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David FullerIn 2014, one of the professors in my MBA program asked: “Why are you here?”

As he went around the class, people responded:

  • “To further my career.”
  • “To earn more money.”
  • “To get a better job.”

When he came to me, I said: “I’m here to learn how to work less and make more money.”

When I said that, there was a gasp of disbelief in the room. Several people said out loud that it wasn’t possible. “How can you work less and earn more?”

Earning more and working less is a concept beyond the imagination of most small-business owners, as it was for those MBA students.

Most business owners believe they need to work more to earn more. They’re stuck in the mindset of an hourly employee.

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To take our businesses to that next level, to get to the point where we can work less and earn more, we need to have the right systems and people in place, allowing us to step back as owners and focus on doing those things that will really make the company successful.

The challenge for most owners stuck in the weeds of their business is that they have a hard time seeing beyond day-to-day operations. They get up, go into “work,” and fail to have a plan that will enable them to increase their margins, generate more sales or develop new markets. Those are things that might allow them to work less and earn more.

Recently I asked one of my clients what he learned in the past year. He responded, “I learned that I can earn more by working less!” Not only had our client doubled his income over the past year, but he also significantly reduced his stress.

You might think that this story is an exaggeration or isn’t possible. How can someone double their take-home pay in just one year?

Here’s a testimonial I received – it’s similar to what we regularly hear from our clients:

“As the owners of a contracting company with 10 employees, we have been working with Dave for the past year in trying to take our business to the next level. As a result of Dave’s coaching, we have doubled the amount of income that we took home this year over the previous year, and our stress levels have dropped significantly.”

What did my clients do that enabled them to earn more and stress less?

Work differently

They recognized that what had worked in the past wasn’t working anymore for the business. They needed to think differently about their business since sales were going up but profits were going down.

They decided not to focus on sales but instead to focus more on profitable business. As a result, their sales actually dropped 20 percent that year, but their bottom line doubled.

Delegate more

The partners recognized that they had a great crew of employees and decided to delegate more and keep their employees more accountable.

They started having regular staff meetings that were “uncomfortable” for them at first but improved morale and communication.

These changes enabled them to step back from the day-to-day work and focus more on high-level operations like working on margins and developing relationships with their clients.

Plan for success

They developed an annual plan that helped them strategically focus their energies and operations.

In the past, like many business owners, they floated from year to year. Now with some concrete objectives and guidelines about what they should and shouldn’t do, which they developed themselves, they had clarity on what they needed to do to succeed.

My response after listening to my clients was: “You just learned in a year what most MBA students never learn in a lifetime.”

Many business owners would earn more if they changed their mindsets and thought like these clients. Thinking differently, delegating more and strategically planning are key to earning more and worrying less.

Perhaps it’s time you implemented these processes for the rest of the year and beyond.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc. Need help with your business? Email [email protected].

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