My Lifestyle Business Makes Me Feel Like I’m on Hamster Wheel

Last year when I downsized, I was determined to run Po Campo as a one person business, which was all our revenue could really support. Going from a 3-person company to a 1-person company meant that I had to either automate or eliminate as many tasks as I could to be able to get it all done.

It took me several months to figure it out, but eventually I got everything down so that I can run the show in about 30 hours a week, using my newfound free time to work on the Po Campo 2.0 vision or whatever else tickles my fancy.

But these are an intense 30 hours. I spend about 2-3 hours a day doing “maintenance” work, like emailing, sending orders to the warehouse to fulfill, etc. Then I have 2-3 hours to do the day’s “focus task”, which is based on the day of the week:

Mondays: Design day – work on a product or graphics
Tuesdays: Sales day – check on wholesale accounts, reach out to new ones
Wednesdays: Marketing day – update social media, do a press pitch
Thursdays: Finance day – do bookkeeping
Friday: Strategy day – Look at my metrics to see if I’m going in the right direction, make plans to change direction if necessary

Sure, I can’t do everything I want to the level that I would like it to be, but I’m like an insanely productive one person machine. Sales are a lot less than our peak in 2014, but I am still able to pay myself more than ever before, and we are showing a profit each month. Po Campo 1.0 is working and it is a nice little lifestyle business.

Yet, work has become boring.  Insufferably boring. I feel like I am working on an assembly line in a factory, doing the same thing every day. I loved the creative challenge of figuring out the systems that would make Po Campo 1.0 work, but doing the work of Po Campo 1.0 feels like I am on a hamster wheel, running constantly but not getting anywhere.

When my husband and I moved to Brooklyn last fall, I had planned to work from home to save money. I always thought I was the type of person that would love working from home. I was wrong. I couldn’t stay focused, or motivated, and I felt trapped in the apartment all day. I needed a separate place to go to work.

Similarly, I always thought I might be the type of person who would be content with a small lifestyle business for the freedom it affords. But now I know unequivocally that isn’t what I want. Even if Po Campo made a lot more money and I could just hire out all the tasks that I do, I’d want to do more with it.

This realization clarified something within myself that I had long suspected: I want to be a CEO. I want to have a team who shares my vision to help with the day-to-day. I want to continue to build and grow, not just do and maintain. I want to harness my creativity, not just keep it in a box that I get to play with for 2 hours on Monday. I want more.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from starting a business, the universe doesn’t give a hoot about what you want and you can’t just will something into being. So now I’m working on identifying what needs to change to go beyond Po Campo 1.0. And suddenly I have a project for the extra time in my week that really excites me.

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