Last February, Dave Navarro and I put each other to a challenge — he put my ebook on how to start a freelance business to the test in a Freelance Smackdown to see if he could make an extra $1,000-$2000 per month in his spare time. Within a month, he had made that goal.

Then I challenged his 30 Hours a Day Program to see if I could use it to make an extra $20,000 in passive income that year.

Melinda Brennan of WAHM Biz Builder recently asked… so how’d it go? I’m happy to announce, that this challenge has had an incredible positive financial impact in my life. And in astounding ways that I never expected.

In order to devote time to my new goal, I would have to free up some time. I have never been so aware of and so in awe of the power and consequences of time spent until I began working for myself.

Two Paths Diverged In A Yellow Wood…

There was a critical choice that had to be made in order to free up that time… a choice so pivotal that it would change the course of my future. It’s a choice that every freelancer faces, whether or not they realize it to be a choice. One choice would be a fast path, the other a long haul.

Should I continue on as a solo freelancer? Or should I turn my freelancing gig into a company?

The Solo Freelancer Path

As a solo freelancer, my work was fairly stress-free. I was fluent at what I did. I worked with a handful of steady clients and project management was fairly straight-forward. Really, my solo freelancing career had turned into a stable work at home job.

My life was predictable and safe. I lived in my favorite place in the world – a place that I finally felt at home after years of moving around the country. It would have been so easy to just maintain that predictability and safety by cutting back a little on freelancing and devote that time to building my passive income stream.

The Living Company Path

Having taken this path, I can say that making the shift from solo freelancer to full-fledged business owner is not the simpler route. The path is riddled with fears, obstacles, tests, puzzles, and quicksand. Instead of being financially responsible for just yourself, you are now financially responsible for the people that work for you.

There may be times when there are just not enough funds in the coffer to pay yourself after you’ve paid everyone else and your overhead. There is training that must take place, organizational systems to set up, and more paperwork to manage. There are systems to develop to ensure that quality and deadlines are met. And all of these things demand a great deal of time.

That is why you may have noticed my blog posts becoming more infrequent during certain months. Although I consider myself a person that can juggle a LOT of tasks and, throughout my life have taken on more than what most people would consider sane, I was still hammered for time. Many times, my life felt like a game of Tetris with all of the blocks falling so fast and capacity running out.

But I’m glad I chose this path.

There are upsides of course. One is the possibility of creating something larger than yourself – a legacy that can live on without you – fulfilling one of the most primal human desires. Another is the ability to serve more people with work that you are passionate about. A third is the possibility that one day, the company can grow to a point where it operates almost on it’s own, but generates revenue for years to come.

A lot of people have had amazing results keeping their business solo or almost solo while building massive income streams with info products. I mean, look at Naomi raking in the bucks with her products (and with damn good reason – the chick is a rock star). Look at Ray Edwards and other master copywriters who charge tens of thousands of dollars for copy and make money giving classes and seminars.

Sadistic or Smart?

So why go the business building route when so many others are making bank by staying solo? Perhaps I’m self-sadistic. Perhaps it’s some sort of sick sense of low self-esteem or a refusal to let go. Perhaps it’s the lust of wanting to have my cake and eat it too. Whatever it is, it’s the road I took and I’m glad I did.

I like to tell myself that it’s because I love what I do, I love serving customers who are passionate about growing their online businesses but may not have tens of thousands of dollars to spend. I like to tell myself that it’s because I want to be able to scale to serve more of my clients in the same capacity.

After busting a$$ for a very long time, free time to work on the ‘big picture’ is within view. Just this month, we hired a personal assistant and are hiring a full-time project manager. This gives me the opportunity to create even more systems to help the business scale and to pursue other ventures, produce some products that have been on my mind for quite a while, begin offering consulting – and all while serving more of the customers that I love.

So Did I Make the $20,000?

Yes, I have made $20,000 in passive income last year.

I created a system within my existing business that worked to produce income from projects with minimal hands on involvement from me. I worked my a$$ off creating systems that can continue that trend year after year.

And I’m positioned for even further growth next year, having invested created a (mostly) automated syndication platform, Online PR News, that allows people to upload press releases at various distribution levels, that generates revenue without having to trade hours for dimes.

I thank Dave for asking me the tough questions. It got me thinking differently and this caused me to rethink everything in order to accomplish that goal.

How did Dave Do?

Read Dave’s unfiltered progress and results when he challenged himself to follow the steps in my ebook “How to Start a Freelancing Business for $50 or Less“:

How I Boosted My Confidence In 5 Minutes And Made Over $5000
Freelance Smackdown: Expanding Services (I’m Doing It, You Should Too)
Freelance Smackdown: Expanding Services, Part Deux
Freelance Smackdown: Day 7 Update (Now Codeine Free!)
Freelance Smackdown: Day 14 Update (With “Secret”-Busting Goodness)
Freelance Smackdown: Week 3 Update (”Once More, With Feeling”)
Freelance Smackdown – Did It Blend?

How To Grow Your Business From Solo Operation to Business Operation

The details of growing a business from solo to a fully operational team could certainly fill a book. Instead writing an obscenely long blog post, I’d love to open up the comments section to stories and questions about growing your home-based business without going into debt by using creative, strategic methods.

Growing and Marketing Your Business in A Tight Economy

If you’re really serious about growing your business, I highly recommend Melinda Brennan’s upcoming free business marketing teleseminar, Marketing Biz Brainstorm, taking place live on March 3rd at 2:00pm EST. I’ve been invited to be a panelist on this call with Melinda of WAHM Biz Builder and Kelly McCausey of WAHM Talk Radio.

One of the goals of this teleseminar is to answer of your personal questions on small business marketing. When I say your questions – I mean it! The call is very much directed by the questions YOU submit when you register for free. So think of some good questions and ask them here – because this is a great opportunity to get your questions answered for free!

If you’re in business for yourself, you’re in a state of constant flux… where are you now? What challenges or fears do you face in terms of growth? Do you have any tips to help others scale? I’d love to hear from you!

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