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Are you wondering how much of a sacrifice is required to build an online business if you currently have a day job and family?
This post lays out 7 habits I enjoyed but happily chose to give up in order to get serious about growing my online business.
Plus I let you in on the 1 tip that made giving up these habits not feel like a sacrifice.
Each habit took up a portion of my time and energy that was not used to grow my business. By cutting out these activities and applying more diligent focus in the last 2 years I have seen my business grow consistently from $1-2k/month to over $10k/month.
My typical online business work schedule has me working 2-3hrs each weeknight (7:30pm-10:30pm) and 6hrs per day on weekends when my son is sleeping. My total hrs worked on my business is typically around 25hrs/week (some weeks can be a lot higher).
7 Habits of Not Yet Succesful Online Entrepreneurs…
- TV – This one is the single biggest time sink for most people and probably was for me as well. The average American watches a disturbing 34hrs per week of TV (almost 5hrs per day 7 days a week!). I was below that but was still wasting too many hrs each week watching TV/movies. For the last year I have cut my hrs down to about 1 show per season (just can’t give up Game of Thrones!).
- Before = 9hrs/week
- Now = 1-2hrs/week
- Reading the News/Industry Blogs – If you read the news everyday it feels like a lot is happening in the world. However, if you randomly check in on the news once per month you realize very little changes. This was an easy item to cut and although I feel like I am not as well informed about important issues the trade-off is worth it. Also my Google Reader, now Feedly, used to be packed with great blogs I felt I needed to keep tabs on but have since decided to only read posts that are directly applicable to me at the time.
- Before = 3hrs/week
- Now = 0.5hrs/week
- Facebook/Social Networks – Ok fine, I still go on Facebook but I definitely go on it less and avoid getting into lengthy messenger chats on Facebook/Skype/Google+.
- Before = 4 hrs/week
- Now = 1hr/week
- Computer/Video Games – If you have seen the number of graphs I include in my income reports and my reference to the Game of Thrones above it probably isn’t a shocker I am a bit of a geek and do enjoy my computer games. After TV giving up computer games was probably the most beneficial item I gave up. When I am working and hit a tough spot it was/is tempting to stop and play “just a quick 1/2hr” then 3 hrs later no work is done. However, pushing through that tough spot and getting the hard work done is the most important time for me. So, although it wasn’t the biggest time sink it was the activity that I gave up that had the biggest per hr benefit to my business. If you are serious about growing your online business I would encourage you to think about what alternative activity do you turn to when working on your business becomes no-fun. If you can identify what that activity is and then cut it out your alternatives will not be as attractive when you hit a tough spot and you will be more likely to power through and get the hard/important work done.
- Before = 6 hrs/week
- Now = 0.5hrs/week (damn you Clash of Clans still being on my phone)
- Exercise/Sports – I used to enjoy doing activities several nights a week (tennis, biking, soccer, baseball). However, over the last few years I have definitely trimmed these hrs. Every other activity I gave up I am confident it was a wise choice but this one may not be. I still need to find the right balance to get some extra recreation/exercise hrs into my weeks.
- Before = 10hrs/week
- Now = 2hrs/week
- Reading Books – I probably like to think I did this more than I actually did but working on my business has given me a good excuse to completely give this up. Reading a good biography was always enjoyable when I did it regularly but as I increased the % of my free time I worked on my business cutting out reading of books made sense. I still listen to Podcasts and a diverse set of non-fiction Audiobooks when driving.
- Before = 2hrs/week
- Now = 0hrs/week
- Home Improvement Projects – I am mediocre at home improvement projects (fence/deck were good but I had to call in for help to finish a full bathroom reno I started). I had plans of getting better at it and doing a few more projects around the house but I have since decided that the satisfaction I get out of doing the projects myself and cost savings is not worth the time I could spend building my business. The total amount of time spent averaged out over a year wasn’t too bad but the problem with these projects is they would be completely time consuming when I was in them and I wouldn’t grow my business at all for a couple weeks.
- Before = 2hrs/week (~100hrs/year of projects)
- After = 0hrs/week (obviously the usual house maintenance is still required)
The math of the hrs saved to the number of hrs I work on my business doesn’t exactly work out and the reason for that is because not all the hrs that were trimmed went into my business. A lot of the hrs have gone into spending time with my son whenever he is awake and I am in the house.
A few things I haven’t and won’t cut…
- Family Time with my wife and baby boy – I don’t work when he is awake, except under some rare occasions.
- A few key sports I am not willing to go without – Skiing and Biking are too important to me and I will not be giving them up for a more successful business.
- Working extra hrs at my day job to make sure I deliver- I enjoy my challenging day job and want to be sure to always deliver so I definitely have to put in more then the standard 40hrs/week to make that happen.
- Sleep – It is tempting to sacrifice sleep to get more work done but it is always a short-term fix that in the end has me working less productive hrs the next days until I am caught up. Some times it feels necessary to work extra hrs to meet a deadline but my goal is to avoid time management mistakes that result in me working extra hrs robbing my sleep.
Why It Doesn’t Feel Like a Sacrifice
Building a business that provides value to people and generates both passive and active income all from my computer part time is a lot of FUN! The idea of building a website with nothing more than a $10 domain and a $5/month hosting package plus A LOT of hard work that can grow to make up $3,000/month (or more) is still mind blowing. Coming up with an idea, putting a plan together and managing a team that turns the idea into reality all from my computer at night is simply an amazing opportunity that I am thankful technology has afforded me and you.
But the number one reason why all the hard work doesn’t feel like a sacrifice is because the idea that as I reach the goals I have set out, the life (in terms of freedom/security) I can provide for my family is incredibly motivating.
What Have you Given Up to Build Your Online Business? What Motivates You to Give Those Things Up?