Thursday, 8 August 2013

Advice from an entrepreneur: You have more hours in the day than you think

About a year ago I was in full swing setting up my business - and I got very close to launching...but then life got in the way.  My day job got very busy, I got a girlfriend and I was trying to get back into shape after the years of weight gain during investment banking.  This meant that my plans to start a business fell by the wayside.  I thought that if I had more time, or if I was confident enough to quit my job and do the business full time then I could make a proper go of it.

Recently though I was chatting to a close friend of mine who has a day job (he also used to be an investment banker but left for industry) and who had started a business which going very well.  He was also about to launch his second business and run the two side by side and eventually the plan was to quit his day job when the two businesses were throwing off enough cash.

It struck me that perhaps I was making excuses and that it was in fact possible

I grilled him for a while on how he was managing to do run a business, work a day job, keep fit and still have a life...and what he said to me was quite simple: You have more hours in the day than you think!

Now I'm one of those people who hates the simple clichés and feel good mantras that a lot of self help gurus spout...though I couldn't deny that my friend was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing so I decided to dig into it a bit deeper.

Our lives were not exactly the same and although there were some differences in the time we were able to spend building a business, it was not as significant as I first thought

  • His new job requires similar hours to my new job (~11 hours a day)
  • He also is trying to lose weight after years of investment banking weight gain so goes to the gym everyday
  • He doesn't have a girlfriend
  • He moved to a new city and so has less friend related time commitments
Of those, the only real difference was the girlfriend and the time spent with fiends.  When I thought about it though...I only meet my girlfriend once during the week, and I spend time with her and friends over the weekend.  It struck me therefore, that perhaps he may be onto something... I drilled down a little further

When I got him to go into the specifics of how much time he spent on everything I realised that I actually have close to the same amount of free time as him...I just don't use it as well
  • He finishes work at 6.30 and then goes to the gym until 8 (approx the same as me)
  • From 8 until 11 or 12 he gets 3 - 4 hours work done on his business per night
  • He sleeps 6 - 7 hours which is more than enough
This is broadly the same pattern of life that I have although the more I thought about it, the more I realised how much I waste those 3 - 4 hours per night.  I have 4 nights a week where I don't have a great deal to do for those 3 - 4 hours and I typically relax, watch a movie, read a book, update this blog and do other 'feel good' stuff.

However even when I am doing those things I'm not particularly efficient about it.  My friend let me know that this was more than enough time to run a small business, especially one which was internet based and largely hands off.  Combine it with the spare time you have on the weekends and it is a great place to start.

I realised that he was right...and if I was going to realise my dream of starting my own business that I'd have to use my time better

I actually knew that I had this time available.  I started the CFA (although dropped out of it soon after) knowing that I had to put in a certain amount of study and when I did the calculations I had more than enough time.  This same time can be used to start a business and this is what I plan on doing.

I have wanted to start my own small business for years and I have been making excuses.  I am now dedicated to making it a reality.  The real test will come when my day job gets busy and the hours I can dedicate to it are lower...but I'm committed to it.

I honestly didn't expect this real time small business experiment to be such a long and drawn out process though it is interesting reading back on my old posts because I can see all the different stages I have gone through.  Because I am posting about it in real time I am not glossing over the things that do not go to plan or the hiccups along the way.

Have you started a business?  How much time did you spend on it?  Did you manage to do it at the same time as your day job?

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