Healthy Sacrifices We Made To Start Our Online Business

There are only 24 hours in a day so something in your schedule usually has to give in order to find the time to start your own business. When my wife and I first started our online business, both of us had full time jobs which left only about 3 hours of free time on weekdays and 2 full days on the weekends.

As a result, we had to make some sacrifices in order make time for the business. To make matters even worse, my wife was pregnant so there were always certain days when she simply didn’t feel up to working on anything.

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Photo By Lepiaf Geo

Our schedules always seemed packed so we had to cut out several things that we both enjoyed doing. In retrospect, making the following changes to our lifestyle proved to be blessings in disguise.

We Reduced Our Television Consumption

This might not sound like a big deal to most people, but prior to the business, television made up a huge part of our leisure activities. My wife was so into her television that prior to Tivo, she would map out all of the tv shows that she wanted to watch on Microsoft Excel so she wouldn’t miss a single program.

Pretty hard core eh? Feel free to make fun of her all that you want. Basically, the two of us would come home from work, have dinner and then plop ourselves on the sofa from 8-11pm on most weeknights. Then we would go to bed and repeat the same schedule the following day.

In retrospect, we really enjoyed our nice relaxing evenings in front of the television. But what did we have to show for it? Did watching tv improve our lives in any way?

Once we decided to start a business, we spent most nights brainstorming and taking action implementing our ideas. It was a long process but we went to bed feeling fulfilled every night. With the business taking center stage, we no longer had the time to watch much television. Although we have more time now that the business is more established, we still don’t watch that much tv and we don’t feel the need to either.

We Started Waking Up Early Even On Weekends

My wife and I used to look forward to the weekends so we could sleep in until noon. By the time we woke up, half of the day was gone. Did we really need that much sleep? Ironically, when my wife and I slept this long, we felt even more groggy and lethargic than if we had gotten up early. In many cases, sleeping late meant lounging around and doing nothing for the rest of the day. Fortunately, our business changed our sleeping habits.

The best time of day to take product photos for our online store was in the morning and that forced us to wake up early so that we could take advantage of the entire morning for our photo shoots. It was painful at first but gradually we got used to waking up early every single morning even on weekends.

The strange thing is that it now feels really good to be up early and I can’t even imagine sleeping in late anymore now. For one thing, waking up early grants you several extra hours to accomplish something useful. Second of all, the air is crisp and your mind is the freshest in the morning. I’ve found that I’m at peak productivity at around 6:30am. It is nice and quiet and there’s no one awake to disturb you (except for maybe a crying baby).

It kind of makes me wonder how much time I’ve wasted in my life sleeping in late. To think back at how much I could have accomplished with a few extra hours each day makes me mad at myself for being so lazy in the past. Do any entrepreneurs sleep in late? It makes me wonder.

We Kept A Schedule

In the old days BTB (before the business), my wife and I never used to plan anything. We’d keep our days open and unconstrained so that we could do whatever we wanted to at the slightest whim. At first we tried adopting a “we’ll work on the business whenever we feel like it” attitude but guess what? We kept procrastinating and putting things off. After a while, it was clear that this sort of loosey goosey scheduling wasn’t going to cut it if we wanted to get anywhere with our business.

When you don’t pencil in anything in your schedule, it’s a forgone conclusion that nothing is going to get done. Our business forced us to plan and adopt a more rigid scheduling policy. For example, we made Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday our work days and we took Friday, Saturday and Monday off. Every week, we set aside a specific time on those days with which to work on our business. After a while, these work hours became so ingrained in our minds that it made working on the business effortless. In fact, our schedule turned our business activities into more of a lifestyle rather than a chore.

That is why I’m a firm believer in having a regular schedule. Once you train your body to expect a certain activity regularly, it becomes part of your way of life.

I Became More Organized

One of the negative aspects of running a business is that keeping track of sales and receipts can be a major pain. I never used to be that organized so all of the extra bookkeeping involved with running a business became a thorn in my side.

You might have noticed that I used the word “I” instead of “we” for this particular topic. Fortunately, my wife is extremely put together and she’s managed to convert me over to being a bit more anal about keeping things in order. Sure, it takes a lot of extra energy to maintain organization, but I think that devoting this extra energy is a necessary sacrifice that every entrepreneur must make.

Just Curious

For all of the entrepreneurs out there, are you early risers? What are some of the sacrifices that you have made for your businesses?

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18 thoughts on “Healthy Sacrifices We Made To Start Our Online Business”

  1. I’m not an early riser (one of the advantages of online)/

    The major thing that has gone for me is mass media. I love our Radio National (the Australian equivalent of the US public radio and the UK’s BBC radio. TV I still watch 1-2 hours a week.

    1. Hey Evan,

      I guess we had to make some of those sacrifices since we both had full time jobs at the time. By the time my wife quit her job, we had a baby which was inifinitely more work than any job or business:)

  2. I’m an unrepentant “night owl” (but fortunately, time zones work in my favour) and never was much of a television-watcher, so no changes there. It’s a bit hard to think back, now, to how life flowed before self-employment, but I do seem to have a hazy memory of doing a lot more travelling, going out with friends on the weekends, doing more sports-type things, and taking the occasional vacation… not quite so healthy as your list, perhaps, the sacrifices made to run a business!

    1. Hi Domestik Goddess,

      So great to hear from you! I had a few unhealthy sacrifices as well but they didn’t quite fit the topic:)

  3. Hey Steve,

    Finally I find someone who shares the lifestyle that is almost the same as mine. :mrgreen:

    If we run a business and are truly passionate about it, we will definitely make some sacrifices. I started waking up earlier in the morning, ditched the habit of watching television (more Youtube I guess :p ) and became more organized just like you. I actually spent some time reading productivity books and blogs as well.

    Even with all the changes, looking back from the hindsight gives me the great feeling of gratitude. Thank you for posting this.

    Wayne Liew

    1. Hey Wayne,

      Good to hear from you. Yeah, I have this hulu.com habit that I need to kick as well. No harm in watching tv as long as it’s in moderation.

  4. I absolutely know what you mean about waking up early, even on the weekend. I feel so much better when I wake up at 8 or 9 on the weekend instead of sleeping in until noon.

    Still, I’m pretty bad for sleeping in on the weekend, especially if my girlfriend and I have spent the night together, because she would sleep in FOREVER if I let her. :)

    Now that she and I have started going to church every Sunday, we’re forced to get up earlier and we get so much more done on Sundays. Hopefully, we can start doing this on Saturdays, too, even without having the motivation of church to force our lazy asses out of bed.

    1. Hey Adam,
      I can’t sleep in now even if I wanted to. My internal clock wakes me up at 7:30am at the latest no matter how late I’ve gone to bed.

  5. My wife was pregnant also when I really got serious about making money online. And I trained myself to sleep less, about 5 to 6 hours most days with a few days every now and then. It does take dedication.

    1. Hey Stephan,

      It sounds like you and I both had similar motivations for starting our own businesses! It always takes passion to do something and family instills it in the both of us.

  6. Aside from special events this passed year (the Olympics and the election) I was never a huge TV watcher. I averaged about one hour a week. Health issues dont allow me to sacrifice sleep with my 45+ hour week job, but I do rise no later than 10:00am on weekends.

    Keeping a schedule allows me to make sure I don’t waste time on the internet or things that isn’t productive for my health, relationship, or business. Though for some a BlackBerry seems frivolous; that and a simple notepad saves me.

    1. Hi Carla,

      Sleep is definitely important. Everyone requires a different amount and the key is to figure out how much you need. For me, I need about 7 hours. Anymore than that and I’m sluggish. Any less and I’m still usually ok, but sometimes crash later on in the day.

      I’ve cut out tv, but my internet usage has skyrocketed. I need to cut back on facebook especially.

  7. I think one of the biggest changes for me is that our lives (my wife and I) became more structured. We began forming healthy habits and have since been incorporating other healthy habits such as running.

    Great post Steve!

  8. B7 says:

    The average American watches 8 hours of TV per day, and I was one of them. I think the quick and easy way to make more time (and what worked for me) was to turn off the cable. Its not as radical as selling your TV, but massively reduces the temptation.

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  10. Bruno says:

    You gave up watching television for hours each night, get out of bed before noon on the weekends, and keep to a schedule. These are sacrifices? Would your grandparents think these were sacrifices? Welcome to the world of adults. I’m glad you got here before your children did.

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