Ten years later

Today is my 34th birthday. Ten years ago I was only 24, a few years out of school, and I bit off more than I could chew by becoming a freelancer.

Although it eventually led me to GoDaddy, that whole “running my own business” adventure didn’t end well. It was a rough period in my life, filled with stress, and it took a while to recover.

Jumping back into that world of startups and entrepreneurship is both exciting and nerve wracking. Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot over the last ten years. Or at least, I think I have? 😬

I watched how others operate. I took note of what I liked and didn’t like. I quietly thought about my own approach, if I were to ever jump into the world of entrepreneurship again, and filed it away for safe keeping.

Here’s what I’m doing differently this time:

I separated my business from my personal. I incorporated, and I’m protecting myself with contracts, insurance, and legal counsel. If something goes sideways, I want to be in control.

I productize my work. I’m creating templates, systems and processes that can be quickly launched and iterated on. This gives me more bandwidth to focus on strategy and execution.

I make time to work on my business, not just for my business. That includes time spent participating in communities, meeting other people, and investing in professional development. This was one of my biggest lessons of the last decade. Real growth comes from knowing the right people, and being in the right place at the right time.

I plan for the short-term and long-term. Tasks only get completed if you make the time for them, otherwise they’ll languish in your to-do list forever, so I’m setting aspirational goals and breaking them down into chunks of timeboxed work.

I look for leverage. I’m squeezing more value out of my daily activities by repurposing parts of them. An approach that works for one project can work for others, so hold on to the things that you can recycle, like templates, frameworks, and mental models.

My philosophy today is that work is work. That’s true whether you’re working for a corporation or working for yourself. In either case, you’ll have a never-ending series of tasks to complete, a bunch of people to work with, and an onslaught of hurdles.