Why you must focus on income generating activities

Why you need to focus on IGA
Focus on Income Generating Activities – Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

When you are running your own business on your own, you end up doing marketing, planning. scheduling, emailing and dozens of activities which all take up your valuable time. That’s to be expected unless you have an assistant to help you out. The trouble begins when these tasks take you away from activities you can’t bill clients for. So many independent facilitators, trainers, coaches and consultants spend hours on things that cost them money instead of making them money. Over the course of a year, that could be thousands of hours – a very expensive proposition.

Trouble begins when tasks take you away from activities you can’t bill clients for…

When you sit down and make a list of the things you can charge for, it’s probably a very small list. Now compare that with a list of all the tasks you do that you can’t invoice for. Scary isn’t it!? To run an effective business, you have to be crystal clear on where your no. 1 resource (you) is best employed.

If you were still working for a company, where would your boss want you to spend time? Right! Doing the things which pay for your salary. So Income Generating Activities (IGA) are those things that should be your no. 1 priority. Here are 5 reasons to focus on IGA.

You will be highly effective

I once worked with a guy called Matt who now works at Altassian in Sydney. On my very first day, I walked up to him unannounced and asked if he could sort out an issue in connection with employee data for a training program. Matt turned around, smiled, referred me to the Helpdesk then turned back to his work.

Initially I was surprised. But Matt had taught me a valuable lesson. The power of saying ‘no’. Short of a volcano or natural disaster, Matt let nothing distract him from his work. Matt knew that getting paid means getting results and getting results meant focusing on income generating activities.

As someone running your own facilitation or consulting business, you need to say ‘no’ more often than you say ‘yes’. And when you say no to things that don’t get results, you are saying yes to the things that make you more income. That makes you more effective.

When you say no to things that don’t generate results, you are saying yes to the things that generate income

You will waste less time

My former boss at Digicel in Jamaica, Martin Carroll was a results machine, Martin was responsible for a chunk of business. He was running a sizeable team, was married with a young family, and was studying remotely for an MBA. Every hour of Martin’s day was planned.

I was responsible for sales training in the Caribbean and quickly developed an employee mindset. I got bogged down in L&D reports and learning models. Martin reminded me that what he wanted were outcomes. If training didn’t move the needle and generate revenue, he had no time for it.

The lesson here is that time is money. It’s a perishable asset and the most valuable asset you have. Unless your most valuable asset can be converted into money, just what are you doing running a business? 

tim gouw 1K9T5YiZ2WU unsplash
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

You will be less stressed

Approximately 45.4% to 51% of small businesses reached the 5 year mark according to the US Government’s SBA in 2018. Two-thirds won’t survive the next 5 years. That’s shocking.

There are few things more stressful than reaching the end of the calendar year and realising that you have barely made a profit after all of your efforts. Hundreds of meetings, thousands of emails, dozens of client-engagements and almost nothing to show for it.

In episode 3 of the TrainingBusiness podcast, Pete Starr (UK) told the story of how he close he came to going back to a full-time job because he had a mortgage to pay and two small kids to provide for. Pete knuckled down and today runs ChilliPepper, a profitable training consultancy.

You don’t have to be one of the casualties that doesn’t survive. From today, make billable activities the number one focus of every day. If you can go to bed each night knowing you have generated revenue, you will be better off than those who lie awake wondering how close they are to failure.

You will be more valuable

On a 3-week training contract in Saudi Arabia in 2017, I met 2 consultants from the UK. Both of them were in their early 60s and had wanted to retire years ago. But they couldn’t afford to. If they stopped working, the money stopped coming in. They told me they felt trapped.

When I talked to John Warrillow, Author of ‘Built To Sell’ in episode 131, John explained how successful experts and consultants avoid this trap. Instead of just selling their time (which eventually runs out), they invest their time.

They create value in the form of training and facilitation products which create passive income streams. They develop systems around these products and then hire others to train them.

When you focus on IGA, your activity becomes a blueprint for something with real value. Something you can monetize. Something you can sell. And when you have something you can sell other than your time, both you and your business become exponentially more valuable.

You will make more money

Rob Moore says that you and I have 4 options every day for every task on our to-do list. These are Do, Delete, Delay or Delegate. If you try to do everything, you miss the really important stuff. You should be saying ‘no’ (delete) more often, delaying things or better still delegating.

If it’s not a key-results task, delay it, delete it or delegate it… @robprogressive

A very talented trainer friend of mine, Adam Wilson took on a large contract in the UK recently and realised that he was better off getting a VA to handle the administration, scheduling and all the other things that take him away from doing what he loves to do: sales training.

Adam and Rob both know that focusing on the tasks that get results their clients pay for is their number one priority. They have built businesses that generate income and that means focusing on income generating activities every time. The rest they leave to others.

If what you are doing right now doesn’t make you money you really have only three options delay, delete or delegate. Anything else is probably impacting your income.


You love running your business on your terms. You are free from the strictures and constraints of being an employee. But that freedom carries the responsibility of generating revenue.

Generating revenue requires you to focus on income generating activities. IGA are the things that will keep the wolves from the door and help you to beat the statistics of business failure.

Specifically, income generating activities are those activities which you can invoice for. They are billable. You can charge for them. They make you money.

When you focus on IGA, you start to think less like a consultant and more like a consultancy business owner. That’s where we both want you to be, right?

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