“The Wantrepreneur Blues”

I wrote a comment on Indie Hackers that got some upvotes so I’m reposting it here on my blog. OP wants to know how to break out of the “wantrepreneur blues” cycle and actually start making money independently. Here’s my answer:


Here’s my story, I don’t quite have a lifestyle business yet but expect to quit my job within a year. Concretely, what has changed for me is my mindset has gone from “maybe I can start a business, other people do it but I’m not sure if I can” to “I can 100% definitely start and run a business.”

The business I’m starting right now (haven’t launched yet) has been a forcing function to make me learn at a very fast rate. Back-end coding (what I get paid to do at work) is only a small part of starting a business, especially because I get those tasks done so fast. I’ve had to learn front-end coding, design, how to research a business idea’s PageRank/seo, marketing, competitive server hosting (for when AWS is too costly) and read about 1000 stories on indiehackers.com to get some idea of what is possible.

How did I get this far? First step is, realize you are embarking on a marathon, not a sprint. This is like any other undertaking that takes months/years of steady work and discipline (losing bodyfat, learning a foreign language.) To be at peak mental performance you need to get enough sleep and eat food to give yourself energy.

Be realistic with your social life. Sure, go to the bar, but only after working all day on Saturday on our own project. Same with TV, tinder dates, anything else besides your job and your side project. Budget time for things you love, ruthlessly cut other things.

When you “mess up” just forgive yourself immediately and move on, don’t dwell on it.

Once you meet some fellow entrepreneurs, go co-work with them at a cafe, demo your progress, and talk about your business. This helps keep up motivation. Follow entrepreneurs on twitter. Sometimes when I only talk to non-entrepreneurs for a few days I start to question myself and feel crazy for wanting this.

I like to put stories in Pivotal Tracker for my side projects, and do a more-or-less realistic estimate on points. That way if after work I have a small amount of time/energy to work on the side project, I can knock out an easy one point story. Then on Sat and Sun knock out the big three point stories.

Don’t take on other big projects. This isn’t the time to learn Spanish, spend every weekend hiking a big trail, quit smoking, attend night school, or learn a big new tech paradigm unrelated to your company.

Figure out how you waste time and eliminate it. For me that is idle news reading and watching twitch.

The crazy thing is that I actually get more other stuff done now that I’m doing all this work. I’ve lost bodyfat without really trying (eating the same meals over and over to reduce prep mental effort), read a bunch of books, met new entrepreneurs, found new music. I think it comes down to changing my attitude, getting enough sleep, figuring out what/when to eat to maximize energy, and spending more time with encouraging people and less time with negative people.

Hope this helps!

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Author: Dennis Cahillane

Hacker

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