Case Study: How KC “scaled” his side business to earn $3,000/month
June 09th, 2011 - 10 Comments
Today, I’m sharing a case study about someone who was already earning money, but didn’t know how to “scale” — or grow — his business without spending 30 hours each day.
There just weren’t enough hours in the day to do all he wanted to do.
Yet KC was able to dramatically streamline his business, learning what NOT to spend time on and hiring others, to secure a $3,000/month retainer.
He increased his income by $750/month and freed up his time to focus on the parts of his job that he enjoys most.
Today, a remarkable story about turning time constraints into a remarkable opportunity to focus on what you love.
“There aren’t enough hours in the day”
KC is a small-business marketing consultant in Connecticut, focusing on SEO and AdWords management. He’s been dabbling in the freelance world for a few years, but he won his first big client last year: his uncle.
KC’s uncle had been paying his marketing manager $80k/year to produce zero measurable results. KC pitched him on taking over, and he was able to show actual results in only 6 weeks.
It turned out that KC was so good that his uncle kept giving him more and more projects to work on — which would be fine, except he was still working full-time at his higher-paying day job.
Not only did he start to feel burned out by the workload, but he felt like his earning power had hit a brick wall — he only had so many free hours per week, and there was only so much he could charge this client per hour.
Time was also the one thing that held him back from signing up for Earn1K. The preview materials were great, but he wasn’t sure that he would ever find time to actually go through all the lessons.
Luckily, he read a little bit more about the course and learned that every lesson was offered not only in video and MP3 formats, but also as text transcripts, which allowed him to get through the lessons much more quickly.
He needed a change, so he decided to make time to get through the course.
Learning what NOT to spend time on
His first big lesson? That there were a lot of things he should not be spending his time on. The entire third lesson of Earn1K is devoted to what NOT to do when you start freelancing, and it includes a list of 6 things that many new freelancers believe are most important (like making business cards and Twitter) but are actually totally unnecessary in the beginning.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of going off on your own for the first time, and there’s a lot of bad advice out there with lists of things that are “absolutely necessary” to have before finding your first client: writing an in-depth business plan, creating a break-even analysis, etc.
Sure, those things are extremely important for certain types of businesses. But if you’re only doing a little consulting on the side, it’s much more important to just go ahead and try things instead of spending so much time planning.
Thanks to that lesson, KC realized that he and his uncle had been putting too much effort into up-front planning and R&D when they should have just gone ahead and tested their ideas. Looking back, he explains that they should have tried to fail faster.
Instead of spending hours and hours simply guessing how the market might respond to an idea, they should have just created a small test case and executed it. That way, they would find out quickly if it didn’t work out, and they could simply move on to the next idea instead of wasting even more time on a losing one.
That one change alone — spending less time on things that don’t add value to the business — freed up hours every week that he could then spend on projects that brought in more concrete results.
But it was his next change that really transformed his freelancing life.
Hiring a team and moving from an hourly rate to a $3,000/month retainer fee
KC realized that his current work structure wasn’t sustainable — there was no way that he could keep doing all the work himself and continue to meet his uncle’s demands. He also understood that his uncle couldn’t afford to hire more marketing experts with KC’s level of experience.
Last December, KC came up with the solution: He would switch over to a manager/adviser role and they would hire a few recent college grads who would work for much cheaper. KC would train them to do the boring and repetitive tasks that had been taking up his valuable time, and he would oversee their work and give them direction.
Until that point, KC had been charging by the hour. But by mid-January, his role had completely changed. His work used to be much more predictable and schedulable, but now he was getting calls at all hours of the day, and he didn’t want to be like a lawyer, charging the client each time he picked up the phone.
He explained to his uncle that an hourly rate no longer made sense for his management role, and he pitched a new system: a fixed $3,000/month retainer fee.
He knew that Earn1K includes different types of models to charge for money, which you can use to “tune” your income and lifestyle — including the retainer system, which lets you guarantee your income each month.
It turned out to be an easy sell — his uncle was used to retainer arrangements with lawyers and accountants, and he saw how much value his nephew was adding to his business. Best of all, KC had framed the transition not as a personal request but as a benefit to the business.
The payoff: raising rates and spending more time on enjoyable projects
Thanks to his new team, KC is now able to run multiple marketing campaigns at once. When I spoke to him, he was managing 8 separate newsletter campaigns, 4 AdWords campaigns, 2 websites, and 2 microsites.
Note that one of the most frequent barriers for people who already have clients is, “I can’t take on any more! I already have no time.” What many of them miss is that by using different systems and compensation methods, you can actually scale your time extraordinarily well.
Instead of having to up set each one himself, he can now focus more on planning, lead acquisition, long-term strategy, and management — the parts of his job that he enjoys most.
With his team handling the execution, he can concentrate on setting up new objectives without getting his hands dirty. And he’s used this time well: now that he’s free to spend time analyzing their current campaigns in more detail, he’s been able to double their email response rate and connect his uncle with the top 3 prospects in his industry.
By focusing on all the added value he was bringing in, he was able to raise his rates too, increasing his monthly freelancing income by $750/month.
In the end, KC’s problem wasn’t with the work itself, or with the client — it was really just a matter of restructuring his role and focusing his limited time on the parts of the job that would bring his client the most concrete value.
Not only has he made more money off this new relationship, but he’s also happier since he has more time to focus on what he loves to do.
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