I was both Clyde and Devin in the early days—Clyde by day, and Devin by night—to keep my day and night worlds separate.
As most entrepreneurs chasing their dreams experience, sometimes the “dream” doesn’t pay the bills right out of the gate. The small parcel shipping industry has very small margins, so when I was starting from zero, it took a substantial amount of business before I could even take my kids to a McDonalds. For that reason, I had to do something else to feed my family, which is why I started a second side business selling telecommunication products door-to-door to put the food on the table and a roof over our heads.
Pretty soon—because both businesses were full-time jobs—my worlds started to overlap. Since I knew my shipping business was my long-term priority and selling TV and internet services was only short-term survival, I needed a way to prioritize it above the other.
During the day, the world knew me by my middle name, Clyde. I was Clyde when I knocked on doors at office buildings and warehouse complexes to sell my shipping logistics services. Then around 5 p.m. I would go to a gas station, change my shirt, grab an energy drink, and become Devin to my telecommunications clients. This way, when I was with a shipping client and someone called and asked for Devin, I knew it was likely about internet speeds or channel lineups and I could ask to return the call later. However, if it was in the evening and I was in someone’s living room setting up a wireless router and someone called and asked for Clyde, I knew it pertained to a high priority and I could excuse myself to step outside and take the call.
3 Lessons That Stayed With Me From My Early Entrepreneur Days
1. Understand the Value of Your Tasks and If They Contribute to Short-Term Necessities or Long-Term Priorities
I knew completing certain tasks would offer more short-term benefit than others. Likewise, some would contribute more to long-term value. You must understand the value of that tasks contribution. For example, my shipping clients came before my telecommunication work in terms of long term value so, unless it was taking food off the table at that moment, those other tasks were prioritized below it. I also had to be honest with myself when understanding the value of these priorities.
2. Give Attention to What Needs to be Prioritized First
As an entrepreneur, I’m always tasked with more to do in a 24-hour period than is humanly possible. I couldn’t be everything I needed to be for my clients or employees if I wasn’t caring for my family first. Having two different personas allowed me to separate my work and family worlds, and quickly prioritize my day when being pulled in more directions than I could possibly go.
3. Be Flexible
I know it sounds cliché, but learning to be flexible in your day is crucial. To be able to effectively prioritize, I had to be able to deal with changing priorities—I had to be okay with taking things as they came and immediately decide if they were urgent in that particular instance. This is another way using two different aliases aided me in learning to become more flexible with my prioritization planning.
Do I recommend working two jobs? Not if you can help it. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. If you’re able to focus 100 percent on your startup, great—put your wholehearted effort into it. However, I would caution to only do so if you’re committed to investing the proper time and energy it takes—even when it’s not convenient. And keep in mind that if you have a full-time job and decide to start a side venture, do not let your side gig get in the way of your performance and attention during the hours your employer is paying you for. You certainly don’t want to burn bridges you otherwise could have used in the future.
Now that my shipping business is off the ground and profitable enough for me to not worry about feeding my family, I go by Devin full time. Although, I still do get asked quite a bit if Clyde will be joining a meeting.
Devin Johnson is currently the Founder and CEO of FirstMile. Devin, a revolutionary in the e-commerce shipping industry, has developed front-end solutions for domestic and international shippers. Through a marriage of their proprietary technology and company owned assets, FirstMile is able to optimize shipment routing for transit and cost. To learn more visit FirstMile.