Screw the 4-Hour Work Week. Do This Instead.


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Bill D’Alessandro believes that one of the most fulfilling things in life is working on hard things with smart people. The allure of the 4-hour work-week mentality can easily take over when starting out as an ecommerce entrepreneur, but might not be the smartest tactic for all businesses. There is now a trend gearing businesses towards something more lasting. Bill was living the 4-hour work week dream until he decided to change it up and “grow up” in his business. Since having made the decision to hire, Bill has seen business grow as his company, Element Brands, grows. He’s now able to step away less often but more easily because he runs his business with quality people, that he pays well, and who are motivated to help him grow.

Bill is based in Charlotte, North Carolina and currently owns a portfolio of nearly 10 e-commerce sites primarily focused on household goods and personal care. Though Bill started the entrepreneur life as a digital nomad, he recently made the the switch to a corporate warehouse/office location in Charlotte and has 22 full time employees.

Episode Highlights:

  • The building of the Elements portfolio and how that process came about.
  • Using in-house vs. a broker for brand acquisition.
  • How Bill came to the choice of creating this more traditional business style.
  • What Bill’s typical day is like.
  • An example of when an employee saved Bill money as a result of their loyalty to the company.
  • How the structure allows Bill to disconnect thanks to the competent team he has in place.
  • Tips on hiring, vetting, and finding the cream of the crop.
  • Bill’s own hiring process.
  • Preferences for outsourcing people vs in-house training them.
  • Noncompetes Bill has in place and how they work well for him.
  • There are plenty of people out there interested in not being entrepreneurs but are interested in helping build great brands.


Mark: Okay one of the most popular business books that I can remember coming out in the past 15 years has been the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. And I’m going to admit I was a little annoyed when this book came out because all of a sudden everybody tried to become Tim Ferriss juniors where they were having their 2-hours per week that they were setting aside to answer e-mails and take phone calls. And so if I needed to reach out to them they would explain to me … they would say well I only answer e-mails during this time or I only take phone calls during this time and of course if it didn’t work with my schedule tough luck because they had their 4-hour workweek and they only had half of that dedicated to e-mails. And I think a lot of people went to that 4-hour workweek. During that time there was this allure of I can sit on the beach, I can take vacations and have this business that’s completely automated. That still has some allure today but more and more I hear people talking about being grownups in their business. Changing the way that they’re going about their business, hiring staffs instead of just doing pure outsourcing, building something that’s a little bit more lasting than what we’ve seen with some of that 4-hour workweek sort of business structure. So, Joe, I know you talked to a friend of ours Bill D’Alessandro. He was living that dream of the 4-hour workweek for a long time and then so to speak and Bill I would not say that you are a kid by any means but he grew up in business.

Joe: Yeah, he did and let me say right now folks that I’m having my house power washed so you’re going to hear the people in the background.

Mark: That’s why I was talking so long I was hoping that it would stop but it did not stop.

Joe: We’re all entrepreneurs, right? Li

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