It’s a lovely sunny Friday morning and I’m in Costa at 7am, on a wonky table which is threatening to spill my coffee, listening to Massive Attack (as YouTube recommended it) writing this blog.
Last week, my first blog, I covered my background and the structure of my planned 4 hour work week (just 6 weeks to go now) and said that I will this week go into how I have got to this point. I was pleased to see that people read my first blog (shout out to the person who read it in Brazil!!) and someone asked a question. Well Ben, I’m not at 4 hours yet and the amount I earn from my businesses is a bit personal, however I can say that my businesses have allowed me and my wife (who is my business partner across all businesses) to travel to 26 destinations across the world over the last 2 years since leaving my day job and removing myself from the day to day running to get down to 4 hours per week will not reduce my pay but increase it.
So, how am I here?
Before I quit my day job as an Corporate Finance Manager in London, I was part of a monthly mastermind and listening to a lot of audio books. The combination of these allowed me, from an early stage of setting up our businesses, to focus us on being business owners and not create new jobs for ourselves. This meant I was focussed on processes, people and leverage.
This, unfortunately, didn’t mean I could outsource everything straight away and we struggled through the grind of starting up businesses doing the tasks for every role.
This grind probably went on for longer than it could/should have as we were starting & growing two businesses at once, neither of which I had a passion for (property and eCommerce). Being passionate about your business can definitely make it easier to run and succeed, but it can also keep you stuck in the day to day running of the business as this is what you enjoy. So as property and eCommerce were just businesses to me, they grew slowly at first and I knew that I didn’t want to be doing any of the day to day running of them.
We quickly hired our first VA to assist us. A VA is a Virtual Assistant and ours was (and still are) based in the Philippines. The great thing about our businesses is that a lot can be done online and with people in the Philippines wanting to work from home freelancing there is a lot of skilled labour to choose from.
Since our first VA we have had five more come and go. Our first VA was a great hire and only left us due to a move to New Zealand. Our second was great at web design but we needed more from the role so kept him on only for a specific project. We have had two come and go that were not suitable/skilled enough for the roles and we now have two great VAs in place (one of which recently managed to secure a month long direct booking for one of our Serviced Apartments, managing it from start to finish).
We are now in the process of hiring two more full time VAs to remove me completely from operations and into the position where I can just review results & KPIs each week that will be sent to me in easily, readable reports.
Our other, extremely good find was our property manager. With no prior experience we took a risk with him and were prepared to reward him generously based on profits. We knew we could teach him the business and he had the right skills to be able to run the operations and grow our serviced apartment portfolio. We now have serviced apartments across Essex and huge plans in place. And more importantly, I meet up with our property manager on a Monday morning each week to go through the businesses performance, challenges and growth and this is generally the limit of my work on this business (apart from the odd couple of emails during the week). The challenges within the business are becoming less and less as our property manager gains more experience and by the time it comes round to my 4 hour work week the meeting will be down to one hour focusing solely on growth. I will review results and KPIs on Fridays and send a quick email with anything that I think needs addressing. Job done!
The key tips I can offer based on my experience are:
I hope this gives you some insights into how you could free up time and earn more in your businesses. If you have any questions on specific areas please feel free to comment and I’ll answer them in next weeks blog.
Have a great week and thanks for reading.
p.s. Some audiobook recommendations specific to this blog: 4 Hour Work Week, The E-Myth, Work The System and Life Leverage