As a young entrepreneur, I made mistakes that caused entrepreneurship to be a lot harder than it should have been. These mistakes are not about hiring, marketing, operations, or funding; instead, these mistakes are emotional in nature:
- I spent two years hungry, unable to take my girlfriend out to nice dinners or vacation trips
- No Roth IRA, no savings, and I didn’t make a dent in my student loans caused a lot of stress
- Disassociation with friends and family
A lot of times entrepreneurs think that the hardest part about building a company is building the product and selling it; however, I’ll argue that maintaining a healthy relationship with your girlfriend (or boyfriend), friends and family, and saving money are just as difficult and equally important. Heck, the emotional side of entrepreneurship is probably even MORE important because it’s impossible to focus on work when your girlfriend is upset with you!
How I made it harder on myself
One of the most important decisions in my life was also my biggest mistake – November of 2007, I quit my corporate full-time job to pursue my startup full-time. Sure it’s a proud moment, but at the same time, it was pretty stupid.
The reason I couldn’t save money, pay off student loans, or take care of my girlfriend was simply, and quite obviously, a lack of money. Had I stayed at my corporate job and worked on my startup nights and weekends until my startup generated revenue, then the emotional stress of not having money would have never existed.
Furthermore, I could have used the money I made at my corporate job to hire a team of Virtual Assistants that could do a lot of the startup work for me, giving me more time to work on the important, mission-critical elements of the startup.
How you can avoid my mistake and emotionally prepare yourself for entrepreneurship
It’s pretty simple really – don’t quite your job until your startup is generating sustainable revenue.
Haha, it sounds so easy doesn’t it?
The much harder and more important part is to structure your work and life so that you don’t burn yourself out in the process of working a corporate job full-time and a startup company full-time.
Don’t burn yourself out
Working 8am-6pm on one job and 8pm-12am on another job is extremely tiring and stressful. I know this from first hand experience – it’s a big reason why I quit my corporate job to do my startup full time.
I’ve previously written two blog posts that highlight methods to make the work you do more effective:
- How I cut my work hours
- Scale your company
I want to highlight 3 key points that will immediately help you become more effective with your work-life, giving you more time to spend with your loved ones:
1. Systems and Operations
A solid system is a document (or video) that allows someone to take over a role without any sort of formal training. For example, you should have a system for engaging a potential client that consists of the following steps in detail:
- Sales Associate sends the potential client the Questionnaire that you have developed
- Once the Sales Associate gets the Questionnaire back from the potential client, the Sales Associate fills out the appropriate page on your Potential Client PB Works Workspace and emails you a copy of the Questionnaire
- The Sales Associate looks on your calendar and schedules a time for a call with the potential client
- The Sales Associate creates a conference call at the appropriate time and conferences you into the call
- The Sales Associate takes notes during the call in the appropriate PB Works page
- At the conclusion of the meeting, your team creates a proposal for the potential client based on the meeting notes
That is just one small part of a full Sales System that needs to be documented completely from beginning to end. With solid systems like this in place, people will know exactly what to do and exactly when to do it, giving you the ability to focus only on the mission critical.
2. The Virtual Assistant
I currently work with Virtual Assistants from Asia. I will of course write a much more in-depth post about how to effectively work with virtual assistants, but this brief intro should be enough to get you started:
- Do not hire a Virtual Assistant without solid systems in place. If you don’t have a solid system in place that allows the Virtual Assistant to pick up and run with her role, you will waste a lot of valuable time and money
- Morning time (time to start work) in South East Asia is around 4pm PST. Also, take note that Sunday 4pm PST is when South East Asia starts their Monday morning work
- You DO have the ability to assign your Asia team to work a Tuesday – Saturday schedule their time. This means they will be working Monday – Friday your time.
- Do NOT spend time training a Virtual Assistant that cannot properly do his job. It’s better to immediately fire a VA that is no good than to spend time training him.
- My company pays our international team about $3 – $4 per hour
The easiest place to start is Elance. Remember, don’t spend time training an incapable team. Give them the systems that you have developed and have them do the work. If possible, work out a deal with the team you hire that allows you to pay less for a trial run to determine if they are effective at the work that you need done.
Your team must be held accountable for the work that they do. This is probably one of the MOST important lessons that I have learned, and is something that is essential from the very beginning for a startup to succeed.
For a scrappy entrepreneur, take the following steps to create a solid accountability system that is easy for your entire team to use:
- Get the Free version of PB Works
- Create an Accountability Folder
- Each page should be the name of a person on your team
- Organize the page in this way:
- Projects for this week (cross-out tasks as you complete them)
- Additional Accomplishments
Example of what it should look like:
Week of 1-4-10
Projects for the week:
- Write a detailed blog post about emotional stability for entrepreneurs
- Create a sales plan
- Contact Chris Brogan to schedule a video interview with him
- Created a mockup design of the Welcome Tab
With emotional stability, you will be well positioned to run a successful and enjoyable startup company. Remember, we are human, and it’s important for us to make time for our loved ones and to make time to relax and enjoy the moment.
Check out all of the posts in the series here: Young Successful Entrepreneur Guide