It’s very common to hear stories of internet entrepreneurs who at some point in their career suffer a break-down due to high levels of stress.
Most people take this as part of the struggle they went through to get to where they are today.
But doesn’t that seem strange since most IM based products are sold on the dream of living a completely relaxed lifestyle and making money on autopilot?
The reason most people get started making money online is to run a business from anywhere in the world on their own timescale.
This is very pertinent to me at the moment as I was heading towards a break-down. Admittedly it wasn’t likely to be this year, and possibly not the next. But it was guaranteed to happen at some point.
Let me give you a bit of history.
I got involved online by mistake, it wasn’t a conscious choice to start an internet marketing business. I started a blog that got popular. So popular that the costs of running it kept spiralling. Combined with this I wanted to provide my readers with more content and better service. Which meant one thing…
The website had to start generating revenue in order to cover it’s costs.
There were only two options:
- Make the website generate revenue
- Close the website down
Aside from the running costs, I was spending more and more time on it. There’s only so much time you can spend without being paid. And so.. I chose option 1. Make the website generate revenue.
From there I self-taught myself everything and am still learning today. In fact, in this business I don’t think that you ever stop learning.
But that’s not the point of this article.
As the business grew so did the number of jobs that needed to be completed. I was aware from the beginning that I wouldn’t be able to do everything myself.
In fact, although I always believed in doing something a few times to truly understand how it’s done, I was very conscious about employing other people to do jobs if they weren’t my speciality.
The problem was… I didn’t create a business structure for the day-to-day running of the company and the jobs that could be completed by others.
Fast forward to 2014 and I’m spending an average of twelve hours a day, seven days a week, running my business. There’s no rest time, never a moment to just relax and no time to spend with my family.
I could feel the stress building every single week because I knew I couldn’t cope with the amount of work that was coming in. Even worse, if I wanted to continue to grow the business then this workload would also grow.
Then two things happened.
The first is I read Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Work Week. An incredible book and one I strongly recommend you read.
The second is I sat down with my mum, the person I use to bounce ideas off outside of the company, to see where I was going wrong.
Admittedly this is an area my mum is quite experienced in.
We worked out that on average there 56 jobs every single day that needed to be done by me!
If each job only took 10 minutes (I wish), then that would be just over nine hours a day.
That kind of workload is simply not sustainable by anybody.
To make it even worse, 90% of these jobs didn’t actually need to be done by me. Someone else could do them, I just had to let them.
I’ve spent my life working towards being able to generate a good income whilst having the freedom to travel the world and live my life on my own schedule.
Somehow I’d lost it all.
Because for the first time ever I’d got caught in the trap that most people get caught in.
Thinking that if you’re successful then you have to be super-busy.
And that’s simply not true. The truly successful are people who make a lot of money and have a structure in place so that they need to provide very little input to make it.
That’s what real success is.
I’ve now defined a company structure and am in the process of implementing a number of big strategic changes that are already showing not only to have reduced my time required by over 75%, but are also increasing our revenue substantially.
But today I want to share the two things that made the biggest difference to me.
I would strongly suggest that you implement these now, whether or not you feel like everything is getting on top of you. They’re going to make a huge difference to your life.
The first I have to thank Tim Ferriss for, and that is…
Check your email a maximum of twice a day
Turn off all the instant notifications and only check your email twice a day. The truth is that there is no situation or person that needs to be responded to immediately. On the rare, like once a year rare, occasion when something does need an immediate response. Then guess what?
They’ll call you!
Not only do you benefit from not worrying about what’s in your inbox, or using your email as a means to stop yourself doing the work that’s actually required. You also stop getting interrupted in the work you are doing by alerts popping up.
This one trick has saved me more than four hours a week in lost time. Just implementing this immediately made me feel more relaxed and more in control.
And you don’t have to stop with emails. I now log into Skype periodically throughout the day rather than leaving it on all the time.
The result = I no longer see messages coming in that both disturb what I’m doing and make me want to check them.
Don’t just hide yourself from other contacts, actually log out so nothing comes through. If your Skype is anything like mine then you’re getting an almost constant stream of messages. You need to step away from them.
Check them periodically and reply to those necessary and it will take no more than 10 minutes a day.
The second thing I implemented was…
Give the people who work with me more responsibility
I truly have a great team of people who work with me, they do an incredible job and are great to work with. I never consciously didn’t give them responsibility, but I realised that was what had happened.
So… I changed.
The bottom line is I trust them. If I didn’t then they wouldn’t be working with me. So why was I being hesitant in allowing them to do more?
Because we all get worked up about what happens if something goes wrong. Will we lose one or twenty paying subscribers. Will we get a lot of unsubscribes on our mailing list.
If you lose ten subscribers so what?
Are they worth $100, $500, $1000?
Bottom line is, it’s not the end of the world.
A bit irritating, sure. But much better to be working with someone who makes the mistake once, recognises it and doesn’t do it again than forcing yourself to do more jobs because you’re not allowing them to do their job easily.
More responsibility means jobs get done quicker by your staff because they know they don’t have to ask you every time they want to make a decision and… you save hours of time because you’re not involved anymore.
If you’re employing someone to do a job then it’s simple… let them do the job. If you don’t trust them to do it then don’t employ them!
Those two changes made the biggest impact to me, and my business, in the shortest period of time. In fact, it made a difference almost instantly.
You don’t need to be feeling stressed to implement them. Put them into practice now and you can avoid ever getting to the point of overload, and avoidance is by far the best option!
jonMay 11, 2014
Interesting article as always – I can certainly relate to a lot of what you are saying in this post and I have had to go through a similar process.
If your happy to share – i’d be very interested to hear what the ’56 jobs’ you identified and were able to outsource – I am sure there are more jobs in my schedule that could be restructured but sometimes, the trick is actually identifying the individual task..
Michael WildingMay 12, 2014
Thanks Jon, I shall write up another article about all the things that I identified which can be easily outsourced.