Don’t Believe in Passive Income, But…

beachWho doesn’t have the fantasy of being financially supported while doing what they please?

That’s why there’s all this hype about passive income.  It’s the dream that we are sold on over and over again.

Growing up with a physicist as a father, I was constantly schooled on why things happened the way they did. . .why people on the opposite side of our planet don’t fall off the earth, why the water turns pink when you put in a drop of red food coloring, why oil doesn’t dissolve in water and so on.

There was one lesson that we kept coming back to.

Everything is energy, and for anything to happen there must be an equal exchange of energy.

An equal exchange.

 That’s why I don’t believe in passive income. 

Even from the perspective of physics, it’s just not possible to quickly achieve such a thing. . .even if you inherit a huge sum of money.

I don’t mean to crush your dreams about passive income.

Instead, I want to invite you to get real about it.

You can and will reap the benefits of putting a lot of energy into building your business–if you learn how to leverage your work.

Passive income is a fantasy.  Leveraged income totally attainable.

3 Steps for Leveraging Your Work and Income

1.  Become the CEO of Your Company

Practically all of us who start a business for the first time fall into a trap of working more in our business than on it.

In E-Myth, Michael Gerber observes that many people start their small businesses to practice their craft and get paid for it—handsomely—while not having anyone bossing them around.

Very quickly, though, they find themselves overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done.  That happens because they fall prey to seeing their business from the inside out.

The craftsman in them knows exactly what they need to do in order to create their product or deliver their service.  And because they love what they do and know how to do it, it’s only natural that they jump in and do it.

It’s manageable in the beginning, but once they receive more inquiries for information, bring in more and more clients, and grow the range of their offerings and their audience, it becomes practically impossible to keep the business afloat.

They hit the wall, feel less passionate about their craft, and start questioning if they are made for entrepreneurship.

I hit that wall myself.  For the longest time, I saw my business as a collection of individual systems not understanding how they fit together and why.

What helped me step into my CEO stilettos, was getting completely honest with myself when answering these questions:

  1. Why do I want to be in business for myself?
  2. What kind of lifestyle do I want my business to support?
  3. Who is the person who needs what my business is offering?
  4. How can I help that person play a bigger game?
  5. What role should I assume to make it all happen?

The last question is the key one.

What would change if you conceived of yourself as an executive in charge of developing and implementing high-level strategies as well as overseeing how things are done?

2.  Create Systems

Look at your business from the outside in.

 Take a birds’ eye view.

If you were to conceive of yourself as the CEO of your company, would you have a clearer picture of each aspect of your business?  Pay closer attention to how the individual activities necessary for running your business fit into the broader picture? Insist on streamlining business processes to ensure everything runs more smoothly?

Seeing yourself as your company’s CEO can really open your eyes and inspire you to make necessary changes in your business.

One of the things you will probably need to do is streamline your company’s day-to-day operations.

Streamlining allows you to leverage your work and saves you massive amounts of time.

Use one of these fun shortcuts to record the processes that happen in your business on a regular basis.

Bit by bit you will systemize your business and will no longer waste time guessing what you need to do and how you need to do it.  You’ll also be able to batch activities that require extensive setup.  Lastly, for tasks that can easily be done by someone else, you’ll have a set of instructions for them to follow.

Having systems doesn’t mean that your business runs by itself.

You’ve got to be steering the wheel and working on the new things.  But, as you can imagine, you will now have time for high leverage activities that will be getting you closer to the lifestyle of your dreams.

3.  Lead Your Team

Sometimes we get obsessed with the idea that no one can do something as well as us.

Our businesses are like our babies—no one can take better care of them than us.

In some cases, when the processes are stored in our heads, it’s simply not possible to let anyone do the work for you.  You can find the best VA ever, but she can’t read your mind.

Then there are the times when we’re willing to train someone but fail to effectively manage that person—giving them too much or too little freedom or not differentiating between human error and a communication gap.

For me, the first year of my business was a total nightmare because I believed that for anything to happen the “right” way I had to do it myself.

Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t me mistrusting my own systems.  I was terrified of becoming the leader of my own team.

What I learned was that even if you are delegating to short-terms contractors, share with them the big picture and make them feel involved in the entire process.  When people feel that they share the ownership of a project, they’re much more diligent.

If you have several team members, organize group meetings (in-person or online) where you bounce ideas off each other, set goals and check in on everyone’s tasks.  This approach elevates everyone’s sense of responsibility and creates a bond between your team members, which is especially important if they are located thousands miles away from each other.

Lastly, you’ve got to take a really great care of your team, because those are the people that allow you the freedom that you are striving for.  Those are the people that help you leverage the hard work you’ve been putting into your business.

Once you master looking at your business strategically and learn to leverage your work and your team, a leveraged income will become your reality.

Back to You

If you’re like me, you’re looking to generate a steady stream of money to support your passion-fueled business and to rid yourself of anxieties about how to market and sell your creations.  You want the freedom to make bolder decisions, which becomes possible when you have funds to get you through tough times.  And you want to take internet-free vacations where you can totally enjoy yourself and know that the stream won’t run dry while you’re away.

Well, that’s all possible if you begin shifting your mindset and restructuring your business so that it generates leveraged (not passive) income.

Are you game?

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5 comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. People are looking for a fast easy fix. I like that Pat Flynn owner of Smart Passive Income has admitted that it took him years to get in the flow of things.

    I’ve been a freelance designer for 10 years. I am working on building my team, really nailing down who my ideal client is, and working on creating systems and marketing strategies to accomplish my ultimate goals.

    I am so glad you wrote this article and I received the email today. Although is isn’t easy, fast, and even simple to be a CEO, a Marketer, a Salesperson, and a Designer – I know it’s not impossible. Just need to put the right systems in place.

  2. This is a great article, Natasha. I loved what you said about it being an energetic value exchange. An important reminder. And tip #3 is the hardest one for me to implement! Letting other people in to do some work:)

  3. Spot on, Natasha! “Leveraged” income vs. passive income really speaks more accurately to what most are striving to do. Most people are willing to put in the work. They just don’t want to work themselves into the ground! Haha! I doubt even Tim Ferris spends only 4 hours on his work every week. Systems are so key to making this happen. And, working ON the business instead of always IN it. The little bit I’ve shifted to do this in my business lately has reaped big rewards (and stress free weekends). :)

    – Abi

  4. What a relevant article. I like your advice to step into being a leader in your business. When things are not running smoothly with my team, I always look inward.

    Where do I need to improve in my communication?

    It is also helpful to be clear in your intention of whom you want to bring on your team.

  5. Excellent article Natasha! I really appreciate you busting the myth around passive income and reframing it for what it is. All about systems.
    I am venturing into the entrepreunerial world and your point about what is possible if we shift our mindset really struck me. It has been the turning point in this journey for me and I feel very lucky to be starting out and building systems right from the start. Your tips and tools are getting me started on the right foot!

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  1. 5 Essentials for Your Systematic Success | SystemsRock - […] I bet that if you are in business for yourself, you are not after passive income. […]

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