Here’s an email I received this week. I get some variation of this question frequently, so thought I’d share my perspective.
Q: I work full-time for a company, but dream about starting my own business. I’m afraid it would be impossible to juggle with all my other responsibilities, including a husband and two kids. I don’t want to shortchange my family, but I also don’t want to give up on my dream. What advice do you have for pursuing a business idea when you already have a full plate?
I started Red Spade, my former company, while working full-time at a publishing company. My business partner and I met in the evenings and on weekends to move the business forward.
Most days the time spent didn’t feel like a sacrifice because I was excited about taking our seed of an idea and bringing it to fruition. It didn’t feel like work or just another obligation. In fact, in those early days it felt like the fuel that gave me energy to go do my day job until I could make the new business my full-time gig.
What worked for me won’t necessarily work for someone else and vice versa. And it would be disempowering to suggest I have someone else’s answers.
But I do believe there’s power in sharing experience and perspective. So here’s mine:
Something else has to give.
I don’t think we should add things to our already full plate and simply think we can work harder or smarter to get them all done. It’s a recipe for stress and overwhelm. Which then, in turn, compromises resourcefulness and creativity.
So take a look at your life to figure out the tradeoff. What can you take off your plate and radar—at least temporarily—to give you time and energy to devote to moving your business idea forward?
It’s OK to just put your toe in the water.
You don’t have to dive in with a 20-hour a week commitment to your new endeavor. You can start small. Even really small as in a couple hours a week. Yes, devoting two hours each week means your overall progress may be slower, but there will be progress.
And the time constraint can actually have a surprising upside: Because you know time is limited, you are uber-focused and productive.
You have to be realistic.
We live in a culture that often depicts the end result as an “overnight success” without being honest about the time and effort it took to get there. Social media shows us someone’s published book or rock-hard abs, but we don’t see all the hours they spent writing the manuscript or working out at the gym.
Don’t set yourself up for frustration and disappointment—and possibly throwing in the towel altogether—because you expected instant success.
You’d better enjoy the journey.
I’ve found that most of life is journey, not destination. Dreaming about a business idea, starting a business, building a business…what unfolds over the weeks and months and years is mostly journey.
Yes, there’s the destination of reaching some milestone—the product launches, the client signs, the doors open, the first six figures is reached. But those destinations—as amazing as they are—are short-lived and won’t be enough if you don’t enjoy the journey that happens in between.
What’s your perspective? Do you have a nugget of wisdom to share from your own experience about how to pursue a dream with an already full plate?