When I took the leap to fulltime startup founder back in 2008, the very first thing I felt was total liberation. Suddenly, after a solid decade of bosses, schedules, rules, and policies, there was...beautiful freedom.
I could do whatever I wanted anytime I wanted!
The first few months of this were so liberating. I would go to the office late, work from home, or take long lunch breaks – without any immediate consequences.
If you are a stickler for structure and rules – then this would probably be a hellish experience. If you are a bit of a rebel, like me – then this is heaven. I make the rules. I answer to myself.
Of course, I’d love to tell you that it ends happily ever after, that an entrepreneur’s life is really about doing whatever you want at anytime.
Well, yes and no.
Yes, there are no immediate ramifications to your daily decisions on where to allocate your time. There are no formal letter warnings, reduced leaves, getting scolded, getting a salary deduction, or even getting fired.
What I discovered though, was that the ramifications of my actions (or inaction) come a bit further down the road.
When you put up your startup, what you will discover fast is that the time and effort you put in the startup has a DIRECT correlation with your bottom line, and in turn, your capacity to pay yourself.
For example, early on, I was in charge of sales. I remember that there were times when I would have to cut my salary for particular months so we can continue to pay employees. I could actually trace these cuts back to weeks where I knew I could have called more people or have done a better job following leads up.
Direct correlation. The more you work, the more you earn. The less you work, the less you earn. It can’t get any simpler than that.
This is very different from corporate, where like clockwork, you get the same amount of salary on the 15th and the 30th no matter what happens or how you perform.
So yes, the startup owner does enjoy the freedom to dictate what transpires in her workweek. If I want to take a leave the whole next week to go to Boracay, I can do so. No one would stop me. I could cancel all my meetings with my clients and move them to the week after.
I just need to understand that the time missed comes with a direct opportunity cost, which, in turn, WILL have a direct effect on my own bottom-line, one way or another.
The younger your startup, the more direct this correlation will be. As time passes, you will have an opportunity to build your startup in such a way that it can be more independent of your time. (If this is the goal though, you might need to rethink why you put up a startup you want to escape from in the first place)
Before that happens though, you gotta give your baby all the time, love, support, and yes, the necessary structure it needs to grow.
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