You Should Avoid This Mistake That Nearly Bankrupted Me

The Beginning of My Entrepreneurial Journey

In 2012, when I quit my last job to become an entrepreneur, I didn’t know exactly what I would do except for a vague notion that it would be something in education. 

But as soon as I launched my startup, the clock started ticking. Every other day, I was writing checks. Month by month, my bank balance started dwindling as I paid out salaries and expenses mounted. Soon, I had so little money left that I had to give up my house and move to another one half the size (and half the rent).

After some time, when even that house became unaffordable, I moved from Mumbai to Trivandrum, where the rent went down another 75%.

Now, I was under pressure to somehow generate revenue. We had a good online learning platform, but without any VC funding, the only way to get customers was through word-of-mouth. However, to generate word of mouth, you needed an online audience.

And that is something I should have done over the last few years, while in the previous job. In fact, over time, I realized that many things I did after quitting my job could have been done when I was still working. 

Then why did I not do that? 

The Mistake of Waiting for Perfect Conditions

Because before starting work on my startup dream, I was waiting for perfect conditions, when I had full freedom, zero responsibilities, and a startup tag. And for that, I had to quit my job. 

In retrospect, it was not just unnecessary but counterproductive. When under extreme pressure, you become desperate and can’t think clearly. You make poor decisions and keep going down the hole. And sadly, that is what I did. 

What I Should Have Done Differently

When I was in my last job, there were many things I could have done on the side – not just building an online audience, but talking to people, testing some ideas, creating product mockups, etc. And if I had done all that before quitting, I would probably not have burned through all my savings. (Maybe I will write a book about that someday). 

This is not just theory. A friend of mine had an online apparel startup but he kept working on it while in his job. Ultimately, he decided to keep the startup as a side business. Today, he is a top Indian leader in FMCG.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that entrepreneurs should not quit their jobs. All I am saying is that if you don’t wait for perfect conditions, there is so much one can do right away. 

And this matters because I bet that you also have dreams—whether it’s financial success, seeking a better job, building a brand, or just some hobby. And there are surely things you could be doing right now to realize those dreams. 

But are you doing them? Or are you waiting for the ideal time? 

If the latter, I want this newsletter to be a wake-up call. Please don’t make the mistake I made. Find time to start working on your goals today. 

But then, we will likely come up with this obstacle: “I don’t have time.” 

Don’t worry – I will help you figure that out in a step-by-step manner. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Extra Time

First, don’t look for a lot of time – just an hour a day is good enough to start with. Here’s why: If you start looking for 2-3 extra hours, it likely won’t happen on most days, and you will get frustrated.

Also, even if you had 3 extra hours, you probably wouldn’t have the mental energy to work on it that long every day. So, start with an hour a day, which is a good enough length of time (I write a LinkedIn post in an hour). 

Next, how do we find that extra time?

Step 1: Look at your typical day and identify how many 45-60 minute slots you can carve out to focus on your priority tasks. Right now, you might not be doing that at all – and that’s ok. Let’s start. 😊

Since focused work makes you 2-3x more effective, if you do 2 such slots, you will easily save an hour or more.

Step 2: Once you finish your work earlier, you will have some time. But if your work creeps into late evenings, gently talk to your colleagues and let them know that if they email you during your 1 hour of focus, you will get back to them soon after. And they are welcome to call you for urgent matters. 

Step 3: As you work on your goals, ideally, share them with someone, such as a close buddy. This will keep your morale high even when the results are not immediate. 

Nothing I have shared above is hard to execute. But first, you have to start treating your time with respect. 

Time is the ultimate precious resource. We have a finite amount of time every day and a finite number of days. So don’t let distractions and interruptions fritter away your life while you keep waiting for ideal conditions.

Life has to be built under non-ideal conditions. So let’s get started. 

I welcome any feedback – just hit reply and write.


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