by Jenna Kutcher
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Are you still in the bustle of trading your precious hours for money? Do you have passive income opportunities in your business? Wait, wait, did you know your TIME is worth something? Maybe you’re like, “nah, that’s not me. I’m not an hourly employee, and I don’t charge an hourly fee for my services. I don’t trade time for money.”
No matter what you do, life is a game of time and money, right? How long does it take you to create the products you offer? How much time does it take to plan out your content, or work one on one with clients, or show up for your people in your community? Of course we will need to spend some time refining and building our businesses, but ask yourself this truly: do you in any way trade time for dollars?
That was the name of my game for the first 5 years of my business. I only got paid when I showed up. The only way I could scale my business was through working more, that was it. There was nothing scaleable about it, there wasn’t a secret recipe to make money while I slept. I was in the business of trading time for money.
I realized a couple years ago how very fleeting and special time is. It’s the only nonrenewable resource that we have and it passes by day by day, marching on faster than we’d probably care to realize. We can’t get our time back, right? But I can always make more money. I can always create more services, products, and offers, but time? I can’t get that back, ever, so it’s become my absolute number one priority to protect it. Anyone, no matter what line of business you’re in or what your work style is, you have the ability to make small shifts to begin transitioning away from trading your time for money.
Let’s really get into the tactical steps you can be taking to gradually move away from this time for money standard.
Get ready to shift your mindset
Is the ONLY way for you to currently make more money is through working more? If the answer is “yes” then you, my friend, are trading time for money and it’s time to start with the most powerful way to shift things for you: your mindset.
Just like ANY major change in business and work-life balance, the very first thing we’ve got to wrangle is our mindset. If you find your self-worth in doing more, being more, and achieving all the things, first of all, I get it. I have a ton of money mindset issues and operated with a scarcity mindset for years and years never feeling like we had “enough.”
When we really drill down and think about it logically, we each have 24 hours in a day. About 8 of those are spent sleeping, give or take, and a few more hours are for personal purposes: exercise, meals, family time, and so on. So let’s say you have 12 hours remaining after sleep and personal time, which you could use toward work, but even if you worked 12 hours a day and charged your very best rate, you still have a cap for how much you could work a day and therefore how much you could potentially earn.
And honestly, who really wants to be working 12 hours a day, even if it’s on something you are in love with and so passionate about doing?! It’s just a matter of time before you’ll reach the end of your line, become utterly exhausted, and burn out completely. How can you grow or try new things or explore new projects if you don’t have a single hour free to even think about it?
The #1 reason entrepreneurs never build something passive is because they never leave themselves any time to even work on a passive income project. If you find yourself on the hamster wheel, barely keeping up, maybe it’s time to evaluate what your “enough” or bare minimum point of work is, and book ONLY that for a few months to open up your time again to explore other avenues and to have the space to be creative.
How much better would it feel to trade VALUE for income? Consider what value you can share and give to other people — value that is scaleable — and how exactly you could deliver that value to capitalize on its reach.
What sorts of skills, talents, assets, knowledge, guidance, or superpower do you have from your experiences and education? Hone in on these competencies to really nail down what kind of unique value is yours and yours only to offer up to the world, and base your performance off of THAT, not hours worker or dollars in.
Supply and demand
Next up consider what your current offers are and how you could tweak them to up your demand. Can you raise your rates to be able to take on less work but still make the same, or more, money?
What can you do to really hone in on your knowledge and skills to make yourself THE expert in your area, so that your clients and customers feel entirely inclined to partner with you and maintain a loyal, lasting relationship? How can you become to go-to person for what you do? Do you have a certain leg up on your competition? Nurture that and share it loudly and often as a part of your brand story. Do you offer something outside the norm of your industry? Be bold in getting that special approach in front of the eyes of your perfect customers and clients.
How can you increase the demand for yourself by decreasing the supply and communicate it so clearly and in a compelling way that people jump at the chance to take action with you? There are certain planning and marketing tricks that you can use to up your demand, for example saying things like: “I’m only opening up 5 new client seats for my 1:1 consulting services this quarter — so if you want an opportunity to learn X, Y, and Z for me then this is your chance.”
Creating a sense of urgency and limitedness will show potential customers of yours that your supply is lower, therefore likely creating more demand for your offer. When you bump up your pricing and take on less work, you’re automatically creating this sense of urgency AND allowing yourself to hopefully take on less work for the same payoff.
Find that “enough” number
When we don’t know our enough, we spend a bunch of time thinking we just need more and more money because the chase is what fuels us, not what we know we need to get by comfortably on.
Essentially finding your enough is digging into what you need to spend money on, and adding up how much you need to make to meet your needs and live comfortably, basically it’s your baseline standards for income. Once you drill down into that number you’ll be able to both cover the bills AND create margin in your life to start exploring next avenues, to educate yourself, to hire, and so on.
Working off of that enough number allows you to grow faster and achieve more because you actually have time to build things that get you out of the time/money conundrum. If I look back at my business and see the seasons where my business actually grew the most, that growth came after “slower” seasons that gave me FREE time to explore new avenues. If I had just stayed on the impossible ladder climb of more more more, I would have never had the bandwidth to expand my brand into the directions I’ve gone. Sometimes less can be more, especially when we’re talking about less work and giving you more time.
Like what if you were able to reach your enough by only working 4 hours a day?! Or maybe for you it’s 6, or 3, or 5 hours… You’d have space to REST, holy cow, or to explore outsourcing, to hone in on your genius spot, to plan that vacation you’ve kept on the back burner, to come up with the next move for your business, to have a hobby. When was the last time you dug into a hobby for FUN, not related to work or income?
When we stop pedaling the wheels for the sake of doing more and making more, you can begin to explore what simply enjoying life looks like, what true work-life synergy can look like because you’re no longer relying on the go-go-go mentality to steer your day to day.
Still don’t believe me? Let me remind you that my business GREW the year I became a mom: the year that I literally blacked out my calendar, said “no” to 99% of opportunities, and freed up my schedule to be with my family and only worked part time. More work doesn’t always equal more money, but smart work can.
Create a product, scaleable service, or passive income opportunity
Once you have a grip on what your enough is, how to up your demand, and how to not let mo’ money steer your mindset and worth… The next thing I want you to dig into is how to create scaleable or passive opportunities.
Creating passive revenue streams is not a passive activity, far from it. Passive revenue streams take a ton of work and thoughtfulness up front, BUT when you build them right, they can generate you income for days, weeks, months, even years to come with minimal work.
So where do we even begin when we talk about passive income? The main thing I think of when I think of passive income is: is it scaleable? Can it serve more than one person without being tweaked or customized and can it be offered while you sleep?
One of the best ways I’ve seen people create passive income is through an online product: a training program, ebook, membership program, course, templates, presets. You know the drill. This is a mighty powerful way to build that passive income because you’ll spend some concentrated time building the product, but you only have to create it once. After it’s built, the rest of your time can be spent promoting it, creating freebies and funnels that point to it, directing your audience to it, and also just letting it do its thang on your website or in your social media bios while you relax.
Imagine it: you could be selling whatever your product is and bringing in extra money while you sleep. While you’re on vacation. While you’re nursing a new baby. While you work on the more hands-on aspects of your business. And it’ll increase your impact by allowing people to get access to a piece of your brain without you having to show up. One of my favorite parts of passive income is that it’s so closely aligned with my mission to impact the masses because it’s created for more than just one person!
Of course, you can also create a physical product that you can sell online too, but with that just be sure to remember that there’s a lot more factors in scaling a product and making it profitable, as well as more risk in it. Plus, if you’re doing the making and shipping yourself, there’s added time on your work plate, which sorta puts you back in the place of trading time for money, right?
So think outside the norm, and look at your gifts, know-how, and natural abilities… What do people always ask you about, want your help with, say they admire you for, or want more info about? What are your unique skills that you could offer the world, and how could you create a product around that?
Your Next Steps
I hope I’ve got your wheels turning as you start to think of shifting out of that space of trading time for money and transition into a place where you can impact more people with more sustainable systems that allow you to claim back your most important resource: your time.
The more fiercely I protect my time and the more I value what each hour of my time is worth, the more I tend to make in terms of impact and income because I get creative in thinking of how I can turn my gifts and offers into passive opportunities that can reach people for the days, months, and years to come instead of being a one and done offer.
My recommendation is to sit down and literally write down a giant list, and it might seriously become giant, of everything you could possibly make into an evergreen product — something that can be automated and scaled — either physical or online.
Jot down everything from your professional skills to the learned information you’ve acquired through the years to results you’ve gotten for yourself or others to just straight up hobbies or artistic abilities you have that you could turn into a product.
Rank them and pick the one where your passion and progress meet — meaning, the one that will allow you to take action today, not jump through a million hoops, the one that you can get up and out into the world and make your first $ on the offer so you can prove to yourself that this model doesn’t just work for me but it can work for you, too!
Generally speaking, creating digital offers and resources are a low stakes entry point. They usually require more of an investment of your time and less money up front, so maybe you can throw a few offers out into the world and see what sticks! Survey your friends, family, and followers to see what THEY’D most like to learn or buy from you! When passion and progress meet, you’ll be able to get something awesome out into the world without jumping through a million hoops.
If you follow my steps today, before you know it, you’ll hopefully be trading less and less hours for income and finding so much more joy! And trust me when I say anyone and everyone is capable of making this transition — it just takes some intentionality, experimenting, and an openness to let things unfold naturally.
Oh and remember, creating passive income is anything but a passive activity, it really does take TIME so give yourself the gift of time to learn, study, grow, and experiment. Time is your currency friend, live like that’s true for you. I can’t wait to see what you create, and what you do when you finally have more time to just enjoy your life and everybody in it!