No office. Work when you want, from wherever you want. #Nomad for life. Sounds groovy, doesn’t it? Why, yes, I happen to agree. I’m a few weeks into my entrepreneurial adventure as co-founder of Retrium, and like clockwork, the winter grays are in the rear view mirror. It’s 75 degrees out and sunny. The coffee is strong, the music is playing, and spring is here.
As I continue to adjust to the daily #startupgrind, from time to time I plan to share some insights into what bootstrapped start-up life is really like. For those of us who live outside The Valley, and especially for those of us who live in a “suit city” like Washington, D.C., being an entrepreneur comes with certain stigmas and assumptions. What is it like working without an office? How do you know what to do all day? Can you actually make money being an entrepreneur? That, and more, coming your way. These are my random thoughts and reflections, so read at your own risk
There is so much to do when building a business from scratch. We have to build a website, build a product, build a customer base, build a marketing plan, build a business model, build, build, build, and build some more. Since there’s only two of us (myself and my technical co-founder, Ryan), there’s a constant nagging sense that we aren’t accomplishing enough on a daily basis because there’s just so much to do. At the same time, the fact that on any given day I can work on anything I want is incredibly empowering and exciting. It’s a strange dichotomy that, I suspect, will persist for a very long time.
As a cash-strapped startup, we have no office space. Some days, Ryan and I choose to work separately from our homes. Other days we decide to meet and work together out of a coffee shop. As a social guy, I thought that I’d prefer working with Ryan from the same physical location. Sometimes I do. But working together also presents challenges of its own. It can be distracting. It can be far too easy to disrupt each other. At the same time, being together enables you to easily share the joy you get from tweets like this:
— Mark Kilby (@mkilby) April 3, 2015
I finally feel that I have control over my own life. I no longer have a one hour commute every day to and from the office. I no longer have to request days off to take care of a sick child or to celebrate a holiday. I no longer feel like a bad employee when I have to go to a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day. At the same time, I wake up excited to start working. The day goes by in a flash because more often than not, I’m in the flow. Assuming the whole “I need to make money” thing solves itself at some point, this lifestyle is far superior to the 9-5 office job.
“How’s work going?” used to be a relatively empty question. Sure, I could give an answer, but with the exception of my spouse, my parents, and perhaps a few others, no one else really cared that much. That’s no longer the case. Friends, family, former colleagues, and even random people I meet genuinely want to know how Retrium is doing. It’s kinda cool.