Surviving your first year of having a startup is no small feat. Year one is in the book for my husbands startup and we celebrated it this past week with champagne toasted just for surviving it.
Going out on his own and starting a business was a decision we made together, one we prayed and planned for. But even with that, it has been a team effort day in and day out. I’ve held down the fort with a steady paycheck that we knew would cover our living expenses while he’s blazed new trails, changed the game and is made it happen this year.
Self employment is both the American dream and nightmare.
So if you find yourself in the wild west of self employment in the land of the free, here are 3 tips for surviving it.
Don’t neglect fun
What is life without fun? But seriously.
Fun was the easiest thing for my husband and I to neglect this past year getting his business off the ground. Stressed out, worn thin and exhausted at the end of the week, we hardly gave ‘having fun’ a second thought.
And guess what happened? I got depressed and he didn’t enjoy life and work as much anymore. I know dramatic right, but when we started intentionally carving out time in each day and each week to have fun, our quality of life, daily mood and happiness skyrocketed.
Neglecting fun is perilous. There are these small kids that are still alive inside each of us. Sometimes we squelch them in the name of productivity or ignore them because we’re so tired. But they want to have fun and need to have fun, don’t neglect having fun.
2. Set boundaries for work time
In the beautifully grey world of working for yourself you never really clock in or clock out.
Hard and fast boundaries for work time are not always possible and sometimes you have to bend and flex.
That’s the blessing and curse of the self employed life.
We’ve found a rhythm that’s worked to help us establish some sort of boudry. Each Sunday we check in about the week ahead, discussing plans and events, what we’re stressed about or excited about for the upcoming week. He works normals 9-5ish hours while I work three 12 hour shifts per week and spend my ‘off days’ writing. During those weekly check ins we set times when we’ll be ‘off work’ for the day depending on what the week looks like.
It’s inevitable that things will come up that need to be addresses over the weekend and the simple fact that as a start up you can’t afford to neglect your inbox for an entire week on vacation. But even those times can have boundaries. In Jamaica this summer, Justin would spend an hour in the morning returning calls and emails the were pertinent while I hit the gym or did yoga but by 10am, it was fun time and work was done for the day.
Setting boundaries for your work times allows you to be in control of your time, your life and your work and not the other way around.
3. Have an emergency fund
You will freak out enough as it is about finances but having an intact emergency fund will help you not live in a state of full blown panic attack every waking minute.
We’ve always kept somewhere between 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund that way if something crazy happened and we were out of commission, we would be able to pay our mortgage and bills. It also comes in quite handy when your roof starts leaking and you have to pay for a brand new one or you’re anticipating the impending end of your HVAC system and anticipating hemorrhaging out money to replace it.
The emergency fund will give you the safety net you need to wake up every day doing the work you were created to do without constantly worrying about money and what you will do if you have to take a week off due to illness or some unforeseen expenses pops up.