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What price would you sell your soul for?
What price would you pay for ‘success’? Would you trade your entire life away for a chance to make it, even if it left you miserable, and you were working in a company that wasn’t right for you?
Just like a job, it doesn’t make sense to work on a company that doesn’t bring you satisfaction, even if it makes you a lot of money.
This year, I had to make a very tough decision, and confront some harsh realities.
After nearly 5 years, I have stepped away from my eCommerce companies to return back to my roots – building and marketing online businesses, that don’t require my constant presence in order to grow and thrive. I’ll be providing strategic guidance to the new people running it, but it will no longer be my day-to-day focus.
When you realize that your business model is simply not going to fit into the life that you want and there’s no way you can make it work, it’s important to recognize that and make the appropriate changes.
You Invest In Your Business – Why Not Your Life?
We all know the struggles that businesses face when they’re getting started, and money is scarce.
But have you ever thought about what problems would arise once the business starts to succeed?
When my eCommerce brands started, they fit in well with my life. Once a week I would make products – only several hundred at a time, and send them into fulfillment centers so they could be sent out to customers. I was still working on online projects – like this site and a few others, while I was doing that and I was able to manage everything with plenty of time to spare.
Then it became twice a week, and I had to start shifting around appointments and plans to accommodate it.
Every other day, and the time I would spend dedicating to new projects was no longer there. If I didn’t ship products out, sales would stop and the company would die.
Eventually it was every day. Then I started hiring – which brought forth a lot of extra managerial work, as the company grew and grew.
I learned during this time a lot about myself. I became aware that I really hate juggling too many balls at once. I love all of the employees I’ve ever had, but between managing them, dealing with suppliers, product shipments going in and out, supply chain management, and a million other things entrepreneurs running this type of company have to deal with on a daily basis, I started enjoying it less and less.
At one point I realized that I would legitimately be happier working a 9-5 job – something I never desired to do. At the very least, I could come home from managing headaches and be done with it for a little while.
I realized that while I was building my business, and achieving success like I always wanted, I was doing so at the expense of my life.
And that trade-off is never worth it.
So, I decided about 3 months ago that I was done.
- No longer saying no to family or friends that wanted to spend time with me.
- No longer working 40-hour shifts (not 40-hour weeks, 40-hour straight shifts) causing my mental and physical health to deteriorate.
- No longer sleeping on half-deflated air mattresses on my office floor, because the damn things would get a hole every week.
The issue with my business model was that I couldn’t walk away without the company falling apart. When I was working, 90% of the time wasn’t actually moving me forward anywhere – it was only keeping me right where I was, and ensuring at the very least, I didn’t go backwards.
I think that’s a lot of what made it so miserable – the pain was not moving me forward, for the most part. It was just preventing things from getting worse.
This is no way to live your life, though.
Hard work is necessary to grow a business, but you do not need to throw everything else away in order to ‘make it.’
If your business model is so flawed that it consumes your entire life – or is on track to, it’s important to make the key changes before it’s too late. I can confidently say that the experience I went through was not worth it, despite the incredible number of lessons and experience gained.
I have ran successful businesses before these ones, so I understand a few things:
- It is possible to run businesses that you can completely step away from, yet they can still grow without you.
- It is possible to set up your business, so you’re working on the areas that you’re best at or enjoy the most.
- The sacrifices required to succeed do not have to be as significant as some gurus claim, unless you’re trying to build a billion dollar company or something. Realistically, this doesn’t apply to 99% of us.
- A business that allows you to remain healthy, partake in your favorite hobbies, and spend time with those you love – while still covering all of your financial needs, will bring most people more satisfaction than a business that simply makes a ton of money.
If your business isn’t serving the overall vision you have for your life, then what is the point?
I legitimately believe that putting yourself before your business ultimately leads to a larger amount of success in the long run.
You will work harder, more productively, and more creatively when you are happy, well-rested and feel satisfied with the job that you’re doing. You’ll also be less likely to suffer from burn out, you’ll work more consistently, and you’ll be able to focus on projects long enough to see them through to success.
Your level of sleep affects dozens of mental functions that are at play each and every minute you’re at work.
The food you eat, and the exercise you do (or don’t do) has drastic effects on how you feel throughout the day, and the amount of energy you have.
Your mood not only plays a part in everything you do, but also affects everyone else around you. It not only affects your productivity and morale, it affects your employees’ as well.
By failing to invest in yourself – with downtime, positive habits, and partaking in activities that make you happy, you aren’t doing yourself – or anyone else, any favors.
Think about it this way – you probably have periods where you’re extremely productive – getting more done in 1 hour, than you sometimes do in 3 hours.
By setting yourself up for success, you spend more time in that productive state, and less time working aimlessly without getting much done.
This is why some people are able to get more done in 4 hours of work each day, than those working 12 hours or longer.
I’m very interested to see how this upcoming year is going to play out, and how things will change for me on a personal and professional level.
In some ways, I feel like a shell of my former self. In other ways, I feel stronger and more empowered than ever.
I have so many hopes and dreams for what my life will be like, and for the first time in a while I feel like I’ll be back to making real progress on those.
If you’re reading this and your story shares any similarity at all with my own, please feel free to reach out to me. Looking back, I knew the warnings were there and I ignored them. Maybe if I would have made changes earlier on, I wouldn’t have spent so much time, to ultimately move on a few years later.
In any case, here’s hoping the best days for us are ahead!
– James McAllister