There is nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty and working long hours in the early days of any endeavor. I would question your passion for your business venture if you didn’t have to be pried away from the office at night. Those early days are meant to be long, and uncertainty is always in the air. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs never leave that phase of business life.
I am grateful for two moments in my life that made me reexamine the connection I had between work and money. The first was an incident of good fortune; a sales rep from Amazon.com called me on my cell phone to tell me about the benefits of their new program, Fulfillment By Amazon, commonly known as FBA. Both my wife and I had to be convinced with multiple phone conversations and plenty of white paper/pdf files to try this crazy new idea. My wife couldn’t fathom a world without shipping to get done, a world where our house was a home instead of a warehouse. Our skepticism was quickly abolished by results, and within three months our operation became 100% FBA.
The FBA program separated my wife and I from the daily shipping grind, but not from the sourcing/prep grind as well as the rest of what comes with being an online seller. All the time we created by shifting to FBA was quickly consumed by new tasks. I still managed to fill twelve hours or more of the day with something Amazon business related. Thankfully, the second moment was around the corner.
That moment was a book recommendation from a friend, and the book was The 4 Hour Work Week. I encountered terms like Lifestyle Design, Virtual Assistants and Remote Work Agreements for the first time in my life, and I knew I had found what I was looking for. The book did a perfect job painting the picture of what I wanted to be doing, spending my time living instead of fidgeting on the internet. I also knew I could apply these tactics to an Amazon wholesale model business with some customized processes and software.
The first goal was to free myself from anything to do with my inventory. The second goal was to free myself from a location, my home in Indiana, so I could move to anywhere I could possibly want to live. Finally, the third goal became to free myself from a computer entirely so I didn’t have to spend my life staring into a screen. Accomplishing each of these goals became a gauntlet of self examination that I did not expect.
What I thought I was getting into sounded in my head like this –
“I will be methodical and logical and identify the tasks I don’t need to do and the products and vendors that don’t make me money, and I will stop doing/pursuing these things.”
Easy peasy right? It is very easy to tell someone, even yourself, not to do something. It is a different story to get that person to stop doing it. Especially yourself.
Here are some things I learned about my own habits, presented in self-talk –
- “I do these tasks because they are easy. I already know how to do them so it doesn’t take me as long as it would take someone else.”
- “I do these tasks because I want to feel accomplished and productive. I get anxious and depressed if I don’t do something I can feel good about.”
- “I continue to source and spend time ordering products that don’t sell for much profit because I only feel good when my sales numbers are up, and because I want the vendors I work with to believe I am valuable.”
- “Nobody else understands this task like I do, so I should be the one to do it.”
- “If I truly love my family and want them to be safe and happy, I need to do this work so they will never want for anything. If I don’t work hard now, someday my family may not have something they need, and my lack of effort will be responsible for that.”
Yuck, deep stuff. I started out seeking some time to go on vacation, and an increase in productivity. I came out with a list of reasons I am a mentally screwed up codependent workaholic.
Many of us never break these barriers down within ourselves because it is painful to acknowledge they exist. Today, as a coach for SSA, I hope to be able to help students break these barriers down. I can teach students how to create Amazon listings, hire and train virtual assistants and employees, and I can share some neat things about building a business you can put on auto-pilot so you can travel across Europe for months and not even carry a laptop with you. That stuff is the framework of a lifestyle business, and I am happy to share those things.
The blood and guts of your lifestyle business are the barriers you break within yourself. Eliminating bad habits and fidgets of the subconscious allows you to build a team and a business that achieves results beyond what one human should be able to achieve. Even if you like working on your business, or working in general, I know that you can improve yourself as a business owner, leader, and human being by creating a lifestyle business driven by great people and processes.
You can always go back to working long hours if you miss it, but if you never break the cycle of personal work + results = contentment, your business will became a cage that you built yourself. Break the lock, you can leave any time.