I’m working on a new company while we have our 3-year-old son home full-time, we are expecting a baby in a few weeks, and my wife runs her own business + side project.
4 years ago I decided to do freelancing and save as much money as possible. When I reached $160.000 (1 mill DKK) I would have enough saved for a safety fund, some investments and to start a new company. When I reached the goal I emailed all clients and terminated our agreements by the latest 28th of May (my birthday).
I started freelancing because I just needed to work my ass off for some years but regain energy for risk and to consider what terms to start my next project. 3–4 years ago I had no idea what company I wanted to start and how I wanted to work. I just knew that a job was not an opportunity.
Freelancing was perfect for me for this period. I was able to just work and go deep into specific challenges without all the shit that comes with starting a real company.
When I started freelancing, my exit plan was concrete and I worked towards it the whole time.
While freelancing I slowly started to frame how I wanted to start a company, which is more important to me than what to start. I began writing a simple decision framework that I could use on all ideas I had.
The business ideas had to tick off all of the following:
- The scope had to be super realistic.
- The business model has to be a known model.
- It should be possible to work asynchronously with a team, meaning everyone works when they want.
- It has to be remote. I’m not interested in working from a fixed location.
- It has to be global.
- It should be realistic to self-finance for 2 years at least
- Hiring a team from day one.
I have always started companies with close to no money, way too big scope, and very quickly going from idea to getting started. I really wanted to try a different approach and to challenge my (most) weak spot, which is patience.
Having this framework helped me take the time needed to think things through, save up money, and slowly regain some risk tolerance.
The framework is not just a business framework. It’s a framework that is very much based on our lifestyle, where the absolute #1 priority maximizing time with our children. Our default solution is no daycare, no kindergarten, and no school.
We want to spend our days with our kids and we want to homeschool/unschool/worldschool. Maybe not forever but this is where we default.
I understand those who would call it a bit unambitious and from a pure business perspective, I would probably agree to some degree, as I have always worked a lot. But I see a lot of value in constraints and having very limited time has already helped me focus a lot and outsource much more. Constraints breed creativity as they say.
In the whole discussion about big-scale startup vs lifestyle company, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t give a fuck and I just know what is right for me.
Starting a company while having very soon two kids at home full-time is of course some kind of interesting situation. One thing is finding the hours, another and more challenging thing is managing energy.
Managing the energy between trying to do deep work, re-adjusting strategy, the concerns that go into bringing money to work instead of bringing a paycheck home and then having to switch mindset completely and playing with toy trains in the middle of the day, is a challenge.
It’s been a handful of months since we started working. I’ve started the company with one of my best friends and we are now a very small team working from 4 different countries. Nobody works full-time, but 3–6 hours per day and we all work asynchronously. No revenue yet.
Unlike earlier I don’t feel a big pull towards sharing every step of creating a company. I do feel a need to write about the transition, also as a kind of ending to what has been a good period in my life. My gut tells me that these coming years will be one of the more intense periods of my life and I think writing more about that will help me in many ways, at least to settle my thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
Originally published at Nikolaj Astrup.