September 16, 2019

Do you guys have day jobs?

Vincent Liao @vinliao

I'm curious what you guys are doing to pay the bills while you're running your project. If you have a day job, how do you find energy to work on your project?

  1. 7

    I work 4 days/week as a lead engineer. The remaining 1 day (nominally) I try to spend, as much as possible, on my SaaS business. The business is generating cash, so it isn't like the early stages where you have to do everything at the same time. But at the same time I have a ton of product ideas and desire to grow it.

    "How to find energy" is a great question. It's something that I've been thinking about a lot over the past few years. I suspect that, generally speaking, you have to have (create) energy, not find it. Occasionally, you can find a bit of energy by overcoming some psychological tendencies, even when your energy levels are low.

    How I "create" energy:

    • Good sleep.
    • Working out and staying healthy.
    • Not forcing it. If I'm tired and not feeling it, but keep thinking "ah man, I should work on my business, there is so much to do, etc, etc" then it only creates anxiety and stress. If I'm tired, I'm tired. Rather than pushing myself to work for two hours at 9pm, I just go to bed and wake up refreshed.
    • Actually wanting to see my idea brought to life. Do I want to be an IHer or a business owner, or do I just like the idea of being one? It's an important distinction, with very different implications.

    How I "find" energy:

    • Since we all usually dream big we also tend to put off starting, because the goal is too big. So just make a start, overcome that initial barrier, even if it's for 10-15 minutes. Install Rails. Generate a model. Start writing that email.
    • Small pieces of work. Similar to above point. Having things like "implement $large_feature" in my to-do list only makes me put off work and procrastinate, because the goal is too large, I don't know where to start and stress myself out etc.
    • Quit while you're winning. I frequently work for 30-60 minutes and then stop and do something else, even if I did not get everything done. It still feels good if it feels like I've made progress. It's about shifting focus away from "bummer, I didn't finish $large_feature" to "great, I managed to implement a small part of $large_feature". If I stop on a high note I feel better and am more likely to pick it up next time around.

    Can't remember who said it, but it was essentially that time management doesn't make sense, but energy management does. I think there is truth to that.

    1. 2

      This here is how I have aimed to operate for the past 4+ years. It's difficult to do when you run into cashflow issues and bills pile up but boy or boy do I like to "Quit while you're winning".

    2. 1

      Totally agree. Large blocks of time is useless if we don't have the energy and attention to properly use it.

  2. 2

    7 days a week manufacturing product out of my garage for our ecommerce stores from early morning to early afternoon. Consulting on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, script and storyboarding for an animated series late nights on MTWT and then boardme.app during the weekend after ecom manufacturing work.

  3. 2

    I work maybe 20-25 hours per week as a restaurant server.

    I code/sell maybe 35-40 hours per week.

    That way, I can apportion 3 uninterrupted 12-hour days for my startup.

    And maybe one or two 4-hour work blocks before I clock in in my evening job.

    1. 3

      If you can code, why not work on a freelance code gig instead of being a restaurant server? Not trying to be rude, just curious.

      1. 1

        Good question. I only recently started coding again after a long hiatus. The main reason, however, was that I went to prison and had to leave the country (long story), I went flat-out broke and needed cash immediately, so I started waiting tables and occasionally bartending. Somehow that provided me quite a decent living (I made $50k/year last year) with plenty of free time. So I stuck with it.

    2. 3

      Would you rather have a part-time coding gig instead of serving?

        1. 2

          We're starting a web service that helpes founders like you find part-time gigs with companies that are looking specifically for part-time help from people who are founders. It will be always free for founders - write me an email (in my profile) and I'll let you know when we go live in a few weeks.

  4. 1

    I work as a full time Mobile team lead. Previously in the same company I worked as software technical lead dev, and lead dev on data migration projects.

    Leading the mobile and modern web app development team.

    Responsible for implementing a brand new team structure into the company which will forge the future of mobile working and user experience through apps and modern mobile web technology.

    Development using cutting edge technology such as ReactJS, Redux, and Firebase.

    Also introducing test driven development into the team to prevent unreliable code getting through to QA using cypress.

    1. 2

      Why don't you go part-time?

      1. 1

        I've bills to pay, a house to run. Plus i love having fun 🤓 Not at a point with my side project where I could deem it making enough money to go part time. As soon as it is making good money though, then by all means, definitely.

        1. 1

          Yeah makes sense :-) Always depends on what the part-time job pays, hehe. Anyways, we're working on a web app to help founders find part-time remote jobs with company that look exactly for that. It will always be free for founders. If you're interested, shoot me a quick email and I'll keep you posted when we launch in a few weeks (email in my profile)

  5. 1

    About 3 weeks I decided to cancel my full time consulting contract. After my last venture, I decided to take a break from SaaS, I've been consulting for the last 2 years.

    During that time I had no energy to work on my business, I needed to start something from scratch, so it was kind of worst to "develop" a product after coding for all day.

    Since I told the client I was cancelling the contract I regain so much energy and I was able to reach a private beta with my product. I still have 4 months to complete (it was in the contract, both ways 4 months notice to leave). So I'm hoping to have some profits from the product until than and see how things are.

    Maybe I'm getting old, which is true, but the last 2 years this consulting gig was simply eating my soul and all my energy. Of course it was a legacy maintenance kind of work, no documentation, no unit tests, no CI / CD, you deploy manually etc etc.

    My main point is, there has to be places that do not eat up all your energy, but there's certainly other places that are like where I was, and I don't think there's much one can do to regain energy other than quitting.

    1. 1

      Would you consider doing part-time freelancing after the 4 months?

      1. 1

        yes I would, but not at that place :).

        1. 1

          Makes sense :-)
          We're working on web service that helps founders like you find remote part-time jobs with companies that look exactly for this. If you want me to keep you posted when we launch, feel free to write me an email (in my profile)

  6. 1

    Well.. I am full time full stack web developer and I have a hobby project (aka no money gain from it). Sometimes I work few hours after work for weeks, sometimes I take a long pause (for months). But I constantly check the status of the site

    1. 1

      Why not work part-time as a web dev and spend more time on your hobby project?

      1. 1

        I cannot do that. It would be a complete waste of money. I cannot monetize the hobby project, at least not now. And the project is not in "under construction" state

        1. 1

          And is it that you don't want to monetize it or can't for some reason?

          1. 1

            I want to focus on site experience, features and community right now.

            1. 2

              Ok cool! All the best!

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