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‘I only work 5 hours a week’

Written by Javed Iqbal

I have never been the entrepreneurial type. But after losing my job as a sound engineer in 2009, I had to get creative to make ends meet.

Thirteen years later, at the age of 39, I’ve built two online businesses, giving me a total of one $160,000 a month in passive income. I also recently published a book, “This is how you get paid for what you know.”

The first company I started was The recording revolution, a music and education blog that sells courses in music production. The other one, which I started in 2018, teaches people how to monetize their passions, just like I did. It is the most lucrative business, thanks online course and coaching program sales, as well as affiliate commissions.

Graham Cochrane started his first business in 2009. Since then he has scaled two online businesses and now earns around $120,000 a month.

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

About 2,800 people use my products and my goal is to help more entrepreneurs grow their online businesses while working fewer hours.

My top priorities are spending time with family and being able to give back, so I have arranged my work and personal life to focus on these key values.

This is what my typical day looks like:

The morning starts slow and easy

I usually wake up at 5 in the morning – before the kids – because I always want an hour to myself. I start with coffee and my Bible.

After some reading, prayer and journaling, I make breakfast with my wife and wake the children. We spend 20 to 30 minutes eating together in the kitchen before I drop them off at school at 7.30

Then I go back to my home office, or do a quick workout session if I’m in the mood.

Graham and his wife eat breakfast with their children in the morning before going over their schedule.

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

I only work five hours a week – Mondays and Wednesdays

Graham spends about five hours a week creating content and managing his businesses.

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

Once a month I film an exclusive workout for members of my paid community, which adds about two extra hours of work a month to my schedule.

I’ve never been a fan of the hustle culture; I don’t think it’s healthy or wise. If you can find a way to build systems into your business so that it mostly runs on its own, you don’t have to waste time on constant maintenance.

After all, what’s the point of “being your own boss” if you’re working all the time?

Family time is my #1 priority

People often ask me what I do with all the extra time in my week, and my answer isn’t the most exciting. I run errands, go to the gym, go to the car wash, have coffee or lunch with a friend, or dive into a good book. Right now I’m reading”To live fearlessly” by Jamie Winship.

But most importantly, I spend time with my family. Fridays are considered “date day” with my wife. We work out, go out to lunch, catch up on life, talk about the kids and meet with our marriage counselor.

Lately we’ve been focusing on how to communicate better when we disagree. No marriage is perfect and the work I have put into our relationship has made me a better husband and father.

My wife and I never compromise on picking up the children from school together. We want to be home when they are. Our other non-negotiable is family dinner. We sit down to a technology-free dinner every night. Most evenings my wife cooks and I do the dishes. But we also eat out a few times a week.

“My schedule has two non-negotiables,” says Graham: “I pick up my daughters from school every day, and our family has dinner together every night.”

Photo: John Olson for CNBC Make It

We love going for walks, swimming in the pool, watching movies or playing Nintendo Switch with the kids. By spending time together, we hope to teach them important life skills like sharing feelings and being kind to each other. I also want them to feel like valuable, included members of the family.

We are also big on travel – both locally in Florida and around the world. A few summers ago we spent a month in the South of France. And just this spring we stayed in Puerto Rico for three weeks. Having the time and flexibility to make these kinds of memories together is priceless.

Radical generosity a core value

About the author

Javed Iqbal

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