The Math of Working Hard Once

Work Hard Once.

That’s been my motto for seven years, since I first started this business. Adhering to this value is part of why I shifted away from the hourly billing model and then from being a lawyer altogether. I talk about it constantly to my masterminders and often point to the concept as the solution for chronic busyness, revenue instability, and lack of brand awareness.

Work Hard Once is more than just a catchy phrase. There’s actual math behind it, and today I want you to walk you through that math.

I want to tell you about two business owners, Christina and Danielle. They both offer marketing and business strategy for tattoo artists (yes, I made this up). They both started their businesses at the same time and charge the same thing.

Christina’s Business

In year one, Christina charges $50 an hour. She bills an average of 20/hours a week, earning $4000 of monthly revenue and a total annual revenue of $48,000.

In year two, Christina wants to make more money but she is worried that she’ll lose clients if she raises her prices. Instead she takes on four more clients and starts billing 30/hours a week which earns her $6000 a month, or $72,000 a year. Nice bump for Christina!

In year three, Christina’s business takes off! She has a year long waitlist and is working all the time so she doubles her hourly rate to $100. Now she is billing 35/hours a week at $100 and working nights and weekends. That’s $14,000 a month and $168,000 in annual revenue.

In year four, Christina reduces her weekly billing to 30/hours and raises her hourly rate again to $150. If she has enough clients, why not? At this point, she is so burnt out that she decides to take the summer off. She misses three months of revenue but figures the rate bump will make up for it. She ends the year at $162,000 in revenue.

In year five, Christina realizes that in order to produce high quality work without going crazy, she can only bill 25 hours a week. That’s a nice change of pace but Christina wants to break $200K in revenue and at this rate, she’s only going to make $180,000. If she wants to make more money, she needs to either raise her rate or work more hours.

Now let’s talk about Danielle. Danielle is a devotee of Work Hard Once.

In year one, Danielle charges $50 an hour. She bills an average of 20/hours a week, earning $4000 of monthly revenue and a total annual revenue of $48,000.

In year two, Danielle wants to make more money but she is worried that she’ll lose clients if she raises her prices. Instead she decides to create a toolkit just for tattoo artists and offer it at a significantly lower price than she would for 1-on-1 work. Because she’s working on the toolkit, she’s only able to bill 20/hours a week, which keeps her at the same revenue as the previous year: $60,000.

In year three, Danielle’s business starts taking off. She launches her toolkit for $500 and starts selling a steady stream of 10 per month ($5000 per month). Her toolkit means that she starts to get more clients so she raises her rates to $100. Danielle doesn’t want to burn herself out so she only bills 25/hours of client work which brings in another $10,000 a month. Her yearly revenue is $180,000.

In year four, Danielle realizes that she needs to replicate herself so she hires two employees to help with the client work. Her staff is able to bill about 25/hours per week of client work and Danielle keeps 50% ($10,000 per month). Danielle is still billing 25/hours per week of  client work ($10,000) and since she hasn’t increased her working hours, she is able to put her energy into selling more of the kit and starts getting 20 sales per month ($10,000 per month) She ends her year at $360,000. She doubled her revenue!

In year five, Danielle gives up client work entirely and launches a digital course that walks her clients through their first year of business. She charges $1500 for it and sells 20 per month ($30,000). She hires another employee to replace her client work which mean her three employees are earning her $15,000 a month. The toolkit is still selling at a rate of 20 per month ($10,000). Since she’s not working with clients anymore, Danielle is able to take the summer off. In the fall, she starts working on a book. Her yearly revenue is $660,000.

This is what Work Hard Once is all about. It’s investing in your own intellectual property early on so that your IP can earn money for you year after year after year.

Let’s talk about some key differences:

  • Danielle took a revenue hit in her second year of business and instead focused on building something that would make her money independent of her time. Christina focused on growing her revenue through sheer labor and while she earned more money initially, she was quickly outpaced by Danielle’s ability to earn money without working.
  • Taking a summer off doesn’t cost Danielle anything; it costs Christina over $50K!
  • Notice that Danielle could afford to keep her rate at $100/hour whereas Christina outpriced herself in the market.
  • Danielle never bills more than 25 hours a week. Christina gets as high as 35 billable hours a week. Do you know how much you have to work to bill 35 hours a week?!
  • In year five, when both of them have built a significant brand and following, Danielle has the mental energy, the support system and the time to focus on her next steps. She has the space to envision the future and start laying down the tracks for it. Christina is still working 25 hours a week with clients. She’s still in the day-to-day of her business. She doesn’t have the luxury of stepping away to think big.

In the seven years I’ve been in business, I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs start strong and then falter. I’ve seen a lot of great ideas fall apart after a few years. So often, the reason is that they didn’t invest in their own IP and instead relied solely on their own ability to crank out work day in and day out, year after year. Then the slightest bump – a slow month, burnout, pregnancy, a big move, medical issues – and their revenue faltered.

Remember, you are NOT the machine. You are building the machine.


PS: When you’re ready, here’s two ways my team can help you grow quickly this year:

1. Join the Hello Seven Group and connect with women entrepreneurs who are scaling too.

This is our new Facebook community where badass women learn to get more income, impact, and independence. Click here

2. Join Glow Up, my 10-week course where you will complete the 9 projects that will scale your business and add $100k to your revenue. 

If you’d like to work with me on simplifying your business while scaling to more revenue, Glow Up is the place to be.  Details here.

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