First, my father taught me to work hard…

My father was a farmer and a natural-born entrepreneur. I grew up watching him try various ways to expand his farm business.

For example, in the photo above you can see him standing by his milk carton delivery van in the early 1960s. As far as I can tell, he was the first farmer in the UK to carton the milk from his farm, and sell the cartons from refrigerated vending machines in local towns.

By the age of about 8 or 9, I was out there on the farm with my brothers, earning my pocket money… bringing in the cows for milking twice a day, baling the hay in spring, harvesting wheat and barley in the summer… and helping to fill those vending machines each day.

Every Friday I would line up with all the other farm employees and collect my wages. I received a few coins in a brown envelope. How much “pocket money” I received depended entirely on how many hours I had worked on the farm that week.

As I grew into my teens, I took on harder work on the farm and my hourly rate increased accordingly.

Incredibly, I was about 16 before I learned that other kids received pocket money for free. They didn’t have to work for it at all. It was a gift. That was quite an interesting moment for me!

Looking back I now realize that growing up on a farm, and earning money for the hours I worked, has been a formative influence in my own businesses.

My father taught me about hard work. He taught me all the fundamentals that have supported me and driven me during my own adult life.

But there is one lesson he taught me that I got very wrong. Or rather, I just didn’t get it.

During the first three quarters of my own work life I was driven by the idea that I had to work really hard, all of the time, and that I would be paid for the hours I worked. That is the lesson I learned back on the farm.

But by doing that I had misunderstood a key element of my own father’s success. He didn’t just make money by the hour. He was very smart at leveraging his assets as a farmer. He found smart ways to make money. New ways to make money. Like his vending machines.

But it took me a very long time to understand that part of what he taught me.

For too many years I was focused intently on working hard and being paid by the hour. Maybe that’s the freelancer’s “disease”. Whether we bill by the hour or by the project, we are simply being paid for the hours we work. Just like a farm labourer.

It took me a couple of decades before I started to be more like my father, finding smarter ways to profit from my experience, my brand and my intellectual assets.

I now write, consult, and publish programs and courses. And, of course, I have my coaching business. And a day rarely goes by when I’m not thinking of new ideas and possibilities.

Think about this for yourself. Beyond being paid by the hour or project, how else could you profit from what you know and do?

What can you do that makes you less like me as a farm labourer, and more like my father as an entrepreneur?

If you want some help in developing your more entrepreneurial side, you may want to hire me as your one-on-one coach.

“Nick Usborne has helped me really see my strengths and weaknesses in marketing my services. In a very short time, he has taken me to a new level. Nick pointed out some assets that I hadn’t been fully exploiting. That gave me a lot more confidence. What a relief it is having someone to consult with who is focused on my success. It is such a blessing.”

Katherine Andes

Learn more about my coaching service here…

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