Do You Long to Work Less?

A common desire among business owners this year is to have more time at home and less time at work. Yet, when the bills getting paid is dependent upon how hard you work, it can feel like a constant tug of war.  It becomes very easy to tell yourself that the home life you long for just isn’t possible.

(While business tips are not normally what I share on my blog, I hope that you will be able to apply this helpful concept to whatever you are desiring in your life.)

If you doubt that having less time at work and more time at home is possible, here are the three most successful steps I have taken to reduce my hours by 40%, while maintaining my same salary.

1. Choose the life you want at home first. (We tend to do it the other way around.)

If you are like me, you may be thinking, "I need to get my business to be successful first, and then I'll be able to spend more time with my family."  Unfortunately, that isn't the way it works out.  You get locked into the hours it takes to build a prosperous company and end up having no time to live the life you long for at home.

It actually works much better to do it the other way around. While it may seem very counter-intuitive, building the life you want at home first allows you to then create a business that works around that successful home life.

Practical Steps:

  • Start by making a list of the things you do that make your heart come alive.

  • Take a calendar and mark off those activities on the desired dates, with times allotted for each.

  • Count up the remaining hours and that total is how many you have available to work. (When I did this, I was working six 10-hour days each week and, after doing this exercise, I saw that I had only three 8-hour days to offer my business.  CRAZY, right?!)

  • Start doing the things you love and figure out how to maximize your work hours. (You might start off a bit more gradually than I did.  I just went for it!)

2. Take the hours you have to work and maximize them. (We use the amount of hours we give ourselves, no matter how many that is.)

If my new plan was to work only three days a week, I needed to drastically streamline. I decided to focus on what I loved and let the rest go.  As a photographer in small-town America, I photographed many different types of sessions.  I thought the more diverse my business was, the more clients I could serve and the more money I could make.  I found out the hard way that the opposite was true.  

When I put all of my focus on family and high school senior sessions, I now only had two workflow systems, product lines, price lists, marketing campaigns, and sales systems versus the 5-8 I had before when I photographed everything.  It was really easy to maximize those systems and make them much more profitable.  I went from needing three full-time employees to only needing one.

Practical steps:

  • Figure out what you love to do and then put all of your focus on those 1 or 2 specialties.

  • Streamline your systems as much as possible.

  • Focus all marketing, time, and money on these 1-2 areas.

  • Become the expert in your market in these 1-2 specialties.

 

3. Focus on the top 20% of your client base.  (We make most of our money there.)

It is a proven fact that, in most businesses, the top 20% of your clients are generating 80% of your yield, while only requiring 20% of your time.  Those are staggering numbers!  While I didn’t understand this rule at the time I was making this transition, I did know that I loved working with my top clients or VIPs. I knew if I could work with mostly clients like them, I would be very happy.

As I began focusing on my VIPs, I was amazed at how many more clients like them began wanting to do business with me.  Because they invested three times the amount of money that the other 80% of my clients did, it allowed me to cut my workload by two-thirds.  I could now offer my VIPs even more time and attention, which brought even more of them longing to do business with me.

Practical Steps:

  • Figure out who the top 20% of your clients are.

  • Contact them and let them know they are your VIPs and give them a special perk.

  • Give them top priority on your schedule.

  • Take especially good care of them.

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These three steps revolutionized my business and those of other owners who have applied them.

As you think about what you long for in this next year, I hope you will consider that, whether it is more hours to do what you want or something else, your desires are possible.  The only reason they become impossible is because we tell ourselves they are.  

What are you longing for that you feel is impossible?  Please share at least one idea in the comments below.