You choose what business you build

"I feel like I am on a roller coaster ride" - This was a consistent quote from me in the early days of building Lead Cookie as I had calls with my adviser, Alex McClafferty.

Each day I woke up early and worked insanely long days, in what felt like an endless cycle of just trying to keep my head above water.

And each week, during our advising calls, Alex would have to remind me of this simple lesson:

"You are not on a roller coaster. You are in the driver's seat. You choose what business you build."

The lesson is a simple reminder, but the depth of that statement goes deep, and in this article, I am going to explore this concept in detail.

The trap of entrepreneurship

As sad as it is, most entrepreneurs I come across seem to work way longer hours and take less time off than most employees I know.

While they get into entrepreneurship with a desire for freedom, they often build themselves into a situation with even less freedom than an employee. 

This was me for years. I touted my badge of entrepreneurship with pride, yet in reality, I was working 60-70 hour work weeks with no benefits, and I failed to even produce a stable income.

But I was an entrepreneur... so I justified it all.

I trapped myself in to not being able to take time off.
And I just kept running on this self-made hamster wheel that never seemed to go anywhere.

Often I found myself complaining about the situation I was in, or how hard business was.
And I was always "crazy busy".

Even when I wasn't doing work for cash, I somehow invented work to keep myself occupied because I had become so accustomed to working such long work weeks. 

This all brought me to this I feel like I am on a roller coaster sentiment that I would bring to Alex during our weekly calls.

Another phrase I used was, "It feels like I wake up, open my computer, and I am strapped to a rocket ship all day." 

Regardless of how I phrased it, the sentiment was the same.

Shit was crazy.

Recognize that you are in control

The first key to changing your reality is to realize that you are in control. So many entrepreneurs build these situations for themselves and then play "victim". They act like the world is against them and it's so unfortunate the situation that they have found themselves in.

They blame their market, their vendors, their team, and everyone around them.

What they fail to realize is that there is no one to blame other than themselves. 

You are in control as an entrepreneur.
If you don't like your current reality, you have the power to change it. 

That is the beautiful and intimidating thing about entrepreneurship. While you can mold the world to whatever you wish it to be, you must also accept the deep responsibility that comes with controlling your own destiny.

So instead of waking up and blaming the "roller coaster" for jerking you around, look at it a different way.

Realize that instead of riding a roller coaster, you are building your own sports car.

This car can take you anywhere you want to go. 

It can be fast or slow.
It can be well designed or highly functional. 
It can go from zero to $60k MRR in months or in years.
It can be a risky startup or a slow and steady, resilient business.

The key here is to realize that you choose what business you build. 

An example of choosing what you build

Over the past few months, I have been building up my latest venture Content Allies. With this venture, I am being much more intentional than I was with Lead Cookie.

You see, in the early days of Lead Cookie, I just signed customers like crazy, worked countless hours, and had the "growth at all costs" mentality.

At times, this cost a lot... 

At one point in Lead Cookie, I had to lay off 6 people because I moved too fast and made huge mistakes.

There were many periods where I or my ops director worked 60+ hour weeks just trying to keep up.

We experienced massive churn in our first 6 months because I was moving so fast and failed to really refine the product (until we were 6 months in) because I was so focused on growth.

Needless to say... I treated Lead Cookie like a roller coaster just flying after every opportunity that came my way instead of thinking through what I actually wanted for the business.

With Content Allies, I am now taking a different approach...

My goal with Content Allies is to work at a max of 20 hours per week EVER on the business. I want to operate it as a business owner from day one and create an environment where myself and my team have an incredible work-life balance as we build a steady and stable venture that grows over time.

As a result, I have hardly even marketed this business. We are at roughly $10k MRR right now and I have been intentionally acquiring new customers at a very slow pace. This is so we can focus on delivering an incredible service while getting our entire team's work-life balance in check. 

To add to this intentionality, we recently signed a few large clients for Content Allies that represent a massive growth opportunity to work with bigger companies and brands.

While the opportunity of working with bigger brands and companies is exciting, we are also experiencing the intense demands of enterprise accounts. 

So this week when talking with my team we had this conversation:

"We will do our best to serve these customers, but we aren't going to disrupt our flow to appease their every need. 

They are going to send us things and want them turned around the next day. We won't do that, and instead, we will stick to our standard turnaround time. 

They are going to try and hop on calls and get extremely custom with everything, but we won't do that. 

We will deliver our process and adjust it as we believe is reasonable. But if they don't work within our process, that is fine. 

There are plenty of other customers out there who will fit into our process and flow. Just because they're a big name, doesn't mean we are going to sacrifice our values and what we are trying to build to appease them."

2 years ago, if I had come across this same opportunity at the start of Lead Cookie, I would not have handled it the same way. I would have dove in and done whatever it took to appease the big opportunity.

And in doing so, I would have strapped myself into a roller coaster ride... 

Today, I recognize the opportunity for what it is. 
I see the opportunity, but I also see the costs.

But most importantly, I recognize that I get to choose what business I build. 

The vision of what I am building and my ideal life

Today, I am working less than 5 hours per week on Lead Cookie. I've removed myself from essentially every role and my time is now spent coaching and developing my team. 

This shift is recent, as I finally stepped out of the sales role in recent months. 

And as I have achieved this freedom, I've started to really build out a new vision for what I am building and my ideal life.

So here it is...

My ideal life is one where I am freed up to be a prolific creator. 
This is where I am at my best.

Writing, building businesses, creating.

I'm even starting to get back into music and audio production. 

The medium of what does not matter to me as much as the fact that I am prolifically creating. 

So in my ideal life, I am putting out book after book, blog after blog. 
And I am creating media that makes a massive impact on the world.

But I can't do that if I am sucked into and working in my business.

So, I'm building my businesses to take me less than 20 hours per week to run. This will give me the rest of my time to explore, create, and write. 

Those who I respect and follow are those who have created prolifically. People like Seth Godin, Beeple, Garret J White, Maynard James Keenan, Mike Michalowicz, and others.

These are people who have amassed giant bodies of work in their life and they continue to do so.

That is what I desire to be, and so I am building my businesses to enable that. 

20 hours per week max working on my businesses. 
A good income is a part of that, but I don't need millions. 
Freedom of time is worth more than money to me. 

That is the target I am working toward. 

Take control of your own destiny

Stop letting yourself be yanked around by your business.

Get off the "roller coaster" and recognize that you are in control.

The beautiful thing about entrepreneurship is that you can build whatever it is you desire. 

You can mold the world to whatever it is you want.

That is within your power and control.

You choose what business you build.
Now go build it. 

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