How to Build a Business That Can Work For You

Skyscraper buildings

In a world where Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos define business success, the idea of becoming just another C-suite executive holds less appeal then it once did. Although the upper echelons of the corporate world still offer financial security and status, they provide little in the way of personal freedom and creativity.  In an ultra-competitive operating environment where innovation is the only way to truly stand out, it is agile, digitally fluent start-ups that present these opportunities to innovate where larger organization cannot.

For any individual who has an eye towards professional accomplishment, the choice between the two paths seems clear. But while entrepreneurship certainly seems like a more rewarding alternative to traditional employment, it isn’t without its own pitfalls.


Entrepreneurship Isn’t Sexy

Anyone intent on become a jet-setting millionaire needs to understand that the path to overnight riches is littered with long hours, hard work, and a few guaranteed failures. Along the way you’ll have to contend with many challenges.

  • Cash shortages as you struggle to find enough capital to fund your business.


  • You may be your own boss but you aren’t free of responsibilities. Everyone from customers to employees and investors will take a personal interest in your decisions. Failing to account for this could leave you without the revenue or talent to make good on your dreams.


  • The internet may give you the ability to start a business anywhere, but if you want to expand you may need to relocate to a friendlier market.


  • Many of your most prized ideas may fall by the wayside, as you find more practical solutions for making your business work.


  • Your earnings will be unpredictable, so planning and budgeting can be difficult.


  • Urgent workplace issues can take you away from your personal life at any time of the day. You may find yourself working far harder at your business than you ever did in the corporate world.


In Conversation with Mindy Stern

At the Expat Money Show we recently spoke to a woman who made the leap from corporate management to entrepreneurship and met with many of these obstacles along the way. While getting her first venture Healthy Finances Coaching off the ground, Mindy Stern struggled for years to balance the responsibilities of running a business, with her desire to live a more fulfilling life as an individual and a mother. But it wasn’t until she was faced with the reality of having to close down her business and return to traditional employment that Mindy found the keys to making her business work for her.

Today, Healthy Finances Coaching is thriving, and Mindy Stern has found enough time to dedicate herself to building yet another passion project. Successful Self Employed Super Women is a personal coaching agency that’s focused on empowering women to achieve their own entrepreneurial goals. During our conversation with Mindy, she talked about many of the personal and professional changes she made in order to enable her business success.


Don’t Quit Your Job Without a Plan

While it can be tempting to get caught up in the brilliance of a business idea, and to follow it through by quitting your job on the spot. It’s far better to make use of your stable income and free time to build a solid foundation for your new venture, before making the leap.

Start by narrowing down your focus to one clear project, you have limited time and funds so you need make sure that you’re maximizing your resources. Next, establish a team that can provide you with the technical knowledge, experience and guidance you need to develop your concepts into practical working models. Even at this early stage you should be working on testing the market and connecting with prospective customers where possible.

At this point, it will probably be necessary to expand your own expertise, whether you attend a professional training course or engage a personal coach you need to have the necessary skillset to lead your business. As part of your early planning you should have clear metrics in place to define your success over the first year, once your business is up and running these goals will help keep you motivated and moving forward.

Remember, reinventing the wheel might sound great in theory but unless you have the capital to build an entirely new ecosystem you’re better off using established platforms to sell your products and services.


Work Smarter Not Harder

Many new business owners wear their grueling schedule as a badge of honor, bragging about 12-hour workdays and no vacations. But the truth is that the 40-hour work week has proven time and time again to be the most successful method of doing business.

Organizational research conducted since the late 1800’s have shown that workforce productivity rises across the board when working hours are cut back, and pay is increased. According to these studies, the vast majority of workers only have about eight hours of useful output in them. The only exception to this rule is on rare occasions where employees are able to push themselves to work 60-70 hours on short term basis in order to achieve critical deadlines. While these efforts do result in more productivity over a period of about a week and a half, any extra time committed after this point merely results in declining productivity as the lack of rest, proper nutrition and recreation begins to show.

In order to make the most of your productive hours you should meticulously write out your business activities for the day, down to the smallest details. Once this is done, you should prioritize the most pressing tasks with a firm timeline in place. When it’s time to clock out your main tasks should stand completed without fail.


Productivity Must Translate To Profits

In recent years, business trends have veered towards prizing growth over revenues. Indeed, most modern management teams plan out their strategies with the intention of maintaining negative cash flows over the first couple of years, with profitability only being achieved once the business reaches a certain scale. The only way such a strategy can be successful is if you have the ability to market your product on national or international scale, and you have sufficient funding to pursue this sort of long-term objective. If you fall short in either of these objectives, then you need to focus on profitability above all else.

The truth is that making money is hard even if you’re focused on making it your main priority. So if you’re planning on achieving positive cash flow as a byproduct then think again. The next time you reinvest your hard-earned income on large capital investments, ask yourself what kind of long-term benefits these investments are likely to earn. Similarly, if you’re putting all your efforts into gaining clients in a new market, assess whether the monetary return makes this exertion worthwhile.


Create Systems

The ultimate goal of any entrepreneur should be to become redundant and replaceable in their own business. Even if you enjoy taking a hands-on role in your start-up it’s always good to know that it can continue to function just as effectively without your day to day input. To achieve this objective you should look to create documented efficient operating procedures that effectively translate to positive outcomes in every area of your business.

  • Start by identifying the core activities which generate value for your business.
  • Document the critical steps which take this activity from inception to completion.
  • Define follow-up tasks which ensure successful completion.
  • Find ways to automate and streamline this process. Could you complete multiple activities at once? Which tasks can you outsource to third parties, or even software applications?
  • Test out your streamlined processes, and work to optimize them even further.

Eventually you should end up with an efficient operating model which can then be handed over to another member of your team with minimum impact on quality.


Find Out More

As an accomplished entrepreneur Mindy Stern offered us some great advice about the value of personal development and mentorship, and what to look for in a coaching service. To listen to more of our engrossing conversation, check out the full podcast here.

Over the next couple of weeks we have some more great podcasts planned for our listeners, so subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out!





About The Host, Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup; the host of The Expat Money Show, has 20+ years in continual travel around the world, visiting more than 100 countries including Colombia, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Iran.

His goal now is to help Expats just like you to generate additional streams of income, eliminate your tax bill, and take advantage of offshore structures so you can travel the world freely and never have to worry about money again.

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