Generally speaking, entrepreneurs are extremely busy people. In this article, I will share how I worked 3 hours a day less, spent more time lying on the couch, watching Netflix and made more money. Seems unreal? Just read my real life story, maybe it will help you also save a few hours a day.
The ol days
In the old days, I wasn’t focussing how to improve my business. I was simply doing my work. Not doing anything to secure longterm clients or income.
I was moving from project to project because jobs landed on my doorstep without one bit of marketing.
All my clients are word-of-mouth clients. This is the best way to get clients.
My days traditionally start at 6 am, and I worked until dinner, and after dinner, I’d continue to work. I was swamped with work.
You see, before I decided to start my own business, I always worked crazy hours, roughly 15 hours a day.
But I never imagined I’d have 80 – 90 hours work weeks a few months after launching the business.
Let me take you back: It was 2015 when I decided to go solo and create a business.
Right of the bat, I landed a few good orders, and I was happy, but it didn’t take long until I felt lonely and a constant stomach ache.
I was terrified of the thought what if my business wouldn’t succeed. I have a mortgage, kids and a wife to take care of.
Even though I’m not the only entrepreneur on the planet, at times, I felt incredibly worried and lonely.
Financially everything was ok but something didn’t feel right. You know, that gut feeling you sometimes have?
During that period I doubted the decision of becoming an entrepreneur. Maybe it was better to return to my comfy corporate life?
On a fairly sunny September day I took the kids to the local fire fighter open-day.
One of the firefighters talked to me about becoming a volunteer. On the spot I decided to sign-up and become a firefighter.
Which means, you get the same training as the regular full timers, you just get paid less.
After medical tests and an interviews I got accepted.
I’ve always liked helping people and being a part of this ‘brotherhood’ would solve the loneliness I was dealing with.
What is innotrends?
People would ask me “Scott, so what do you do” and I’d tell them I can build websites, SEO, help people become more successful online, design logo’s, create videos, SEA.
I was confident people would reply “Wow, that’s good stuff”. But the reality was they walked away and never contacted me.
Looking back, I wasn’t clear to the client what my specialism is. I was telling them what I do. In fact, I wasn’t really clear what I do either.
I discovered people don’t care WHAT you do, they care about WHY you do what you do.
This story is more interesting than a services page because you understand who I am and why I do what I do.
Clients rather know what you believe in and my mission to improve work-life balance (for digital companies).
They don’t care, initially, which tools or software I use. They’re interested to know what motivates me, my approach etc.
During my first meeting with a client all I’m interested in is if they believe in my mission, if we share the same values, if they’re really ready for a change.
If they are, great I’ll continue and we’ll talk about approaches, software, ideas etc. If not, I now thank them for the invite and walk away.
The Burn Out
During the launch of innotrends I had some hurdles:
Both my sons weren’t doing too well medically. My youngest has a bunch of issues since he was born, and my eldest turned out to have epilepsy.
At the same time, I was also learning to become a firefighter, which meant a lot of training while being on call 24/7.
A few months later, during a real-life fire fighting training with real fires of at 400c/700f and higher, I kind of passed out.
Now, you don’t need to be a firefighter to understand, fighting fires is a dangerous job.
If one of your brothers is in danger, you drop everything and take care of them first.
Although this was training, my brothers and I were in a real building, with real fire.
This wasn’t the best situation to have a kind of an anxiety attack.
They pulled me out the building, we were all ok but at the same time deep down I knew something was wrong.
I went to a psychologist, and she confirmed – I was overworked, not resting enough and I was clearly in a burn-out.
She told me to rest, watch a movies during the day, take afternoon naps and come back in a few weeks time.
I remember my reply: “I can’t do that; I need to make money; I’m a business owner.”
She replied: “Well if your burn-out becomes any worse you won’t be of any use to your customers at all.
Scott, it’s time to take care of yourself”.
At that moment, I knew what I had to do. I had to quit the fire fighting and listen to her advice.
Not a day goes by I don’t think about going back to my fire fighting unit.
I loved the brotherhood, the work, and just being with some of the best people I’ve met in my life.
But as of today, I haven’t returned because only lately I feel everything is back on track.
I made some big changes in the way I conduct business, talk to clients, sell my service. Everything has changed for the positive.
I decided to say No to specific clients. I declined clients who didn’t fit my company, the type of clients that caused me more stress.
I refused the kind of client which said “No” to a maintenance plan but would call me when something didn’t work.
I started to focus my company and my ‘sales pitch’ from what I do and how I do it. My sales pitch now is all about what my mission is.
If my clients don’t believe in my mission, if they don’t believe I can help them reduce the amount of working hours, then they’re clearly not the type of clients I will work for. It’s this simple.
Obviously, this strategy caused me to take a few financial hits because of the clients I declined and stopped serving.
But I also won something which, in retrospect has become most important: I’m less stressed and I have more time for myself.
In the afternoon, I go to the gym and work-out, I stop working at 4 pm. I’ve never worked until 4pm in my 25 year career.
My wife comes home from work – the house is clean, dinner is cooked and I have a better relationship with my kids.
Because I’m focussed which clients I accept and share my story people can related too, life has become so much better.
I also learned money isn’t important.
I learned my kids would rather have a healthy and happy father instead of a couple of more thousand bucks sitting in the bank.
Today, I’m healthier, happier, and because of this, I’m performing better for my clients.
Each entrepreneur has their own story, their struggles and their ways of creating a successful business.
Some will have you believe generating revenue is a goal. It’s isn’t
I believe a revenue goal is nonsense because the amount of revenue one generates is a result. This can be a result of a strategy, mission, values or your work.
I led my business by setting revenue as a goal and look where it brought me: It broke me down.
Because I run my business based on specific values, types of clients and niches, I don’t let revenue ‘decide’ if I take a client on or not.
“Well Scott, I guess you’re in a luxurious position to decline clients”. But that’s not the case at all. It has nothing to do with money.
Think about it for a second.
Do you like working for clients that are total scumbags, assholes or people you would never say Hi to in a bar?
It doesn’t matter if a client is willing to pay $2k or $100k for a job: the client and the project matters.
If the client or the project doesn’t fit YOU your final product will never be as good as you could really do because you care less.
Now, I decided to protect myself and my business from working for clients where I’d care less. That’s all.
All you have to do to become more successful is focus on your self, your beliefs, the type of clients and projects YOU want.
Never let revenue lead your company. Once you do, you could find yourself being lost not knowing when to say No to the client.
Define for yourself what’s good for you…decide what type of clients you would like to work for.
Making a decision is better than making no decisions.
I’ve saved at least 3 hours a day by focussing and working with clients I want to work for and I feel much better.