There is absolutely no shortage of articles in circulation about making the decision to go it alone, and jump (or, in many cases, gently slide) into the uncertain but rewarding life of being your own boss.
However, the vast majority of these articles, whilst offering a great deal of genuinely relevant and valuable advice, tend to focus very much on one thing – saving money in order to give up the day job.
Ironically, after following all the standard advice to the letter for years and years, I discovered that saving money in order to quit your job in pursuit of doing something you truly love is exactly how not to position yourself for success. In fact, it is possible the best way to ensure that you spend the best of your days and all your energy working excessive hours and never really realising your dreams.
Whilst it may at first glance sound counter intuitive, the reasoning behind this is – when you look at it from a different perspective – completely logical. If you are focused on making money (assuming that you currently work for a living and are therefore paid by the hour), there are two ways to save money. First, spend less. Second, earn more. Ideally, you would do both. The trouble is, life costs. No matter how good your job, the chances are that your basic lifestyle consumes a huge proportion of what you earn. And even when you are an expert with your finances, unexpected things inevitably come up that eat into your reserves. This is the reality of today, and there is little we can do about it. Which means, earning a little extra often seems to be the easier way.
And so, the closet entrepreneur has a tendency to work longer hours, take on extra work on the side and work themselves up the career ladder on the assumption that once they are earning a sufficient income, they will be able to syphon off the funds they need and inject it into their startup, before saying goodbye to having a boss once and for all.
Before you know it, your thirtieth birthday has been and gone and the next milestone (don’t mention middle age) is fast approaching. Like a freight train at full speed (on a European main line, that is, not a British line.).
The problem with taking this traditional and logical approach is that you simply do not have time to invest in the passion project that is your business or business idea. No matter how great your concept and how much funding you have at your disposition, without time to dedicate to it there is no way it can possibly succeed.
Think of a child. In order to raise a child well, you need a pretty steady income. They don’t come cheap these days. But more than money, you need time to invest in them, to give them your attention, to nurture, stimulate and empower them to grow into something so much bigger than the sum of parts, to grow into somebody amazing who is capable of achieving anything. Your business is exactly the same.
Ultimately, money can be borrowed. Hell, you can even steal it if you so desire. But when it comes to time, the same is not true. Sure, others can steal your precious time. But once it’s gone it’s gone, and you can never get it back. You certainly can’t remortgage your house to buy some more time. No, the time you have in a day is all you have. Yesterday has gone, tomorrow may never come – there is only now.
So stop saving money and start saving time. Here are four of my best tips to help you.
Get Up Early
No, I don’t mean slide out of bed at ten instead of twelve, I mean get your rear out of bed before the clock strikes six, or even before that – set your alarm for one hour earlier than you normally get up for work. Make a coffee (or even a green tea), and spend an hour completely focused on your business before you begin your normal routine and shift your attention to the day job. This alone will get you an extra five hours a week to work on your business at almost no cost to you or your family. Potential time gained ~ 5 hours
Get Your S*@T Together
Fail to plan, plan to fail. Or words to that effect. Getting up early is great, but before you do that, take twenty of thirty minutes before bed to plan what you wish to achieve in that time. Make a plan, prioritise, and stick with it. Not all tasks will fit into a single hour, so allow for ongoing tasks – but still be sure to be specific with time periods for a given task. Whether you use a notebook or an app, get your plan down, in advance. And when you’ve done that, sit back and completely forget about it until the morning. That way you will also get a clear night’s sleep and wake up even more focused. Potential time gained ~ lots!
So the chances are you work at least eight – if not twenty – hours a day. On the basis of that assumption, the law entitles you to a minimum of thirty minutes lunch break. Thirty minutes is not a lot when it comes to running a business, I hear you say. Think again (haven’t you read Tim Ferriss’s 4 hour work week?). If you know what needs to be done, half an hour well used can reap rewards. Review your task list and identify small tasks that can be achieved within this time, whether it’s registering a domain, emailing a potential supplier for a stock list or doing a spot of digital networking. You’ve worked hard for your lunch break. Now make it work hard for you. Time gained ~ 2.5 hours
Use the Queues
I live in a small town. I used to drive the sum total of five miles each way to the office. A drive that, on a moderate day, would take a minimum of forty-five minutes. That’s an obscene hour and a half behind the wheel for five days a week (if you have a chauffeur, you are probably outside of the scope of this article). And I’m not even talking about a real commute here! Rather than listen to the radio, use the time wisely by listening to audiobooks or podcasts that are relevant to your business or that will help you get into the mindset of success. An hour and a half for learning and mind conditioning every day cannot fail to help you get the outcome you deserve. Trust me, you’ll soon come to love roadworks and traffic jams! Potential time gained up to 8hrs
The Final Word
With just a few slight lifestyle adjustments, you can easily find yourself with close to sixteen hours to commit to your own venture at zero cost to your income or family time. That’s the equivalent of two average working days. Or 40% of a traditional working week. Now that sounds a lot more like it. So, stop looking for money and start looking for time. The rest will fall into place.