Know What’s Difficult?

Crafting a business.

Duh, right?

I don’t mean writing software on the side while you have a full-time job and dreaming that someday you’ll be your own boss. I mean sitting down with a spreadsheet and some historical data, and projecting real-deal income and expense numbers. Figuring out how to create every penny you need to make something successful and sustainable.

Okay, that’s not actually the business itself. Doing the work to make those numbers work is the business. Bookkeeping is the business. Putting fingers to keyboard and phone to ear, day in and day out, is the business. But those numbers are crucial, and your eyes must be open to the actuals of what you’re doing.

When the numbers don’t have to balance, it seems easy. It gives an inflated sense of success: I have x visitors per day or month on my site, I make $y in advertising/royalties/whatever, my part-time product makes $z, and I have a name and brand. I’ll just scale up my time and make that many times more. I got this in the bag, yo.

But can you maintain your lifestyle with $y and $z if you quit your day job? Can you put in the time it takes to make something that truly sells? Can you work, even just 30 quality hours a week, with no externally imposed schedule? Can you do bookkeeping, check the mail, manage accounts, cash checks, pay taxes, buy health insurance, keep up with correspondence, make aggressive business deals, diversify, and plan for the future?

I’m increasingly convinced that those are the differences between a hobby and a business. With a hobby, you make what you like, when you like. With a business, you better learn all of that real quick, or outsource it smartly.

I never imagined it was easy, and have plenty of respect for folks who do the damn thang, but it’s a daunting process to look at numbers and have to ask, “How in the world wcould this work?”