On this day in 2011, my life changed dramatically. I didn’t know it at the time, but the change was for the better.
I was laid off on August 18, 2011, and it was my second layoff in about two years. Confidence was at an all-time low. Pressure to produce for my wife and three boys was at an all-time high.
I could never have dreamed on that day that six years later I’d be boss-less. Well, I’d likely assume unemployment was a possibility. But not a business of my own that would not only succeed but sustain that long.
I’m not your prototypical entrepreneur, by any stretch of the imagination. You may think of overachievers. Hyperactive personalities. Extroverts. Work over sleep. None of these words and phrases describe me.
I feel incredibly lucky.
My wife Lisa has supported me throughout the crazy. She remained patient while my lack of paycheck could have been interpreted as laziness and refusal to work.
I’ve had jobs, experiences, friends, acquaintances, support system, privileges, and education that all helped make this possible.
Six years ago, our oldest son was 10. He’s now driving. Six years ago, I felt like a mid-30s kid still trying to grow up. Maybe even resisting adulthood.
I had no vision. I had no grand idea for what I was going to create. There was no business plan.
I just started to write…
This is where you expect me to write about how I became rich and famous. About how I make six figures when I sleep at night, and “here are the three steps so you can do it, too.”
Wealth and fame may motivate some, but it’s never been interesting to me. I measure wealth in time, freedom, flexibility. Time with family. Freedom to do what I want. Flexibility to control my own hours.
By that definition, you’re damn right I’m rich.
I walked my youngest son to school this morning, and I’ll pick him up when he’s done. I spend more time coaching my middle son’s baseball team than I do worrying about work. My wife and I spend so much time together that she gets sick of me.
And it’s glorious.
This new life of freedom still has its challenges. It’s not perfect. I have regular battles and struggles that are unique to this type of life.
After six years of this, here is a sampling of the important lessons I’ve learned…
That first year was rough. The first six months were even worse. It felt as though I was going nowhere. Progress was difficult to spot, and each step forward seemed to be followed by a step back.
You aren’t going to figure this out overnight. Progress may be slow. Have realistic goals and expectations.
So much of why I’m bossless today is because I didn’t let early failures ruin me. It could have easily happened. I was certainly close to that place. There are times when I still get low.
Impatience leads to a negative outlook. Dissatisfaction. Eventually, you’ll want to give up.
Don’t do it. Be reasonable about your goals. Be fair to yourself and your ability to reach those goals.
Going on your own can be overwhelming. There are so many things you can do, so many products you can create, so many tools you should use, so much advice you can take. The result is often paralyzation.
Paralyzation defined much of the early part of my journey. There are so many ways to go, and you don’t know where to start. The easiest thing to do: Nothing.
Progress happens when I create. So what if no one reads that blog post? Write. So what if no one attends that webinar? Host it. So what if no one buys that product? Launch it.
Irrational fear keeps us from trying. But the reality is that we learn something valuable with each new attempt. We learn about what worked and what didn’t, and we make it better next time.
If we’re constantly sitting back, waiting for whatever we’re thinking about doing to be perfect, we’ll never get anything done.
Keep grinding. Fight through the doubt and urge to do nothing.
Keep creating. The joy of helping even one person will be worth it.
Keep failing. It won’t be perfect. The more you fail, the more valuable experiences you’ll have.
Keep learning. Read, try, and experiment. Make yourself and your business better through knowledge.
Take Care of Yourself
You can sleep until noon if you want. Skip breakfast. Eat Skittles for lunch. Watch every episode of Game of Thrones in your underwear.
Who’s stopping you? You don’t have a boss. YEAH! You don’t have a boss! You do what you want!
As someone who’s done it, don’t. It’s not worth it. After 16 days of Skittles, you’ll begin to regret it.
Try to sleep like a normal human. Eat good meals. Don’t forget to exercise. Remember: Your business depends on you. You’re its most important asset!
Solitude is Hard
In the beginning, it’s pretty awesome not having a boss. There are other perks like not having that annoying co-worker around, too. But eventually, it can get awfully quiet.
During the summer months, it’s a party in the Loomer house. All of the kids are around. They want me to play catch in the front yard or play Uno while we watch a mid-afternoon movie.
Then they go to school… Crickets.
No work gossip. No complaining about a project. No office pranks.
It’s one of those things that no one really prepared me for. Working out of my dark basement gets quiet and lonely. And it can suck.
Find a way to remain social. Online social activity can help, but only until you fall in a rabbit hole of comments on a political post (DON’T READ THE COMMENTS, DAMMIT!). Get a hobby. Make friends. Do something.
Coaching baseball helps for me. I set up a daily call with John Robinson. I also go out to lunch every Friday with my wife.
It still gets lonely, but it’s a start.
Create a Routine
You don’t have a boss. No one is telling you what to do. There are a million things you can do today. Where do you start?
I’ll freely admit that I am not an organized person. I’m done feeling embarrassed about it. It’s who I am. I’m not changing. “Winging it” is a skill of mine. I can procrastinate like it’s an Olympic event.
But some structure is necessary. Every day, there’s one task that is primary. It needs to get done. If I get other stuff done, great.
Monday is for my PHC – Entrepreneurs Facebook Live. Tuesday is for training program lessons. Wednesday is for my weekly PHC – Elite weekly webinar. Thursday is for one-on-ones. Friday is for blogging, but it’s otherwise my free day.
That doesn’t mean I don’t do anything else on those days, but having that structure makes me more focused without the overwhelm.
When you’re starting your own business, it’s easy to try and do too much. You know what’s best, and you’re trying to save money, so you do it all yourself.
Just stop this madness.
I was a designer, programmer, customer service agent, and podcast editor in the beginning. And I was terrible at these things.
Hire people whose expertise is in your weakness. Find people who are experts in the things that you hate to do.
It will save you a ton of time so that you can focus your energy on the important tasks associated with growing the business.
Balance Involvement with Personal Value
There’s a big potential pitfall associated with getting help. I was not prepared for it.
Once I passed off the things I didn’t want to do, I suddenly felt less valuable. I felt out of the loop. It sapped my inspiration.
Example: I don’t like handling customer service. I can get 99 friendly emails, but the one angry message ruins my day. By passing off that duty, I no longer need to deal with the angry messages. But I also don’t see the nice ones.
Those nice messages make my day. They keep me motivated. They provide inspiration and make me feel like I’m making a difference.
My point? Find a balance. Get help while also making sure that the value you provide keeps you inspired.
Biggers Isn’t Always Better
Innuendo is hilarious.
In the beginning, it was always about shipping and creating. Launch something new. Find another revenue source. Hit a new goal.
Those days are over for me. At least in this current stage of my business.
I’ve found a perfect place right now. It’s a good balance between effort and revenue needed to live my desired lifestyle. To make more, I’d need to create more. Launch more. Build more.
As I said earlier, creating and launching are good. That’s how you learn. But stay within your limits. Know that more money doesn’t equal more happiness.
Have a Reason Why
It’s pretty simple for me. My family keeps me motivated. I want to spend more time with them. Coach their baseball teams. Participate in their lives. Go on vacations with them. These things are what drive focus of my business.
Want me to speak at your event? Eh. It had better not be during baseball season. And it needs to be a family event for a fun vacation. Otherwise, it’s not worth it for me, and I don’t care what the speaking fee is.
Making business decisions becomes easy when you have an overarching reason why you’re doing it all in the first place.
Don’t Obsess Over the Competition
I’m not saying you should completely ignore what other people are doing. When I was finding my way, I learned a lot from the likes of Amy Porterfield, Mari Smith, Chris Brogan, Marcus Sheridan, and many others.
But don’t obsess with keeping up with them. Don’t assume that they have it all figured out. That their backstage is a well-oiled machine. That they’re as happy and successful as they can be.
Look, there’s something to be said for a little competition. I learned this recently in a 5K. I ran for 10 days straight to prepare, running some pretty bad times. I then took 10 straight days off for a family vacation. I jumped into the 5K cold, and ran my best time in months.
Why? Because I wasn’t running by myself. That 12-year-old kid passed me, but I’m going to pass him back. That man my age will not finish ahead of me.
Some competition is healthy. But don’t let it guide all that you do.
Change is hard for me right now. I have everything the way I want it. Any big change completely throws that out of whack.
But I realize that change is necessary from time to time. Freshen up your approach. Try something new. Not only can your brand get stale to your audience, but repetition can create boredom for the creator.
I admit it. The very routine that I created for myself this year has resulted in more boredom than I’ve experienced since I started. But that’s just a good sign for me: It’s time to mix things up soon.
Doing something new and different — as long as it’s managed, controlled, and doesn’t overextend — can be liberating and inspiring.
As fun as this has been, I know I won’t be writing about Facebook ads for the next 20 years. I’m looking forward to that next business opportunity (baseball related?) that comes my way.
This list could keep going, but these are the primary lessons that come to mind from the past six years. I appreciate you, and I hope you’ve found this article and my content helpful.