Update: There is a new 2009 version of this article now available here.
The purpose of this article is to give you a window into the lifestyle of an Internet business owner and in particular a home based business entrepreneur. The example below is a typical day in my life. If you are presently considering quitting your day job/after finishing school and starting your own Internet business I suggest you read – Do You Want to Run Your Own Business? Read this First!
So now without further ado here is a typical day in the life of Yaro Starak…
I wake up at somewhere between 8 – 10 AM depending on what time I went to bed the previous night (I need at least 8 hours of sleep to function properly). I roll out of bed and switch on the computer which is in my room. Presently my laptop is my business so when I’m at home I either work in my room or at a desk in the dining room.
First up I check and respond to emails and process jobs that have come through during the night from BetterEdit.com. Job processing means to assign editing jobs to staff members. I also manage ongoing projects including ensuring clients receive their jobs back on time, invoices are issued and payments are made. There are a lot of little things to coordinate but it doesn’t take too much time and can be handle completely via email and through the web. This takes about 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the time of year.
About an hour after waking up I eat my bowl of cereal for breakfast while I read up on the tennis results from the past day (I’m a big tennis fan).
In my room I have whiteboard with a task list that I slowly work through as part of my working day after I finish responding to time sensitive emails. Generally I work on a website or do some form of writing, which can be copy for a website, an article for a blog/website or content for marketing materials. I also have to control the other “standard” business tasks like hiring new staff, doing the bookkeeping and working with other business/freelancers to get things done that I can’t or choose not to do myself (complex website coding for example).
I spend a lot of time posting in forums and reading about search engine optimisation and Internet business. I find whenever I hit a wall and can’t write very coherently I either leave the computer altogether or do less brain taxing jobs. When you are mentally spent it’s a great time to work on free online marketing techniques that don’t require you to be firing on all cylinders. If you do a little bit of online promotion every day it can really build up your traffic over time so I stay persistent with this task.
Occasionally I will have a Skype conversation with a friend over the Internet. This can be with one of my local friends or a contact from overseas. I don’t feel this is a waste of time at all as conversations with your peers can teach you a lot and stimulate new ideas. It’s the equivalent of conferring with workmates at a normal job and since I don’t have workmates I rely on other people running businesses or websites for work related conversation.
I keep working until about lunch time, which is usually somewhere between 1 – 2 PM depending on when I woke up and had breakfast. During lunch I will often watch a little TV or a DVD.
The rest of the day can be quite varied but I will generally do something like this:
At the moment I keep a casual job for grocery money/rent and because I enjoy the work and it gets me out around people which is important when you work at home most of the day. I work about three shifts a week only on nights and weekends, which are 4 or 5 hours in duration. I work at an IT helpdesk at a university in front of a computer so when I am not helping a ridiculously attractive university student or completing a work task I write or research for my business projects.
If I have a night shift I will head to work, if not I might stay out if I’ve been at a cafe with my laptop until early evening and return home to make dinner at about 7-8 PM. I love cooking and eating so this is one of my favourite parts of the day. I enjoy cooking for myself at lunch time too and often you will find me watching a DVD and eating some great food (yes I don’t work that hard!).
During the night I head back onto the computer and complete more web work and answer any emails if any have come through during the day. I stay online until about midnight where I switch off and read myself to sleep. That concludes my day.
Note that my working week is not very defined and consequently I tend to work 7 days a week, however besides my casual shift work at the university I make my own hours. This means that some days I may only complete the status quo to keep the machine running and work for a couple of hours and others I might stay at the computer for over 10 hours proactively working on growth. Time spent online isn’t always directly related to business however since online business is a hobby I’m almost always reading about this topic if not producing output for a business.
Occasionally I field business calls on my mobile but I generally receive only about 1-3 per week. Most communication is handled through email. When it is busy season email sessions can take some time to process all the jobs and respond to queries but it’s during the busy months that the sales come through which help to cover the quieter months.
The business projects that are in early stages now are planned to create new, passive and almost-passive streams of income that will supplement what I currently make from BetterEdit. This will help to alleviate my dependence on a single business and reduce the amount of seasonal fluctuation in my income.
My longer term plans are to reduce the need for me to always be monitoring emails and the Internet. My current tasks are not complicated but they are business critical and time sensitive – someone has to do them. Because the tasks are reasonably simple it would not be hard to train an administration officer to take over most of the day-to-day jobs I currently complete, allowing me to work on strategic direction, new businesses and create more content.
Currently I work most of my time on this blog and BetterEdit.com. They both perform an important role, the latter providing my current cashflow and former part of my plans for future income. I enjoy my lifestyle now but there are things I would like to change and that is what motivates me everyday. The freedom I enjoy presently is significant and consequently a relative level of self discipline is required to keep the wheels in motion (I don’t always have enough self discipline).
Due in part because I have persisted over time repeating what has made money I have managed to create and grow a successful Internet business that has significant potential for further growth. I have also had success in the past with other websites that have helped by providing me with a “cushion” of capital to start with. I have made a lot of mistakes and wasted a lot of money along the way but as any good business person will tell you this is all part of the learning process.
The most critical variable at this point in time is me and hence business performance is tightly impacted by my own mood, well being and motivation. If I do not take care of myself my business suffers as well.
Well there you have it, a day in my life. Throw in some socialising, lots of book reading, visits with my parents, the occasional date, movies, dinner out, a party now and then, and trips to Canada (a whole other story) and you have my life. Wow, it really seems simple when you type it out like that…