Just to set the tone right away stop lying to yourself.
Now to start the story.
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away there was a freelancer. This freelancer was just strating their business and was working full time plus on the side for the fledging business.
One Friday their friend called up and invited them to a movie. Well since they were working 2 jobs and trying to build a business they said:
I can’t right now I’m trying to get my business going. I’ll have time for stuff like that in a bit.
A year later we encounter our freelancer. The business is truly started and it’s their full time work. It’s the first year and the clients aren’t amazing yet but bills are getting paid and it’s exciting to run a business. One Friday that same friend calls up and invites them out to a concert.
Wow that sounds awesome but I just had a client email earlier today and got some extra work. It’s a bit of an emergency and I said I’d get it done. I’ll have some time next time they come through town.
Let’s jump a few more years. The business is running well and somehow in spite of working all the time our freelancer found someone that loved them and they got married. Now we’re looking at a house and kids on the horizon. It’s time to buckle down and work before the kids are here.
It’s Friday again and that friend doesn’t call anymore they gave up but the spouse wants to just go out and have coffee. Nothing fancy just a few hours talking. Our freelancer goes and brings their phone which if course means that it comes out every 5 minutes.
Understandably the spouse is a bit frustrated. Sure the freelancer is here in body but that’s not the same as engaging with each other. Upon mentioning this they hear:
I have to check email what if a client has an emergency. I’ve got to work all the time now. I’ll slow down when we have kids since the business will really be running smooth.
Woohoo we’ve got 2 awesome kids and working from home rocks. Our freelancer got to see first steps and heard the first words. Yes they work evenings still and often on the weekend. They miss many of the ‘bigger’ events like dance recitals and hockey practice but:
Hey it’s my business no one will get anything done if I don’t do it. I just need a bit more time to work on a few products and then I’ll be able to slow down with recurring income. Plus I just got that contract with Coca-Cola I need to be available all the time for a client like that.
I’m sure you can guess at the rest if the story. Our freelancer always has a reason to work hard now and a reason that they can slow down later. Later never comes and they never really slow down.
In our story I really don’t have a problem with working all those hours at the beginning of the business. I worked a fulltime job and scheduled client calls during my lunch hour and then worked 6 of 7 evenings. My wife and I agreed that we’d make the sacrifice together.
I also worked super hard that first year to really get some steam behind the business. Yes I worked nights and Saturday (lucky my wife work sales and also worked Saturday) but we put a hard stop to that after the first year.
We both realized the importance of living life. I’ve said it before and I’m sure you’re going to hear it again.
No one will stand at your grave and talk about how you were an awesome programmer. They will talk about how you gave in to your kids lives and your spouses life and in to the community around you.
If you’re getting started make sure you realign your priorities after that first full year.
The truth is that there will always be another ’emergency’ that a client wants you to make your priority. There will always be another email to deal with. There will not always be a first kiss, or first steps from your kid, or that last day with a friend before they unexpectedly passed.
I’m writing a book about running a viable and sane business called “Don’t be an Idiot: Learn to run a viable business“. You can sign up to get updates on the progress and a discount when it comes out.