The chapter heading here is not meant to be taken literally, though it is an attractive prospect to imagine a working week that is limited to a mere four hours – or half a day! In fact the Four Hour Work Week is the title of a book by Timothy Ferris that is well worth a read. This is a book that encourages you to limit your working to only what is necessary to get your job done, outsource mundane aspects of your job and to focus on obtaining the things in life that you really want.

These are attractive goals, and I particularly enjoyed this book. I found it inspirational in encouraging me to “tidy up” aspects of my working life in order to be more profitable, work less and enjoy my non-working time. I would however question anybody whose motive was primarily to reduce their working week to half a day about whether or not they really wanted to be successful in business.

Seeking an income that releases time for the good things in life is what we are all after, and finding the most efficient way of doing this is to be applauded. Therefore, there are a number of working practices to be discussed in this chapter that could reduce your working week substantially, but in practice most people will want to simply increase their income for the same long working week (and in some cases weekend!)

How Much Do You Really Want (or Need)?

People tend to be greedy, wanting more no matter how much they have. Some people want more just to gain a little security in life, in case things go wrong. Others just want to have a lot so that they are not restricted in the choices they are able to make.

Try appraising your life realistically. If you currently earn a net income of $2,000 per month and are able to save a little and go on holiday each year, why plan a business that will provide $10,000 every month – at least at the start?

Ask yourself what it is extra that you would like to do. Factor this into any business plan or budget but no more. Also look at what you are currently doing that you want to give up, such as commuting every day to your place of work. Deduct this from your budget.

Once you know how much you really need you can begin to look for suitable ways for achieving it. It is a very true fact that specific goals are achievable whereas vague ideas are impossible to realize.

Is It Really Necessary To Go In To Work Each Day?

When I worked for others I always knew how much was expected from me. My work dictated how much my employers received for my services and my pay was based on a portion of this. I found that I could do the work in half the time than was expected of me, but there was no reward for working twice as fast. So, I started working at home as much as was allowed. It didn’t matter what I did at home as long as the work required of me was done to a high standard, which it always was.

In this way I found that I had more “unofficial” free time on my hands. Knowing that I was efficiently able to produce sufficient output to satisfy my costs (and more) I believed my spare time could be utilized in developing a team of others to do the same work that I did. This would increase the turnover for the business and allow me to be paid more by having a more involved job.

However, most businesses would rather you twiddled your thumbs in their offices than developed their business and profits. In the end I started my own business which allowed my to be paid for just what I did.

Outsource The Mundane Aspects Of Your Work

The time leading up to starting my own business was spent thinking about how I could become more efficient. This had to be by making sure that I didn’t have any repetitive tasks to undertake and which would get in the way of concentrating on the higher paid work that my skills fortunately merited. I couldn’t afford to hire staff at the time, and in fact did not want the added hassle and significant risk of employing others.

Almost any type of work can be outsourced, leaving you to coordinate the main aspects of your work. In my case, I started using a writing service to produce articles so that I could promote my business web site. I found the services of an assistant who could post the articles and undertake other sundry web maintenance duties. I found somebody to input large amounts of data that I needed analyzing for certain aspects of my work. Each person was given specific instructions and each performed specific ares of my work. Some would only provide an hour or so each week, others more.

The hard part with outsourcing is to find reliability at the correct price. It is a sad fact that many highly educated persons living in Asia demand a fraction of what their counterparts in the USA and UK would. However, this means that you can employ highly willing and competent staff relatively cheaply.

The important consideration when seeking the right person is to provide very specific instructions of what you want them to do. There must be absolutely no ambiguity in you requests. The hope would be that you could develop a relationship with remote workers that grew over time, such that they learned what you wanted before you told them – but at the start you will avoid problems if you are long winded and pedantic with what you ask.

Web sites such as provide a ready source of workers in all possible fields situated all around the world. The service is easy to use and doesn’t cost you anything, a commission being deducted from the fee you pay to your outsource provider.

The Residual Income

Later in this Business Start Up Guide I look at the possibility of residual incomes. This means that time invested now will reward you repeatedly in months and years to come.

An example of a residual income business is a web site that contains advertisements which pay you a commission. If your web site is successful, it will provide you with a recurring income so long as people visit your site and are interested enough to purchase goods through your links. Such a business needs a lot of effort at the start, choosing a web site’s theme, designing the content and promoting the site around the Internet. Once established a good site becomes self promoting, thus reducing the amount of time you need to spend maintaining the business stream.

Other examples of a residual income would be to set up a business, any business will do, and put a manager in to run it for you. Richard Branson became a billionaire doing this and certainly does not spend as much as four hours a week on any of his businesses once up and running successfully!

What you must avoid like the plague is the frequently touted programs offering you a residual income generator – a business in a box – an autopilot business. These are generally scams promoting the type of Internet Marketing business that made money a few years ago, now only brings revenue for those selling the idea.

Is A Four Hour Week Possible?

Yes, I really think it is. But it is more of a concept than a literal goal. For now I will work forty hours a week, happily doing so. The trick will be to increase productivity, reduce my wasted time and perhaps slowly shorten the week while income increases.

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Filed under: A Free Business Start Up Guide

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