A client asked me to write up a roadmap to a kind of “four-hour workweek” for authentic business…
The best I can come up with is an 8-hour workweek. It’s more realistic, yet still minimal. Imagine: just 2 hours of work, 4 days a week. Quite a luxury, especially in these economic times!
Of course, it all depends on how much income you’re aiming for, and your current stage of business.
Let’s say you’d like to earn $4,000/month working just 8 hours per week.
This is a true privilege, compared to the median American wage of $3,333/mo working 40 hours a week!
How long does that take? It depends on your starting point. If you have zero contacts in your industry and no experience, it may well take 3–7 years (depending on how productive you are) to build up enough of a true audience and resonant offerings, and then scale back to 8 hours a week and still earn $4,000/month.
I’ve talked often a lot about how to build your true audience and resonant offerings:
So I won’t rehash those ideas in this post.
Instead, let’s assume that you’ve effectively accomplished that already, and now you’re ready to scale back to 8 hours a week and still earn a good income.
To use a real example, I’ll share where my business is now, and then scale back from there…
For the past 12 months I’ve been earning:
- Group Coaching: $6,600/mo
- Evergreen Courses: $2,600/mo
- Course Launches: $5,000/mo
- Youtube & Book Royalties: $1,000/mo
If I exclude ecommerce fees and other business costs, I’m netting about $14,000 monthly or $168K yearly.
2 points of fine print (if you don’t love details, skip this) —
- My cost estimate above includes $200 per month of Ads (Facebook/Instagram) that I spend to reach my warm audience 4x a month. And yet, I spend an additional $500 that doesn’t have short-term benefits — I count most of my Ad dollars as a “ministry” or cause — just distributing content to be of service, although it probably benefits my business in the long-run.
- I’m also not counting, in my net income above, the money I give to my affiliate community — more than $4,000/month. I don’t count it because my “affiliates” were already sharing my content or offerings with their networks, even before they joined my affiliate program. The vast majority of what I pay in affiliate fees are not traceable to the actual sales, and having an affiliate program (as of 6 months ago) has barely increased my sales. I pay the $4–5K monthly profit share to my affiliates because I really enjoy giving to my true fans! (In short, even without an affiliate program, my income wouldn’t change much.)
So I’m netting about $14,000 monthly by working 40 hours per week.
This accounts for all business-related activities, including cleaning my email inbox daily, finishing my to-do list, preparing and delivering my courses, logistics, client calls, everything.
With some streamlining of my tasks, I could likely do all of it with 25 hours per week and still earn at least $7,000/mo, if I pared down 3 things…
- Less time on free content (like this blog post!) I see content creation as a ministry/cause. It helps my business in the long-term, I’m sure, but I spend way more time creating content than I need to for profitability.
- Less time improving my courses. My course sales have not improved by spending more time in the past 2 years improving my course content. (Instead, course sales go up when I build a larger true-fan audience.) However, I spend the extra time improving my courses because I want to give as good of quality as I can, while seeing it all as a long-term journey of progress.
- Less time responding to client emails and group posts. I try to answer my clients within 1–2 days, but if I wanted to save time, I could instead create a weekly group call, and just respond to all my clients at once there. There would be fewer clients, probably, but I’d still likely be earning at least half of what I’m earning now ($7k instead of $14k.)
- Less time interviewing others and being interviewed, which I currently spend time on because I enjoy the collaborations, even though most of them don’t result in any business in the short-term.
Let’s go even further…
Pare it all down to only 8 hours per week and still earn $4K per month:
- 4 hours per week responding to emails and client group posts.
- 1 hour per week on a client group call (I’d likely be able to enroll 50 people into a very basic $50/month membership = $2,500/month. Why I believe that would be easy — right now I’m already able to easily enroll 50 people into a group membership of between $111-$150 per month.)
- 1 hours per week repurposing existing free content and running some minimal Warm Audience ads to distribute that content.
- 1 hour per week on audience research, collaboration, or getting client feedback (I would rotate these 3 activities in that 1 hour per week.)
- 1 hour per week on course creation or logistics (marketing or follow-up), allowing me to launch 1 course every 12 weeks, likely averaging $7,500 per quarter (down from the $22k quarterly I earn now from course sales) which means $2,500 course sales monthly.
- Minus — $250/mo Ads, $500/mo operations, and 4% ecommerce fees.
- Total net: $4,000 monthly working 8 hours per week.
As I wrote at the beginning, the key to all this is that I’ve already done the work to build up a loyal audience, a course catalog (17 courses and counting), and free content of over 1,000 articles and videos that I could keep repurposing for a decade or more.
So if you’re yearning to create this kind of privileged work-income scenario, you’ll need to do the work now, to have the option for a lower-intensity workweek in the future, such as during retirement.
Even while you are building up your foundation, you don’t have to work the 40 hours a week that I do. I’m grateful that I am able to, due to few family commitments, good health, and no other jobs.
If you have less time, you can work for about 10–20 hours per week to create the kind of business system that I operate. See this blog post for details: How much time to spend in my solopreneur business?
All the while, as you work diligently on creating the foundation for your future minimal business, let’s remember that all of it can be done with joyful productivity :)