Christian Gap Year for Entrepreneurs

Confession. If I'm working on a project or business, I open my lap top and hit the gas. For example, when I decided to write a book, I just started typing… and typing.. and typing. I kept going until I hit a wall. At that wall, I realized that in order to write a good book, it would require more than just “productivity” (which in this case was words on a page). I needed to invest in a few other things to make sure my book was going to be successful. The problem is that while I invested in those other areas, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere.

The big question is how do you structure your time when you decide to start a new project? I’m convinced that there's a "4 ingredient recipe" for starting a business, project, album, book, etc. There are going to be different ratios for each ingredient/activity depending on the project, the needs of that project, and how the chips are falling, but each of the 4 ingredients are absolutely necessary.

I’ve learned that each of us have a tendency to forget about one or two of these activities because we aren't naturally motivated by them. And, when we neglect an area, it hurts the project/business we’re working on. For example, my tendency is to spend my work time on “output.” I default to "how many words can I get on a page" at the expense of other important aspects of my project. However, when we forget any of these 4 activities, your project will crumble.

Over the course of these next few blogs, I hope you consider what ingredient you “default to,” which ingredients you might need to re-introduce into your life, and how to create a system of accountability to maintain proper ratios in your work life.

Ingredient #1: Output

In this definition of output, we mean work: producing, creating, building, doing. You’re making tangible and measurable process toward your goal. Output is the engine that keeps your project or business running. All the other ingredients are going to directly assist in optimizing for output which is why we are highlight this ingredient first.

Out of the 4 ingredients, output is the most straight forward. The benefits are obvious because if you aren’t producing anything, your project/business will never become something. I promise that the start of any business/project is going to require A LOT of output, and most it won’t feel rewarding on face value.

You might scrape e-mails for 200 businesses just to find one who is interested in your service. You might need to write 5,000+ lines of code to build the first version of your app. You might talk to dozens of people who are in your "target market" just to realize you might need to scrap an aspect of your project and build something new. Most of this work isn't glamorous, which means you'll need even more disciple in order to keep your output levels high.

However, people who have a tendency toward output, and possibly over compensate in this area, find a lot of joy in racing through a "to-do list." These are the people who might fall into the trap of measuring their worth by their productivity and get stressed if they feel like they didn't do much. Like myself, they probably open their lap tops to start the day without even a plan in place. They also may have the tendency to turn down tools that can bring about efficiency just because they feel fulfilled by doing a high level of output even if it is manual.

If you identify with the thoughts above, continue to remind yourself that you are more than what you can get done. Set boundaries with your work hours, and realize that if you take time to invest in the other three ingredients, you will actually accomplish more and be a healthier human being.

If a high amount of output doesn't come naturally do you, remind yourself that even when its hard… you just gotta do it. Discipline and efficiency are going to be your friends. You’ll need to look at motivations, whether intrinsic or extrinsic to coax you along toward your productivity goals. Continually ask yourself why you started this in the first place. Write it on a note or make it your lap top background. Sometimes you might need extrinsic motivations. After you hit your weekly goals, do something to celebrate. Keep your positive mindset and always value what you learned through the process more than the results.

Remember, output is the engine behind a project. You need to "produce" or work at a high level, however, it's not the only ingredient for a successful business. What are the other three ingredients? Comment your ideas below!