Achieve More: Run Yourself Like a Company

Straight out of high school, I began working as an Assistant Accountant part-time at a publicly listed manufacturing company. I was exposed to its inner workings by assisting the CEO1 and CFO2 with various projects. At the same time, I was studying subjects like Corporate Law at university where I learnt that a company is a legal person that can do almost everything a human can do (plus some things humans can’t, such as raising funds through share offerings). It wasn’t long before I realised running yourself like a company is a fantastic way to achieve more with your life.

Being told a company is the business equivalent of a human being changed my perspective of how companies operated. I thought of a company as a single person, and all employees were just elements of that person who specialised in certain roles. If you’ve ever seen the animated movie Inside Out, it was sort of like that. To help with my explanation, I will call this company ‘Co’.

Co has an overarching mission, specific goals that are part of the achievement of that mission, and metrics that she will use to track her progress. Co allocates her resources to different areas of her life with the goal of maximising her progress towards her mission. Accordingly, part of her resources go towards actually achieving progress, some go to planning for future growth, and others go to measuring her progress to make sure she is on the right track.

Why You Should Run Yourself Like a Company

A company is the ultimate productive person, all else being equal.

Pit two people against each other in a race to achieve a goal: Co and Joe. Co is a company made up of 100 employees all specialising in various tasks, working together to achieve that common goal. Joe is an average human guy. Joe’s screwed.

What Are Co’s Advantages?

  • She is more focussed and organised
    • Co knows what she wants and why she wants it. She regularly spends time forecasting the next week, month, and year to be prepared for future events, make the best use of her time, and maximise the return on all of her resources
    • In contrast, Joe has never thought about what he wants from life and regularly suffers from lack of motivation. Joe doesn’t have a budget and doesn’t actively manage his time
  • She knows her strengths and weaknesses
    • Co understands her strengths and plays to them. She knows what aspects of herself (employees) are good at what, and regularly trains and educates them in order to improve her abilities
    • Joe puts in just the right amount of effort to get the job done, and stops there. He doesn’t think much about growth or improvement; he just wants to relax
  • She is more efficient
    • Because Co spends some resources on tracking her inputs and outputs (resources like time and money, and outcomes like sales, profits, or products), she can pinpoint where she is wasting time and money and can put systems in place to reduce the waste. Doing this allows her to spend less to achieve the same goal
    • Joe ignores the times he procrastinates or gets distracted, and he doesn’t really know where his money goes — he doesn’t like thinking about it. Because of this, he has never actively put habits in place to help himself waste less time and money
  • She is scaled, and therefore more productive
    • The obvious difference in the competition is that Co is made up of 100 humans, effectively making her 100 times more productive than Joe without doing anything special. However, the points above should make it obvious that 2 hours of work by each of the employees in Co (200 hours in total) would outperform 200 hours of work by Joe
    • Additionally, Co doesn’t try to do everything herself. She knows how much money she can make in an hour and understands that she is better off paying other people to do work for her if it costs her less than her hourly rate
    • Besides Joe just being a single human, he has never heard of the concept of outsourcing. He would never pay someone to do a job around the house when he could do it himself for free.

In the business world, a company’s objectives are primarily financial in nature but don’t need to be — just look at not-for-profit companies. For example, Alcor, a leading cryonics institution. From its website, Alcor’s mission is “the preservation of individual lives”. It plans to achieve this through major goals, including:

  1. Maintain the current patients in biostasis.
  2. Place current and future members into biostasis (when and if needed).
  3. Eventually restore to health and reintegrate into society all patients in Alcor’s care.
  4. Fund research into developing more cost effective and reliable means for 1-3 above.
  5. Provide public education as a means of fostering growth to support the goals of 1, 2, 3, 4 above.

You can imagine a single person with the same goals and trying to do everything by themselves, but a company is a better entity for achieving bigger goals.

If you could run yourself in a similar way to a company, you could achieve bigger and better things. Or you could simply be more focussed, manage your time and money more effectively, and achieve your goals faster and more easily.

How to Run Yourself Like a Company

Depending on what your goals are, you might approach this from a different angle or only implement some practices instead of all of them. Let’s go through the advantages of a good business that you can apply to your own life.

  • Be clear about what you want
    • Companies often have a ‘mission statement’ — an overarching goal that all of their actions are helping to achieve. This is pretty much your “purpose” or a direction you want to take in your life. You then break this down into smaller goals that can be measured
  • Measure your progress
    • If you don’t track your progress, you don’t know how well you are doing. Everyone values things differently — some people care more about freedom and relaxation, others about growth and improvement, others about friendship and experience, etc. Set sub-goals like ‘try at least 3 new activities each year’, or ‘become close friends with 10 new people this year’, or ‘increase income by $100 a week’, then you can track your progress. You can see if you’re on track to achieving your goals, and you can look back to see how much you have improved
  • Allocate your resources effectively
    • We all have 24 hours in a day — how effectively do you use yours? Do you spend time on things that aren’t helping you live the life you desire? Do you stay distracted for extended periods of time, or procrastinate excessively? Highlight the areas where you could use your time more effectively, and put habits and strategies in place to reduce this wasted time.
      Plan your days and your weeks so that you can allocate some time to each of the areas of your life that you want to achieve something in — for example, a company doesn’t spend all of its wages money on salespeople or factory workers. It knows it needs to allocate some of it to administration roles, accounting tasks, marketing, and possibly managers to ensure progress continues to run smoothly and grow into the future.
      If you’re spending all of your time working and hanging out with friends, you could be spending too little time on planning your future and tracking your resources, looking after your health, or making progress in any other part of your life
    • Understand where your money is coming from and going to — put together a quick budget and track where most of it is going. Have a plan for how much money you need to have as income or in the bank to live the lifestyle you desire or achieve certain goals. How much more money do you need to earn to reach this target? What methods of making money are best for you? Are there black holes in your expenses that your money is being sucked into? Put a plan in place to spend money on the things that are actually worth spending it on, and work out a plan to grow or maintain your income to the level you want it to be at
    • Willpower is another limited resource. Make it easier to get out of bed, try not to spend too much time arguing or putting up with things that just make you frustrated. Your willpower is used for things like patience and decision making. To boost your ability to make harder or more decisions, reduce the willpower you use on less important things
  • Scale yourself
    • Get more things done in any amount of time by automating and outsourcing
    • To get more done in the same amount of time, you could simply remove the need for time to be traded for something by setting up an automation. For example, create email rules to automatically sort your mail as it arrives, put in recurring calendar items instead of putting the same thing in every day, week or month, write up a regular note/task/paper in digital form and print it instead of re-writing it by hand every time you need it, or buy a time-saving product like a robotic vacuum
    • Pay people to do things for you —  e.g. an overseas or local freelancer, a younger sibling, or a company with people designed to save you time. In my post on ‘how much is your time worth?‘ I explained how you can get more done by paying people to do tasks for you if it costs you less than your hourly rate. As a brief example, if you earn $20/hr and normally spend 20 hours of each week on household chores and starting a business, and 20 hours at paid work, then you’d make business progress, make $400, and have a clean house every week. Alternatively, say you pay a younger sibling to do the household chores and some basic admin stuff in your start-up business (10 hours in total) for $10/hr. You continue to spend 10 hours on the more intensive parts of your start-up business, and now you can spend 30 hours a week working. You are now achieving the same progress towards your goals as before plus an extra $100 a week3

This list is not exhaustive, and not everything will appeal to you. However, the more systematised, scaled, and focussed you can be with your goals and resources, the faster and bigger your success will be. This is a major reason why good companies can achieve so much more than individuals.

  1. Chief Executive Officer — the person responsible for the business as a whole

  2. Chief Financial Officer — the person responsible for all big financial happenings

  3. +$200 from your extra work, −$100 paid to your sibling

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