My wife and I have created several entrepreneurial enterprises over the past decade. Occasionally our e-businesses would make a large sale or several moderate sized sales. These endeavors have cost us money in the acquisition of product or supplies to create and ship said products. They have cost us space. We have an entire room in our house dedicated to storing our products and supplies. Most importantly these businesses have cost us time. In the reevaluation of my life’s priorities I have devalued these enterprises because I have determined that the time/cost/space ratio is no longer worth the modest payoff.
I used to see potential for profit and additional income when looking at these products and purchases. Now when I look around I see clutter and wasted time and money. It’s like those damn dandelions growing in my front and back yard. I could spend many days per season plucking up those pesky weeds. What’s my time worth? I could pay a service way less than I get paid for the same hours at my job to come and take care of it for me. Doing this I will be able to take a bike ride or hang out and grill or basically do anything but that damn weed work.
Getting back to the businesses I feel a negative drain on my emotional state by the mess that all the stuff causes me. I assume my wife and daughter have similar reactions even if they do not vocalize it. I know they feel a negative effect when I stay late at my job to complete my work, so why wouldn’t they feel similarly when I work at home.
Let’s break the math down. My wife takes digital photographs of the products we sell online. Then she edits those photos to make sure they have the appropriate file size and for quality assurance reasons. We have learned that better photos definitely lend to quicker and more sales. Once the photos are prepared and sorted we split the workload. Certain items such as vintage, art, and baby goods my wife will list. Other items such as media, collectibles, childrens’ goods, and other miscellaneous items I will sell. With pictures on the hard drive and item in hand we then pull up an HTML and plug in item descriptions, condition, and sales lines. Then we go to whichever site we will sell the item through (ie: eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist) and check comparable items for sale to determine our asking price. Next it is time to create a listing. We plug in the edited photos and HTML, create a fancy title, set the asking price and shipping parameters and we have an item for sale. Then we just have to wait the hours, days, or months for the item to sell. Sometimes it never does.
All this work and time may result in a $6.99 sale with a one dollar profit. Sure our system moves quickly with repetitions and experience, but it still doesn’t seem to have enough of a payoff. Even if we have one or two thousand dollars of product stored in that room I have to ask myself what is my time worth?
Work can be a lot like this not so simple equation. If one works forty or fifty or more hours per week and they are exhausted when they get off work and their health suffers and they just are not happy does it really matter how much money they make. Don’t get me wrong money is necessary to have a home, food, transportation, clothing, etc., but all too often we lose track of what is exactly enough. We also don’t know how to set boundaries that keep our jobs from making us a slave. We have to not allow ourselves to become a slave to our desire for income. It in itself is counter-productive.
“They say time is money and my time is well spent.” -Joey Bada$$
Today I am trying to work through my inherent workaholism. For some reason I have developed this sense that I will not say no at or to work. I will work ten or eleven hour days without breaks or lunches. The customers keep coming and I do not have a chance to catch my breath. I am really good at what I do for my living, but I do it at a pace that is not sustainable for my health and sanity. I have always been this way. Ironically now I have the best work-life balance I can ever remember. Now I am more mature and recognize that my time off spent doing what I want with whoever I want to be with is worth way more than my paycheck ever directly deposits into my checking account.
My lifestyle does not require the amount of hours I am on the clock for to maintain. I am working on adjusting my workload to accommodate my new found value in my lifestyle. My work should empower my family, my travels, and my passions. I should not have to put any of those on the back burner again.
Regarding the e-businesses, I have deprioritized those. I had an open conversation with my wife about whether we should outright discontinue them. She is not ready to give it up yet. She will either come to the same realization at some point or I will support her if she decides to continue this near fruitless endeavor. Sometimes we just want to pick those dandelions.
I hope to write again sometime soon about the evolution of my work life and the benefits of having a fierce conversation with my job about boundaries and time and how much I am enjoying my new improved life-work balance. I have taken the first steps in coming up with a plan and broaching the conversation. This story just needs a good conclusion where our well-loved protagonist wins in the end and lives happily ever after.