oopsLong ago I worked for a small company. My business was pretty new and I was looking for money any where I could so I agreed to work part time. I helped this company bring a failing web application back to life and to production. Part time ended up being full time. But they promised a big reward if the product succeeded. In short, it did succeed, mildly and not to their expectations, which meant no bonus, although I gained a lot of knowledge on what not to do. However it came at a greater cost than I thought. The cost was about 10 months of my life, a few clients, and most of the work I had done to build my business. My business lost a lot of position in the market and any sort of networking I had done to help my business had gone down the drain. My business took two steps back. It was like starting over and I had little to show for helping this other company.

This past week I received phone call from that company asking me if I was interested in helping them complete a new project. They only want me to do 20-30 hours a week for about 6 months, for real this time. They would be able to pay me a pretty good rate and in the end I would get a bonus of 3 months pay if… IF the project was completed to their standards. Red Flag! But I looked at the project specs any way. Doable? Yes. In 6 months time? Yes, if I and the rest of the dev team worked 50+ hours a week. I politely declined.

The biggest mistake of my life was helping them in the first place. At the time the pay was good and I thought I needed it to help my business. But it did just the opposite. It cost me my dream of being an entrepreneur, owning my own business, and building web applications. All of it was put on hold. I allowed this company to dictate my time and energy. I almost let them do it again for a small financial gain! All for what? In the end, probably nothing. My business has brought me far more happiness and financial stability. If instead of spending those 10 months helping that company build their business, I spent those 10 months building mine. Yeah, times would have been tough for a while but I would be someplace completely different and most definitely better now. It was a lesson that I had to learn. I’m just thankful for these small reminders so I don’t have to learn the lesson again.

Your business and your life is important, we only have so much time here, so why let someone else tell you how to spend that time?