How to Spend Less Time in the Office and Make More Money
Every year, we publish the Entrepreneur 360 — our list of the 360 most well-rounded companies in America, based on an evaluation of impact, innovation, growth, leadership and business valuation. This series spotlights some of this year's honorees. For more 360 content, view our 360 content hub.
Just because you love to start a company doesn’t mean you love to run it. You might not even be the best person for the job.
Joe Johnson, serial entrepreneur and founder of real estate firm Welfont, shares how an entrepreneur’s time outside the office can be as profitable as the time inside it.
You started dozens of companies before Welfont. How did that affect the way you built this company?
From the beginning, I was committed to building a business that could run without me. As an entrepreneur, my main job is to focus on the long-term or the next phase, not the day-to-day.
When entrepreneurs start a business, they tend to end up being the person that deals with every issue, whether they are control freaks, don’t have enough capital to hire the right people or just think it’s their responsibility to solve every issue. The more often they're in the office, the more convenient it is for employees to rely on them to solve every issue versus being proactive in solving their own issues.
How did you build a team that was independent enough to solve their own issues?
In 2018, one of the sales agents we had hired a couple years back was excelling at everything he did. He did not have the pedigree or resume as some of my previous hires, but he really knew our business inside-out. Instead of just giving someone else the baton and saying, "Here, go make it work," I worked with him and groomed him, and he’s done a better job than I have.
If you're not committed to building the right leadership team and getting the right leader in place, it’s not going to work because it may require lots of attempts like it did at our company. The commitment to the idea is what kept me trying multiple times, even after failing at implementing this idea twice before.
Was it difficult for you to let someone else take over the day-to-day?
Giving up control was hard. I won't say it wasn’t difficult. But I always think about what I’m giving up by dealing with all the operational issues and running all the teams and so forth. And what I’m giving up is the opportunity to pioneer another business. That’s what I love. That’s what I’m good at.
Sure, I could spend time cleaning toilets to save money because I know how to do that. But is that the best use of my time? Of course not; I'd rather pay someone to do that so I can focus on activities that generate more fruits of my labor. In the same way, for every minute I am dealing with a day-to-day operations issue, it’s a minute that I'm not dealing with getting the business ready for the next level.
So I take it working 9-to-6 at your desk isn’t your style?
One of the disciplines that I have held to is working from my home office, undisturbed. My team knows not to disturb me in the morning because that’s when I am working on a project or plan that requires uninterrupted thought, such as a strategic plan, creating a solution to a larger problem or coming up with new ideas. The results I generate from my strategic, undisturbed mornings are a lot more fruitful than the results I generate from the other work I do. Sometimes I go away for a few days and spend them somewhere completely undisturbed just working on a specific plan.
If you don’t block off time away from the office, you'll never be able to tackle those more important issues as well. And if your time is important to you, this needs to be a daily or weekly discipline at least.