How to build a business around your life

According to the government, you would file taxes as a “Self Employed Contractor.” People would even say, “you’re a 1099,” for short. If you had your own DBA (Doing Business As) License, you would be called a “Sole Proprietor.” If you and a partner started a business you could file as a “General Partnership.” From there, you can incorporate, LLC, S-Corp, etc. Years ago you could have been called a traveling salesman or more recently a “Home-based-business.” Many people have called it a “lifestyle business.” You used to have to start your own business to get more flexibility in your life. With technology improving and companies trying to increase the bottom line, you can work from anywhere. Now it’s just called business. Year after year predictions are made about the future of business. The truth is, it won’t be just one way. Whether you live in cities, the countryside or across the globe, you have choices. With real demands of children’s activities, aging parents and the need to keep active and healthy, the question is, what do you want your life to be like? 

When my wife was 7 months pregnant with my daughter, I was laid off from my job. We were a little freaked out. I had some experience freelancing at that point so, I decided to see if I could get some work, while I was trying to find a job. Surprisingly, I got a couple of website clients pretty quickly. With my daughter on her way, my wife and I decided to see if I could give the work from home thing a try. If anything, I would be around for the birth of my daughter and be a part of those first few months that one parent or another always seems to miss. We lucked out. My wife, a small business owner herself, took two months off and when she went back to work, the thought of putting a newborn in daycare, just didn’t seem right yet. I stayed home with my daughter, worked when she was napping, early in the morning and late at night. We made it work. A year later I got a great opportunity to work at a big Web Development agency. After a year there, balancing fatherhood and a long commute, the company asked me for more of my time. I told them I could come in earlier, but they demanded I stay later. Their compromise was to insist I move closer. I was already there more than 8 hours, as well as the hour commute each way, plus working in the morning and at night. It still wasn’t enough. I put in my two weeks the next day. 

It was clear I was on a path to choosing family first. People don’t understand what that encompasses. It’s more than just taking your kids to and from school and contributing financially. It’s also supporting your significant other and being present in their lives. To do that takes a lot of time. Having that extra time, instead of commuting, is incredible. There is so much more you can do. One of the biggest lessons was learning to take care of myself. Being a Web Developer is a sedentary life. I have gained and lost weight so many times, I’ve lost count. It’s only when I got control of my time did I realize I couldn’t continue this way. Not only was it unhealthy, it affected my work. There is nothing worse than being unhealthy, unmotivated and under appreciated. That combination is deadly. I needed a plan. A way of life that fulfilled mine and my families needs, while at the same time staying financially viable. Here’s what I came up with. 

  • Start backwards Figure out how much money you need to make first. If you need to make $10k per month, great, we just need a number to start. 

  • Do the work you like If you hate design, don’t do design. Decide on the work you like to do and see how much of it you can do to make money at it. If not, select something else. 

  • Get involved Be a part of a community and support it. Like really get involved. Volunteer at your child’s school. Go to meet ups. Tell people what you do. Say hello!

  • Hustle If you have to take a step down to take a step up, do it. Do the work that people won’t do. Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. For novelty, pick up the phone and have a conversation with your client. 

  • Don’t stop. Keep going. Stay on the path. People will try to discourage or sway you. If you have to leave, fine, just come back. 

I’m a persistent bugger. I keep at it until it’s right. Building your life can be slow and sometimes discouraging, but stay with it. It’s so worth it when you get there. 

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