What if you're launching a business and you're not (always) 100% busy?
Excited by an amazing entrepreneurial project, I decided to quit my job a few months ago. It's been a great decision so far. I've learned a ton of new stuff, met incredible people, made exciting products. But no, I've not been fully busy from the very first day of my new life.
Every entrepreneurial projects take (at least) twice as much time than you expect.
In my previous professional life, I was working as a consultant in mergers and acquisitions for a Big Four company. No need to say that working there meant very long hours, a lot of pressure, and hard-to-meet deadlines.
But in this previous life, the only question I never asked myself was what I was going to do the day after.
Now that I am my own boss, I can do my own schedule. But I quickly realized that people you're working with are no longer colleagues, or responsive customers and suppliers. I went from being an employee of a well-known company to Mister Nobody, who's trying to create a business. And when you're nobody, not many people are eager to meeting with you, or to doing business with you. This means you always come last, which means you lose time.
Do you know the proverb "It always takes twice as long and costs twice as much"? Well, it's true. Every single entrepreneur friend I know will confirm that, whether in the tech industry, the food business, the furniture business, or even the spirits business.
Losing time is not that much of a big deal if you're well prepared. You may want to read another article I wrote about when it's the right time to quit your job to be an entrepreneur.
But if you used to work a lot in your previous jobs, you may find difficult and even stressful to occupy yourself 100% of your time. Some of you might think that, if I say that, this means it was a bad time to launch my company. Or that, wondering what to do is some proof that it was a bad choice to become an entrepreneur. You might be right.
But keep in mind that every projects have different phases. And you might not have all the necessary skills to be 100% busy in every single one.
Let's say you're a very small team who has to deal with everything, from the administrative to the sales. The cofounders need to be highly involved from day 1. But whatever the product you're launching is, you have only two choices. Either you "build" it yourself, or you have other skills, which means you have a technical somebody build it for you. And if you're in the first category like I am, at the end of the day you will wait for your product to be made.
The fact that you're not a technical cofounder doesn't mean you have to wait doing nothing. You can build the strategy, meet potential customers and present them what your team is building, pitch the concept in various events, contact PR, study competition, list potential business angels or VC, do market research etc. Keep being involved in your project allows you to anticipate for future issues.
Being an entrepreneur is to accept not to have a clear to-do list. You have to create it as you go. But this is challenging, especially when your cofounders perfectly know where they are going, and what is the roadmap.
I listed above a few items that a non-technical cofounder might want to explore before … doing nothing. Because indeed, the alternative is basically to do nothing. And what is worse than doing nothing when you actually jumped to the startup life thinking you could change the world? Boredom?
What used to be satisfaction when you were employed by a company becomes quite easily guilt when you're self employed. The sentence "I've done everything I could this week to have the company move forward" turns in "I should do more", "what if I took a part time job during my spare time", or "maybe it was not the right time to quit".
I try to stay as far away from these thoughts as possible. This can too easily lead you to quit your project. And like a friend of mine told me once, you chose to be in this arena. Now you have to fight.
So what to do during this "less busy" time?
But I have the feeling that as long as you do whatever your project and your team needs from you, you don't have to feel guilty about not being 100% busy. A little bird told me that a day will come we wish we had more time to do anything but work.