Many CEOs who work long, hard hours dream of cutting back. Although it may be a while before you can reduce your hours at work, even today you can let technology help you prepare for a future when you can be outside the office. Back in 1983, when John Sobeck started his company, First General Services of Northeastern Pennsylvania, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., he worked 80 hours a week. But he had a vision. By age 55, he promised himself, he'd be his own man. Today, at 54, Sobeck spends only 20 hours a week at his $2 million fire-and-water-damage restoration business.
Sobeck's years of preparation paid off. Early on, he wrote policies-and-procedures manuals that help new workers learn their jobs quickly. He customized a computer program that holds all employees accountable for their work by keeping tabs on their activity. And every year he invests from $20,000 to $30,000 in technology that tracks the company's pulse. "The business could pretty much run by itself," Sobeck says.
His company continues to grow. He and some partners opened a field office in 1996. Even so, Sobeck continues to spend his summers fishing in North Carolina. And when he's in town? He hits the links by 2 p.m.