I've been working online for a full 2.5 years now. From making phone applications to running blogs to running an ebay business, my activities have varied drastically.
Depending on what I was doing, the amount of time I spent running my business ALSO varied drastically.
Some days I'd work 15 hours non-stop, others, I'd work just a couple. The single, most important factor that contributes to the amount of hours I put in seems to be motivation. That's not a surprise for most of you but motivation depends on a lot of things.
When my campaigns were netting me a small fortune and 80%+ of my efforts were bringing me money, I just couldn't stop working. Why would you? Why would you stop working when you know that every hour you put in has a high chance of bringing in hundreds or thousands of $$ coming in?
The only reason I stopped was to eat and sleep so I'd be ready for the next day. The reality is that these cases are rare so over time, I've found a balance or 'average' on how many hours of work I need to put in to keep my business running AND growing.
For me, this number is 4 hours a day. Doesn't seem like much does it? But think about it. How many hours does the average office employee spend doing ACTUAL QUALITY work? Not many. 4 hours of solid work is a damn good day. There's a lot of lazying around and if there IS work that's being done, usually it's not the important tasks.
I continuously analyse the work I do and make sure I'm doing stuff that directly contributes, in the highest possible way to my business. What does this mean? It means I won't spend hours on end making a beautiful spreadsheet to track my profit loss. It means I won't spend hours on end making a massive sales funnel and ebooks for a niche I haven't tested yet.
I do things in reverse. I run campaigns to various parts of my business to see which niches convert the best and collect email addresses. Then I'll start a blog or tailor my blog posts or sell them shirts as I know there's an interest there that can potentially turn in to money. The more you are somehow communicating with real world people and gathering data about them, the more you'll learn how to tweak your business to make more money.
Why start a blog about a topic when there's no money to be made?
The hours you put in to your business MUST be quality. Not 10 hours sitting in front of a computer doing 3 hours of actual work. Don't deceive yourself. Set a set time per day for work. 8am - 12am. Tell yourself that you CANNOT work on your business in times out side this and you'll notice you'll do a LOT more work within these hours.
Of course, when you find a campaign netting you $1000s and there's huge scaling potential then go for it, spend a full 10 hours or even 18 hours a day.
In conclusion, if you want to run this business to a degree that nets you a good, sustainable income, 4 hours if the magic number. It's not much, but a lot can be done within it if you utilise it well. In 4 hours I can make 10-15 Teespring campaigns and 2 blog posts. That's an easy 4-5k month/minimum business not to mention the random 10k months.
My business is relatively small compared to many others. Once you have a larger business and a team then I guess you can work even less!
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