How to Stop Trading Your Time for Money


I was sitting at an Indian restaurant, lunchtime. Summer of 2011. I had been invited there by a guy I met at the grocery store where I worked, having quit my corporate America job a year earlier to do some much-needed soul searching.

He was a house flipper. I had found him a house. I found a lady with a bad tenant who needed to sell. I referred the lead over to him. It took me about 2 hours of time in total. He bought the house a few weeks later.

So there I was, at lunch. It was implied that I was going to get some kind of reward. I was nervous. It felt like a defining moment.

I was going to be paid for something I did OUTSIDE of a job. I mean, I had a job that I was getting paychecks from. I was going to get another check from somewhere else, at the same time? That challenged my thinking. 

He showed up, shook my hand, and slid into the booth. He smiled at me and put his checkbook on the table. He opened it, made some quick scribbles, tore off the check, and slid it across the table.


One thousand bucks. For 2 hours of work.

A warm feeling washed over me. Something had changed. I wasn’t sure what. I gratefully accepted the check and we had lunch.

During the lunch, his partner showed up. She congratulated me and made some kind of suggestion that went like “Imagine if you spent ALL your time doing this!”

A light bulb went off.

The investors did not care one bit whether finding that deal took me 2 hours or 200. To them, a deal was a deal, and a deal was worth a $1,000 finders fee. If I found 10 more just like it the very next day, they would have happily given me 10,000 dollars more.

The value was set at $1,000 per deal, and I had control over how the time was spent to produce the deals. 

At my grocery store job, I made $9 per hour. It was fixed. I couldn’t do something that was worth $100/hour, or $500/hr, no such thing existed there. And there was no way I could do $9 worth of work in 30 minutes. That wasn’t part of the agreement. 

With a job, the amount of value you can add is prefixed – it’s assumed ahead of time.  It’s built into whatever you are paid. Whether hourly or salary, your employer is saying “You’re going to do something that’s worth about $9 per hour to us” or “You’re going to add about $40,000/year worth of value around here”. 

As an entrepreneur, it is no longer your employer that decides how valuable you are. The market decides. The market has much deeper pockets. Better, the market is completely honest about your value. It doesn’t wait to give you promotions. It will give you 100 million dollars in your first year if you add that much value.

The market doesn’t care how much money you make. It just wants, or doesn’t want, what you are selling.

Plus, you get to decide how you will spend your time to add that value. You don’t have to sit in a seat for 8 hours per day. Time put in means nothing in the entrepreneurial world. All that matters is results. If you can get 8 hours of results in 1 hour, you can lay face down on the floor in your pajamas the other 7, and no one gives a fuck. 

You don’t even have to show up anywhere or at any certain time to add your value. If you want to do it over the computer, on the phone, from the beach, at 4 in the morning, while drunk, doesn’t matter. The value just has to be there. 

So it’s very important to think about how you want to deliver your value up front, so that you can decide on a type of value that fits your desired lifestyle. You obviously can’t be a public speaker if you want to deliver your value from the beach at 4 am, drunk. 

Start with the way you want to live, day-to-day, and back into the way you will add value from there. 

Points to remember:

1) You have control over the type and size of value you will add to the world

2) You have control over how and when and from where you will add that value. 

3) Monetize that value = become an entrepreneur = live by your own rules

Thanks for reading and please leave a comment below!


 Credit for the post image goes to:

Brian Ellwood

Brian Ellwood is an author, investor, and entrepreneur. Brian is passionate about helping others take what they love and make it into a real business that can make them money and give them the freedom they are after.