How Hustling Only Makes You Tired, Not Rich (9 Ways To Kill The Game)

Ali Kaukas

The most damaging mentality I have ever had as a business woman and entrepreneur is “No Pain, No gain.”

I wish that somebody would have told me, “Struggling is a choice” when I was building my business three years ago.

Does building a business take time, have a process, take energy, have moments of scarcity followed by exhales of being supported?

Am I here to say, “Start a business, set an intention, and then sit on the couch and you will get a million dollars while watching reruns of Breaking Bad on Netflix?”

No.

However, many of us choose to struggle in our businesses rather than work intelligently.

Here are 8 tips that have helped me to kill the game and not kill myself by doing it all:

1. You Cannot Afford To Not Have An Assistant.

I jumped on a call with a lawyer 6 months ago and when I asked him how his day was he replied, “To be honest, I just started my own practice recently and today I spent 2 hours trying to teach myself how to use this invoicing service. It was frustrating.”

“Lets say for a moment you make $500 USD an hour. My assistant costs me $27 dollars an hour. She could set up your invoicing system in less than an hour, and then it would take her 5 minutes to send an invoice for you. While she does that you could have worked with clients for two hours and made $1000 USD. You would make over $975 USD today by hiring somebody to help you do the things you could teach yourself how to do, but don’t need to do.

The first week I hired my assistant to help me with my emails and work, I went on a day trip to a surf break in California and surfed for 3 hours and took a nap.

She gave me back 10 hours of my life in that week, and the week after, and my invoice at the end of the month was $337 CAD.

2. Of course You Can Teach Yourself, But For Fuck Sakes, Just Hire Somebody.

An artist and friend of mine one said, “Janne, there are mine fields that you will hit as an entrepreneur. And you can either walk across and get blown up or you can hire somebody who knows how to walk across and not get blown up.”

I know so many people who try to teach themselves how to build their own websites.

It takes them eons (weeks or months), and they get discouraged and procrastinate.

My first basic template website cost me $100 USD and it was done in 48 hours.

Hiring people to do the things you suck at, or don’t know how to do is a strength, not a weakness.

Fuck teaching yourself how to do everything—use your time, energy and creativity to do the things you love and are strong at.

3. Get Your Car Detailed And Your House Cleaned.

For a period of “busy” in my business I sucked at boundaries.

I could work for 10-15 hours a day, non stop.

I wouldn’t take time to cook, or eat. My house was a mess. My car was a mess.

I let the landslide of my busy topple over my personal self care and basic needs.

I now pay a service to drop of my lunch and dinner on my doorstep so that I am nourished, healthy and happy no matter how busy my days are.

It costs around $120 USD for the week.

I get my house cleaned twice a month.

I have somebody come to my house and clean my jeep twice a month—I leave the keys in the mailbox and money in the glove box.

It takes time and energy to build a business but your body, health and personal life doesn’t need to pay.

While my house or jeep is cleaned, I can work and an hour of my time pays for the cleaning for the next month/

This isn’t extravagant or luxurious—this is working intelligently, and knowing how to spend money to lovingly take care of myself.

It also puts money in the bank for two humans every month—win, win, win.

4. Work Intelligently: 80/20 Business Theory.

The 80/20 theory was first introduced by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who in 1906 observed that 80% of Italy’s land was controlled by 20% of its population.

The 80-20 rule is a rule of thumb that states that 80% of outcomes can be attributed to 20% of all causes for a given event. In business, the 80-20 is often used to point out that 80% of a company’s revenue is generated by 20% of its total customers.

Therefor technically 20% of your work/clients can produce 80% of your income.

My take on this, is that many of us do 80% of the work, for 20% of the money.

Many artists and businesses starting out work with a large handful of clients to make a rather small amount of money.

We call it growing pains and “establishing ourselves” and believe there is value in getting our name out there and that “everybody struggles like this while building a business”.

That because you’re a healer or work in wellness you can work for free building experience.

Ra-Ra, horseshit.

Rewind a few years ago.

I am writing 14-17 articles a month making $50- $100 USD dollars an article.

I believe that I am fucking blessed to be getting paid anything as a writer in an online world, which, has some truth to it for when we moved from print to online publications adopted the belief that followers pay the rent (they don’t, shitheads).

I quit my crutch jobs, and was relying just on my writing income.

Without my serving and interning jobs, I was suddenly making around $600-$1000 CAD a month and couldn’t afford to live in Canada.

So I got creative and decided to sublet my cabin out, and go work at a butterfly garden work exchange in Costa Rica where I could work in exchange for food and board.

Half the time I cleaned up caterpillar poop and hunted geckos in the garden and the other half of the time I worked reception and wrote articles like mad at the front desk.

This allowed me to survive and continue to follow my dreams.

Eventually I was over giving my energy to anything other than my business and decided it had been a good in between but it still wasn’t the answer.

I flew to Colorado on my way home to Canada and had the most important cup of coffee I’ve ever had.

That same day I had that cup of coffee, I had a meeting with an owner of a publication that was cancelled.

In that meeting I was meant to have I was planning on asking to write monogamously for one publication for $1500 USD a month. I thought this amount was generous of them, and I thought this was truly my worth.

Some of my big hits/articles and poems at the time had between 400,000 and 1,000,000 views.

I had no idea what my worth and value was and this chance coffee shifted that for me in a big way.

Over that cup of coffee, I told the woman I was meeting I was charging $50-$100 an article and she spit her coffee out.

“What?” she asked.

I then told her what I was about to pitch this publication.

“Don’t you dare ask for $1500 a month. You are worth a minimum, a minimum of $250 USD an article. Go for a hike, set an intention of how much money you want to make and know that you are everything you need, without anybody to make that happen.”

I hiked a mountain and decided that $4000 a month was thriving for me. It was an unheard of amount of money in my brain—insurmountable at the time and daunting. I almost felt greedy.

I remember standing at the top of this hike with my phone calculator looking at that number.

I decided that I wanted to charge $250-$500 USD an article.

I went home and wrote, “I am supported by what I love. Abundance flows effortlessly into my life. I am worthy of $4000 a month.”

I changed my prices and over that week, I lost all my clients that I had built over the last year.

All of them.

I questioned if I was mad.

I stressed, was filled with anxiety.

Then I got an email from a man asking me to be the voice of his company. It was vague and kind of esoteric and I gave him shit on his third email for not being direct enough with me on what he wanted.

He wanted me to write content for his website.

I asked for $2000 USD a month, to write 4 articles a month (I wanted to ask for a $1000).

Then I signed up with another publication for $1000 USD a month for 4 articles a month.

And a third for 2 articles a month for a year at $500 USD.

I was suddenly, within weeks, making $4000 CAD a month.

I transitioned to 3 clients writing 10 articles a month that gave me my income I was previously making X 4, from writing for 7-9 clients, writing 14-17 articles a month making ¼ of the money.

This is my version of the 80/20 theory.

Instead of working with 8 client’s night and day and making peanuts, find your 2 clients/projects that can pay you 80% of the revenue for 20% of the work.

Then, do this often—do it every 3 months, do it every ____ clients.

5. For Fuck Sakes, Change Your Prices As You Grow.

I met a massage therapist on a float plane this week who told me she had been charging the same rates for over 6 years.

“You haven’t even changed them, like, $5?” I asked.

“No, the average rate for massage therapists here is $90-100 dollars.”

“If I told you that there was an acupuncturist that charged $50 an hour, or $250 an hour. Who do you think is better?”

“The one who charges $250.00.”

“Exactly.”

We are so afraid to charge more than what everybody else is, but we choose our worth and other people pay what they believe they are worth.

And the fucked up thing, is that many of us think that if something is more expensive, that it’s better.

Not always the case, but undervaluing ourselves is not doing ourselves any favours just like not shifting our prices to mirror our experience isn’t either.

When I doubled my rates for my life mentoring program one of my clients replied, “There is no value I can put on the work we have done together. Thank you.”

When you change your rates, you will loose clients. But the people who truly want to work with you will expect to make an investment for they will know your worth.

The question is, do you know your worth? And are you charging it?

6. Work Less. Way Less.

I work 6 days a month mentoring clients for 80% of my income. My work days on those 6 days a month are 4-5 hours long. The rest of the month I write, surf 2 hours a day, do yoga 4 days a week, go on adventures, teach myself how to run my business, work with my team, kiss men with ponytails, wear leather pants and get down to the saxophone.

We are not here to work to work to work to die.

We aren’t.

There was a stage in building my business where I hustled and built connections with publications that had large followings and an audience so that when my work went viral, said audience followed me which now leads to revenue with cultural influencer jobs, clients, public speaking opportunities etc. etc. however, I truly believe that I choose to struggle unnecessarily for a few years of that.

I choose that because I grew up wired to believe that good people couldn’t have lots of money, and that artists had to starve and work a second job.

I wish I would have hired an assistant a year and a half ago.

I wish I would have changed my prices eons before I did so I could have just lived in Canada and written from my cabin, instead of vacating to try and survive in the jungle.

It looked exotic and like I was some privileged white bitch getting a sexy tan swimming with turtles drinking fresh coconuts, but in reality—I couldn’t afford first world.

I truly believe that we sometimes choose to struggle by not charging our worth, not having boundaries (taking jobs for less than we are worth), not hiring a team, not delegating, and not investing in ourselves.

Working hard is for assholes who still live in the system—we are building a new system.

7. Fuck Bro Rates. Quit Working For Free

I had a friend who approached me to write for his publication and when we hopped on Skype he asked me, “What are your rates?”

I said, “$450-650 USD an article. But sometimes if I am building a long term relationship with a publication I will charge less.”

He said, “Fuck that, Janne. I don’t want a bro rate. I used to own a shop, and give bro rates all the time. I know that only one bro benefits.”

My friends pay full price for mentoring calls with me. Even a woman who has paid me for the last year pays my full rates to work with me.

People don’t value free shit, and your time also isn’t free.

A story that has always, always stuck in my brain was from one of my business mentors a few years ago.

At one point in his life he was doing body work as a profession. He had one client who was really struggling financially. He could tell that her and her daughter were getting pretty close to having to live out of their car. He would feel extreme guilt whenever she would pay him. One day he called someone in his trade and explained what was happening.

She cut him off mid sentence and said, “Don’t you dare lower your prices for them.”

[ How many of you thought cold, heartless bitch?]

“If you lower your prices you continue to enable them to exist as victims/where they are. You don’t give them an opportunity to grow.”

He didn’t change his prices. He also noted that when she showed up for her sessions, she showed up and had great takeaways from his work. More so than people who had millions in the bank. She derived great value in what she was paying for, likely more so, because she was making sacrifices to be able to show up and do the work.

Shortly after she wasn’t on the streets, and things got better financially.

I believe that sometimes committing to things and pushing ourselves to grow with extra expenses is what creates a context that allows us to thrive and expand.

8. Take 2 Full Days Off A Week.

You know what hustle, hustle, hustle gets you?

Burn out.

Intelligent business owners do not check their emails at 1 am.

They do not sleep with their face attached to their phones because they trust that if they walk away from their business for a few days, nothing will fall apart beyond repair.

We must trust that we have spent time building the embers of the fire of our business and that it is burning so hot that if we leave the house for a moment, or pass somebody else the poking stick that it will be alive when we return.

And that when we come back all we have to do is throw a small log on and it will burst into an even bigger flame.

Not trusting your business is the worst thing you can do.

Take time totally fucking off, and those emails can wait until whenever your “Monday” is.

You Are The Big Break.

In my first year starting my business I had a ridiculously flattering job offer from a big ass company I dreamed about as a kid. It not only was a reputable company that would put me on the map, but it had 5 zeros on the paper when my income as a writer at that point had 4 zeros.

There was one catch—I needed a visa in 10 days.

You know what kind of donkey can pull a visa out of their ass in 10 days?

No one.

I slaved and barley slept trying to make it happen talking to immigration lawyers until the wee hours of the AM.

I couldn’t get the visa and I was devastated to give up the gig because I thought it was my big break.
Later I would find out from my talent manager that gigs like this one usually come 6-12 months in advance so that one can prepare within a respectful amount of time to make all the shit happen.

This job offer was great, but it didn’t have a loving amount of time for me to be prepared and wasn’t realistic.

I no longer accept last minute job offers that require me to flail, because they aren’t loving.

I don’t care if Oprah emails me to come on her show on a Friday, if I am off my emails—I will get back to her on Monday and if that’s too late for her, well she can find somebody else.

Nobody is the big break— you are the big break.

These are 8 ways I kill the game daily, and some of the story behind how I built my own system—a system that is loving to my well being, boundaries and bank.

I don’t believe you need to work hard to be a success, I believe that you need to work intelligently to be happy and that is a choice you make.

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