"My son is now an 'entrepreneur.' That's what you call it when you don't have a job." - Ted Turner
"I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity." - Oprah Winfrey
Earlier I mentioned wood carving. Now, I love that
craft. It's truly one of the most satisfying activities I've ever
done. If I could figure out a way to make a meaningful living out of
doing it I would, and I would have been doing so for a while now. In
fact, some day I hope to retire to a secluded house with a small
bedroom, a whatever in the rest of the dwelling that will make my lovely
bride happy, and a huuuuuge wood shop from which I can tell the rest of
the world to fu...er, to leave me alone. And, of course, a writing
desk with which to do so.
It took me a while to learn enough about the
craft to consider myself competent, but I'm still not that good at it.
It's like any other craft--read all the books you want on it, but those
won't make you better. It can only be learned by doing, and then by
doing it again, and then by spending another 50,000 hours(ish) doing it
What didn't take me long to figure out about
wood carving was that it's a
fun activity but it doesn't represent a great potential for making a
living. I say that not to denigrate those who are doing wood carving
now--I know that many people do a fine job at it, and a few do manage to
make a fine living out of it. But I've
always believed in the power of multiplicative business that I learned
around in Amway some years ago, proving that the "get your friends to
buy soap" idea just ain't my thing.
It's really pretty simple. The basic idea: as an
entrepreneur, you have a certain number of hours available to you. Each
of those hours is--must be--worth $X to you. That's your bottom line,
your most precious commodity, because you only have so many hours available, and once the hours are gone you can't
Now, the math on a linear model is simple. Each of us has 168
hours per week--no more, no less. Each of us has to sleep for part of
that--let's say 7 hours a day. You're also going to spend time doing
other stuff, and let's assume for the sake of argument that whatever you
choose to do to earn a living doesn't combine well with, say, showering
or time with family. Entrepreneurs don't typically only work 40 hours a
week, of course, so let's pick an even number somewhere in the realm of
normal: 60 hours.
Unfortunately for the typical entrepreneur, nobody's gonna show
up at your door to buy your products out of the blue. You have to
market and merchandise. Let's say--half of that time. I know it seems
like a lot when you're approaching the topic fresh, but believe me that
it's realistic. So there you go--30 hours per week actually producing
what you're going to sell, which is the amount of time you'll actually
be making money. Everything else is just administrative "stuff" that
goes with the task of running a business.
Alrightee, we're almost done. Thirty hours per week, and let's
assume you're a super-human worker who doesn't need vacations (not that
tough an assumption to swallow, really, if you love what you're doing).
Thirty times 52, then, is 1,560.
One thousand five hundred and sixty hours. That's it in a linear
model. That's all the time you have to make your money. So--how much
do you want to make? $40,000 per year? $30,000? $50,000? A
beeeeelion dollars? It's up to you and your budget. What's it
going to take to make your life a pleasant and happy one?
Let's say you just said "TOSK, I think I could be pleasantly
pleased on $40,000 per year." Good, let's go with that. Now divide that
by the number of hours: $40,000 / 1560 hours is $25.64 per hour. THAT
is what your work has to be worth to you to do this.
good news is that makes it a simple question: can you make
$25.64 per hour? If your chief product takes one hour to create from
start to finish, can you sell each one reliably for $25.64 plus cost of
parts? If it, like a lot of wood crafting projects, requires a few
hours--let's say, for the sake of calculation, four hours--can you sell
it for just over a hundred bucks plus the cost of the wood (and screws
and other crap)?
Most crafts, and most craftsmen (especially when starting out), that answer is no. Believe it or not, back when I
was sick and having troubles finding a job between episodes of coughing
my lungs up, I tried to do cross-stitch because a) I didn't own any
woodworking tools, and b) my wife at the time already had everything
needed to do cross-stitch. But cross-stitch takes hours and hours to
do, and sells for a pittance. Beading: same thing. Dream-catchers take
less time and sell for more, but everybody and his brother and their
cousins and even their girlfriend's pet cat is making dream-catchers, so
we couldn't sell them reliably.
But here's the flaw of the linear model: you make what you make, and it takes whatever time it takes, and then you can
only sell it once.
Enter the power of multiplication. In Amway's business model,
that involves roping your friends into selling your crap too, and so your
income is a product of your time plus a portion of your friends' time
as well. Works great, if you're into--that. I'm not.
world of the authorpreneur, though, works along the same principle. Write a book once, and then you can sell it to
several different people. Yes, once everybody who would buy it has a
copy you're done selling, but do you have any idea how big that number
is? I sure haven't come close. Neither has Konrath, one of my personal
idols, and he's been doing it for years.
what I'm saying? With the multiplication model you invest
the time into creation once, and you sell many copies for a period of
time. You just have to be able to sell it, and in the field of writing
that's seeming to get tougher and
tougher every day with the number of people who are creating books
increasing. There's a LOT of noise out there, and it's hard to be
noticed. It's certainly not something you can just create and forget
about. You have to constantly work your marketing/merchandising
muscles. But remember that 50% rule that I mentioned earlier? All that
I've admitted here is that it's applicable to writing.
By the way, I didn't make the 50% rule up. It actually came from
a few books I read once upon a time when I was looking at starting up
my own IT business. It seems to be a fairly consistent rule through
accounting, IT and other fields: the professional is going to spend half
of his professional time in non-productive pursuits.
Anyway, that's the allure, to me, of becoming an authorpreneur: write once, sell many times.