Time Requirements for Self-employed Professionals

After coaching many people on how to grow their business, I find this recurring issue:

Many people are not spending enough time on the right actions… therefore it’s no wonder their business isn’t growing.

What are the right actions?

My answer: The 8 Practices of Authentic Business.

But how much time to spend with each practice?

Let’s look at each one and how much time you might need to carve out. If you add up all the actions below, it’ll take about 10 hours per week, if done efficiently.

1. Joyful Productivity

Our time management should begin with scheduling in our self-care. By maintaining a healthy body, mind, and heart, we can then productively do the rest of the things.

As an example, if you looked at my calendar, you would find that my work periods are always between 90–120 minutes. Between these work periods, there are long breaks, such as walking the dog, taking a nap, or having a meal. For example, work from 8am — 10am, then take a 90-minute break. Then work from 11:30am — 1pm, and take a 1 hour break. (I explain the details of my schedule in the Time Management course. I can also walk you through my current schedule if you ask me on a Bonus Q&A call.)

During every hour of work, I also do my energy reboot multiple times. It only takes about 20 seconds each time.

As for what to actually do during work periods, let’s begin by talking about keeping your inbox under control. I spend 1.5 hours per workday clearing my emails and miscellaneous tasks. I recommend at least 1 hour per day, or 5 hours per week, which is about 22 hours per month.

2. Healthy Money Habits

I’ve automated the tracking of money inflow and outflow. There are tools such as Mint and YNAB which make this easy.

All that I need to do manually is 15 minutes a week to check my automated bookkeeping and make sure things are categorized properly.

I also spend an additional 15 minutes a month doing what I call “monthly transfers” (I teach this in the Conscious Money course) where I make sure each bank account has enough funds and I direct surplus funds to my investments.

Everyone should be planning ahead for their retirement, no matter how young (or old). Good money practices will create a healthy financial independence.

Total time: Approximately 1.5 hours per month.

3. Consistent Content

I recommend at least 1 hour a week, preferably more, to create original content, or to repurpose (edit and re-share) previous content.

Content (such as writing and video) is so important to my business strategy that I spend about 5 hours a week creating or repurposing content.

You don’t have to spend as much time, but the more time you’re able to spend creating content, the more you’ll improve your communication skills.

It’s also good to start learning authentic SEO and doing at least 15 minutes a week to improve the chances of your content being found by your ideal clients.

Total minimum time: Approximately 5 hours per month.

4. Paid Distribution

If you’re not running ads to distribute your content, you’re probably not reaching enough people to grow your business.

I recommend spending a minimum of $30 per month on Facebook and/or Instagram Ads.

You’ll probably need 30 minutes a week to create and manage your ads, and maybe 2–3 hours a week if you’re just learning how to do it now.

If you prefer to outsource it, contact me for some recommendations. Or to learn how to do it yourself, take my courses: Facebook Marketing Course for Self-Employed People and Instagram Marketing Course.

Total time: Approx 2 hours per month.

5. Simple Collabs

If you don’t want to run ads, then the other way I recommend for getting the word out about your business (and your content) is to create simple collaborations.

I do not recommend co-creating products/events/programs with other people until you’re savvy with collaborations. Please start simply, working with a colleague to spread the word about your content and offerings.

I recommend doing at least 1 collaboration per month. I personally aim to do 2 monthly.

Each collaboration can take about 4 hours per month

  • 2 hours in research and outreach to 10 potential collaborators
  • 1 hour in responding / back and forth to schedule and plan a collaboration
  • 1 hour for the actual collaboration

To learn how to find collaborators and work with them, take my course: Simple Collaborations & Authentic JV’s.

If you prefer to outsource the research & outreach, contact me for some referrals.

6. Audience Research

There’s a good chance that, like most business owners, you don’t understand your potential clients well enough to do good marketing. You probably never learned how to conduct market research conversations, so it’s no surprise if your marketing and content doesn’t work as well as it could.

I recommend doing at least 1 audience research conversation per month. In the beginning of my business, I was doing one every week. Now that I have a pretty good understanding of my audience, I still try to keep up this practice by doing 1 per month. It helps me to stay in touch more viscerally with the needs of my audience.

Each audience research conversation can take about 2 hours:

  • 1 hour to thoughtfully reach out to at least 10 fans to get 1 “yes”.
  • 30–60 minutes for the actual conversation.
  • 30 minutes for you to process the notes/insights from the interview.

To learn more about how to do these, take my Better Offers Course.

7. Rhythm of Gentle Launches

Another missing piece is that you are probably not consistently announcing your products/services. I find that about 80% of the clients I work with aren’t doing this consistently enough.

If so, then no wonder people aren’t signing up to work with you, or aren’t referring enough clients to you.

Spend 1 hour every 2 weeks to write an announcement/invitation to your audience about one of your products or services.

Total time: Approximately 2 hours per month.

8. Mastery of Your Craft

Lastly, are you spending the time to gather and analyze the feedback from your clients? This is how you can keep improving your services and products.

I recommend at least 3 hours every 3 months:

  • 1 hour to write and send out the request for feedback
  • 2 hours to read and process the feedback and see what changes you want to make

Added together, the above actions are about 40 hours per month, or 10 hours per week if done efficiently. When learning how to do these things, you may want to budget 15–20 hours per week.

Besides the above practices, which are mostly about business development, you also need to add in the time you spend with clients, and any product development (e.g. course creation), as well as other admin tasks that your business may need.

Too many business owners treat their business as a hobby, without using their time strategically. They may be spending many hours a week consuming content about business/marketing, but not spending enough time doing the recommended actions.

Have an honest audit of your schedule, the time you spend, and ask yourself: am I spending enough time doing the right things?

One tool I’ve found enormously helpful to stay on task is Focusmate.

It may be helpful to have the handholding support of a coach to set a plan that matches your energy. Ask your own network for recommendation to a life or business coach, or get together with another self-employed friend to carefully work through this blog post!

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity" https://www.GeorgeKao.com