It was 2008.
I’d just read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.
I was SOLD!
Foaming at the mouth, I lusted to get started with “Lifestyle Design,” set up my “Muse,” and travel the world. Race motorcycles. Set world records in tango.
I hired a full-time VA and braced myself for the inevitable avalanche of cash coming my way.
I was set!
I LOST $10,000
Wha.. Wha… Whaaattt?!?!
I was bleeding cash faster than ever.
My full-time VA was $3,200/mo, plus all the extra services we needed to work together and…
$10,000 down the drain.
Dream shattered in 90 short days.
Since then I’ve learned the problem wasn’t my VA – every business on the planet has people to pay.
A little voice inside of me revealed the true reason:
“YOU DON’T HAVE A BUSINESS!”
I mean, I was making a few bucks here and there.
On the weekends I was a touring drummer making a little cash from playing shows in drowsy, small-town bars across Alberta, Canada.
On weekdays I had a few other deals bringing in a few more dollars.
All in all, just enough to avoid getting a job.
But barely enough to get by.
And certainly not enough to justify a $3,200/mo VA.
In fact, I’m pretty sure…
MY VA MADE MORE THAN I DID!
Obviously you can only shed so much financial blood before something’s gotta give.
I swallowed my pride, fired my VA, and torpedoed my 4HWW dreams.
I was back to being a one-man-band, no closer to riches or traveling the world.
Perhaps I could have avoided this failure had I remembered the fine print…
Even Tim Ferriss Busted His Ass
While contemplating my (newer, now-profitable) business a few years ago, a curious section from The 4-Hour Workweek popped to mind.
Towards the start it emphasized Tim’s painful beginnings.
Where was it – Chapter 3? Chapter 1?
Nope. Even earlier.
There it was in the Preface (Page 15, “Chronology of a Pathology”), literally before Chapter 1 even hits.
Here Tim describes how he struggled MIGHTILY from 1997 to 2004 to figure out his Money-Making Formula. As in, how he’d make money as an entrepreneur.
Once he had cash rolling in – and only then – it took another two full years (2004-2006) to discover and refine his Work-Less Formula.
All told, Tim Ferriss took 8 or 9 years to solve the Rubik’s Cube of his own 4HWW life.
Are you kidding me?
Turns out he didn’t just hire a VA to make all his troubles go away.
Wow do I feel like an idiot.
“Live and Learn” as they say?
So Good They Can’t Ignore You
Looking back, I was chugging the fantastical “get rich” Kool-Aid like so many other under-experienced “wantrepreneurs.”
I sincerely wish I would have read the stabilizing, empowering message of So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.
Where The 4-Hour Workweek gives you a thrilling, intoxicating vision of what’s possible, and guys like me and Sam Carpenter (author of Work the System) give you nuts-and-bolts mechanics of how to Systemize your business, Cal Newport reattaches your feet to the ground and gives you SOUL.
The harsh fact is no one will give you money for nothing. You aren’t a charity. You’re an entrepreneur who exchanges solutions for money.
As such, you need to get good at something.
It’s gotta be an in-demand service or product which people are ready to spend money on.
And the more in-demand your solution is, the more you get PAID.
This is the crux of Cal’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.
In entrepreneur terms, we might say, “So Good They Want to Pay You”
Once you’ve done that – the basics of your Make-Money Formula are established – and you’re making a decent, full-time income, THEN it’s time to start Systemizing, hiring a VA, and (possibly) considering how you can cut your workload and travel the world like a rockstar.
But not before then.
My Warning to You: skip this step and you’ll blow fat stacks of cash like I did.
The RIGHT Time to Systemize & Hire a VA
Elsewhere on this blog I go into greater detail about “Level 2” businesses.
In short, don’t bother hiring VAs until you’ve got a good, full-time income coming in from your business.
Once you hit this milestone:
- You’ll have enough cashflow to handle the expense of a part-time VA.
- Enough of your business will be figured out and you’ll put your VA to work in useful ways.
- You’ll have enough work week-to-week to keep a VA employed and focused.
And – for goodness sake – you DON’T need to dive into a full-time, $20/hour VA in the beginning.
My income is now multiples of what I used to make, yet I still don’t have a $3,200/mo, full-time VA like I used to when I lost $10K in the blink of an eye.
Boy did I learn A LOT.
Which lead me to creating a Guidebook where I outline the 6 big questions most Entrepreneurs ask when they need help getting a Great Assistant such as:
- How much should I pay an Assistant to start?
- How do I let go of control/can I trust them?
- I don’t know what to delegate
- Where do I find good candidates to become my Assistant?
- How do I train my Assistant?
- How do I manage my Assistant once I get them going?
If you’re interested in this Guidebook, put your name and email below and I’ll send it to you right away.
If you’re willing to share, what hard-hitting lesson have you learned the hard way on your journey of becoming an entrepreneur? Reply in the comments, I’d love to hear what lesson(s) you’ve learned.
P.S. Just so there’s no confusion here – I thank sincerely Tim Ferriss for significantly expanding my worldview. And for writing one helluva a sales lett…um, book. What a world-class bit of copy! Wouldn’t be here without all the explicit and implicit lessons that came as a result of his book :).