Quantifying Entrepreneurial Freedom

Did you become an entrepreneur to gain freedom?

Are you free?

I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners over the last 16 years and found only a few achieved anything like the freedom they thought a business would give them. In all that time working intimately on their businesses I realized that the reason they weren’t free was that they never quantified what freedom was to them.

I’ve heard, “I wanted to be my own boss” or “I didn’t want a boss,” but what they got was hundreds of bosses in the form of customers and employees. All of a sudden they were beholden to more people than they could count and their lives were a chaotic mess because of it.

I’ve heard, “I was the best at my job and didn’t want to keep making my boss rich when I should be making me rich.” Unfortunately, they weren’t rich. They actually struggled financially even with businesses doing millions in sales. What they didn’t comprehend when they started their own businesses was that their job was only a small part of the overall success of the business their boss owned.

After several years of consulting, I got to thinking about how to quantify freedom so I revisited the book, “How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World” by Harry Browne. This is a great book on how to define personal freedom and finding places in the world in which you can be you without reprisal.

I started pulling concepts from Harry’s book to use in my consulting with business owners. I started teaching them how to build a business without becoming a slave to their customers and employees. This did wonders for my client retention since not only was I making my clients more money I was also giving them the tools to get some of their life back.

And then came “The Four Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss in early 2007. I loved the book and immediately started using concepts in the book in my consulting business, my swimming pool company and my clients’ businesses. I helped my clients eliminate unnecessary tasks in their company and especially in their own day-to-day activities. I’m still amazed by how much time CEOs and founders spend on tasks that have no impact on their business, but have a detrimental impact on their time, income and mobility.

In 2008, I started assembling the concepts that became T.I.M. — Time, Income & Mobility. These are the macro-freedoms that comprise personal sovereignty. If you have freedom of Time you can do what you want when you want. If you have freedom of Income you can afford to do what you want. If you have freedom of Mobility you can do what you want wherever you want.

We live in a world of constraints so you will never have 100% freedom in any of these macro-freedoms. I’m not going to spend time on how to travel the world to maximize your freedom. The book “P.T.” by WG Hill covers this nicely with the 5 Flags Theory.

What I want to help you do is implement T.I.M. at a micro-level and the only way to do that is to define the freedom you wish to gain in each macro-freedom. An example could be that you want to train to summit the 7 highest peaks in Europe within 7 weeks. To achieve this you’ll need 3 to 4 hours a day for strength and endurance training and studying the best routes to climb. You’ll also need to be able to practice your mountaineering skills so you’ll have to live somewhere appropriate for your training. Then you’ll need an income source that allows you to live where you want and to step away completely from the business for at least 7 weeks for your adventure.

That’s an exciting example, but I’ve done it in a more mundane way by structuring my business to allow me to be anywhere there is high-speed internet access. I’ve set up my day so that I can give my daughter several hours a day to help her with her home school projects and study. I have enough income to live a comfortable middle class life and still do a big trip each year along with some smaller trips.

I’ve determined that I’m willing to trade some of my income for significantly more time. Mobility is a lesser issue for me as my wife and daughter aren’t interested in moving around the world, but I have enough mobility freedom to do the adventures and travels that I enjoy.

To get control over your Time, Income and Mobility you first need an income source that is geographically independent. This is the crucial element of freedom in the modern world. If your income is derived by you personally being somewhere then your other freedoms will be greatly diminished.

I’ve been dismayed at how the Internet Marketing (IM) crowd has gotten people to believe that mostly unsustainable business models are the only way to achieve geographically independent income. This is wholly untrue. Unsexy business models such as home service businesses can provide you with income that allows you to be anywhere even though the business is strictly locked into serving a geographic area. I’ll go into more on sustainable business models in a later chapter.

Once you have enough Income to pay your bills, you need to focus on gaining Time freedom. To do this you must develop business systems that remove you as a bottleneck to the growth and sustainability of your business. These systems will consist of software and personnel, but they will also consist of systems for elimination. In a later chapter I’ll go in depth on systemization.

As your business grows, some tasks that were necessary to start your business are no longer necessary for its continued success. The elimination system is mostly forgotten by CEOs and founders. As humans we tend to be conservative, meaning we tried to preserve things from the past whether they are needed or advantageous in the present or not. A lot of freedom can be found in simply identifying what is no longer necessary and then stop doing it.

Lastly, we can focus on gaining our Mobility. This is last because to launch a company is a huge undertaking and requires lots of uninterrupted work. If you are traveling from country to country and city to city you won’t have the necessary continuity of labor to succeed or at the very best you’ll delay your success by a multiple of the time you spend traveling.

Strangely, out of the three macro-freedoms Mobility is the most resisted. I’ve shared the T.I.M. philosophy with hundreds of people and many of them (mostly Americans) say they don’t want to travel. The freedom of Mobility isn’t about traveling. It is being able to live, work and play where you want even if that means you choose to do so where you are now.

Know this, your Time, Income and Mobility will be in a constant state of flux. You may trade some of your Income and Mobility to gain more Time to get your startup off the ground, but then later trade some Income potential for more Mobility.

The only constant is that you must quantify your freedoms. If you don’t, then life does it. Other people will define your freedom. You have to take responsibility for how your life functions to actually have freedom.