If you tend to move from one thing to another without finishing, just know you can beat the Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. You just need some healthy structure!
Leverage Your Lifestyle
Release yourself from the day-to-day of your business with a second-in-command you trust so you can scale to a million for more, while creating a lifestyle business and living an ideal life of freedom.
YOU PROBABLY didn’t start your business (and then decide to grow it to Seven Figures) to work more hours and have less time off than you would by working for someone else! At the same time, it’s totally understandable..
YOU PROBABLY didn’t start your business (and then decide to grow it to Seven Figures) to work more hours and have less time off than you would by working for someone else! At the same time, it’s totally understandable that you may not have started your business with the specific intention of creating a Lifestyle Business, one that promotes the lifestyle you want to live. For you, that could mean more time with your family or friends and for others, moving across the globe, lots more travel, or living adventurously.
The good news is, how you choose to upgrade your lifestyle through your business is your choice and, whatever that choice is, it’s absolutely possible.
As we’ve been talking about from the beginning of this Leverage Your Business “conversation,” I will ask you this again:
Does your business work for YOU or have you become trapped into working FOR your business?
If you aren’t quite certain how to answer this, ask yourself this, again and again:
“If I were to disappear from my business for a full twenty-four hours, a week, or even a whole month, with very few (if any) check-ins and without any daily involvement, would my business continue to thrive without me? Would my team be holding on for dear life, not wanting to make a single move or any decision until I returned? Or would doing so possibly bring everything to a standstill, or, worse, create a dramatic setback?”
And then, “How do I feel about my answer, specifically?”
Just be honest with yourself. (There’s no right or wrong answer. It just is.)
At the same time, let us future pace to a few years from now.
If you continue to be honest with yourself, and without judgment, would you be super happy working the way you do in your current situation (number of hours, level of involvement with clients and customers, geographic location, days of the week, involvement level of managing your team) if ten years from now, you were experiencing the exact same lifestyle?
Again, no judgment. This is just an opportunity to think this through and a bit of a reality check.
If you’re not yet enthusiastic about the quality of life that your business currently affords you, do not worry. It doesn’t have to be this way, and there are many options to increase that quality of life rapidly. This is about using your business to Leverage Your Lifestyle by taking the steps necessary to create a Lifestyle Business, should you want to do so.
Admittedly, the ideas in this Activator can be confronting to some, and may seem unreasonable and even illogical to you, depending on your current mindset. Or, perhaps this is right up your alley and you can’t wait to dive in. Either way, there is value here in the idea of creating a Lifestyle Business, whether you would ever consider moving across the globe, or simply spending more time off from your business in the same place you have lived for the last forty years with no intention of ever leaving. The mindset shifts required for either are below.
“One cannot be free from the stresses of a speed- and size- obsessed culture until you are free from the materialistic addictions, time-famine mindset, and comparative impulses that created it in the first place.” —Tim Ferriss...
“One cannot be free from the stresses of a speed- and size- obsessed culture until you are free from the materialistic addictions, time-famine mindset, and comparative impulses that created it in the first place.” —Tim Ferriss
Spoiler alert: Reaching Seven Figures in your business is anticlimactic. In 2008, I made a decision that I was going to take my business from more than $350,000 in gross revenues and cross the million-dollar threshold within twelve months. I mapped out my plan of how I would do it and then flew in my two virtual assistants to spend two days with me.
We gathered in a bleak hotel conference room near my house and I shared this plan with them. During those two days, we all committed to my big vision, we strategized how we would get there, we put timelines in place, and got to work on the marketing campaigns needed to get the business to Seven Figures. And by October of 2008, just nine months into the year, we had already done it!
We had crossed the million-dollar mark in revenues. The thing is, I barely noticed it.
I had been so focused on actually getting to the finish line that I barely realized we had crossed it. When it dawned on me that we had, I called my husband (who was still working a corporate job) and said, “You know, I think I might have crossed the million-dollar mark yesterday. Does this mean we should open some champagne tonight?”
And we did, being grateful for this milestone.
But there were no gleeful shrieks of joy, giddy tears running down my face, or any sort of jumping-up-and-down motions. No, it felt like another day in the life of my business, mixed in with a bit of disbelief.
And here’s the interesting part. In guiding countless business owners past this previously elusive seven-figure milestone, I noticed the same thing. They were grateful, of course, but it wasn’t as if their whole life had changed either.
It was just another (good) day in their business. Kind of like when you ask a twelve-year old on their birthday how it feels being twelve. They usually say, “It feels the same.”
Whenever I share this with aspiring business owners, they don’t always believe me at first. But when I elaborate and share with them that crossing the actual threshold that most people think brings you gratitude and joy, is not the thing that you’re actually grateful for.
No, it’s not about the money when you cross that million-dollar mark. That’s not the part you actually celebrate.
Yes, there is something tremendous about looking back on all the lives you’ve changed as a result of reaching that big milestone. And yet, it’s not about the money as much as the fact that the money is just a consequence of changing so many lives for the better. But even that isn’t all of it.
What struck me the most was this:
It’s about who you had to become as a person in the process of reaching that milestone.
What struck me at that (rather anticlimactic) moment and for countless members who’ve crossed the million-dollar threshold within our program is how much we had to grow personally to become a sev- en-figure business owner, rather than it being about the money itself.
All the courage that was required, the belief, the faith, the mental strength, the willingness to go through the thick and thin, to persevere, to dig deep, to stay committed. That’s what changes you most about reaching new levels (same with the six-figure level, actually.) I presume that this is the case for athletes as well.
This shift in the person you are now, as a result of achieving your audacious goal, is something that no one can ever take away from you. It emboldens you like very few other things can. That is the real gift, not the money. (Although it is true that buying yourself some nice things is fun too.)
Because of this new milestone, you begin to believe in yourself and your abilities like never before. And that, my friend, is priceless. It makes you feel like you can do anything going forward.
Time (and how richly you use it) is your most valuable asset, not money. In the end, yes, the money is great! You (hopefully) have more consistent cash flow, you have the ability to hire more people to do things you don’t love to do or don’t have the bandwidth to do, you give more to charity (or build more schools in Africa, as we have). And yes, you may even get yourself a bigger house and a nicer car, as one typically does in circumstances like these.
What I’ve learned over the years is that these things are good at first, and they are exciting, but they are not the real gift of getting your business to that next really big level.
Gaining more time and more choice in how you use that time is the next big gift.
When you’ve worked hard to leverage your team, your systems, your time, your marketing, your business model, etc. you realize that you’ve put a lot of effort (and mostly time) into your business, time that you cannot get back.
And there gets to be a point in a business when you’ve grown it to multiple Six Figures (or Seven Figures), where you really start to think that more money won’t bring you as much happiness as would more time to truly enjoy your life. This is where your lifestyle comes in.
Getting your business to the seven-figure mark isn’t really about the money in the end, no. It’s about giving you options, the ability to choose how you want to spend your time and energy, who you want to be with.
It is about having a choice. That is the real reward. And this is where the creation of a Lifestyle Business comes into play.
"Embrace the idea of having less mass. Right now you’re the smallest, the leanest, and the fastest you’ll ever be. From here on out, you’ll start accumulating mass. And the more massive an object, the more energy is required to change its direction...
"Embrace the idea of having less mass. Right now you’re the smallest, the leanest, and the fastest you’ll ever be. From here on out, you’ll start accumulating mass. And the more massive an object, the more energy is required to change its direction. It’s as true in the business world as it is in the physical world. Mass is increased by: long term contracts; excess staff; permanent decisions; meetings; thick process; inventory (physical or mental); hardware, software, and technology lock-ins; long-term road maps; and office politics. Avoid these things whenever you can. That way, you’ll be able to change direction easily. The more expensive it is to make a change, the less likely you are to make it. Huge organizations can take years to pivot. They talk instead of act. They meet instead of do. But if you keep your mass low, you can quickly change anything: your entire business model, product feature set, and/or marketing message. You can make mistakes and fix them quickly. You can change your priorities, product mix, or focus. And most important, you can change your mind." —From the book Rework, by Jason Fried and David Hansson
Growth sucks cash. At every significant level of growth in the trajectory of any business, one has to invest more than previously expected. For me, it usually had to do with hiring more team members, and as a result, a larger office space. At other times, it meant investing in doing more marketing or online advertising, technology upgrades, equipment, etc. Sometimes, it even had to do with getting some additional topic-specific coaching, mentorship or consulting to address a particular issue or get better in a particular area. The idea though, is that rarely if ever have I moved up significantly in the business without some additional (often significant) level of investment.
I remember a defining business conversation with my husband in 2009, less than a year after reaching that first Seven Figures and after which he quit his corporate job to come on board to help me run the business as CEO. We had set our sights on eventually doubling the business to two million, but we also knew it would require a lot more fully-committed help than the (albeit great) part-time team of virtual assistants we had in place.
At the time, we felt that we needed people who were full-time employees, 100 percent focused on our business and only our business, individuals who would turn things around quickly for us, rather than virtual, part-time team members who sometimes were forced to reluctantly say to us, “I’ll be happy to do that in a couple of weeks, after I finish two other big client projects.”
We talked at length around the much greater expense and commitment required to take on full-time employees and, after weighing the pros and cons (stay where we are vs. hustle-to-make-it-happen-even- though-it’s-expensive because there doesn’t seem to be a choice) we committed to doing whatever it would take to replace our entire virtual, part-time team with a handful of full-time employees. Real people, who would require real desks, in a real office, and who had real families.
We quickly hired four employees and rented a six-bedroom house a one-minute walk from ours to house all of these new team members (the situation involving putting multiple desks in our living room at home was no longer going to work).
Could we really afford it all at first? Barely. It was definitely a stretch, but we understood that if we hustled to bring in a lot more new clients (which meant more marketing, sweat equity and longer hours than we were used to) while hurrying to bring the brand-new team members up to speed so they could quickly fulfill a role that would have them pay for themselves and more within about three months, that initial investment we would be worth it.
And we did it. But that growth really sucked cash, as did
hiring more full-time team members after that and moving into increasingly bigger offices, ones that carried a contract for a five-year lease (!)
All of these fixed monthly expenses and salaries (upward of one hundred thousand dollars a month) meant we went into an overdrive of workload just to keep up the pace, to fulfill the agreements, a pace we had never expected. Yes, the business continued to grow, but the expenses never lessened, and this lasted for years. It quickly began to feel that we were trapped and that our business owned us, rather than us owning it.
Was taking on all these “traditional business growth” expenses the right way to do it? Maybe. I’m still not sure.
If I had the chance to do it all over again with what I know now, would I find a way to achieve the same sort of steady growth without the hefty fixed salaries and business trappings with five-year contracts? Absolutely. I know now that I would find a way to do it without all the proverbial handcuffs and all for much less.
Why? Because it affected my freedom.
You see, as the business and personal expenses grew, my freedom lessened. I went from having lots of choice as to how I used my time to feeling like I needed to continually “feed the machine,” working more than I had in the beginning, just so I could pay the expenses.
And I’ve since seen that this (often predictably) happens to a lot of people who reach Seven Figures for the first time, where they fall into the trap of needing to feed the machine, rather than being focused on the quality of their life.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
My loving advice as you apply the Leveraged Business Activators that will take your business to Seven Figures and beyond is to keep things simple as you experience growth and begin investing in what will take your business to the next big level you seek.
Be very prepared for the fact that growth sucks cash. It’s a fact, and a rite of passage. Invest in your business, but choose flexibility whenever possible, rather than getting into permanent situations that end up running you and making you work harder to keep the train moving. Invest in growth, but just do so strategically, without sacrificing your lifestyle.
Ask yourself if there are alternatives to the traditional “successful business” trappings.
- It’s not because other people have a large office that you need one. Do you really need an office, or could you build a team that is hybrid, sometimes working from home, and sometimes meeting you at a co-working location?
- Do you really need all those full time team members, who require desks and computers and all the traditional things that come with employees? Or could you hire more freelancers and independent contractors, who work from home and “own their own stuff ”? What about having full time employees but no physical location, meaning, your staff works remotely?
- Do you really have to drive to your client meetings (and have a car to do so) or could you do things more virtually, including the delivery of your work, using video conferencing?
Remember, you have it within you to be bold enough to go against the grain and do only what fuels your ideal lifestyle. You deserve it.
Is it necessary, nice, or neither? We’ve established that it’s very easy to go overboard with the team, the expensive office, the splashy $50K rebrand, the employee bonuses, and anything else you start paying for that didn’t used to be part of the regular expenses within the business. It becomes an even more slippery slope if you’ve also added considerable new “bling” to the personal side of your life, such as the new much bigger house, the new car(s), the beautiful new things you feel you can now afford.
Here’s the thing, though. I’ve discovered that all businesses seem to go through “cycles” like that of nature, as one spiritual teacher once told me. And it’s not unusual to buy exciting “toys” or make large business investments in quick succession when you’re experiencing the “summer cycle.” What eventually seems to happen though, is that many businesses, at one point or another, also experience a “winter cycle.”
Nothing is always “rosy” 100 percent of the time. That’s life. And as with anything in life, there will be ups, and there will also be dips. The fact is, things sometimes change in the marketplace; sales dip, your marketing isn’t always going to work as well as it used to, your online advertising isn’t always going to generate the leads as zealously as it once had; team members sometimes leave with their expertise and you have to start all over again; as well as a host of other reasonable events you hadn’t expected.
How would you prepare for this if you were to experience a winter cycle in your business?
Make strategic decisions as you grow, so that you can stay nimble and not have the proverbial tail wag the dog, meaning, the business runs you, as opposed to you running it. Keep your eye on having a lifestyle business as you continue to grow, taking a hard and honest look at every aspect of your business and rethinking it.
Take some time to think about all of your business expenses (even personal ones, for that matter). Go through your credit card statements. Question everything. Is it necessary, is it nice, or is it neither? If it’s necessary, keep it. If it’s “nice,” make a strategic decision. If it’s “neither,” then it’s running you and you likely don’t need it.
In our own business, we now have a “hybrid” model of team: some full time employees in key areas (marketing, finance, operations), supplemented by many virtual, part-time team members, freelancers and independent contractors, but no physical office space to gather in person as we all currently work remotely, from home.
Why no office? We realized that we were acting in “old-school” ways of doing business. We questioned the practice of working in the same physical space or geographic area as the one in which your business is located. Did it really have to be so in this day and age? Could we not forgo this and live across the world from our team?
Well, we didn’t know at first. We decided to test the viability of “going virtual” for just one month and announced it to the team. We shared with them a long list of the benefits for them (with no more lengthy commutes, they would have more time with their families and friends, for pursuing hobbies, working out and for self care, etc.) It was so successful that it was actually the team’s request that we go virtual as a company going forward.
We have since fully released the idea that a physical office space is required for successfully running our business. And even if we had an office for our employees, we’ve released the idea that we (my husband and I) would need to be there physically on a daily basis. Using today’s technology and co-working spaces, you can (and we do) all work remotely and very successfully.
How does it work? Well, for example, while our program has members around the globe, it is headquartered in the United States. At the same time, my husband and I work and enjoy living in Paris, France with our three children. The way we’ve made this work is by heavily rely- ing on affordable technology (which I discuss below) and virtual conferencing, which has drastically reduced the need for having an actual office or doing in-person meetings. We’ve since become very adept at hosting truly engaging three-day live meetings online, using a proprietary methodology for making meetings a highly focused and engaging experience that attendees world wide love.
Doing so has allowed us to attract more English-speaking members from around the globe, whereby it wouldn’t have been either possible or convenient before. This is true leverage.
Obviously, your business will be different, but this is an example of how it can be done, so that you increase your quality of life in an afford- able way. In the end, the office was nice, but absolutely not necessary.
Perhaps there are things in the current iteration of your business that fall in the same category of “not necessary.” Would this be a good time to no longer have this be part of your business?
A caveat: the one thing I will always invest in significantly, and without question, is coaching and mentorship. These are priceless to business owners and quite the opposite of a “luxury,” falling more into the strategic “necessity.”
I have never been without a highly successful business coach (or part of a high-level business mastermind, or both simultaneously) to guide me in growing my own business strategically, and I never will be without one. I have spent as little as $5,000, $25,000 and even as much as $100,000 a year on working with a business coach, and these are some of the best investments I have ever made in myself and my business, as the return-on-investment was often tenfold.
Investing in the right coaching pays for itself in spades and I enthusiastically recommend you get coached or join a full support business growth program.
H2: Yes, you can (successfully) create a virtual business.
"I’ve embraced innovation and current technology to create a de-centralized collaborative structure. I have put to rest more traditional work norms such as working hours, geography, head- quarters, etc." —Tim Ferriss
You can run your business totally remotely with the right technology tools and automation. Years ago, I had a wonderful employee, an operations manager who by choice commuted three hours a day (sometimes more, depending on traffic ) to our offices in Connecticut each morning to help us run our company. I thought it was a crazy idea at first, but she insisted that she didn’t mind the drive and that she was willing to do it. We worked this way for five years and, with few hiccups, it went really well.
After a few years though, we agreed that it would make a lot of sense for her to work from home at least a few days here and there, to cut down on her time-consuming travel and relieve a persistent foot injury her doctor believed was due to the driving. Personally, I would never have been able to drive as many hours a day as she did. That said, I admired her for her willingness, dedication and perseverance in doing so.
We managed to set up some systems for her to work remotely when she could to oversee not only the operations of the business, but also the team. That way, she could manage everything virtually even while we were all physically in the office for a couple of days a week, while the other days, she would travel to be with us in person.
It seemed to work well at first, but a few months later, she began to have significantly more pain in her foot and her doctor advised her to stop the long commutes. I was absolutely fine with it, urging her to set up shop in a spare bedroom for good. I knew in my heart that, with today’s technology, we could make it work, and I so admired her work and loved her as a friend that I was willing to do whatever it took to make her happy.
Then, one day, she gave her notice. She came into my office and told me she was unable to work remotely and had taken another job close to her home. She believed at her core that she was unable to manage the team when she couldn’t be side-by-side with them. I tried to reason with her, showing her that she could indeed be a great virtual manager and run the operations remotely, that it could be done.
But I don’t believe that she was ready to wrap her mind around that. And so, after five years together, we sadly lost one of our most dedicated employees at that time. I wonder what would have been different if we could have imagined this company running smoothly (relatively!) with no one being in one single central location and all of us relying on technology and automation to work rather seamlessly together.
Today, there are many technology tools that can be used for the most important categories of your business. Here are some categories for which we use online tools or software:
- payroll and HR software
- bill payment and accounts payables
- bookkeeping and financial record keeping/reporting
- financial payments and receivables
- time tracking and invoicing for independent contractors
- data metrics and reporting
- web-based communication service for real-time website visitors
- web-based phone and SMS
- virtual customer service/phone answering system with receptionists
- email-based ticketing system for support cases and troubleshooting
- web-based calendar scheduling system
- web-based calendar, email, file sharing and word processor/ spreadsheet
- web-based surveys and online forms
- project management tool and task tracking
- team chat communication
- video conferencing and screen sharing for individuals and groups
- web-based team reporting and one-on-one feedback communication
- note tracking and journaling
- web-based conference calling
- web-based screen sharing and recording
- recording presentations
- recording videos and audios on your computer
- text messages via CRM automation software
- CRM, eCommerce, email marketing
- membership site with CRM automation software
- web platform for websites
- video hosting
- live video broadcasting
- live evergreen webinar broadcasting
- email delivery service (various IP addresses to ensure deliver- ability/not spam)
- Facebook Ads management and reporting
- connection application to link various tools, systems and applications
- web traffic data, reporting and metrics
- online chat tool for webinar/video broadcasts
- text messaging software
- web-based site review tool with editing
- video editing/production
- audio editing/production
- photo editing/production (and free online photo editing)
- captions for videos (Facebook, YouTube)
We’ve tried many versions for each category, and for now, we’ve settled on our favorites. Admittedly, you will likely never need all of these and technology changes very quickly, so perhaps by the time you read this, we may have already added new ones and stopped using old ones. These are listed as examples of resources to show you what’s out there in terms of resources for running your multiple seven-figure or eight-figure business remotely, from wherever you like, whether it’s a treehouse in your backyard, or across the globe, with the focus being a lifestyle you love.
“As it was 3,000 years ago, it is today—some people naturally come up with the big ideas while others can be relied on to make those ideas happen.” —Gino Wickman...
“As it was 3,000 years ago, it is today—some people naturally come up with the big ideas while others can be relied on to make those ideas happen.” —Gino Wickman
Don’t trust yourself to run your business, because someone can (likely) do it much better than you can. There is a mistaken belief, a deep seated one, that the one who starts an entrepreneurial venture is the one who must run the day-to-day operations of it. A pride thing? A control-enthusiast belief? Yes, probably both of these. Again and again though, when you study those who lean toward entrepreneurship, this doesn’t seem to make logical sense.
After years of working with thousands of small-business owners, spanning “from scratch” sole practitioners to million-plus-revenue entrepreneurs, it is clear that (in the vast majority of cases) the person who creates a business is simply not wired to successfully run it once it has reached a certain point. The Leverage Point, that is. The risk-taker archetype is not the one who will enjoy running the processes of a systems-run business. Far from it.
That will require someone who is intuitively consistent, who can’t help but be excruciatingly reliable (not that the owner isn’t, but just in a different predictable way) and focus on crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s, all the time. Someone who loves procedures, procedures, predictability, accountability, checklists and things running on time and on schedule. And the likelihood is, that’s not you.
Most businesses rely continuously on the business owner for its day-to-day operations. In many cases, clients and customers are used to working with the owner, the vendors have long-term relationships with the owner and the team members don’t want to make a move on anything without the owner’s approval. That means that the owner (you, in this case) needs to be involved in every single miniscule aspect of
the business, and it’s what drives many of them to want to run away, or experience burnout, whichever comes first.
But as we’ve been discussing since the beginning of this Leverage conversation, there gets to be a point in the journey of your business where you must surrender to the fact that, “What got you here, won’t get you there.” To scale your business further, or actually enjoy your life at the seven-figure-plus level, you must eventually remove yourself from the day-to-day operations of your business, even if it seems impossible or unfathomable now.
For you to leverage and scale your business, while gaining your life back, it is now time to shift your mindset to allow someone else to step in and do the work you don’t enjoy doing: the minutiae, the management, and making sure everything gets done well (and without you).
Yes, these people exist and all they want is to make order out of your business and keep it running smoothly for you.
You deserve a strong string to your helium balloon. Part of having a business that allows you personal freedom as well as the freedom to do only your “uniquely brilliant work” is to create a self-sustaining business, one that runs without you being involved in the day-to-day. And that means that you must now totally replace yourself in the day-to-day operations of your business.
All this time, you’ve been shouldering all the pressure of your business (mostly) on your own, not only the big ideas, but the grueling, daily details. At this point, you don’t have much choice if you want to grow farther. It’s now time for you to realize that you deserve hiring someone amazing who will completely take over the daily operations of your business. We’re talking about someone who will be your rock and keep you stable, but also who will respect you for your brilliance and give you enough freedom to do your “visionary thing.”
I’ve long thought about the analogy of the helium balloon that, without a string, flies aimlessly and either goes up into the ether, gets stuck in a tree for good or eventually gets deflated and drops to earth. In a way, that helium balloon is likely you.
But think about this . . . What would happen if you had a reliable, strong string that allowed you to do your work in this world, in only the way you could do it, but that kept you stable, that guided you, without over-controlling you? That is what a reliable second-in-command can do for your business.
To leverage even further, you will benefit from having this second-in-command (what you might call a general manager if you’ve got a larger small business or an operations manager or director if you’ve just a handful of employees). Having this type of person to run the operations of your business for you will be the key to leveraging your lifestyle.
Having this person (someone who is likely wired completely differently than you) to run your business in a reliable way will allow you to trust that things will work smoothly when you’re not there and removes you from the day-to-day operations to focus on more important things, whether it’s growing your business or enjoying well-deserved (extended) time off.
How do you find a second-in-command? Look for people who like specificity, who like to focus on priorities, reach stated objectives, appreciate strategy and embrace accountability. The best people for this type of high-level support love to have things documented, with instructions for everything. They are detail oriented and work well when they know what the priorities are.
They appreciate having systems and procedures established and followed, to create (mostly) undeviating processes, and therefore, results. They follow plans, design timelines and have others follow them. They also like closure, meaning, they get great satisfaction from seeing big, important projects being on time. They believe in stabilizing, rather than improvising, and that’s exactly what you need if you want to 1) scale and leverage your business (predictably) to its next level, and 2) not be the one to do it (so you can enjoy your life again).
In my case, my husband is my second-in-command/CEO (he’s perfectly wired for it), but it can be someone whom you hire.
The key is, they must really fit the bill. This is not the time to put anyone with a warm body or a pulse into this role. They will be dealing with the operations, managing finances, leading the team, holding people and projects accountable, possibly even hiring and firing members of your team for you.
After all the work, blood, sweat and tears, you deserve the best possible person for this role. And so does your business. (And yes, this person will pay for themselves in just a few months because they will allow you to really step into your own brilliance with the newfound time on your hands.)
How will you work together? You, the owner, will specifically focus on creating the big vision, the master plans for the future of the company, the culture and the business development, while this second-in-command will make it all happen with your team, however big or small it currently is. The key is to embrace your opposite roles, and let each other do the thing you do best, while working together hand-in- hand and focusing on leveraging the accountability piece of the business.
Embrace the Scheduled Disappearing Act. The best way to see how well your business can run without you (and start moving away from the day-to-day) is to take a totally unplugged vacation. It will be planned of course, months ahead of time, and you will inform your clients and customers many weeks or months ahead, your team will be briefed extensively as to how to deal with each function of the business without you, to keep it going and making money. This is an opportunity for you to trust your team and your systems.
The more you can rely on your team to follow your new systems and do things according to your operations manual (like a franchise does) the more it will perform the company’s daily functions without having you being there to triple check everything, and the closer you’ll be to really enjoying some regular uninterrupted downtime, or at least, focusing on things other than the minutiae.
Prepare checklists, resources, plan for worst case scenarios, instruct, teach, coach, and do your best to leave everyone informed and every- thing set up to run without you. And then, leave your laptop at the office, take the email app off your phone, instruct everyone at the office to only contact you if someone is bleeding (this is a metaphor) and, then breathe. Trust.
You can start with one day, then three days, then a full week, and eventually, you too can begin taking a month off from your business. Perhaps you will choose to travel or to spend more time with your family, or even to write a book or start a new project unrelated to your current business. The choice is yours.
Use the Scheduled Disappearing Act as an experiment, a way to find out what falls through the cracks when you’re not there. The longer the completely unplugged vacation, the better. When you come back, use a “what worked, what didn’t and what we would do differently next time” exercise to set up more systems and procedures for future Scheduled Disappearing Acts.
When you follow this process, in time, you will be able to take multiple weeks of vacation a year without your computer, and even a month or two off with minimal involvement. Even if you have no intention of ever taking a month off from your own business, put these into practice anyway. It’s the ultimate leverage.
You CAN do this!
“There’s a real element of wealth that goes with the freedom to do what you really like to do.” —Dean Jackson...
“There’s a real element of wealth that goes with the freedom to do what you really like to do.” —Dean Jackson
Play the billionaire game. When I was first interested in getting my own business to the seven-figure mark, I dreamed of all the lives I would be changing, but I also dreamed of private jets and private chefs, entertaining my friends on my yacht, and living a lavish lifestyle. And I feel blessed to have experienced a majority of these things.
When I have asked others, “What is it that you think having a seven-figure business will afford you?” often they haven’t given it much thought. They tend to want “freedom from” rather than “freedom to,” meaning, freedom from debt, or freedom from obligations. And for many, they just don’t know what they want.
So, I invite them to play a game with me, one that helps them come up with their ideal lifestyle, the “freedom to” part. From my first life coach, I learned to play a game called “The Billionaire Game.” It requires you to take a few minutes to make a list of one hundred items that would answer the following questions:
If you woke up tomorrow as an instant billionaire, but still had to work, how would you spend your day, minute-by-minute? What would your lifestyle be like, specifically?
I’ve played this game several times before and have asked many thousands to play along at my seminars. For many, it includes experiences that revolve around making the usual purchases you would make upon having lots of money in the bank (buying a new watch, a new car, that handbag you may have been coveting your whole life) but also getting the household help (a chef, a driver, etc.).
But something fascinating happened to me the first time I played this game and I have witnessed countless others experience the same fascinating outcome. What people who make this list usually discover is that a lot of the items they long for on their billionaire list are within their reach now.
- More time off to be with loved ones.
- More travel to places on their bucket list.
- A chance to give back or become a philanthropist.
- Healthy food cooked for them.
- More time to read.
- More time to nap.
- More time for hugging the children.
- More time for running on the beach with the dogs.
- The ability to use our time the way we want to use it.
Besides the first “obligatory” signs of newfound success that come with purchasing the big house and the four cars in the driveway, what practically everyone wants are more experiences, ones they could actually have now!
These are typically experiences that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Usually, they speak to a yearning for freedom of time and location, the ability to spend time with whom we want, when we want, doing what we want. And that doesn’t require a million dollars in the bank. It just requires making (bold) decisions to set our lives up to be free now.
What many lifestyle entrepreneurs seek is, 1) making a difference through their work (I call this impact) and 2) freedom to do the things they want to do.
And the good news is, you don’t need the traditional trappings of success to experience these now.
You can find more time off to be with loved ones, now. You can travel to places on your bucket list, now.
You can give back or become a philanthropist, now.
You can find ways to have healthy food cooked for you (or available to you), now.
You can prioritize time to read, now. You can take more naps, now.
You can spend more time hugging the children, now.
You can prioritize time for running on the beach with the dogs, now. You can use your time the way you want to use it, now.
You don’t have to wait UNTIL you have that million-dollar business. It’s not mutually exclusive. With a second-in-command, and some strategic changes in your business model, automation, team, and systems, you can begin to live this way now.
It’s just a decision. ; )
Your (real) criteria for success may be vastly different from what you currently think it is. As we’ve been discussing, the key principle around having a Lifestyle Business is that you’re looking to create and sustain a specific level of income as the business owner. Nothing else. In other words, its purpose is to provide you with a lovely lifestyle.
Admittedly, this is not what we’re talking about here, because we are also looking to scale your business so that it can continue to grow with- out you. But there is something that we can learn from a pure Lifestyle Business and my dear friend Dean Jackson, defines his own lifestyle success by the following phrase and criteria:
“I know I’m being successful when . . .”
I am able to wake up and ask, “What do I want to do today?”
My passive income exceeds my lifestyle needs
I’m working on projects that excite me and allow me to do my very best work
I can live anywhere in the world I choose
I can disappear for several weeks with no effect on my income There are no whine-y people in my life
I have no time obligations or deadlines I wear whatever I want, all the time
Those are Dean’s criteria for success, his non-negotiables.
This list of criteria for a successful life then becomes a filter through which every decision in the business (important or otherwise) is made. (When Derek and I hadn’t yet moved to Paris from the US, our filter through which we made our own decisions about the business or anything in our personal life was “All roads lead to Paris.” Meaning, we knew we would be successful when the business ran perfectly even if we were halfway across the world from our team, and that our family was happy.)
An important thing Dean mentions is that there is no right or wrong answer for everyone. And that you should choose your criteria based on how you want to design your lifestyle. Some people need structure and deadlines, for example, while others, like him, do much better by not having the pressure of deadlines.
I’ve heard of many highly successful business owners who have strict rules as to how they do business. Some of these non-negotiable rules can include never getting on a plane unless it’s for pleasure, taking completely unplugged vacations, never having to miss a 10:00 a.m. yoga class, never having to put on pantyhose ever again, never having to wear a suit and tie, never working on evenings and weekends, never being away from your children for more than three “sleeps” in a row, financing the building of a minimum of three new schools in Africa every year, one two-week family trip to Europe each year, taking August and December off every year, taking a two- to three-day “staycation” with your spouse (staying in a hotel across town) to stay connected to each other, etc.
What are your non-negotiables to an ideal lifestyle, even if you don’t see how you could ever make it work?
And most importantly, what changes could you make over the next twelve to twenty-four months in how you run your business to get closer to a freedom-based lifestyle? (Be bold here.)
In the end, doing the things required to gain your life back is an act of self-love and self-worth. Remember, you didn’t start this business to make less and work more hours than you would find acceptable working for someone else.
This means feeling worthy of beginning to create the lifestyle you crave, now, not just later when you’ve become “a billionaire.” In the hamster wheel of life, it can become really confusing to wait until we have all the money in the world to prioritize having what I call an obscenely high quality of life.
You are worthy of it. You always have been.
You have permission to make decisions that serve you. You don’t need to sacrifice your life for your business.
The way to experience it is when you have leveraged your team, your systems, your time, your business model, your marketing, your account- ability, your differentiation and that second-in-command who will allow you to have your life back. That’s when you get your life back.
I’m also here to tell you that you can just decide to begin the journey to having that obscenely high quality of life now, my sweet friend.
What’s the impact of applying the Lifestyle Activator in your business? Judy explains it to you in her own words:
“I’m a financial concierge, bookkeeper to billionaires, certified money coach, and a published author, thanks to this program. For more than 20 years, I ran my business by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have any plans, I didn’t have any systems. I was just being me and getting out there doing my thing and getting clients. But everything is just different now.
“I have removed myself a lot from the business. I’m working more on my business, thanks to Fabienne. She taught me how to do that instead of working in my business and I’ve leveraged a lot. This program has opened up a whole new world to me.
“I now have a team, we have systems. We have team meetings now.
Everybody’s on the same page. I’ve learned so much. Everything has changed. I don’t do any scheduling, any admin and I don’t even have to deal with email anymore, my team members do that. We have an operations manual that details everything so now if someone’s not there to do something, another member of my staff can just look at the manual and can do it. I never had that in place before.
“The community in the Leveraged Business program is amazing. Not only do I learn from Fabienne and from her process, I learn from every- body else because people are just so generous with their information. The love that I get from everybody that’s in here, it’s a family to me. We get together even when we’re not in the meeting, and we all hug and love each other and go out and have dinner together. We check in with each other in between.
“I heard about Fabienne about 10 years ago, but I had never invested a penny into my own business, so I hesitated, thinking that, if anything, I needed a private coach instead of a program. If I could turn back the clocks in my business, I would’ve signed up 10 years ago because I would be a lot further along. Don’t wait 10 years. Do it. It’s worth it. The community is amazing. The people are amazing. Fabienne is amazing. The love in this program is just phenomenal.
“I’ve always loved my business, but now I love the way it’s running better than it ever did before. It runs smoothly. I can go away on vacation and not worry about it. It’s been phenomenal. I feel so much more self confident.” —Judy Heft