Apr 18, 2020

3 Steps To Stop Trading Time For Money

And still make a living from your business

Have you ever thought it’s possible to stop trading time for money entirely?

It’s not impossible. Though it may sound like a fairy tale, it’s a matter of mindset rather than the possibility of it being achievable.

You may be doing what you are doing for most of your life, or you may be new to it. You may also be enjoying what you are doing and may not mind doing the same thing for the rest of your life.

But there will always be unforeseen circumstances that come in our way. Nobody is immune from all crisis. Things like COVID-19 have been causing such great impact to the world, millions of jobs are cut overnight. Anything can happen again.

I highly recommend everyone to give as much thought as possible to design your life and business such that you have an option to exchange time for money as and when you want. This means to build a business that brings in the income even if you are not doing work for it. I’ve been building a productized business for that purpose.

That said, it depends on how you look at “trading time”. To me, to stop trading time is not about stopping work altogether, but it’s about having the choice to do it, it’s purpose, and whether your income is directly dependent on you doing that task or not.

Types of work that trade time for money

In a nutshell, I’d classify trading time for money as one having to spend most of his or her time doing work to make a living. In other words, one’s earning potential will always be limited by the time one has per day. If one stops working, income stops.

Here’s a list of work I would consider that require one to trade time for money:

  1. Technical service provider – I’ve been there, serving my customers with my graphic design technical skillset.
  2. Coach or consultant – You advice others with your knowledge and via regular conversations with them.
  3. Business bottleneck owner – This was me for ten years, slogging as a designer, manager, accountant and sales person.
  4. Artist or maker – You craft things with your mind and hands. You are the thinker, creator and maker, all in one.

In short, you either have to be the one doing the work or be physically present to earn revenue. Without you, things don’t run as usual.

Steps to stop trading time for money

Your aim, is to remove yourself from the day-to-day tasks of your business. That means you need to be aware and honest of what’s on your plate and write them down. I call this the “task-audit” process.

The first step is to list out everything you are doing on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be in detail in this step, but it has to be acknowledged.

Next, filter everything in your list to the following categories: Delegate, Trash, Own.

Delegate: These are things that don’t have to be done by you. Depending on the tasks, you can either hire, outsource or leverage partners, online tools, apps and software to automate the process.

Trash: These are things that can be removed and no need to be done at all.

Own: These are things that you have to do them for now (with the mindset that you will be subbing them out in the near future)

Here’s an example of how a task-audit list looks like:

Once that’s done, now’s the time to document the process of all the tasks you can delegate. This is where you get down to the details of every task.

Depending on the type of tasks, you can record a video, either of yourself explaining how the tasks are to be done, or do a screen recording, showing a visual of the process. You can also simply type them out on a document and share that with the next person working on the tasks for you.

Finally, engage the appropriate help to complete the tasks for you.

Where there are additional costs involved for you to get help as compared to doing them yourself before, now you either increase your price per unit sold and/or grow your business with more customers by bringing more sales. In time to come, that’s when you see your income flows in more than the time you spend working in your business.

That said, hiring can be a tough move. It’s seems easier for you do everything than to think up of ways to communicate the instructions to someone else. Sometimes, the results are not up to expectation. I’ve been there and understand the pain.

But there are always ways to get past that with proper systems and processes to match the way you work. I will share further details on the in and outs of hiring soon in another article.

Meanwhile, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, trader or some passive income guru to stop trading time for money now. You’ll just have to start with this 3-step process so that you can get some things off your plate first. You may see yourself still trading time for money for sometime, because things don’t happen overnight.

Keep in mind your timeline for this goal to happen and take action on the steps. Once you’ve done these, you will start to see yourself becoming less busy and eventually so free that it gets uncomfortable. These may take a big bulk of your time for a while, but they pay off for a lifetime.

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