I’ve spent the last few years getting to know more about communities and business in general. My best friend (brilliant software engineer) and I (loony master of no trade + idea guy) developed a community for local, independent businesses. We had interest but the venture fizzled out because we were spending too much time on the project and not getting much back from it. We made many mistakes along the way that may have led to its demise. I’d like to share my thoughts & experiences here in the hopes I might be able to help at least one other person out there. Getting into business isn’t EVER all candy canes and lollipops. I’m so disgusted and tired of ‘experts‘ and ‘gurus‘ out there guaranteeing success to people if you give them your money and follow their step-by-step plan. These are the same people that gave somebody else their money for the same thing. I’m not giving you any guarantees. I’m giving you the truth as I know it – ugly or otherwise.
Your Time & Personal Relationships Are Precious.
That being said, I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done. Difficult moments come before you all the time. You have to make decisions. You can only do your best to try and make the ‘right’ ones based on your knowledge and experiences. Reflect on your experiences and take a lesson from them instead of dwelling on what could have been.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to come up with great business ideas and make them work. I was working full-time and also working on the venture almost full-time. I hated being a salesman. I’m a very emotional person and get sick to my stomach going to work when I have no passion for what I do. I wanted to build something I could believe in and work for. I spent so much time working on this business community venture that I rarely saw my family and my relationship with my wife became strained. We argued. My wife saw my performance at the day job being affected and I stood by my venture. I believed my business was worth it and that it had nothing to do with my job performance.
Maybe it did affect my work. I was up until 3am many nights. When I was at work most times I could only think about the business. These were some very hard times. I felt the strain on my relationships and my sanity. I just kept telling myself that we would get over the hump anytime now. I’m an extreme optimist and tend to lie to myself sometimes.
The negative impact of mindlessly working non-stop is very real.
1. My relationships with my wife, family and friends were affected and I felt like a stranger.
2. I was losing my grip on reality. Seriously.
3. I didn’t get enough sleep.
4. I didn’t allow myself much time for non-work related activities (contributing more to my insanity).
Am I telling you not to go into business for yourself? No. Am I telling you not start something up that you really believe in? No. I’m just letting you know, as a friend, you may consider being cautious (especially if you tend to dive head first into passionate ideas). Carve out some balance or you might just fail and piss off a bunch of people in the process.
Was it all a less than positive experience? HELL NO!
Now here’s the good stuff:
1. I developed great business relationships with people I still keep in contact with today.
2. I met and learned from some really brilliant people along the way – in and outside our little community.
3. I did a crap load of research and learned a lot about what to do and what not to do in business.
4. I picked up some skills that I would not have otherwise. These skills are helping me today in my current (smaller scale) business. As a matter of fact, without these skills I couldn’t have even thought of my current business offerings.
Of course this is not the be all, end all. I’d love some feedback about your own concerns AND tips and advice from others who have struggled.