Over seven years ago I started fixing people’s websites in my basement for extra cash, and I quickly found out that I really liked doing it.
I found out pretty quickly that solving difficult problems for people was something that brought me real happiness, and it wasn’t long before I left a cushy full time job to head out on my own so I could do what I loved full time, and on my own terms.
The demand for our work grew quickly, and we slowly added more and more people to our team. At one point in 2016 we had 11 full time employees; an entire soccer team of web pros!
Getting Lost in the Business
As the team grew, I slowly moved further and further away from the reason I started my business in the first place. It’s a trend that’s talked about extensively in the E-Myth. People start a business because they love what they do, but then the growth of the business, management of people, and demands of administrivia become too much, and the person who started the business finds themselves in a totally foreign land with no roadmap for how to get back to the thing they once loved.
I remember reading that book at some point early on in my entrepreneurial career and thinking “I’ve gotta make sure that never happens to me. That can never ever happen to me!”
Well, it did happen to me…
Over the last few years I’ve found myself in situations I never could have imagined. There have been incredibly high highs, and some of my very lowest lows.
On multiple occasions we’ve watched as companies we’ve worked with have reached massive success. Whether their definition of that was doing a million dollars of revenue in 30 days or selling 100 copies of their first eBook, our team has helped facilitate some pretty remarkable things over the years.
On the flip side, some of my darkest life memories stemmed from situations or circumstances directly related to my company.
Charles Dickens Was Pretty Smart
Remember in A Christmas Carol when Scrooge watches his own life from the outside while he sees his past, present, and future self make horrible decisions?
While I don’t think I really ever carried the demeanor of Ebenezer, I feel him. Today I look back and often think “what might have been…”; or I try and replay a decision or direction that might have turned out better had I known then what I know now.
But hindsight is 20/20, and this isn’t a pity party. At this point all I can do is learn from the experiences of the last years of my life and make sure I tip that nice boy from the neighborhood an extra schilling for hauling my prize Christmas turkey.
If you’re a leader in any capacity, and you feel like you’re drowning, you need to know that none of this is easy, and you’re definitely not alone.
How Do We Keep Our Business From Owning Us?
If I could condense everything I’ve learned into one simple piece of advice, I’d tell people to ask for help before they think they need it.
That can happen in all sorts of ways, both in business, and personally too. For me, not having a firm grasp on lots of operations-related business tasks resulted in me spending way too much time trying to figure them out on the fly. I hated doing them and I wasn’t any good at them, which is the perfect recipe for a dog 💩sandwich.
But going way beyond business, there were many times I felt smothered and didn’t know where to turn, or if I’m being totally honest, I was too prideful to seek outside help.
“I’m a smart guy,” I’d tell myself. “I can figure this out.”
I learned that the line between confidence and stubborn stupidity is infinitely fine, and that I was often on the wrong side of it.
Now I see a therapist regularly. We talk through the hard things. The places I feel inadequate and what I’d like to see improve. I don’t always leave with all the answers, but I do create the space for myself to talk about the things I’m worried about or want to change in my life.
It’s a process, but so is everything that’s important, right?
I’m burying the lede in some ways here. I sold my company this month, but that’s not where I wanted to point the spotlight, even though it is something I’m really excited about.
I’ll be working for Southern Web, the company that bought WP Site Care, and I’ll be back to doing what inspired me to leave that cushy desk job six years ago. I’m going back to helping people solve problems in their online businesses.
It’s a remote position, so we aren’t uprooting to Atlanta or anything like that. We’re staying right here in Utah. After this initial transition period I’ll be able to focus on the work I enjoy, spend more time on my personal health (it’s been totally neglected), and be more fully present for my wife and boys.
Finally, if you’re feeling helpless, or alone, or like your business runs you and not the other way around, raise your hand and ask for help before it’s too late. Don’t wait for as long as I did. There’s a whole world of professionals and a great community of people who are ready and willing to help. If you’d like to talk through your struggles or just need a place to vent, I’m happy to have a conversation anytime. Shoot me a note or DM me on Twitter.
The very last thing I want to do is thank those of you who have stuck by me and lifted me up when times were incredibly tough. I’m so truly grateful for your help, and you’ll never really know what a difference you made in my life during a time when I otherwise felt completely alone.
Thank you thank you thank you.