Thank you Carey for talking with us at Sidepreneur Magazine! Please start by introducing yourself and your business.
I am a 48-year-old husband, Dad of 5, proud father-in-law of one, grand-pop of 2, and most importantly, a follower of Jesus. In 2013 I retired after two decades of church ministry as a pastor, believing the calling for that type of vocation had been removed from my life. I’m a musician, author, creator of all kinds of fun online stuff, and overall swell guy!
I stepped out of church ministry and into the entrepreneurial realm, but not before starting a few income-generating projects on the side. These were an Adsense revenue site and an online course. The decision to move into the entrepreneurial space was precipitated by my career change and the fact that in our little mountain town there were no employers adequate to provide for my family.
What changed in your thinking that allowed you to create a business and not remain an employee?
There were a couple of primary things and many smaller things that moved me toward creating a business. For more than 20 years I’d had a relatively flexible schedule and the ability to make my own decisions about work, responsibilities, etc. I didn’t want to lose that.
When I thought I should just “go get a job” after retiring from church ministry, the only employment I could find paid from $10 to $15 per hour. I realized that day that if I took any of those positions, I’d be limiting myself to an inadequate income, AND limiting any possibility of creating opportunities for me to earn more.
I am a creative in many ways and love the freedom of being able to create my own products, businesses, and relationships with clients and contractors.
Did you feel fear as you started your business? Was fear a good or a bad thing?
I did feel some fear as I started my business, but it was mainly fear of not trying. I knew I could do it. I’d been listening to entrepreneurial podcasts for years already, and I was convinced it was the way to go for me. It was just a matter of disciplining myself to stay consistent at it while momentum was building. I still recall the late nights at the computer while my family was sleeping. Sometimes my head didn’t hit the pillow until 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning. But it was all worth it.
How long did you run your business while you were an employee, and was there tension between your role as an employee and your role as a business owner?
I was still employed as a pastor for about 14 months while I had begun my side businesses. The main tensions I felt were tensions having to do with integrity. My zeal for my full-time job was waning and the temptation to work on my side job while at my full-time job was very real. I had to be very hard on myself during those days to make sure I was serving my full-time role to my fullest.
How important is your relationship with the people who remain at the church you pastored?
I still have friendships with those at my previous church, and I did not burn any bridges with the leadership there. They’ve had some rough times as a congregation since, and because of my departure, but there have been very few people with hard feelings about my leaving.
In your opinion, does owning your own business allow you to affect more people for good than a more conventional career? Why, or why not?
I’m not sure I’d say that I’m able to affect MORE people running my business, but I am surely able to be more intentional about it, and to do so in ways that I feel good about. I don’t have to wait for permission from anyone or get approval from anyone. I can prayerfully decide on the ways I want to help people and just do it.
I am able to decide the way I want to do good in the world through the products and coaching relationships I build. I like that, a lot.
What habits have you created that help you succeed in business?
The first is what I call a “daily mindset reset.” I spend a couple of hours every morning of my life getting my mind right – focusing on truth about God, me, the world, and the people in it. There is so much opportunity for untrue, negative “chatter” to go on in my head every day, and I have to discipline my mind to focus on what is true so that I can live according to that truth and take action that matters.
I have daily routines that keep me on track. I’ve discovered a tool that helps me stay on track with regular activities and fit in the more creative and spontaneous ones. It’s taken me a while, but it’s been very helpful to do.
How did you balance work on the side with your job and other commitments?
The first thing I had to do was to talk my business decision over with my wife. We had to come to agreement about the time and attention cost I would have to pay to create a business on the side. Once we did, I then had to decide what existing priorities I had to keep up at their current level of attention and what current responsibilities would have to be lessened so I’d have the time and energy to work on the business. The main thing I had to give up was sleep. I learned to sleep on 4 to 5 hours per night, working often into the morning hours.
Did you borrow money to start your business?
I did not borrow any money to start my business. The upfront costs of online business is very low, which is part of what made me take the plunge.
Would you recommend others do the same? Why, or why not?
Yes, I’d never recommend a person go into debt for a side hustle like I did. There’s no reason for it.
What is the best advice about money management that you can give?
My best money management advice: Create a budget for your personal and business expenses and stick to it. Spend less than you make. Never go into debt. Ever.
How important are strong relationships to your success?
Strong relationships are vital to my success. My relationship with God through Jesus Christ is the guiding force of my life and business. I couldn’t do what I do without His direction and empowerment.
My relationship with my wife is one of the main tools God uses to guide me. My wife is gifted in wisdom and discernment as well as a pro about relationships, so my client and contractor relations have benefitted greatly by sharing the happenings of the business with her regularly.
One way that I have committed to make a difference through my business is by the way I treat the people involved in business with me – clients and contractors. I am generous, even beyond what is reasonable, toward clients and contractors. In a market where others can do my service as well as I do, I believe what will set me apart is the relationship I develop with my clients and contractors. I want them to never want to break off the relationship because it is so rich.
How do you recommend others handle those critical of their dream of owning a business?
Handling the criticism is never easy, especially if those critical are close to you. I recommend trying to explain things as well as you can, but not to hold your breath about them understanding. Remember, they haven’t read the books you have, listened to the podcasts you have, or understood what it is that you see as a possibility. Many of them are programmed by their upbringing or culture to think only in terms of “steady jobs.” Love them even when you feel criticized, and don’t talk about what you’re doing to build your business if you know it will bring up tension or criticism. Build on common ground wherever possible.
Where should aspiring entrepreneurs look to find others who will champion their dream?
A business coach is a great start. Online communities are also a great benefit. I run an online community called Christians in Business. It’s a great place to start for many people. There are many others like it out there as well. Also, you can get involved in learning communities where others are doing the same thing.
I am interested in how you cope with uncertainty. Share a story about a decision you had to make “in the dark.” How did you proceed? Ultimately, did it require faith to make that decision?
The most uncertain decision I’ve had to make so far came at the point when I felt I needed to be outsourcing work. I saw it as a necessary thing if I wanted to grow the business, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to organize it and afford it. Still, I took the leap. In the end it turned out to be too early, and I had to draw it back in within a short amount of time. Now I’m making plans to outsource more work, but only when I can tell I’m ready financially.
Do you believe faith in God is relevant to running your business?
God is the only reason I do my business. He’s the only strength I have to do it. He’s the life of it, and the goal of it. I’m doing this to carry out His purposes.
When did you most want to give up on your business, and how did you persist through that time?
I wanted to quit not long ago. I’d made some mistakes that cost me some clients, and at the same time had some clients cancel their service for unrelated reasons. I questioned myself a lot at that point. I wrote a blog post about the process I went through. Here are the main points:
- When you’re in the thick of it, get some space to think without pressure.
- Look at the situation honestly. It might actually be time to quit.
- Look back at what led to your discouraging moment and learn from it.
Is there ever a time it is good to quit?
I do believe there are times that an entrepreneur should call it quits. Perhaps a wrong decision was made about the type of business you began. Perhaps you have made missteps that are irrecoverable. Perhaps you’re not cut out for it. Those are all valid possibilities. They must be carefully assessed at a moment when you’re not stuck in the emotion of discouragement and failure.
What is one mistake most new business owners make, and how can we avoid it?
The one mistake I see most often is that entrepreneurs don’t put in enough time researching the market they will be serving. Patience is required. Hard work is required. You can’t shortcut it. You have to do the diligence required to find out the truth about the areas you want to serve so that you can serve them best, or not enter it if it’s not a profitable area of service.
What book have you read that will best help a prospective business owner, and why?
I recommend the Christian book Humility by Andrew Murray for entrepreneurs. Every one of us, Christian or not, has to learn that our business is not about us. We are in business to serve. People matter, whether we wind up having them as clients and customers or not. We need personal humility to live the entrepreneurial life we are meant to live.
Do you have any special offers for our sidepreneurs?
For anyone who contacts me personally I’d love to send a copy of my two ebook set, “Entrepreneur Mind Hacks.” And, anyone who would like my free audio course “Spirit Led Business” can get it on my website.