Sometimes You Forget Why You Started a Business

I forget the exact year now, but I was employee 6 at 10up. When Jake tweeted about looking for people I was so tired of clients. I was looking for a lifeline.

It always seemed like there was some issue with the clients I had. They didn’t pay on time. They always wanted discounts. They were late with their content or images.

I was getting by but just barely and I was exhausted.

I certainly didn’t get to hang out with my only child as much as I wanted. Worse, if we were spending time together I was always thinking about my business and the things I didn’t like.

So I took a job to get away from the crappy clients and all the issues that came along with it. For about 4 weeks, I was happy. Then I started to realize what it meant to have a boss again.

No more long lunches.

No more early starts and early finishes. No more just ending early because I had done so much in a day. I had a number of hours I was supposed to hit every week.

Yes 10up prepared me to work with my first Fortune 500 client later, but I was miserable and it showed in my work. I was a terrible employee. I didn’t do the work as fast as I could and I was unhappy. In fact I was probably surly with clients and my colleagues.

Needless to say I didn’t last long with 10up. I was a bad fit for the organization.

The question is, why did I take a job? I had spent years wanting to run my own business and had it. It was reasonably successful despite my frustrations. My choice to go work for 10up came down to missing one thing in my life at the time.

I didn’t have filters yet

While I took the job as an escape, it turned out to be anything but. Looking back I could see the signs, but at the time I didn’t have a good way of evaluating what was important to me.

I was drowning, and I grabbed an anchor. It was above water, but the tide was coming in. It wasn’t going to be above water for long.

Coming out of my three months at 10up I dabbled my first time with planning out where I wanted to be in 5-years. I started asking myself questions about the types of clients I wanted to work with. I started to look at each project in the context of how it compared to where I wanted to go.

Since then I’ve built out a solid process for filtering business ideas against where I want to go. Having strong filters meant I made a decision to not build a bunch of plugins and sell them. Sure I’ve got 5 around that only need packaging for sale, but they won’t take me where I want to go.

Why I Don’t Sell More Plugins

The thing with selling software is that no matter how well you build it, someone will have problems. They’ll send you an email late on Friday and when they don’t hear back from you till Monday, they’ll be angry. Worse, they’ll send one on Monday and when I don’t get back for 4 or 5 days they’ll wonder what type of terrible organization they’re working with.

One of the keys to my filtering process is that I don’t want to be required to be online any more than 2 days a week. That doesn’t mean I won’t be online, just that I don’t have to be.

Right now if I let my email sit for a few days, it hurts no one. There is no support ticket backlog building up. None of my current clients are waiting for responses.

All of my coaching clients can get in touch with me over Slack and the few development clients I have are in Trello. The writing I do doesn’t require internet access after I’ve done the research. I can happily sit in our local library with crappy internet typing away without distractions.

Do you know where you’re going? Do you have a plan to get there? Can you look through the business ideas you have on your plate and tell me if they’re going to move you towards or away from where you want to go?

How are you going to build a framework to answer these questions?

My upcoming book The Art of Focus doesn’t hold anything back. It gives you the whole process I use to build my filtering documents. If you’re looking to get your work on track with the life you dreamed of, make sure you get on the email list so you can get The Art of Focus for Free.

Photo by: enigmabadger

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