When you’ve been running a business for a while it’s sometimes easy for people to settle down and merge into the general day-to-day routine of dealing with email and plodding through the task list. The problem is that some people (me included) have the tendency to become too comfortable with this routine, we settle in and slow down. These sorts of clockwork routines will eventually only lead to something dull and uninspiring. No matter how much you love your job, if you sit and do the same thing day-in day-out for months (or even years) your not challenging yourself. You have basically become a glorified production line worker, forever doomed to undertake the same tasks.
I’m writing this post because I had a shocking realization that I’ve begun to slide into this. It’s been nearly two years since I took on running Developer City full-time and although I love the work I’m doing there, I realized that there’s nothing all that challenging anymore. I’ve definitely settled in and I’ve started to slow down.
The realization that I have started to settle in to a routine that could quite easily consume many years of my life has unsettled me. I have always been one to try and push the boundaries and to learn new things, and in a way I am still like that, but I feel that I have been poorly managing my most valuable resource, my time. There’s a lot I want to accomplish before my time is up and unfortunately it’s not going to happen in my current environment.
I think that money has been a big factor in the equation too. I don’t care much for financial wealth and I’m not rich, but as my company has grown the financial constraints that you deal with in the first months and years as a founder has dissipated. In the early days of starting a company money is always the primary concern. I started out with about Â£500, and out of that I had to furnish an office, pay the first months rent and bills, pay for some hosting and keep my car on the road so that I could get to meetings. I used my TV from home as a monitor so that I wouldn’t have to buy one. Turns out unplugging yourself from TV does wonders, you don’t have to hear the media moaning all the time. It’s sometimes surprising how far you can stretch something when it is a sparse resource. When it is scarce, money has a different value.
This reminds me of when I was in school and me and my friends would buy our lunch from the canteen each day. When I first started the canteen was reasonably subsidized, to the point that you could pick up a warm meal for about a pound or a filled roll for around 60p. When I would go to school money would take on a new value, in the real world 60p would barely buy you a packet of crisps but in the canteen that would be a hearty ham and salad roll or 3 big cookies. All of a sudden the value of the change in my pocket increased as I walked through those school gates. This taught me that the true value of money depends on the context in which it is used, and in some ways the amount that you have.
When a resource is scarce you hustle to make it stretch further. I only ever used to drink coffee at the office because I drink it black and it meant that I didn’t have to buy the milk and sugar that I would have if I drank tea. Thinking about this now seems ludicrous, but the extra couple of pounds a week I would save made a real difference. As money starts to become less of an issue your ability (and I guess willingness) to hustle decreases. After all, you’ve worked hard to get where you are, why not buy that nice coffee machine or that new monitor you’ve been looking at. I fell into this trap and I wish I hadn’t. When I look around my office now it saddens me to see just how much I’ve lost the hustle. Now it’s not like I’ve got solid gold figurines lying around or anything but over time I got that coffee machine, and the monitor. Subscription services are the best for catching you off guard, over time they build up and before you know it the services that you have come to rely on are costing you a considerable amount of money each month. Losing the hustle doesn’t happen overnight, it creeps up on you until one day you realise that you’ve settled in and slowed down.
If I’m honest this article is more for me than it is for anyone else, but maybe it will help someone out there to realise that the level on their hustle meter has been on the slide too. I miss the hustle, it’s my fault it’s gone and I’m sure as hell going to bring it back. For those of you out there that are still hustling away, be wary of the little temptations that will cause you to lose it. Losing the hustle is by no means the end, but it will take you off the express track.
Moral of the story – keep focused and don’t lose your hustle. Peace 🙂