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Five Uncomfortable Realities You Must Accept Before Working The Short Week Dream

And even then, smart business people don't always aspire to work less hours.

By Ellen "Jelly" McRaePublished 9 days ago 8 min read
Image created on Canva

People like you and me are in a bit of a crisis.

Most people think those who work on their own (freelancers, solopreneurs, influencers) work less than the average person.

And why is this? Because there's a host of freelancers, solopreneurs, and influencers who've told the world they do.

I don't want to name and shame anyone. Yet, there are a few on this platform who've preached the easy life. And when you spend a few minutes on TikTok, you will see those preaching time-saving hacks to anyone willing to believe them.

I'm not proud to say that back in the day I was one of the "any-ones" willing to believe them.

You could say I road-tested their theories, unintentionally. I dived head first into the solopreneur world, with short working hours as my schedule.

I mimicked the hours of the people I admired. I did the smart hack schedule for several months (almost a year) before, you guessed it, crashing and burning.

You could argue I didn't follow their instructions. That wasn't the case. You could say my application lacked dedication. That wasn't the case, either. I did everything possible to become one of them.

The problem is you can't become one of them until you've been one of them first. You have to pay your dues, first, and then some.

Here is a realistic look at what it takes before you can live the short week dream.

Fewer hours? Try the opposite

The moment you decide you want to become a solopreneur, your working hours need to immediately increase.


Because you have to build up your solo hours alongside your full-time work hours. Unless you quit your full-time job first, that is, which is problematic.

I didn't quit my full-time job before knowing if I could make it on my own. I needed to know if I could even do a solopreneur role. And whether I could do the work required to make money.

I needed to know if I had it in me.

This time taught me everything I needed to know about surviving an unusual work-life balance. Working on your own is certainly unique. That's a whole different beast, for another time.

Speaking of making it on your own, it's not the wisest strategy to quit your job without any paying customers, either.

And how do you get paying customers before becoming a full-time solopreneur?

Working your full-time job + working every spare hour you have landing customers

There's no magic workaround to this.

You can't quit your full-time job because quitting means you won't have a cent to pay the bills. But you have to find some way of knowing whether you can secure customers. It means you have two jobs; your paying one and your solopreneur, unpaid one.

You don't need to be a mathematician to understand you're working more, not less. In fact, you're working more than ever. Depending on the hours of your full-time job, you can easily exceed seventy-hour work weeks. Been there, done that.

At some point, you might be able to cut your hours. But as you can see, it won't happen for a long time.

Stack the money up (with those hours)

I might be stating the obvious here, but you don't become a solopreneur and get given a salary from day one.

Essentially, you move to a commission-based system. Your earnings are what you "sell". And like the majority of sales jobs, there's little knowing when sales will happen.

You don't know what solopreneur opportunities that await you. You could have thousands of customers on day one. Or you could have none for the first six months.

With such an impossibility to predict, you need to be financially ready to earn nothing. You know; so you can survive, eat and pay the bills.

That's some serious start-up finances. Or savings. No matter which way you look at it, you need a lot of money.

For most people, saving that type of money means working more.

  • Taking extra shifts at work
  • Working harder to get customers before quitting
  • Sacrificing things you want to do/purchase
  • Reducing your lifestyle to accommodate extra work

And the more you want to save, the larger your safety net, which means the longer this phase of your journey.

To go short, you have to figure out what short means

To get your short work week, you have to shorten lengthy processes. When you shorten your work week, you condense an hour-long task to ten minutes. Or you outsource it. Or a bot does it for you.

No matter how you do it, shortening processes is the ultimate aim until these tasks are on autopilot. But before you can put aspects of your business on autopilot, you need to figure out two things:

  1. Work out exactly what those processes are (I stress the specificity here)
  2. Perfect the processes, shorten them, and implement them into your business

There are some processes most novice solopreneurs can implement immediately.

But in my experience, these are usually generic business processes that everyone uses. They are ones that people have worked out for us, that we copy and paste into our workday. These are things like:

  • Accounting - Automated programs that sync to your bank account and do most of the account management for you. Or hire an accountant.
  • Client management (CRMs) - Programs that automatically build customer profiles and generate sales reports.
  • Postage and packaging - Companies that offer direct freight management for you. And stores that provide packing materials in bulk, to your door.
  • Task management - Programs like Asana that manage your day easily.

But you can't implement these processes without question. You have to make sure they work for your business and do what you need them to do. And then you have to ensure they keep working once you've shortened your hours, too.

And you have to make sure these shortened processes bring you in money and don't just cost you. Some of these options are expensive and might save you a few minutes, but cost your budget too much.

To make money in your sleep, you still need the product

Who doesn't love the idea of earning while you sleep?

Thanks to that little thing called the internet, it's very possible to take a product, slap it on an online store, and make money. You don't have to even be in the office when you're making this money. Fabulous, right?

The dream is to sit back and watch the fruits of your labor grow. But there is the thing most people miss; enjoying the fruits of your labor. Yeah, the labor bit.

You have to put the labor into making the product first.

Some successful solopreneurs will tell you how long they spent on their product creation. Some will say it took them a day's worth of work. This is especially true if it's an eBook or something that doesn't require outside manufacturing.

But from my attempts, and the attempts of others I know, it's been weeks if not months to get a passive income stream created.

Why is there such a big difference?

It's easy to create with speed when everything else is on autopilot. When you have an already short working week, you can add in product creation without much effort.

How do you know what fruits are worth the labor?

When we think about the short working week, most people think about admin. Marketing. Accounting. Sending out products. Adhoc work. And reducing time spent on these tasks is achievable.

But what about making money? Before you can cut your hours, you have to nail what you're going to sell. And you have to make sure it can sell, too.

The successful solopreneurs who love the short work week know this one thing. They have an intimate understanding of what sells for them. They know what to rinse and repeat, who their customer is, and what they want.

Getting to this point, it's another process that involves trial and error. And what does that process take? Time.

It took me years of doing the wrong thing to figure out the right. And even then I need time to tweak it when a customer complains, or the market changes.

There's no point in shortening your work week to sell a product or service that won't sell. And you can't shorten a work week when you need the tine to do this work.

How long will it take before you can shorten your working week?

I hate answering a question with another question. But I have to make an exception.

How long is a piece of string?

Everyone, with their different businesses, experiences, offerings, and customers, is different.

Some people can have all the luck in the work and shorten their work week from the start. Others spend years working seventy-hour weeks plus, only relaxing when a family member forces them to slow down.

How do I know this? Well, I've been a solopreneur for over seven years and I still can't work a fifteen-hour workweek.

Some would say that's because I've failed. That I'm not a real business person because I'm still working more than full-time hours. That I don't agree with.

Working a short week is a luxury not everyone can afford. It's also not something every solopreneur wants to do either.

In short, this is your race to run. You are the one who defines the finish line, how much you want to work, and how little.

But I want you to know - you aren't any less a solopreneur if you work excessive hours every week. You aren't any less successful either. The right amount of hours is all in the eye of the beholder. 

And you're the beholder.


About the Creator

Ellen "Jelly" McRae

Writes about romanceships (romance + relationships) | Loves to talk about behind the scenes of being a solopreneur on The Frolics | Writes 1 Lovelock Drive | Discover everything I do and share here:

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