just the broad strokes like how to bake the pumpkin bread if you run a bakery… do the step-by-step of how employees should sterilize their hands and the work area… sift the flour… suggest extra items or gift wrapping when the customer checks out.
It’ll take time to do this. But here are five benefits, including two unexpected ones:
- You’ll pinpoint exactly where you and/or your current employees are wasting time with that “reinventing” thing.
- You’ll be surprised at how much less time it takes to make decisions and get things done.
- Your employees… and if you don’t have them, YOU will be blessed with clear direction on what to do moment to moment.
- Everyone will be clear on what their job is, and your product/service will be duplicated… reliably… the way you want.
- You’ll wonder why on Earth you didn’t document before.
- (Bonus unexpected benefit) You’ll start making extra money, almost immediately, while working LESS.
- (Bonus unexpected benefit) You’ll be surprised at your new reserves of energy, excitement, joyful anticipation and wonder about your small business.
Why You Should Follow SS101 in the Next Four Weeks
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, none of my three “bigger” businesses are performing the way they did at their peak.
The answer is not working harder… it’s actually working less.
I’ve allowed myself to micromanage (read: jump in the middle and try to do everything myself) rather than let systems do what they’re supposed to do.
Proper biz systems empower those that help you… to do their freakin JOB… which in turn frees YOU up to do YOURS.
Which is steering the company as a whole toward its ideals, serving both the customers and employees with a better life.
Over the next four weeks, I’ll keep you posted about each thing I’m doing… one step at a time… to restore each of my three businesses to the five-figure-per-month level.
Whether your biggest concern right now in your own business is capturing leads… increasing sales and conversions… retaining and/or upgrading customers… or even producing a better product, I think you’ll get a lot out of it. This is what I’ll be engaged in over the next four weeks and I’m inviting you along for the ride.
Sound off, Steppers! What do you think about using systems to take pressure off of yourself moment-to-moment… and automate most of the processes in your business?
Put it in the comments below.
Til then… Keep Stepping,