Twice in recent times I've been confronted with the question:
"What do I do all day?"
And I'm sure there are plenty of people who are wondering the same thing, but out of politeness choose not to ask (not that I'd be offended - it's a perfectly legitimate question).
The truth is I do quite a bit, in fact, in September I was on the computer for nearly 300 hours.
I have a lot of different professional roles, such as:
- Startup Founder
- Internet Marketer/Digital Nomad
And a lot of those roles have sub roles, like
- Head of recruitment
- Customer service representative
And so on and so forth.
The point is I wear a lot of different hats and there IS no typical day - it really just depends on what the most important priorities are during that time. Whatever is the most important thing, and is within my skillset (i.e I don't write code), then I'm doing it.
I like to say that I'm not really a CEO - I'm a COE, Chief Of Everything, which basically means because we don't have any sort of middle management or full time skilled labor, I'm on the hook for everything (along with my partners, of course).
But that would be a really lame answer, so for the sake of an explanation, let me discuss the biggies:
When I worked in corporate I HATED meetings. To me they always seemed like a waste of time. I rarely participated and they always seemed to go over, such a big time suck.
I'd love to be able to say that I never have to go to another meeting again, but really it's the opposite - I have meetings all the time.
They usually fall into the following buckets:
- Customer service - I am working with a customer to help them.
- Team meetings - I prioritize my projects with my respective partners.
- Sales - I'm focusing on selling one of my products.
- Networking - I'm connecting with someone new without any real intention aside from just to get to know each other.
Most days have around 1-2 hours of scheduled, structured meetings, while a "bad" day may have 4 or more with some of them popping up unannounced.
I leave about 11-12 hours a day to have meetings, to accommodate schedules of people all over the world - weekends included.
The surprising thing is that while I used to hate the large team meetings back in corporate - I quite like the small, intimate gatherings of decision makers where I feel I'm making an impact.
Yep, I like meetings - though everyone has their limits, and 2 hours is mine.
I write a lot, and I don't just mean blogging.
Actually blogging is just a fraction of my overall writing, most of it falls under things like sales copy and general marketing. Things like:
- Newsletter broadcasts
- Copy on a website or sales page
- Pitches to companies or people
And so on and so forth.
Without a doubt I average several thousand words a day, and I'm not even including the two biggest time sucks...
Email and Skype - Support
Yeah, there's quite a lot of this. Most of this falls under support for a prospect/customer or a developer.
You don't have to be a major influencer to get a lot of email. I get around 50 emails a day, and that's as low as it is because I actively unsubscribe from all the crap I somehow get signed up to.
The thing is, a lot of the emails are not one word answers. Some emails take 10-15 minutes to respond to, especially if it's a potential customer, which often leads me to writing in depth responses that I read several times over before sending.
I try to reuse content as best I can, but that only works so well.
And then there's Skype - quite a lot of chatting gets done there.
I pretty much constantly have several conversations open with team members and developers.
Developers are the big one.
I have a developer in Moldova, Italy, Vietnam, and occasionally somewhere else. In the morning I assist the developer in Italy, in the afternoon Moldova, and at night in Vietnam.
Of course this doesn't require my full attention, but I like to be available to answer questions and provide screen shots and screen casts to support the development documentation, as well as see work when it's finished.
I consider myself constantly on call to everyone who works with/for me.
I talk a big game with virtual assistants, but there are quite a lot of things I just can't outsource.
In September, for example, while I worked 290 hours, my 5+ VAs put in a total of 327, so I put in close to one hour for every hour they do.
The really pesky things are the 10 minute, one off tasks that would take me equally as long to explain as to do myself.
Because I don't have any long term, middle management Westerner's who just get things at a higher, strategic level, I have to do a lot of that stuff myself.
This can be preparing documents, editing and formatting content, and of course testing the software for bugs and things like that.
Strategizing and Planning
This is what most people would probably call the fun stuff, and it's where I spend the least of my day.
This is the sort of war room stuff where I think about next steps for my products, maybe write up a marketing plan or a diagram of some sort, and think about how we're going to take down Apple and Microsoft.
The sad thing is I don't see a ton of this in my horizon, even if we start to "make it" with our product. Instead there will be things like hiring and firing, more meetings, and appearances.
The Big 3 Myths About Being Your Own Boss
Here are the things that are just downright wrong about my life.
1. I barely work at all and live off passive income.
Nope. I have virtually no passive income, and I work a ton. Here's some snapshots of my RescueTime (a time tracking app)
Yeah, that's 290 hours of time spent on my computer in the month of September.
And a recent day in November hit 15 - ouch!
Now, I do some things on my computer that are not considered work like watching a youtube video, reading, etc, but most of that is business - don't let those categories or the productivity pulse fool you.
On average, that's over 9 hours a day, 7 days a week. (even I was a bit surprised myself at this to be honest)
And no, that was not a hectic month, that was just a regular month.
In fact I've been so busy lately, I've started to notice that things like "Shower" are appearing on my to do list - like I have to remind myself to fit them in (no worries, I do it, I just have to remind myself is all)!
But a lot of entrepreneurs put in crazy hours, look at John and Kate in their income reports, both at around 250 hours.
To top it off, a lot of that work comes at seemingly inconvenient times, i.e nights and weekends.
This whole startup thing is really a full time job. You never know when a developer is going to need support, or a prospect is going to want to meet.
On Sunday I did a demo of the software at 8pm with two guys in Australia and I did another demo on Monday at 8pm with a guy in San Francisco.
You have to be on everyone's time, not just your own.
I sleep with my computer and phone next to me, and my phone is connected to Skype, so I get alerts immediately.
2. I love everything I do.
No not at all, there are quite a few things I do all day that I don't like, particularly the grunt work and the email and sometimes even the writing.
I don't mind the meetings so much or the strategizing, but really, if I could hire someone else to do a lot of what I do I definitely would.
To be honest most of what I do, I do because of the vision of where it will get me (see the upside below), and not because I love every minute of it.
3. I am making a killing.
Nope, between the cost of development, design, support, etc - I'm actually losing money every month!
Unfortunately the golden days of easy money as I knew it are gone.
Mostly, I am investing in these businesses (this blog included) because I believe they will pay off in the future, but that doesn't make me money in the present!
At this point you're probably wondering why I do it, after how bad I just made it seem - this is why.
Yes I work on average 9 hours a day, 7 days a week, including nights and weekends.
I am also on everyone else's schedule.
BUT I have quite a bit more flexibility than most people.
I am going on a road trip around the US for 5 months, after all - how many people can do that with their jobs?
Like - no one.
And on occasion I'll take a week day off to do something interesting that I couldn't do on the weekend. In fact, I don't really think of things as weekdays and weekends, there are just days when I'm working, and days when I'm not.
I enjoy this now, and when I think ahead and all of the responsibilities that are coming down the line (kids and stuff like that), I think flexibility is just something worth fighting for.
The projects I am working on right now have tremendous upside. A large part of that is financial, of course, but there's more to it than that.
A tremendous upside for learning, for meeting new people, for new experiences, etc. It's just unparalleled with my former job and anything else I can fathom in more traditional paths.
Of course potential is just that, it's potential, it's unrealized, but that's what keeps me going.
Everyday is a challenge - are we going to make it, or aren't we?
I know people like stability and routine and things like that. Sometimes I like them too.
But I think what make life interesting is the surprises and challenges along the way, not expectations coming to fruition.
Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't. - Warren G. Tracy’s student