Not too long ago, we got an awesome question from a podcast listener: What actions would you recommend when focusing 2-4 hours a day on your business? This is exactly what we’ll unpack in today’s episode.
Based on clients I’ve worked with and looking at my own schedule when I was side hustling, I’m going to answer this question based on the assumption that someone has roughly 8 to 16 hours a week to spend on their business.
This could look like them allocating 2 to 4 hours a day, for let’s say, 4 days a week or maybe they’re able to spend about 2 hours a day for 4, 5, or 6 days a week. This means they’ll also have roughly 8 to 16 hours a week to spend on their business. I’ll tailor my response with this range in mind.
Before we dive in, as usual, if anything we talk about in this episode resonates with you and it’s how you want to take your brand and business to the next level, I’d love to invite you to join us inside the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program focused on helping you build a body of work that not only lets you become known for something but also magnetizes clients and opportunities to you.
For all of the details and to apply, you can head on over to cheryltheory.com/program to send in your application. After that, we’ll book a sales call to chat more, for me to learn more about you and your business, and to answer any questions that you might have.
I want to first dive into the four major components of your business that you want to spend time thinking about, planning for, and ultimately taking action on.
Then, I’ll share an example of a schedule with an actual hourly breakdown to show you that it IS possible to build a business on a “part time schedule”, even as a side hustler.
Sounds good? Awesome. With that, let’s dive into the conversation for today.
The first thing I want to recommend side hustlers and coaches to do up front, is to make a plan. I know that planning is a very popular word and a popular activity that everyone talks about. And honestly, I love the energy behind planning. It feels fun and exciting.
But to be honest, it’s actually super simple and straightforward. Planning simply means making decisions about what you will do.
When it comes to what you need to do for your business to sign clients, there’s really only three things you need to focus on:
1) Decide on the offer you’re going to sell
2) Create content that is both helpful and thought provoking and hence demonstrates your thought leadership
3) Tell people about your offer and how you can help them.
That’s literally it.
To help you get started on planning, I suggest making a decision on the following:
1) What is the one signature offer I will practice selling for 6+ months?
2) What is one social media platform I will practice creating thought leadership content for AND practice selling on for 6+ months?
3) What is one long-form content platform I will practice creating thought leadership content for AND practice selling on for 6+ months?
I recommend focusing on implementing this simple plan for AT LEAST 6 months because mastery takes time and practice.
Yes, you will also be refining and problem solving on an ongoing basis. But when it comes to planning for your business, it’s a very quick decision making process.
Make decisions, make a plan of action, and then decide to commit to it for AT LEAST 6 months minimum.
At the end of this episode, I will share with you an example of a weekly action plan and weekly schedule.
The second thing I highly suggest side hustlers to include in their daily or weekly schedule is to have some sort of mindset and energy routines, tools or practices in place.
Because, in order to help support YOU, the business owner, in taking action on your plan and action items for your business, which you’ll be committing to for at least 6 months, you need to take care of your mind and body.
They are literally the driving force behind being able to do the action items you planned out. And this is going to looks different for everyone, but here are some examples from our clients (but not limited to):
This may sound simple and “cute and nice”, but we cannot deny the importance of our body as a vessel to help us create results in the business.
Taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing is necessary as the CEO of your business.
If your body and mind aren’t performing at its best. If you’re feeling sluggish all the time. If you’re always wallowing in self doubt or worrying about when you will sign your next client… That tells me that you may want to allocate more time to leverage certain mindset, energy tools and practices first, before pushing and taking action.
We can’t outperform an exhausted body. We can’t outperform a mind that is in a heightened state of overwhelm or anxiety about the business.
After all, we are human beings with a human body, human brain and human mind at the end of the day. From what I have observed, the most successful entrepreneurs and coaches are also very adamant about taking care of their brains and bodies because they understand that they need both to take quality, consistent action overtime.
In addition to making decisions about what to do in your business and also committing to your action plan, I also recommend having a belief plan and energy plan.
Creating content is what tends to come to mind when people think of “working on their business”.
But when I think of content, I specifically think of it through the lens of how can I create content that showcases my unique thought leadership and hence separates me from others in my industry?
Conceptually. I see thought leadership as creating content that shows you are the DREAM COACH for your dream client and also embodying how that dream coach identity on a daily basis, in your day to day decisions.
The way I teach content inside our coaching program is two fold. First, I teach how to create content that reflects your unique thought leadership, and to continually put out content that highlights your thought leadership.
Because It takes time to build up your “library of value” or “bank of thought leadership”, it’s not that one single piece of content will make or break your business. But rather, it’s the collective impact of many multiple pieces of content compounding together that will build up your reputation in your niche or industry.
Second, I coach our clients to not just create content that reflects their thought leadership and demonstrates that they THINK at the caliber of their dream clients’ dream coach, but I coach our clients to also become that dream coach through the decisions they make and the thoughts they think every single day.
Essentially, it’s an ongoing process of stepping into that identity of “I’m not just saying that I’m a dream coach, but I AM a dream coach. And here is me, every single day, doing the work to be that next level version of me that my clients need me to be.”
The truth is, knowing how to stand out in your space and become known for what you bring to the table isn’t important only for marketing and sales. It’s also important for your own sense of identity and belief in what you do.
When I observe the coaches who aren’t yet signing clients consistently, what often happens is that they will start to question themselves, their voice, their content, and everything they’re doing – so they start to look at the business coaches that they really like.
And they’ll start to consume a lot from other coaches and try to see what they’re doing, what they’re saying and what seems to be working for them. As a result, they are now falling further and further behind their goals because they’re not actually doing the work to build a brand that is going to sharply stand out in their niche or industry.
I know this because I’ve been there. When I look back at the first two or so years of my business journey, I can actually compare the months where I looked and sounded like everyone else because I was paying so much attention to everyone else.
Versus the months when I really leaned into my own brain and looked at what is already inherent inside of me, what I really believe in, the skills and perspective I bring to the table, and started building a brand and thought leadership around that.
At the same time, I continue to hone my skills and gain more awareness and knowledge so I’m not staying stagnant. And of course, keep becoming better at my craft as I work with more clients because now, clients actually want to work with me.
The income I make is literally a reflection of whether I was looking around at others and coming off like any other business coach, or whether I was using my own damn brain to think.
I also want to add that the goal when I work with clients is to lean into their unique thought leadership. The goal is NOT to copy my own content strategy and paste it into their own business.
Instead, our clients are challenged to explore. Like, literally explore and use their own brain. For example, we look at where they disagree with others, including me!
Really think about who are coaches you’ve wanted to work with. The coaches who you thought were THE dream coach that maybe one day, you’d like to work with and you follow them quietly but closely.
Think about them. What do they stand for? What messages were important to them and their community? What were their values? What opinions do they strongly hold?
More likely than not, the coaches we want to work with, have something to say and they have their own thought leadership about both the work they do and about life in general.
Taking that into consideration, now, what are YOUR opinions? Your values? Your message? What are you willing to stand firmly behind?
Be willing to get clear on what YOU want to say and don’t be afraid to say what you mean. Focus on getting clearer and sharper in your messaging about exactly that.
Be willing to take months to improve your skills on talking about the same thing, over and over again, with more potency and impact over time.
Stay committed to sharing what you believe in because our clients want to work with the best of the best in the industry, and rightfully so.
So who do you need to be, right now, to become one of the best in your industry and be that dream coach for your dream clients?
That’s the nugget I want to leave you with today in this part of the episode.
Now, let’s shift to the final factor to consider when scheduling your week as a side hustler.
The thing everyone needs to do… Like, literally. Need to do. It’s not a “nice-to-do”. Or do it sparingly. This is to talk about your offer and tell people, “I can help you and I want to help you.”
Please. Talk about your offer. Every single day. Or at least every time you show up on the Internet.
Because here’s the thing. Coaches or service-based entrepreneurs often create content every single day or week, but they aren’t selling.
Creating thought leadership content and talking about your offer are two separate skills.
Inside our program, we teach the skill of soft launching to help our clients sell their offers in a way that allows for both structure and creativity, without the pressure and mind drama of a traditional launch.
It’s the perfect skill for side hustlers because it lets you build your business according to your schedule.
That said, no matter how much thought provoking content you’re creating or how much you’re leading by example and embodying that dream coach identity, you still need to sell.
Creating content is a separate entity from making offers and talking about how you can help.
Here’s a quick action item you can do to gauge whether you’ve been making offers or whether you’re making it easy for clients to buy from you: Do a social media or profile audit.
Let’s say you use Instagram. If an ideal client lands on your page, will they instantly know you have an offer available for them and what that offer is? Or do they have to work really hard just to figure out that there’s actually an offer, and then work even harder to understand that they think this offer might be able to help them?
Are you making it hard for your clients to realize you CAN help them? Is your offer obvious on your Instagram page?
Or do they have to scroll to the bottom of your 7th most recent Instagram post caption and read to the very bottom just to find out that you do have an offer?
Or do they have to read till the end of your carousel post just to know you have 1:1 coaching open, for example?
Right now, look at your social media platform and make sure your page makes it instantly clear that you have an offer and how you can help your ideal client.
Let’s tie everything together and put it in an actual schedule that you could consider doing in your own week to week. We’ll break down what a weekly schedule could look like for a side hustler, while integrating everything we touched on so far in this conversation.
First, let’s look at the “Working on your business” time, which essentially includes creating content that showcases your unique thought leadership and the marketing and selling for your offer.
Here’s what I suggest. And bear in mind, I’m using Instagram and my podcast as the examples here. But you can replace it with any social media platform and any long form content you prefer.
Also keep in mind that yes, I do personally recommend, especially in 2023, to have not just social media, but also a platform that allows you to do evergreen long form content that also has some sort of search engine capability to it.
This could include podcasting, YouTube, or blogging. Here’s the schedule :
TOTAL = 8.5 hours more or less
For those of you who are working with clients, then that will be additional hours each week outside of the “working on your business time”, which should ideally be no more than 8 to 10 hours a week. This is very similar to the capacity of most of our clients, including both side hustlers and full-time entrepreneurs.
When I was a side hustler, I used to also allocate around 16 hours a week to my business, which included coaching calls with clients. Coaching calls with awesome clients will of course depend on how many clients you work with. But this usually looks like one hour of coaching per client, and maybe some in-between-calls support.
I know what some of you might be thinking, “But Cheryl, that sounds like too little time. It takes way more than 1 hour just to create one post for Instagram!!!!!!!!!”
Here’s what I want to offer. Why is it taking more than 30 minutes to create a fresh new piece of content, whether it is Instagram stories or a feed post? Like really answer that question.
Where is it the slowest for you? What’s the amount of time you’re actually typing on your phone, recording a video, typing on Canva, versus just sitting there and THINKING about the content, wondering if you should phrase it another way, worrying about what people will think of your voice or face or your accent, and so on?
Really evaluate how you’re spending your content creation time.
Here’s one of my absolute favorite quotes from my coach, Dielle Charon. She said, “If you’re not typing on your keyboard or writing in your journal, you’re spinning out.”
So really take some time to think about whether you are spending your time creating, or are you spinning out? And if you’re spending more time on the latter, I’d love to coach you on this and help simplify the whole content process, and ultimately, get much more efficient at it while still creating highly impactful content that positions you as a thought leader and creates demand and interest for your offer.
In my world, good ass content doesn’t have to take a long ass time.
That said, it is a SKILL to learn to create content quickly without distilling the potency of the content, and to manage the mind drama during the process. These are skills that we can 100% coach on.
I also have regular “thinking time”, which can look like many things. Sometimes, it means creating new workshops and resources for clients. Other times, it means reviewing recent coaching calls. Or, it could literally be a time and space for me to whip out some pen and paper, and just create and dream. It might also mean literally thinking about clients and thinking about what’s keeping them from reaching that next level in their business.
Finally, I also occasionally have other “one-time” events on my calendar (all of which are very infrequent and not time-consuming enough to be considered into my weekly “working hours”). They could include: sales calls, replying to DMs or emails, planning, monthly or quarterly evaluations, sending files to the bookkeeper/accountant, etc. So, I don’t necessarily factor this into my calendar on a weekly basis.
To summarize a schedule I might recommend and what I’d personally do on a weekly basis:
On top of this, I also suggest allocating time for mindset and energy practices or routines such as doing your own self coaching, getting coached, exercising, preparing nutritious meals, and so on.
Again, it may not seem directly related to your business, but as the CEO of your business, you need an optimized mind and high performing body to take action on your business tasks.
There you have it – how to structure your week as a side hustler. Or maybe you have lots of other priorities outside your business, and you want to structure your business and weekly schedule in a way that involves working on your business on part-time hours.
I hope this episode offered something practical for you to implement or gave you some nuggets to chew on.
My goal for all of us is to not just make a lot of money and help a lot of people through our work, but also, to build our business in a way that allows us to make time for the other parts of our lives that matter to us.
Our business is 100% a huge priority for all of us, but let’s be honest, it’s not the only huge priority.
Let’s build a simple and sustainable business, but also, let’s learn the skill of being quick and efficient in our business so we can get things done, AND sign clients, AND make money, AND help people, AND ultimately, of course, have time for life as well.
Join us in the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program is the exact room you want to be in if your 2023 and 2024 vision is to:
✨ Become known for your unique thought leadership and build your career as a thought leader
✨ Build a body of work that not only showcases the depth of your thinking and the caliber of your skills, but also compels best-fit clients to want to work with you and you specifically
✨ Attract both clients and opportunities that you once felt were out of reach for “someone like you”… But you now see that you’re completely capable of
Step into the version of you who stops following else’s playbook of “traditional success” and instead, proudly create something that’s truly of your own.
Get all the details and apply. We’ll then book a sales call to make sure that the program is the best fit for you and we can onboard you as early as next week. Our first inaugural cohort starts on November 1, 2023 👀
SOUNDS GOOD? AWESOME. LET'S GET TO WORK