I prided myself on being a one-woman show, taking my online business with me around the world, with the freedom to work when, where and how I chose, with nobody to answer to but myself. But as the years passed and the industry became more sophisticated, the time and skills required for success exceeded my capabilities. I was struggling to deal with a snowball that was careening out of control.
That could have been the end of me right there. Luckily, however, after struggling for years, I found a solution to turn my business around. And it didn’t affect my cash flow one bit. Here’s how I did it.
Caught in a Vicious Circle
Like many one-person business operations, I’m atrocious at delegation. So, I did the worst thing possible: I ignored everything that I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) do.
Then, when I eventually pulled my head out of the sand to take stock, I was horrified. My business made money, but only enough to (barely) support me. In fact, I didn’t own a business at all — I owned a job. I’d violated every principle of business management, which dictated that I should have been delegating for a long time.
I knew that I needed to outsource to free up time and make more money, but I needed money and time in order to outsource. I was caught in a vicious circle that led to complete burnout. Something had to give.
Turning My Business Around Without Spending Anything (Up Front)
A friend gave me an idea that ended up being the best business move I ever made. I hired somebody on a profit-sharing basis.
We established a baseline of my business income and agreed that everything earned above the baseline would be split between us. Because her tasks could be directly attributed to an increase in income, she took the job knowing she’d be accountable for the growth I was looking for, and that she’d reap any benefits.
Creative Payment Schemes
Because this arrangement required a lot of work up front on my assistant’s part before the resulting income would come through, our deal also involved a residual income stream that would continue to pay out after we stopped working together.
This allowed her to invest in my end goal and to be paid accordingly. Basically, the more effectively she worked, the more we both got paid.
It’s hard to determine an equitable profit-sharing agreement up front. A few months into our deal, my business hadn’t grown as much as we’d hoped, and the standard of my assistant’s work was slipping. So, I called a meeting.
She admitted to underestimating the work involved in her proposal, and her disappointment at the figures thus far. The deal we’d negotiated simply wasn’t sustainable. So, we reworked the plan, eliminating the less effective elements of her workload and refocusing our efforts to work more cohesively.
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The End Game
I hired my assistant to turn my business around by doing things I’m not good at. She has free rein to work at her level of expertise and is paid for results, not hours clocked. It’s a great line for her résumé, giving her bragging rights to quantify how she turned my business around.
For me, I’m gaining the two things I didn’t have before I hired her: time and money — with almost no risk since I’m not out-of-pocket to pay wages. I’m gaining the freedom to afford outsourcing to keep scaling my business, which in turn gives me even more money and time to focus on new projects I’m stoked about. This perpetuates itself by further increasing my time, money and, ultimately, my freedom.
Without spending a dime up front, I’ve graduated from employee in my own business to full-blown entrepreneur.
Read More: How I Learned That It Pays to Delegate
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