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Leveraging Authority for Creative Control, Freedom and Rewards

Ask a business owner what they want, why they are in business. You will certainly hear the following amongst the answers:

  • Rewards (financial or otherwise)
  • Freedom
  • Control

What you will find though, and I include myself in this, is business owners actually working COUNTER to those aspirations.

Rewards, freedom and control come from being at the top of the pile when it comes to business decision making and influence. We look for security by moving towards the bottom of the pyramid – taking a 9-5 job, freelancing, and generally working for others, but times have changed and those roles are anything but secure.

It has been my birthday this week. I have been spending time with Darren in Australia. These things combined have given me an opportunity to reflect on where I have been, where I am, and where I am going. The conclusion I have come to is that I have been steadily working up the ladder but I have a ways to go.

I am not saying that you can only be one thing. You might choose to invest and be creating at the ground level at the same time. Today I am shooting some video – this is doing, but I am also building an asset with terrific leverage potential, which is investing time and money.

My point is this. Ask yourself where you are in this spectrum, and ask yourself where you want to be. How well are you able to leverage your time and other resources to get multiples of return rather than close to 1:1. Are you creating and growing assets or are you swapping your commodity resources for money?

Something worth pondering on if you want to achieve control, freedom and rewards for yourself …

What do you think? Have I missed something important? How are you implementing these kinds of thoughts in your own business? Please share in the comments …

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  1. I think about this every day, but the difference between now and yesterday is that I think longer and action less. Might mean less doing, but the action, when it happens, is more meaningful for me.

  2. Hey Chris,

    I can really see the introspection from your trip coming through your post here. This is an article that deals with issues far beyond the usual blogosphere “7 tricks to make more money” style of article.

    Coming from an offline commercial background, into the online world, it's always amazed me how much of a focus people put on tactical implementation. You would never see get attention with an article on “productivity tools I use” in other industries… but online, it seems people snap this stuff up.

    So way to go for sharing with us some “big picture” thinking. I think you're spot on.

    Well, actually not quite. To me, teaching would have to set a little outside of this hierarchy. Advising is something that connects up fluidly with investing. This is why many venture capitalists are sought after for their skills as business advisors… rather than purely as money-bags to fund growth.

    An entrepreneur who focuses on getting to the “advisor” level will find that investment opportunities open themselves up as a result of that activity.

    So to me, teaching, is a bit of a sideways digression – a variation on advising, that flips the funnel of beneficiary feedback. A teacher teaches many – an advisor handpicks a selected few.

    That's my two cents.

    Wow. This post really got me thinking. πŸ™‚

  3. Happy Birthday Chris!

    I love the ladder analogy, and although mine seems endless at this point, I climb at least one rung per day.

    Nice graphic!

  4. I feel better about doing (big to do list), because I'm creating things that will leverage my time later. Thanks Chris! I like the graphic too.

  5. says:

    hey guys,
    does anyone (except amazon)actually provide real services online…
    Or is EVERYONE out to sell the information on how to sell our INFORMATION ;-)?

  6. Hey Chris,

    Happy Birthday. Love the sketch. I totally have to get me one of those digital pen/pad thingamabobs. Pretty cool.

    I have always been clumsy and due to a mobility issue, I sometimes trip up the stairs or fail to clear even somewhat low-lying obstacles. Looking at your sketch, and thinking about my business, I kinda had to wonder if I am tripping up the stairs there, too. I find that I am doing most of these things to some degree, but sometimes falling flat on my face, and then either lying stunned halfway to where I want to go, or sliding back.

    Kind of in the same vein as Nathan, I find myself thinking longer about what I want to do, so that the things I do are more meaningful. But then I get stuck in that “analysis paralysis” you mentioned the other day in your 3T interview with Sonia, and so I just stay on the stairs, trying to figure out which way I am going.

    I'm gonna need some time to wrestle with this one. You've given me a lot to ponder.


  7. You may be closer to investing than you think.

    Are you able to create an asset that brings you income while you sleep? That's investing right there.

  8. evanhadkins says:

    It depends a lot what you mean by investing. If you mean building income producing assets I agree.

    I'm not convinced about the ladder. (Advising could be far more lucrative than teaching – give away the principles and sell the personalisation would be one instance of this. And you might have more control over the timing of it too.) And it depends too on what people enjoy. I suspect business types do equate investments with freedom but that may not apply to those who love talking to people.

  9. chrisgarrett says:

    It's all open to discussion. The reason I put teaching higher than advising is because of scale and leverage – advice has to be tailored to the individual whereas teaching can be delivered to many all at once.

    By investing I mean any time you put in a resource (time, money, effort, knowledge) that, yes creates an asset that generates a return not just once but long-term.

    So with teaching it would not be a one-off talk but you would need to record that talk and use the output as your asset.

  10. chrisgarrett says:

    Yes, it is. Then you can go a stage further and have someone else create the asset. Obviously the next stage is to have not just one asset but a whole buffet of assets …

    By getting my audio transcribed that is investing my money into something that leverages an asset even further, etc etc

  11. chrisgarrett says:

    If you are pondering now then I have achieved my goal πŸ™‚

  12. chrisgarrett says:

    Glad you liked it πŸ™‚

    Creating, building and networking now for a payoff later is definitely investing, and I feel like that ground work has been a big part of what I have been doing over the last couple of years.

  13. chrisgarrett says:

    As I probably say a little too often, we should aim for progress rather than perfection – so long as you are moving closer to your goal rather than away, and we know where we want to head in the first place, it is all good πŸ™‚

  14. Like Nathan, I think about this every day, and here's why: as you get older, this split between spending and investing becomes more urgent. The older you are the less time there is to fully leverage the effort, time and care you put into the investments you've decided to make. And putting things off becomes absolutely toxic. So I think you are onto something critical here. Staying focused as much as possible on investing in assets that mirror your expertise and beliefs is the real path to independence.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post!

  15. chrisgarrett says:

    Glad it got you thinking πŸ™‚

    I think the focus on tactics is because a lot of people don't WANT big picture, they want instant gratification and sound bites (perhaps that is part of the appeal of twitter?) but it is necessary to step back occasionally if we want a long term, healthy business rather than immediate cash in hand πŸ™‚

    Lots of this stuff can be moved around to apply to each situation. We could say an investor who is advising/teaching is investing time and knowledge to grow their investment πŸ™‚

    Another piece that could go in here is “selling” – an affiliate can use leverage very effectively – are they investing in building a list, are they teaching by using knowledge to attract and retain that audience? Is that list now an asset? … all food for thought!

  16. chrisgarrett says:

    We always need action, but few of us do a great deal of conscious, directed, focused action, rather than just being busy πŸ™‚ I see it my own behavior too often where I do something because I believe it is necessary when in fact it could be systematized, automated or outsourced …

  17. chrisgarrett says:

    Perhaps that is why I considered this so much around my birthday?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thx for the new desk decorations Chris –

  19. Happy Birthday Chris!

  20. It was evan's train of thought that I was on with my original comment to this – the idea that teaching was slightly out of place in the hierarchy.

    In hindsight, I think I didn't *get* it being there because of the ROI different. I agree with evan that the advisor has more impact, because of the depth of the work and control.

    Anyways, I appreciate it's all open for discussion – I'm learning a bunch from this post, and the comments too! πŸ™‚

  21. Thanks for the detailed reply Chris.

    I think you're spot on – most people are looking for a quick fix and have bought into the belief that finding the “perfect” tactic is what it takes to win millions of dollars as an entrepreneur. It's almost like the people who believe that finding the right productivity software will make them a successful entrepreneur.

    I can almost guarantee, knowing what I know about psychology, that those same people would look at your diagram and say “that's not how it'll work for me”, then go back to *doing*.

    Still, some good ideas here. Thanks again πŸ™‚

  22. Happy Birthday, buddy! The graph makes a lot of sense to me. In my own business, I'm slowly but surely learning to outsource the parts that 1) I'm no good at, 2) I don't like doing, or 3) don't make sense for me to be doing. My goal is to continue to leverage the authority you've helped me build – but I only have 24 hours a day.

    For the past year, I have been doing Inbound Zombie full time! Owning my own business has been a dream of mine for years. And you helped!

    Glad you were born, Chris.



  23. andytraub says:

    Chris, digging the visual and the obvious work it takes to go UP but how that same work moves your business UP in the direction you want it to go. I recently invested in a virtual assistant b/c there were things that I was DOING that were killing my motivation. So now I spend $200 a month to clear those things out of my schedule. A bargain. Basically I invested in my business so I can stop DOING. It's hard though b/c we so often don't feel “useful” if we're not “doing something”. It's hard to retrain ourselves. Thanks for the reminder. The image is printed off and hanging on the wall in my office.

  24. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Chris,

    I had to wish you a birthday in German πŸ˜‰

    I'm in the middle between doing and managing, but I work very smartly on my digital destiny.

    It takes a lot of effort, but creating your own business is just epic in my tummy.
    I picture an exciting future before me, and I can't wait to reach the stage where I can invest !

    Right now, I'm mainly concerned about spreading my influence, and I work every day to make that happen.

    Thanx for creating these thoughtful posts, Chris,
    my favorite so far is still your back story on your self-employment crusade.

    You rock like the sun !

  25. Terrygingrasphd says:

    Thoughtful and stimulating article. Provides a structure for those of us who have been blindly following their gut and hoping.

  26. The temptations of the bottom step are pretty strong. There's the security factor, of course, because it's always easier to stay in our comfort zone than to bust out of it. And I think many people look for a predictable but smaller income over an unpredictable but possibly larger one.

    But there are also distinct rewards: for example, I enjoy the one-on-one time with clients that comes with the “doing” side of my work. I haven't (yet) found a way to get that same human contact into the “investing” part of my activities.

    Actually, that's a helpful exercise… If we look at what pulls each of us “down the staircase,” (which is going to be different for all of us), that can give us insight into how we might be able to structure our higher step activities so they meet those same needs (and maybe meet them better).

  27. Great article to start my Friday. Definitely need to spend more time leveraging my time.

  28. I seem to be on all those steps all at once. I have intention to do less and manage less — just hired another team member, an online business manager. Thanks for giving us this question, Chris. Oh and Happy Birthday!

  29. chrisgarrett says:

    I think it is fine to be on all the steps, providing you are conscious and intentional about it. You need to understand what works for you and your unique business, and these things will be different for me or anyone else. It's something I think I will have to keep returning to in my own business as I realize there are things I am doing out of control-freakishness and geekiness rather than business logic πŸ˜‰

  30. chrisgarrett says:

    Glad you liked it. The weekend is a great time to mull it over πŸ™‚

  31. chrisgarrett says:

    Totally and that is a great point – knowing our motivations and our real rewards helps us understand what we need to feel content. That face time is something I have had to make sure I keep in my own reorganisation – I also enjoy the direct feedback when my ideas meet reality. I don't think I want to ever be at a purely theoretical place.

  32. chrisgarrett says:

    Following gut instinct can work for a while but occasionally it is useful to take a larger view πŸ™‚

  33. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes. I did actually try to learn German a couple of times, it is still on my goals list. So far I haven't got much further than “wie komme ich am besten zum bahnhof” πŸ˜‰

    Keep working on your future while taking care of today and it will happen, I have no doubts πŸ™‚

  34. chrisgarrett says:

    Great! When you start outsourcing it is amazing how much you free your brain as well as your time – it is kind of like when you have your best ideas in the shower or vacation. It is an interesting side-benefit πŸ™‚

  35. chrisgarrett says:

    That 24 hour constraint just means we have to be creative in how we use that resource, seems like you are winning that battle John!

  36. chrisgarrett says:

    Thank you!

  37. Hi Chris,

    Right now I am at the learning stage! However my aim is to get to the teaching stage! I was a teacher for quite a few years teaching Beauty School to teenage girls and absolutely loved it. I miss it.

    I miss knowing that I have contributed to someone's life in a positive way and that is what teaching can do.

    That is my aim.



    P.S Hope you had a great Birthday and enjoyed OZ! We are a good bunch of people here! πŸ˜€

  38. This is how a business man should be and this what a successful business man thinks! No matter whatever the field you are in, if you are a successful business man your quality will be this.

  39. chrisgarrett says:

    Or woman?

  40. chrisgarrett says:

    Loving Australia πŸ™‚ I joked the other day that Australia is a warmer version of Canada, huge place full of people with big hearts and wonderful landscapes πŸ˜‰

  41. Istartus Arizona says:

    Totally and that is a great point. This post really got me thinking.Thanks for great article

  42. I think that the main difference is that people who are just starting a business don't understand this and then even if they want to create something more for themselves, they start building something that they expect to bring in high upstart profits and fame by default… focusing on the “doing many things” part.

    P.S. Happy birthday!

  43. I don't think you missed anything… I think you hit the right spot. I'm scratching my head really hard wondering where I am. Thanks for the wake-up-slap. We (all freelancers) should print your ladder and paste it on our monitor, to keep this in mind ALWAYS.


  44. no debates

  45. Shreesreekumar says:

    My predicament is what is enjoyable to self may not appeal to others and make it less marketable. You cannot drag attention of audiences on topics they are least interested in.

  46. I've recently been asking myself, where I am, where I want to be and how to get my blog and myself further up the ladder. I finally stopped listening to all the different voices clamoring to tell me what I need to do.

    Instead of started doing things my way. Ways I enjoy and help me make valuable connections with others and I am seeing more return for my efforts. Sometimes there are just too many gurus.

  47. The above thought is smart and doesn’t require any further addition. It’s perfect thought from my side.

  48. Great points Chris. Most people think about these 3 things only i.e. rewards, freedom and control, but to be a true enterpreneur it takes a lot more than that. In this context I remember a beautiful quote by someone “the biggest risk in life is not to take any risk”. Though, freelancing and blogging may seem to be very attarctive for many newbies, but the path is not that simple. Here almost daily we need to learn new things and set newer goals — that's what keeps me awake at night.

    …overall a good food for thought for everyone here πŸ™‚ May God bless you my friend!