From Slavery to CEO

By Seneca | Working Smarter

May 10

When most people start a business on the side of their regular job, the idea is to build it up enough to be able to make ends meet on the business income and then quit. Freedom is the objective, but when quit day comes, are you actually going to be free, or transitioning into more slavery?

I was like everybody else that starts a business while working full time. Someday it was going to be my escape hatch. As soon as I could squeak by, I'd quit and be able to really go for it with my business. But every time I checked in with God about quitting, the answer was always no. No explanation, just "stay until it's time to go." 

I didn't understand why I was still working. I thought maybe I needed X amount of money stashed for something that God knew about but I didn't, so I started banking as much as I comfortably could. Sound practice, but no, that wasn't the reason.

In the beginning, I didn't pay myself, preferring to put it all back into building the business. Eventually I realized some drawbacks to that and started gradually increasing my pay which allowed me to bank a years salary. 

Along the way I had to deal with whether or not I believed God was a child abuser. I would miss meals to do consultations or other business needs. Get up at 4 am to get business in before my job, then hurry home to pick up the rest of it. How can God do this to me? I understand kingdom purposes generally mean some level of discomfort and sacrifice, but everybody in my Christian circle was talking about rest. Doesn't this make God look bad to people close to me who know I'm only staying out of obedience? 

Beyond all that, He would talk to me about these grandiose ideas to implement on top of my 10 1/2 hour day. So if I'm supposed to keep this job, and I'm supposed to do this and this and this, how exactly? 

Let's just say, when you've got a gaping wound in an area, you are not going to hear very efficiently if at all, when the answer is going to make you dig into that. I needed to hire people. To do that, I had to get past three lies.

  1. Nobody wants to work for me/will listen to me. I had my first management job at thirteen bossing grown people. It didn't go great. 
  2. I am on my own with this because everybody thinks I'm wrong/bad/deceived. I had pretty well worked through that as detailed here.
  3. Nobody wants a job with so few hours.

It was only after I assembled a team, and started eating, sleeping and showering again that I realized doing both was entirely possible. Comfortable even. I was free to rest, and free to push forward on big projects as I felt up to it. I also realized that I didn't WANT to do customer service, bottling and shipping all day. That I actually liked my job and it did a lot of good things for me beyond a paycheck.  If I quit my job, it wouldn't be to bury myself in the day to day of Freedom Flowers, it would be to run the company. To spend my days doing things that drive it forward and also catching up on a personal life. 

Quitting when it made sense to me would have meant enslaving myself in my own system, doing all the work myself, missing out on the people involved who are better at some things than me, and more efficient at some things than me. 

My quit date came in the Hebraic month of Nisan. That's when the Israelites left Egyptian slavery. I had to wait, so did they. I watched Nisans come and go while waiting. Maybe if I'd figured things out earlier, I wouldn't have had to wait so long. There was definitely process involved. But, now I am in a business that can run without me. If I want to go somewhere I can. If I want to bog down in research I can. Lose myself in a big project, I can. That's generally the ultimate goal when people start a business. It's not that it's the easiest way to make money, it's that it promises flexibility. You know, unless you have to "be your own boss" and you, out of necessity, become Pharaoh. 

So How do You Go From Slavery to CEO of Your Own Business?

  1. If your job is that bad, find another one. You can't afford to blow this because of negative emotions getting the better of you. You might be at this longer than you think. I sure was. 
  2. Hire before you think it's necessary. If you're doing all the little things, you're not doing the big ones that grow your business. Keeping your head above water is not the objective. Putting fabulous resources into this world and increasing the numbers of people who have access to them is. Don't lose your calling by drowning in responsibilities. 

If you're still mowing your own lawn and cleaning your own house, those are the easiest to farm out. If somebody messes up, it doesn't affect your business, so those are areas to hire or delegate. (Other people in the family can be helping too.) There are also people who will prep meals for you or run errands. I don't drive the 70 miles to go shopping, I Amazon Prime it to my doorstep. You could also hire a personal assistant for a couple hours per day to do whatever. 

I had a house cleaner, but she left for her family business. She makes unparalleled face and hair stuff now. We never replaced her because my dog doesn't let just anybody in the house. I've gone through several bottlers and shippers, which is the bulk of the labor. Gardeners have rarely worked out for me. 

When you're not doing a ton of business it can feel silly to hire someone but you need to get over that. A VA typically doesn't work for just you, they can have many clients and switch back and forth handling multiple customer service channels or other tasks. You can get cheap help from places like India and the Philippines. The 4 Hour Work Week book covers this in detail.

I opted not to do that because I wanted customer service coverage during the day while I was at work. I also wanted proper English and good spelling, not that you can't get that from other countries. I hired someone who had her own business, could see what needed to be done and do it, already used a lot of the same software, was an author and just looking for a little extra. Then I hired a stay at home mom with customer service experience who doesn't really have a lot of time to give, and again, it's a little extra money being home. Onboarding someone when things are slow is preferable to when you're in way over your head. There really are people who can show up for a half hour at a time and go through your email or schedule some social media posts. 

It takes time to get into the "do I need to be doing this or can someone else handle it" thought process before every activity. I still do many things I could hand off just because I want them done now. 

We use a Walkie talkie phone app so I'm available for questions. That was compatible for me in my job, it may not be for you. Its much quicker than if I had to sit and type something, or dial a phone. You can also do group chats which means everybody is up to speed. 

Through all this, you will find out what you're made of, and learn to value your time. Two crucial things if you're going to the next level. 

How Do You Know When to Quit?

The obvious answer is God tells you, but I hate when people cop-out with an answer like that. That's the ideal, but I generally run my life checking my motives, doing what I want to do and listening for the "no." The no got me all the other times. 

Finances can be a factor, but it's also hard to say how much you'll grow when you have time to really apply yourself. Consider that you'll be catching up on lots of personal things and all that time you think you'll have isn't really there. You may have to fight against family's idea that you don't work now. In short, productivity will probably take at least a temporary nosedive and you'll wonder how you ever had time to have a job. So don't count on being able to drum up extra money. 

For me, it became obvious that I couldn't continue to do both. It wasn't a matter of hiring another person, I just really needed to be there more. The effects were showing everywhere. I was a less focused employee who was cutting out early, (I was saving them a lot of money though) and areas of the business were suffering. It wasn't fair to my employer, or anybody remotely connected to me. 

One morning I decided to research how to quit, you know, for when the day came so I would have a seemless exit. It's not kosher to just say you quit here, there's protocol and proper forms etc. I didn't think it would be that day.

That day my boss informed me there would be even more overtime than I was already doing, with no clear end to it. I felt like I had been hanging by my fingers off a cliff and someone had come along and stomped on them. I gave it overnight.

I examined my feelings. "Was this revenge, wanting to get my way," etc. I decided it wasn't. I waited for the no, and it never came. I woke up with a song about a new beginning and never looked back.

I'm so grateful that it went down this way, and sharing because I hope you can hang in there too, so that you are able to do all the things beyond the trivial but necessary in your business. The size of the impact you can make is tethered to how much you can be buried in busy work. 

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