What Is $10,000/hr Work?

One of my earliest memories in the online business world was hearing some advice about delegating.

The advice went like this:

“Stop doing the $10/hr work, so you can focus on the $1,000/hr work instead!”


As the years ticked by, I would hear this quote often. Usually parroted by other entrepreneurs in mastermind sessions:

“Yeah, bro, you need to stop doing the $10/hr work so you can focus on the $1,000/hr work!”

This frustrated me for one reason:

I didn’t know what the $1,000/hr work was!


Like all good productivity advice: Good in theory, harder in practice.

So what exactly is $1,000/hr work?

Better still, what is $10,000/hr work?

That’s today’s topic.

I’m writing it for the 2015 version of myself.

Delegation theory

I don’t know if you find this…

But all the lessons I’m learning at the moment seem to be stuff I was first told 10 years ago.

Like the delegating thing.

“Delegate the $10/hr stuff!”

It was hard then.

It’s hard now.

At times, I feel like I have nothing new to learn right now… I just gotta learn, and re-learn, the same old lessons.

Why does this happen?

It’s actually quite simple.

Throughout your career, you hear lots of advice that you’re simply not ready for.

You can understand the advice, appreciate the wisdom behind it, even parrot it to others (hello mastermind groups!)… but not actually be able to do anything with it.

For example:

Take the following quote from Fred Wilson, who said that a CEO has only 3 jobs…

  1. Set strategy
  2. Make sure there’s cash
  3. Build the team

Now, I probably heard some variation of that quote 10 years ago, when I first got started.

But back then, I wasn’t ready for it:

  • I didn’t have a strategy
  • I didn’t understand cash
  • I couldn’t afford a team

Fast-forward 10 years…

I heard this quote again recently, and it hit me square in the face like a cream pie at a clown convention.


My sole focus at StoryLearning right now is on team building and company structure.

It’s really difficult work.

Central to that work is redefining my role as CEO to make space for the new team to evolve.

The reason that quote from Fred Wilson hit me so hard, was because:

I’m ready for the advice this time.

I only have 3 jobs…

  1. Set strategy
  2. Make sure there’s cash
  3. Build the team”

Now, every time I face getting sucked back into operational matters in the business, I run it through the filter of “strategy, cash and team”, and use that to decide what to do.

I’m ready for the advice, and so I take it.

The lesson here is one of context.

Advice is only good advice when it lands at the right time to be accepted.

Stop doing $10/hr work!

This brings us back to our opening quote:

“Stop doing the $10/hr work, so you can focus on the $1,000/hr work instead!”

This is difficult advice for new entrepreneurs to take for a couple of reasons.

First, they don’t know what $1,000/hr work is, because they don’t have an effective strategy to relate it to.

Second, even if they did know, they lack the confidence to implement it.

Lack the confidence??

Yes, indeed.

For example, in 2023, I spent 3 months writing my 117-page case study.

Writing that Case Study was $1,000/hr work, because it laid the foundation for this business.

Heck, when all’s said and done, it will probably end up being $10,000/hr work.

So that’s knowing what to do.

Then there’s the confidence.


Having written the Case Study, I toddled off and spent $109,331 promoting the it… with no products, and no way that make that money back.

You need high confidence in your strategy to be able to execute with full conviction.

And the thing about $10,000/hr work is that the returns can take some time to come.


Even years.

So, there’s:

  1. Knowing what the $1,000/hr work is
  2. Having the confidence to do it

That’s why advice like this can be so hard to follow, and how most entrepreneurs end up just toiling away inside the hard limits of their $10/hr comfort zone.

Safe feels good.

Doing higher-value work


The reason I know all this is because I have spent the best part of the last 10 years at StoryLearning languishing between $10/hr and $100/hr work…

Flip-flopping between the two like a politician in election season.

Now, from time to time I also managed a bout of $1,000/hr work.

And that’s probably what’s saved me.

Managing just enough of the $1,000/hr work to keep growing the company and not totally sucking.

Thing is…

When you run a business the size of StoryLearning, you get your ass whipped into shape eventually. And more recently – finally! – I feel like I’m operating in a place when I’m doing mostly $10,000/hr work.

The entire point of the Fred Wilson quote was that a CEO must operate in that $10k/hr zone – otherwise what are they for???

In this context, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to categorise work at different levels.

That’s what the next section is about.

What is $10,000/hr work?

I thought it might help to give specific examples of what work at different “$-value levels” might be.

So here’s my list.

As you read, ask yourself critically what you are currently spending time doing, that you shouldn’t.

And what you’re not dong, that you should.

And be honest with me!

Otherwise what’s the point?

$10/hr work

Simple, procedural tasks that can be easily delegated:

  • Updating something on your website
  • Answering customer emails
  • Organising your inbox
  • Proofreading a sales page

You’d be amazed how many entrepreneurs with 6-figure businesses still spend tonnes of time in this zone.

This is the first stuff to delegate.

Important: Please don’t confuse “$10/hr” work with “low-value” work. The $-value simply refers to the opportunity cost of the founder’s attention.

Every hour you spend proofreading a sales page is energy you’re not devoting to the following stuff…

$100/hr work

Skilled professional work that is readily available for hire:

  • Funnel building
  • Design
  • Email list management
  • Copywriting, writing ads
  • Weekly team meetings
  • Group calls in a membership

This stuff can be the hardest to delegate, because most of us spent years learning these skills…

Heck, learning copywriting or funnel building was probably how you grew your business in the first place!

But what got you here, won’t get you there.

And these skills can be outsourced to competent professionals quite easily.

$1,000/hr work

High-impact growth activities that derive from your strategic plan:

  • Product creation
  • Capital raising
  • Testimonial gathering
  • Hiring
  • (CRO)

(CRO is in brackets because it’s a high-value, specialised skill that most people don’t have, so you’ll likely need to outsource it.)

As a 6-7 figure business owner, you’ll probably spend a lot of your time in this zone.

In fact, you could easily spend your entire career here, and it would be a good use of time.

But there’s another level…

$10,000/hr work

Work that alters the future of the company.

If you want to scale beyond 7-figures, this is where you need to spend your time:

  • Creating strategy
  • Figuring out how to remove founder from business
  • Negotiating strategic partnerships
  • Running quarterly meetings
  • Sessions with a mentor
  • Reinventing products

The key concept in this list is leverage.

For example, removing the founder from the business removes a bottleneck that can unlock new levels of growth.

Quarterly meetings give direction and inspiration to your entire team, who are responsible for executing on strategy.

Reinventing products may sound like an outlier, but e.g. figuring out how to boost product completion, or crafting virality in the business model (think Dropbox) can create exponential growth in and of itself.


Obviously, there’s tonnes of stuff in these lists that could fall into different categories, depending on context.

Most interesting is the distinction between $1,000/hr and $10,000/hr work.

You might like to look closely at this if you’ve been feeling at all ineffective recently, or if growth is stagnating.

You can build a team to handle the $1,000/hr work.

But you’re the only one who can do the $10,000/hr stuff while maintaining the integrity of the company.


We’re often told to:

“Stop doing the $10/hr work, so you can focus on the $1,000/hr work instead!”

But it can be difficult to follow this advice if you don’t know what the $1,000/hr work is.

Work with different relative $-value breaks down as follows:

  • $10/hr work: Routine tasks that keep things running but don’t grow the business
  • $100/hr work: Valuable professional work that is typically available for hire
  • $1,000/hr work: Important strategic tasks that contribute to growth
  • $10,000/hr work: Decisions and strategies that significantly shape the future

The specific tasks will change depending on where you’re at.

For example, for this newsletter, I don’t need to raise capital or removing myself from the business.

But I think writing my Case Study was a $10,000/hr task.

The secret is to know what the valuable work is for the stage you’re at…

And there are only two ways to know that:

  1. Experience
  2. Finding a mentor


As usual, today’s newsletter is a memo to myself…

“Dammit, Olly… stop proofreading Google docs!”

Only joking.


Until next week.



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  • Product ecosystem
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