When I quit my mechanical engineering job years ago, I moved back to Nashville to start a small clothing boutique. By that time, I had started (and finished) a few other businesses and creative projects in my life, but this was the first time I was 100% on my own and working for myself. It was an exciting time.
I’d been working on the planning for my boutique for over a year by the time I quit. I had most every detail in place and had an extremely (maybe a better word would be “insanely”) positive vision of how it would all pan out. Of course, looking back this all seems naïve, but I had the best intentions.
When I started the store, it was much harder than I thought. Even though I’d set up shop in one of the most high-traffic retail areas of town, customers were hard to come by. People liked the clothing but didn’t want to pay the price for it being organic and fair trade. Plus, my romantic view of operating a retail store began to fade.
One of the big reasons that I chose to quit my corporate job was that I wanted to be able to set my own schedule. I wanted the flexibility in my work to do what I wanted, when I wanted. Obviously, a retail store was not the best choice for that. A retail store has to be open consistent hours during at least six days a week. Also, unless you’re making enough money to hire a manager, you (the owner) have to be there during all of those hours. In addition to running and managing the store, you have to do all the buying, marketing, design, cleaning, bookkeeping and even taking out the trash. Not very romantic.
When I was planning this business, there was one crucial piece of the puzzle that I completely missed and that was answering the questions: What do I want my daily life to look like?
For me, I liked eco-friendly clothing, marketing, design, planning, buying and many of the other aspects of a retail business, so I thought this business was a good fit for me. Alternatively, what I didn’t like was having to be indoors in one place at the same time every single day. I didn’t get to set my own schedule or do what I wanted, when I wanted. I was stuck there. Some people might love this, but it turned out not to be a good fit for me.
When you are planning your business, make sure you factor in how your daily life will look. Do you want to work from home? Do you want to travel or drive around a lot? Do you want to see clients in an office? There’s no right or wrong.
Take out a piece of paper and write out what an ideal day will look like in the business you are planning or the business you are growing. Don’t hold back. If you want to take a break and go get ice cream every day, write it down. If you want to travel to the Bahamas and work on your laptop from there, write it down. If you want to sleep til noon and work all evening, that’s fine, too.
Once you finish writing, look at your ideal day and see if your business idea or model allows for you to have this day. If not, then it’s time to reconsider what you’re getting into. It’s better to change your idea now than wait years down the road and realized you’re stuck in your decision.