Starting a new business is a very exciting time in an entrepreneur’s life.
There are new things to do, constant milestones being hit, and constant excitement for what lies ahead.
As difficult as it can be to get a new business off the ground, and entirely new set of challenges start to appear when the business does start becoming successful – challenges that most people would never think of when they first launch their company.
I recently came to the conclusion that in order to live the life I wanted, it was time to get rid of my eCommerce companies – companies that pulled in millions of dollars in sales, in order to focus on my online ventures full-time.
In this article, I would like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned, things to watch out for, and how you can structure your business to ensure it’s going to give you the ideal life you want.
Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money you make if your business consumes your entire life.
And that is only one of the many lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way.
I have been running websites for about 10 years now, with blogging being my core focus.
My biggest goal in life is to be able to have children – and actually have time to spend with them each day. It means more to me than any material success in the world possibly could. Everything I’ve done in my life, I’ve tried to set up to help me achieve this one core goal.
When I lost the child I was taking care of (and hoping to adopt) back in 2015, it emotionally wrecked me. I seriously did not think I would recover from that, and consider it a blessing that I’m still alive today. Words cannot describe the amount of sheer pain I felt after such a terrible loss.
Time seems to heal all wounds though, and after a while I began looking for a new opportunity to throw myself into – mainly to distract myself from the pain I was feeling at the time.
I learned how to sell on Amazon, and delve into the world of eCommerce. It took off way quicker than expected, and I felt like I had to step away from here in order to focus on it more.
Eventually, things settled out a bit – my number of employees had grown, we did not need to fight for every dollar, and I returned here as it was perhaps my favorite business I’ve ever ran.
The problem was that both projects began to grow further, and now my attention was being spread to thin.
I’d have extra time to work here for a few days, and I’d crank out a lot of content, and do a lot of marketing. Then a new problem would pop up with the eCommerce brands, and I could hardly focus on my work here for weeks at a time.
Consistency is an incredibly key component of successful online businesses, and I was severely lacking it.
The simple fact that I would get a lot done one day, and then disappear for several after that, almost made any work I did seem pointless. I was not consistent enough to have any real effect.
As I’ve worked with bloggers and entrepreneurs over the past, I’ve seen this is an incredibly common issue.
Here’s The Problem
What I’ve come to realize more and more as the years have passed, is that the business model of my company was fundamentally flawed.
Our situation was a little bit unique – we took a hybrid of both a factory and a retailer. Our products were made-to-order, and we bought very expensive machinery to make the products ourselves instead of buying completed products from a factory.
This meant that as we sold more, we had to put more time into make the products.
So we hired people. And I thought I was set.
I no longer had to spend as much time actually making the products, although I spent a ton of time doing that.
However, now I had to deal with the unique issues that strike companies beginning to grow a bit. Between being needed to help employees, manage inventory (over 100,000 SKUs!) suppliers, etc. it all became too much.
At least if I was going to continue working here.
Now I know that I could have brought someone else in to take over some of this work, but it was not financially feasible – especially as we had large amounts of cash tied up in inventory, equipment, and other necessities needed to continue operations.
By the time I wrote this post talking about hating your own company, I knew I wanted out.
Analyze Yourself And Your Company – Is It All Flawed?
Some people love the chaos of running a company like this.
It was very profitable, and as a 24-year-old it’s a lot of money to see coming into your bank account each week.
However, when you really think about it, this entire choice of business model was flawed – at least for what I wanted in my life.
It doesn’t matter how successful the company became – I was always going to be needed for operations to continue.
I took one short break throughout all the years I’ve been running it, and even then I was needing to remote connect to the office computers to help out.
The first real vacation of my life. I vividly remember being at Disneyland, having to walk 30 minutes back to the hotel, take care of the problem, and walk back.
And that’s when I realized that I didn’t own the company.
The company owned me.
More importantly, I realized I would never be happy unless I was running a business that I could comfortably step away from, that would continue running fine without me. Even if it was just for a couple days. What’s the point of running a company, if you have even less freedom than a full-time job would, right?
I love running businesses, and maybe you do too. But you’ve really got to take a look at your business model and ask yourself, what happens when it grows? What will your day-to-day life look like? What new challenges will present themselves? How will you handle them? Will you still love your business then?
If you take the, ‘I’ll figure it out later’ mindset, it’s very easy to feel trapped in a company that is no longer serving you. It’s very easy to worry about what will happen if your company fails.
Not nearly as many people worry about what will happen if it succeeds.
I feel incredibly happy to share that I’ll be outsourcing the full production and order fulfillment of all the eCommerce company’s products going forward, and will fully transition away from it by the end of this year.
While I’ll still be involved in some of the marketing and strategy side of things, another person will be taking over all of the management. We’ll take a huge hit to profit, but it’s better to make less money in a business you love, than more money in a business you hate.
More importantly, this will free up time for me to work on my online ventures, such as the work I’m doing here.
I’d love to lay out a huge announcement for what I have planned and when, but I have a bad habit of getting ahead of myself. A podcast and membership site are both likely, but I’ll need to make sure that I don’t make the mistake of overcommitting before anything is set in stone. I also plan to drastically increase the amount of content I release.
As for the rest of the year, well – things will probably continue to be inconsistent, if I’m brutally honest. Q4 is always the busiest time of the year for eCommerce, and I also have to figure out how to essentially shut down and sell off everything.
To tell you the truth, I’m a little scared about it all – but I’m also very excited for what lies ahead.
After a lot of reflection and a lot of long talks with friends, I now know this is the right thing to do.
Thank you for taking some time out of your busy day to read my story.
Although I spent years of my life to build my eCommerce companies to what they’ve become, I do not have any regrets. I have learned so many valuable lessons, and gained so much valuable experience that I can’t wait to share with you next year.
If there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from my experience, it’s this – you started your business because you had a vision for what you wanted your life to look like. Never let your company pull you away from that – even if the money comes easy.
Determined entrepreneurs like us will succeed in the end regardless.
So don’t be afraid to do what’s hard, so you can do what’s actually right for you.
– James McAllister
Note: Customer support is completely uninterrupted during this time and all inquiries will still receive a timely response from myself or a staff member.
I made the mistake of building my life around my business and not the other way round. I am making changes where the business is going to be build around my life and I am not missing important life events!
Wise choice, and one I wish I would have done sooner haha. Life is too short to do otherwise!
James McAllister recently posted…Your Impact – A Look Into The Lives Of Your Customers
A good company is what you need to do good business!! But never forget your close ones !!!
siddharth recently posted…Jaipur City -Travel Guide
Very well said Siddharth, I agree!
James McAllister recently posted…How Many Email Subscribers Do You Need To Make Money?
Thanks for this reminder. You are right. When we build our businesses around our life, it will be more sustainable and everything done will be more passionate and full of enthusiasm.
Tekkaus recently posted…Tanjung Point Residences review-One of the Best Places To Stay In Penang
You know, I didn’t think about that but it’s true. When you’re building a business that actually fulfills you, you work with much more passion and enthusiasm. You do even better work and get even more done, giving you another advantage. Reflecting back I’ve always found that my most productive periods came when I was at my happiest. Great insight Tekkaus!
James McAllister recently posted…How To Network As An Introvert
Establishing a solid routine so that you can maintain consistency is certainly a key. Thank you for this post and sharing part of your life story!
It definitely helps, that’s for sure! Thank you Kevin!
James McAllister recently posted…Is Pinterest Traffic Worth Anything? How To Maximize Its Value
I think it’s important to take a step back regularly and reflect on whether you are happy and satisfied in this moment in time. If the answer is no then something has to change.
Jennifer recently posted…How to Decide Where to Put Your ISA Allowance
That’s a great principal to live by, Jennifer! Sounds like something we should all try to do periodically… it’s easy to fall into a state of unhappiness and dissatisfaction without realizing it. Taking some time to reflect can be very beneficial!
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Some very good points of interest here, need to give a shout out to your comment about the biggest goal in life is to be able to have children – and actually have time to spend with them each day. It means more to me than any material success in the world possibly could. <– This really is so key, I spent so much of my life trying to ensure my children had a comfortable life by building up a business I actually feel I missed out on there life's a bit too much, never forget all the money in the world can't buy a second of time, thanks for sharing James
Hey Jess, that’s something I’m really terrified of to be honest. I really feel like parenting will be the happiest years of my life and I hope to be able to treasure every moment of it. Part of being able to do that is making some tough decisions now, and executing changes that will ultimately make things easier when that time comes. Thank you for sharing some of your story also!
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This problem happened to me. My ex had a laundy shop and I had small construction gig. Because our business is so time consuming, we grew separately and ended up on separate path. Yes, business did grow but the cost is very personal too.
Hey there, and apologies for missing your comment!
I appreciate you sharing your story with me. It is very true that there are enormous personal costs with everything and it’s very important to take these into account and keep them in mind when making decisions. Hope things are going great for you now heading into the new year!
James McAllister recently posted…Your Company, Or Your Life?
The lessons that you have shared in this article are very useful to build our business around our life. Thanks for your awesome article and creative work.
Happy to hear that you found some value in it, Moazzem!
James McAllister recently posted…Your Company, Or Your Life?
It was so deep I must say and so helpful for moving forward. thanks for sharing this article. I personally like your point about knowing yourself and your company. Thanks
Glad you liked it, Tony!
James McAllister recently posted…Your Company, Or Your Life?