As humans, we tend to get stuck in patterns and continue to do things simply because we’ve always done them, even if there’s a better way to do something or it no longer serves a purpose. Every now and then, it’s important to evaluate how you’re spending your time and cut out things that once had a purpose, but no longer bring life to you so that you can focus on the things that matter the most.
In late 2012, I quit my day job so that I could spend more time with my premature, newborn son. (That might sound crazy, but my business was already generating more income than my day job at that point). Last summer, I’ve decided to give up my adjunct teaching position at Dakota State University so that I could devote all my work effort to my business. Now that the snow is starting to melt, I’ve decided to do another round of spring cleaning in my business and in my life.
As an entrepreneur, I tend to come across more opportunities than most. If I see a business opportunity and believe I can capitalize on it, my natural inclination is to make it happen. Over a period of several years, I’ve ended up with a series of miscellaneous businesses and websites that generate a nominal percentage of my company’s overall income (less than 10 percent), but take up a disproportionate amount of my time. So, I’ve decided to say “I quit” to these business units and only focus on the three business units that generate the vast majority of my company’s revenue engine.
Effective today, I’ve shutdown the marketing site for my website development business (Matthew Paulson Consulting) and will no longer be taking on new clients. I’ve come to realize that doing contract website development work for a variety of clients is less than an ideal business. When you build a website for someone, you are generally only getting paid for your time and aren’t building up a long-term income-generating asset. You also end up having to support all of the websites you had previously made for clients, which can be time consuming and unprofitable. Consulting projects took up a significant portion of my time and mindshare in 2013, but only generated 5% of my company’s total revenue. Therefore, I’ve decided to say goodbye to consulting in 2014.
I’ve also gone ahead and shutdown a number of smaller online business ventures that I once thought significant opportunity, but have let languish during the last few years. By eliminating these ancillary businesses, I’ll be able to better focus on the three business units that generate the most revenue and have the best growth opportunities (Analyst Ratings Network, Lightning Releases and American Banking & Market News).
37 Signals recently underwent a similar re-evaluation, albeit at a much larger scale. They’re divesting from all of their secondary products to focus solely on their flagship product, Basecamp. They’re even changing the name of their company from 37 Signals to Basecamp. One of 37 Signals’ values is to keep a small team (currently at about 43 employees) and they decided that it made more sense for them to focus on their one core business than to hire a bunch more people to work on their secondary products.
If you haven’t re-evaluated how you spend your time lately, consider doing some spring cleaning so that you can focus on what matters to you the most. What has been taking up a disproportionate amount of time in your life that no longer serves its purpose? What parts of your work and life do you need to give up so that you can focus on what matters the most to you?