Since February, I have enjoyed writing about my experiences of attempting to startup a business while working a day job. This past month, however, has been a bear for me. In the Rackspace office, our team has been going full tilt, producing content for our channels and campaigns. We have ramped up content production not just for the Rackspace blog, but also have produced a large number of videos and articles that live offsite. Outside the office, I have been planning a wedding along with moving and combining two houses into one smaller house and finding tenants for the houses we moved out of. Things have been busy.
So how does the startup figure into all this?
Trying to establish and grow a business has been extremely difficult during this time. Balancing work, personal and startup pressures is a lot, and I haven’t done this quite as effectively as I would have liked. Here are some things that I have found helpful in dealing with the stresses of work and a couple of major life events, and I would love to hear from readers and entrepreneurs on how you best handle the stresses of a day job, personal life and starting a business.
1. Have A Plan Before The Storm
My partner and I were able to see the tsunami coming before it got here. There definitive moving and wedding dates on the horizon. We both had experiences moving before, and I have been in enough weddings to know the craziness associated with that. We made a mistake by just accepting that there would be downtime during this busy period, but we would try to do as much as possible.
Not having an explicit plan made us feel like we were treading water instead of progressing. Indeed, we made some progress, however, we didn’t make as much as we would have liked. No matter how small, we should have defined tangible goals that could have been achieved during this period so we would have mile markers to judge our progress.
2. Dedicate Time To The Startup
This might sound silly, but you have to schedule time. Saying that you will work on the startup if you have any free time will mean that you will never work on your startup. Schedule a day and time to work, and spend the time working – not thinking about what else you have going on. I had more time than I thought. However, if you don’t actually write down when you are going to work, you will let the other things in your life pull you away.
If you have extraneous things that you enjoy, now is probably the time to give them up – or at least put them on hold — and focus on what is important: your job, the major shift in your personal life and your startup. This has been extremely hard for me to do. I like doing a lot of different things and have my thumb in a lot of pies.
Letting go of posting on my personal blog, strict adherence to reading a book a month, watching sports and dabbling with iPhone app development has been difficult. But it had to be done. All those things are great when you have time, but the moment it impacts one of the major things you want to focus on, it is time to cut the cords.
4. Surround Yourself With Solid People
There is no way that I could have worked on this startup during this hectic time without two very understanding people – my fiancé and my business partner. Planning a wedding takes a lot; in fact, my previous role was as a technical project manager in the cloud and none of my major projects have compared to planning a wedding. It takes a lot of time. In spite of this, my fiancé has encouraged me to work on the startup, and has really understood when I needed to take some time off and work.
My business partner has been equally solid. I am fortunate that he is a patient person who realizes that this is a particularly hectic time in my life. Instead of begrudging me for spending a lot of time on these personal matters, he has understood that this is something important and has even helped me out with the move. Furthermore, he has really been keeping the lights on and innovating on the product.
5. Get Rested So You Can Hit It Hard
In little over a week, I will be married. We are moved into our house and in the process of unboxing. We have found tenants for the old places. The videos at work are in postproduction and a lot of the articles are ready to go for when I’m out on the honeymoon. I guess I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but right now I am a little burned out. It’s time for a little rest and relaxation over the next several weeks. I’m looking forward to coming back refreshed and in the mindset to hit it hard again.
Starting Up (Is Hard to Do) is a weekly series published every Friday on the Rackspace Blog from a guy who is in the trenches of starting up a business while working a day job. Garrett’s going to running off to get hitched then travelling the country on a honeymoon, so there won’t be a post in this series over the next couple of weeks. Check out Garrett’s previous post that talked about locations where you can work on your startup along with the backlog of all his posts while he is out.