Many (lucky) entrepreneurs like myself need to work a day job while trying to start their business. A start-up doesn’t usually rake in the money immediately, so the bills need to be paid somehow.

I’ve have made a few observations lately about where I’ve gone wrong in balancing my priorities over the past few years and how I want to adjust the course. I need to get this thing going!

The need to set aside time every day

I remember reading a free report called 279 Days to Overnight Success a few years ago and being inspired by one particular story:

For the past nine months, Dave has been getting up at 5:00 a.m. every day to work on his business before heading out to an office. His “real job” is as a senior software QA Manager for a major defense contractor, but lunchtime and late evenings are also spent plugging away at the business.

I often get this false sense that anyone who starts a successful company does it with this magical time in their lives where they don’t have a job and become shabby hobos until they “make it big.” But here is a story about a guy who puts his nose to the grindstone and does what it takes to make it work.

Also to quote the report:

I can tell you from experience that unless you set aside dedicated time to produce your art, the art will not get made.

So you need to set aside time every day to work on your business.

The need to set aside the right time every day

For quite some time, I had been working on my business in the evenings, and that tended to not work so well.

  1. I want to spend a little bit of time with friends and family. Evenings are when people tend to be free to socialize.
  2. I want to exercise and stay in shape. Also, I’ve found that going to the gym is not a great motivation to get out of bed in the morning.
  3. I have a lovely fiancée. She needs my love and attention and the occasional phone call. This usually needs to happen in the evening. (I’d hate to see what this would look like at 6:00 am.)
  4. I do fairly similar work at my day job. As I crank out code during the day, I run out of gas by the evening.

That last point has been key. I cannot count how many nights I finished my day job and felt paralyzed when it was time to start working on my business in the evening. Many times, this would lead to firing up Netflix and starting it at, drooling helplessly.

As for the evening, anything that I can muster up after 8 hours of working the day job is also spent on my business. But if a social event comes up (or a haircut or exercise or a call from the fiancée), I can do that in the evening too. And I can rest assured that I’ve already invested a few hours into the business that morning. Win.

The need to prioritize

Of course, the hard part is setting priorities. (Isn’t it always?) Which is more important, my day job or my business? Which needs to suffer a little? Something needs to suffer if you’re prioritizing anything in your life effectively. You can’t say yes to everything.

I ultimately needed to make the decision that starting my business is more important to me. So now I get up early to work on the business first. So far, I get a little tired at the end of the day job, but it’s doable.

Good news: this is only temporary

The final key ingredient is knowing that this entire plan is temporary. One day, I’ll be able to use Clear Crystal Media to pay my salary. I just need to make some sacrifices now in order to make that happen.

When that day comes—if I do everything right—I won’t necessarily need to get up at an ungodly hour in the morning to continue building the business. Utopia is the dream, right? Let’s get to utopia.

Photo credit: IMG_1058 by kevint3141. Some rights reserved.