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How to Be a Family Man and Still Bootstrap a Successful Business

How to Be a Family Man and Still Bootstrap a Successful Business
Yes! I Love to Learn

Trying to juggle a growing business and active family with 4 kids is tough, but there are a few things I’ve learned…

I frequently discuss my business on my blog here, and I absolutely love my business.  But the truth is, that I’m a family man to the core.

If you’ve read my About Me page, you’ve probably picked up on that fact.  You see, I’ve been married for just over 11 years to an amazingly beautiful, witty, and frugal woman.  We have 3 children ages 10, 8, and 5.  And wait for it….we are about to have our 4th child in a couple of days!  (We are scheduled to go into the hospital on April 2nd).

I really enjoy spending time with my family, and the biggest reason I strive to succeed in business is to provide for my wife and children.

In addition to being a father of 3 (soon to be 4!), I’ve also completely bootstrapped my own business.  In fact, I set a goal early on in my business to never go into business debt.  So, everything I’ve done has been funded by my own savings or business earnings.

[Update: Baby #4 is here!  My wife and I had a beautiful baby boy on April 2nd and he’s healthy and happy :) ]

I know its a little different, but today I want to simply share how I’ve been able to build a full-time business and still have time for my family…all while self-funding my ventures.  Perhaps my story can give a little bit of hope for others out there that are married with children and wondering if its even possible to fulfill their bootstrap business dreams.  It most certainly is!

Raising Children and a Business

I got married in 2002, and had we had our first child in 2004.  I had just graduated in business finance and was working at Merrill Lynch.  I was already dreaming of business ventures at this point and had a notebook full of small business ideas that I would constantly dream about.

At this point, I wasn’t really spending much time working on any business ideas, mostly just dreaming and talking.  I was just focused on working my day job and keeping my family happy.

However, somewhere along the way I decided to try buying used books from thrift stores and then re-selling them on eBay.  I actually managed to sell a couple dozen books, but the time and effort required was not worth the measly profit.

However, I believe selling these books on eBay was my first online venture and is likely what lead me to eventually creating my first website.

In 2005, I accepted a job in Arizona with Wells Fargo bank and worked at the bank until 2011.  I also created my first website at the end of 2005.  I also started the MBA program at Arizona State University in 2005 (classes taken in evening after full-time job).  We also had our 2nd child at the end of 2005!

So even though I created my first website then, you can see why I didn’t have any success (no time!) for a few years after that.  It wasn’t until about 2009 that I created my first successful “niche” website.

If we quickly fast forward my story, by 2011 I had many successful niche websites and was making over $10k/month from these sites.  I quit my job in March 2011 (just over 3 years ago…woohoo!).

So, how was I able to raise 3 children, and still build a successful business?  The answer is setting time priorities.

You see, after getting my MBA, I was used to coming home and spending a couple of hours with my family, putting the kids to bed, and then studying.  Now that I didn’t have classes, I had more time to spend with my wife and kids, but I still set aside a couple hours each night after everyone was in bed to work on my websites.

I always tried to stick with my schedule, so that I could still hang out with the kids; but still had time to work on my business when no one was awake.  You will be surprised what you can accomplish in 2 to 3 hours a day when you FOCUS!

By clearly dividing family time from business time; I was able to keep both growing and happy.

“Its About WHAT you know NOT who you Know”

One of the phrases that I absolutely detest is this: “Its not about what you know, its about who you know.”  Not only do I hate that phrase with a passion, but I’ve also proven it wrong in my own business!

I’m a fairly reserved person by nature.  I’m not the type to go out of my way to meet new people or to be extremely social.  I’m the same way online, I’m not real big into social media, and I usually don’t go out of my way to connect with others on a regular basis.

This is evidenced by the fact I don’t do much on my Facebook Page or Twitter account.  As you know, others are very concerned with having a large following on Facebook and Twitter or other social media sites.

Not me.

Because I firmly believe that What you know is MUCH more important than who you know.  Get smart.  Learn on your own or from others.  And then go out and make something happen with the knowledge that you’ve gained.

When I got started online, I didn’t know anyone.  I had never met anyone in real life that actually made money online!  But I dove in, learned the process and built sites without any big connections to bloggers or others.

I also created Long Tail Pro without any connections to further my business.  I dug in, learned the process of hiring software programmers and have slowly learned how to market it properly.

Now, I’m not saying be anti-social.  I still do have my blog here, and I do interact with others via email and other places.  But the point is, if you are limited in time (like I was), you don’t need to spend your time socializing.  Rather learn the essentials and then make your business happen.

You don’t need to start with any connections to make your business a success.

“It Takes Money to Make Money”

Another phrase that I detest is this: “It takes money to make money”.  This is simply not true.  And if you need something in your business that does need money, go out and earn the money first, and then spend it.

I started with no money, and yet I’ve built a rather large business that now includes my niche sites, Long Tail Pro, Rank Hero, Domain Jawa, Niche Website Theme, Vylo, and other projects.

Here’s how I went from $0 a few years ago to a healthy five figures each month in income:

  • 2002 – Got married, basically had nothing in the bank.
  • 2003 – Got a job and saved a few bucks
  • 2004 – 2007 – Kept working and saving, but only spent money on hosting and domains primarily (no outsourcing).  Made a conscious decision to never borrow any money for my business.
  • 2008 – Still almost no money in the bank, but had learned a TON over the previous few years about search engines, long tail keywords, niche sites, and more
  • 2009 – Wanted to quit my job BAD.  Told a friend I was thinking of building websites for others. Friend tells another friend that owns a local accounting firm.  I build his website for $600.  (I’ve never built a website for someone else since).
  • 2009 – I have $600 in business account…woohoo!  I proceed to start outsourcing some article writing and link building with this $600.
  • 2009 – 2010.  Niche websites start to rank well and earn hundreds each month!  All the learning I was doing over the previous 4 years starts paying off!  I reinvest every single penny into my business; I never spent any of this income on personal expenditures.  I start to experience rapid growth as I outsource more and build more websites. This was key because I was working full-time, so I only had time to check work and research new keywords.
  • 2010 – I find some amazing keywords and have a few sites making over $1,000 each month.  I continue to reinvest all funds in my business.
  • 2011 – By early 2011, I was making over $7,500/month from my niche websites.  I tell my wife I’m going to quit my job…she says to go for it.  However, I hold off until March in order to pad my savings account even more before I make the jump.
  • March 11, 2011 – The day I quit my job. By this time, I had sites making a total of about $10,000/mth and had close to $30k in my business account.
  • Early 2011 – Invest a large chunk of that business savings into creating Long Tail Pro.  Start selling beta version of Long Tail Pro in mid-2011; full version out of beta in October 2011.
  • 2012 – 2014 – Continue to reinvest business income into my business (after I pay myself a salary).

At present, my business is in a healthy position because I’ve never taken on any debt and I’ve learned to reinvest my business earnings into my business (rather than personal “things”). I have the freedom and ability to invest in new business ideas, like Vylo or invest in my existing businesses (like I’ve done by hiring Perrin full-time to help me build out more niche sites).

And at the end of the day, I’ve been able to stay true to my family man roots.  Even though my business has grown, the amount of time I spend on my business has not.  I’ve been able to outsource the right tasks and still be able to spend lots of time with my wife and kids.

The best part is that I no longer have to work on my business in the evening if I don’t want to (usually)…because this IS my full-time job now!

Conclusion and Your Thoughts

Overall, how does a family man or woman bootstrap a business?  First, you need to set strict time limits on what is business time and what is family time.  Sure, you might grow a little bit slower by spending more time with your family than your business.  But at the end of the day, your business doesn’t have feelings, emotions, or eventually grow old and move away.

By setting boundaries, you can keep your wife and kids happy…which is really what matters at the end of the day.  Oh and if you are single, it’s probably STILL a good idea to set some time limits on your business and give yourself a balanced life by hanging out with friends, relatives, or enjoying other aspects of life.

I know in certain circles that getting venture capital funds or borrowing lots of money to grow a business as quickly as possible is encouraged.  And for certain businesses a rapid start-up growth period is a good idea; but for the vast majority of businesses, the rapid growth or outside capital is simply not needed.

You can grow a very lucrative business by bootstrapping with your own funds and time.  Sure, its a bit slower…but at the end of the day you own 100% of the business and your wife and kids are still happy!

So, as I prepare to welcome my 4th child into the world in a couple of days, I just wanted to share my thoughts on being an entrepreneur and raising a family.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments below.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if you don’t see any more blog posts from me for a week or so…I’m going to be hanging out with my family! :)

Update: Baby #4 is here!  My wife and I had a beautiful baby boy on April 2nd and he’s healthy and happy :)

Yes! I Love to Learn

Trying to juggle a growing business and active family with 4 kids is tough, but there are a few things I’ve learned…

160 Comments for this Post

  1. Jenda

    Jenda

    Great story, Spencer!

    It’s really motivating that you managed to build your business even that you were busy with family or some other duties. That really makes me to work harder :)

    And of course, accept my pre-congratulations! Four kids, huh? I guess, that’d be also pretty hard work to manage :D

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Jenda! Yep, 4 kids is a handful…but a barrel of fun too!

  2. Matt

    Matt

    Great post, Spencer! Your story shows that while dedicating serious time towards your business can be daunting at times, with the right amount of continued focus and effort things will pay off in huge dividends.

    Congrats on the family, all the best to you and yours!

  3. Julian O'Sullivan

    Julian O'Sullivan

    congrats!

  4. Brian

    Brian

    Congratulations Spencer on #4! What a blessing. I really like how you go about your life and your priorities. Big contrast to those who are all about the money, cars and homes. God bless you. -Brian

  5. Mandi

    Mandi

    Congratulations!! How exciting! :)

    Your timeline is very inspiring – thanks for sharing.

  6. MMD

    MMD

    Awesome story! You should make this your new About page.

    I love hearing bio’s like this because it gives me hope. There’s no reason that anyone working in a job they aren’t 100% in love with can’t set out on their own to start their own business or side business.

    I can second not buying into that whole “it’s all about who you know” mantra. Though I’ve made some friends blogging, the majority of everything I’ve done so far I’ve learned myself. And it’s been great!

    Thanks for the personal touch this week. And congratulations on Number 4!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks MMD; its definitely about what you know :).

  7. Colbie

    Colbie

    Inspirational post Spencer! My wife and I are expecting our first child in August so this is a subject that has been on my mind lately. Congrats and good luck this week! Thanks for sharing!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Congrats on #1! Life will never be the same…

  8. Tung Tran

    Tung Tran

    Congrats on the #4 Spencer!

    I love to have kids too although I’m only 20 now :P Maybe I will have in 5-6 years from now.

    As I always say, you’ve always been one of my biggest inspiration.

    Keep crushing it buddy!

    Tung

  9. Tuan Do

    Tuan Do

    This post is extremely helpful for me. Thanks Spencer.
    I have just 1 kid and I can’t arrange time for my online business. I will try your tips, sleep less and work more at night.
    Tuan Do

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Its not necessarily about sleeping less, but more about cutting out unnecessary things like TV, etc…and just setting priorities.

  10. Pratik Unadkat

    Pratik Unadkat

    Truly inspirational, Spencer!

    And hearty congratulations for your 4th child, you are surely going to have a blast! It’s fun to play with kids – they teach you to enjoy life to the fullest. :)

    Cheers,

    Pratik.

  11. Garrick

    Garrick

    Spencer,

    I’m in the same boat as you were in 2009, one of my sites is starting to earn enough but not enough to ask my wife to resign from her job. Am currently working on a new niche site to hopefully double what I’m earning in a few months time.

    I’m doing this because it is what I know best and it gives me time to spend with my son without being to attached to my work.

    Now I’m trying to learn the art of outsourcing which is a completely different beast and a new learning curve different from creating niche sites.

    Thank you for sharing this story and for helping others to start their own businesses.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Best of luck Garrick!

    • Patricio

      Patricio

      What strategy are you using to rank #1 on Google? I have built a niche site in a super low competition keyword, 6,600 exact matches a month but I can’t seem to even make it in the top 100. Any resources or suggestions?

  12. Phil

    Phil

    Hey Spencer,
    just yesterday I brought my daughter into bed, spend another two hours with my wife and then sat at the computer until 1am to finish a post for my upcoming blog.

    I hope it will pay off some day! Congrats to you to stay that organized…

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Sounds like you have your priorities down…good things will happen :)

  13. Robert

    Robert

    Your living every IMers dream Spencer, this is exactly what attracted me to IM. And you made it happen. Tons of respect for you, keep it up and thanks for sharing your story

  14. Chris R Jensen

    Chris R Jensen

    Dear Spencer
    Firstly congratulations on number 4!
    Are you going for a basketball team? :)

    Secondly, thank you so much for sharing this.
    I have been trying for two years now to get my own business off its feet – and one of the things I have been touted about – is choosing to spend time with my wife and not investing all of my spare time on my own business venture. What I am trying to say is thank you for showing that there is also time for family and still become succesfull.
    Thirdly I also want to congratulate you on your achievements and thank you for being inspirational.
    Hopefully this MBA and current employee if the financial world – can follow in your food steps.
    Thanks
    Chris

    • Chris R Jensen

      Chris R Jensen

      Gosh I love auto correct….

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Chris! I’m not sure we have the height for a basketball team…but maybe half of a wrestling team :).

      Best of luck Chris…

  15. Tom Lorimer

    Tom Lorimer

    Great post. I work full time, have a 2 year old son and a 3 week old son and find the hardest thing is to sit down after everyone has gone to bed and do a few hours of homework before I go to sleep. I’m an avid gamer so I want to play World of Warcraft of Diablo but I know I’ll never be able to quit my job unless I focus and stop surfing Facebook or the game forums.

    After reading your post, I see that I’m not alone and I need to stick to a schedule after the kids and wife go to sleep. Thanks for posting – great inspiration!

    • Chris R Jensen

      Chris R Jensen

      Tom,
      I too enjoy gaming and it takes time away from the projects – maybe you and I could keep each other up on this? :)

    • Dan

      Dan

      I know where you’re coming from, Tom. I used to game after my wife and daughter went to bed until the early am.
      Then, about a year ago, I started a habit to work on my side projects instead.

      Maybe start with just having dedicated evenings to something. 1-2 days can still be your gaming days. The others your “work on business/learn new skills” days. It’s also okay to just take “a day off” to recharge and get some sleep back.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      You might have to wait until after you quit your job to play world of warcraft again :)

  16. Lenny

    Lenny

    Thanks for sharing Spencer, congrats and best of luck to you and family :-)

  17. Kim

    Kim

    Congrats Spencer on your new addition!! Thanks for the very interesting post.

  18. Michael Bely

    Michael Bely

    Hi Spencer, I’d like to express my respect to you about growing your family.
    Good luck!

  19. Eric Carrell

    Eric Carrell

    Great article Spencer!

  20. Blograzzi

    Blograzzi

    I am a family man also. But I can not say that I have a successful business. still crawling.

  21. Andrea

    Andrea

    Very inspiring, thanks for sharing

  22. Tommy

    Tommy

    Hell of a post Spencer and congrats on numero cuatro.

    Personally, I think it’s a healthy combo of “who” and “what” you know and how you leverage each one’s own strengths.

    I wouldn’t know 99% of what I know if it wasn’t for virtually knowing you.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Hey, good point. I guess I just dislike when people think they have to schmooze and have special connections to be successful.

      • Michael Bely

        Michael Bely

        Spencer, I think special connections are used wildly in blogosphere in building syndicates of peers that support and promote each other.

        These syndicates can be both bad (misleading and manipulative for readers) and quite good (just a healthy cooperation, support and synergy).

        Unfortunately, it seems that the first type of connections (the bad one) prevails…

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Special connections are used by SOME, but its NOT necessary. I like to focus on quality and providing value rather than relying on my “network”.

          But you are right, that perhaps my view point differs from the norm…

  23. Antonne

    Antonne

    Good path.
    I dont know why, but I feel so impatient to be there ;) but hard work is needed though
    thanks for sharing, lot of inspiration in here

  24. MASSMAN

    MASSMAN

    Spencer,

    Time of your life!

    I am sure the family is real excited for the arrival……the kids will do everything for the baby.

    We have 4 daughters and the baby just pointed and her sisters got her everything…….now they just bicker as teenagers.

    My 40th is on April 2nd, if that is the day I will be in good company!

    God Bless!

    Scott

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      So great to hear all the other parents working on a side business… I’m sure my oldest daughter will help out with the baby…not so sure about my oldest son (already acts like a teenager/lazy…even though he’s 10).

  25. Marty Grosse

    Marty Grosse

    Congrats on number 4.

    Raising a family and giving them them your time and your love is the best investment you will ever make in your business. Any good family business has a succession plan. Looks like you are well along the way.

    Thanks for all of the posts and candor.

  26. Atin

    Atin

    Thanks for the share spencer, Even I am on a similar track

  27. RJ Bryan

    RJ Bryan

    Hey Spencer,
    This is inspiring. Thanks for reminding me/us to keep putting business earnings back into our business and not spend on random things. As well gaining knowledge managing time strictly. I’m currently looking to open a business account- any suggestions?

    Congratulations! Having an addition to the family must feel amazing.

    -Cheers

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      RJ – your state corporation commission will have instructions on their website for forming a business entity. You may want to talk to an accountant to pick your entity type.

  28. Dan

    Dan

    Congrats, Spencer, on the family addition. I’m happy for you! :)

    Thanks to you and Pat Flynn I started the same habit of working on my side projects exactly a year ago. I spend 2-4 hours after my wife and daughter go to bed and I finally get stuff accomplished. Not super successful yet, but it’s growing slowly and it’s super fun. I spread out my efforts into several completely different projects to find out what’s working best in the long run.

    Thanks for sharing your amazing success story. It’s a great motivation for all of us as well as a good reminder that even people with kids can start and grow an internet business.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Absolutely…best of luck Dan!

    • MASSMAN

      MASSMAN

      Dan you put out great content on your blog and I can tell by the views that my readers loved hearing your story!

      Keep pushing Bud!

  29. Nick

    Nick

    Thanks Spencer!

    Quite inspiring post, really! You have achieved a lot and what I appreciate is that you share your knowledge with us all!

    Congrats on your 4th baby :)!

  30. john devlin

    john devlin

    Congrats on the new arrival Spencer,

    I find this area the hardest of all, so I was amazed to see your title in my email!

    Slightly different for me as I have a day to day business that I own, but the same problems arises as this niche business is as intoxicating as it is addictive! Ive tried to take steps to stop wasting time at work and at home, like checking rankings, webmaster tools daily, and searching for keywords when I already have enough work to keep me busy for years.

    Outsourcing is the way, true but I am finding putting my VA, PBN issues and content writers all together so it works seamlessly as stressful as anything else!

    But I would be way further behind without help from this blog and a few others like it so thanks alot anyhow.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for the thoughts, John…best of luck.

  31. Matthew

    Matthew

    Great share Spencer, and congratulations!

    You mentioned two things that are very important to me. Time and family.

    Time with my family is my #1 motivating force for me in my business.

    I followed the blueprint you and Perrin laid out in your case study and started my first niche site in March. It made over $150 in it’s first month, and I’m totally stoked about it!

    The best part is that now my wife sees the potential, so she’s more encouraging than ever about me spending time planting my money seeds. :) Pretty sure she used to think I was just watching cat Youtube videos.

    Just wanted to thank you and Perrin for sharing so much. You’re changing perceptions and changing lives. :)

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      My videos aren’t as exciting as cat videos! Thanks for the kind words…and congrats on a great first month’s earnings!

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      This is great! Congrats man :)

  32. Chikko Barcelo

    Chikko Barcelo

    This only motivates me to give my best everytime. Thanks Spencer, you are blessed.

  33. GM

    GM

    Hi Spencer,

    I’ve enjoyed reading about your business initiatives lately, and I’ve found them useful and interesting.
    But this post is really inspiring to me since I am also a family man, father of two children, striving daily to share time between family and work.
    Congrats you found the solution for yourself!

  34. tom martin

    tom martin

    Great post Spencer

    I’m at the start of my journey and happy to see that you were in a similar starting position.

    I’ve been working in the corporate world for around 8 years but it was the birth of my son that made me realize i had to build something for myself.

    I’m getting there slowly but you and Perrin have been a huge help in getting started

    Thanks and best wishes to you and the growing family

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Always great to hear that others are inspired by the projects here…thanks Tom!

  35. Dave

    Dave

    Another great article. Congrats on the 4th kid. Looks like its back to changing diapers for you.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Lol, yep! Its been a while since I’ve changed a diaper…hope I remember how :)

  36. JeffreyDibble

    JeffreyDibble

    Hi Spencer,

    Awesome post. Very inspiring to know that you never borrow to grow your online business.

    I know a lot of those successful bloggers have debts beyond repayable and successfully settle them after making profits in the online world.

    I like what you said about time management. Working at night without distraction and YES FOCUS is i think more productive than working when your kids are around. They do get in the way.

    Yeah, I would try out your tips to work on my business at night.

    Make this as your new about me page. Truly inspiring stuff.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Good point; I’ll have to add a link on my about page to this article.

  37. Lloyd

    Lloyd

    Hi Spencer

    Family is the most important thing in my life and the internet allows me to spend time with my kids that working in a traditional business would not.

    A few years back I bought a call-centre and had to go into the office to work for a while.

    On the first day my youngest daughter who was about 4 at the time, asked where I had gone (as I was always there when she woke up and when she went to sleep.)

    My wife told her I had gone to work….

    The following day, before she woke I went to the office again and my daughter asked again where I was.. My wife told her.. I had gone to work… She replied “what again!!!?

    Little did/does she realise how hard we work or the benefits that she has had from us working from home for most of her life. (she is 9 now)

    I am here to take her and the others to school and to hear about their day when they get back and take some time to go to the park if the sun is shining (not so common in the UK )

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for sharing, Lloyd! I agree, when you work from home, your kids don’t realize how much you are working. I send my kids off to school each morning, and they run up to me as soon as they get home from school. They try to kick me off the computer because they want a turn :)

  38. Jason

    Jason

    Spencer, you are the man! I really enjoy your business/life principles articles!

    Millions of people want a balanced life and their own ongoing business that’s bringing 5 figures a month, but not many people every figure out how to do it. You’ve figured it out and I find your life/business insights very valuable, thanks for sharing.

    Finding your site and reading through it was huge for me! It got me interested in niche websites, which got my interested in SEO, which lead to me getting a much better job and within the next couple years I think I’ll have my own business.

    It’s all about improving your human capital, learning a valuable skill, and then monetizing that skill by improving other peoples’ lives through a product or a service.

    You’re awesome Spencer and congratulations on your new child!

    Thanks again,

    Jason

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Jason…great to hear you found a better job and best of luck with your own business down the road.

  39. PAULA MOONEY

    PAULA MOONEY

    I really like this post, Spencer, because it reveals things clearly in a timeline type of manner — and gives us more of a peek into your inside working world.

    Plus, I love the fact that you made a conscious decision not to take on debt. Great job!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Paula! Staying out of debt is something that I encourage everyone to do for sure.

  40. Jeff

    Jeff

    I want to be like you when I grow up! Spencer, you’re an inspiration to us all :)

  41. Prashanth

    Prashanth

    Wow! Reading your story sure gives me hope. :)

    Congrats (in advance)! I am sure you have worked hard for this, and results have been fantastic as well.

    No matter which business – if you are aggressive about growth, you will need capital to fuel that growth. Gradual growth means slower expansion, and even the possibility of missing the market altogether.

    For me bootstrapping is more Zen approach to life. I would pick that any day over other options.

  42. Jeff

    Jeff

    thanks for this post spencer – I’ve got a daughter coming home soon and have been curious about time management and family stuff. This was great, and hopefully I can focus more on my side stuff before she gets home.

  43. santel

    santel

    Hi Spencer,

    This is the first time that I learn a lot about your personal story.

    I have two kinds, one is 3 and the small one is 1 month and half.

    I still hole my full-time job and spend time with my family. I don’t manage much on myself. I tried out but I can’t maintain my habits.

    At the beginning of this year, I tried to sleep early as soon as my kid felt asleep and woke up early to do my online business.

    Now I can’t hold that anymore. I am lazy I think. My monthly income now is about $200 per month.

    I have the same mindset as you that I will never borrow my money to do my own business but I spent all my income and didn’t invest much into my business.

    I plan to outsourcing some people very soon to help me grow my business and keep my family happy.

    I wish all the best for your 4th one!

  44. Perrin

    Perrin

    This is awesome. Really great story.

    I think this is my favorite lesson from: “Because I firmly believe that What you know is MUCH more important than who you know. Get smart. Learn on your own or from others. And then go out and make something happen with the knowledge that you’ve gained.”

    Before aPennyShaved & Vylo (which is still far from success), I’d tried and failed SO many times at SO many business ventures.

    But that’s the difference between entrepreneurs and the regular Joe: we think of “failing” as LEARNING, and so we’re willing to fail as many times as it takes to succeed.

    Great post!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Perrin, its all about what you know! I’ve had plenty of failures along the way as well…and as you can see from my timeline, took me years before I really had much success. The failures definitely are those learning experiences. Oh and congrats on a MONSTER earnings month with aPennyShaved in March…biggest income yet!

  45. 司马传

    司马传

    It is really a great story.
    In particular for the people like me who is focus on technology

  46. Hamish

    Hamish

    Great post – very different from the normal MMO stuff that you see everywhere else!

    I hope that all goes well with your impending arrival. Best wishes to you, your wife and family – existing and future.

  47. Blessing Okonoboh

    Blessing Okonoboh

    Great post.Now I know how I can balance with my business and family.Thanks

  48. Newlyn

    Newlyn

    Great post. I definitely enjoy the personal side of this blog. It makes you seem human! Congratulations on #4 and definitely congratulations on being able to manage your business effectively while putting your family before it all. Boy or girl, this time?

    I know how difficult it is with even one child, so I can definitely relate. Do you have a nanny that helps out? Kudos to your wife as well. I can’t imagine how I would be able to leverage my time with the online business and a fulltime job without my wife’s help. Kudos to wives who supports our endeavors.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I am indeed human :). My wife is a stay at home mom, so no need for a nanny. Definitely need a good wife to handle 4 kids :)

  49. Peggy

    Peggy

    Hey I’m curious, whatever happened to your survival knife site? It looks to have been down for awhile.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I moved it to a new URL, but I’m not sharing the URL. Looks like its time to do a post on this…

  50. Darren Thompson

    Darren Thompson

    Nice article Spencer – I’ve been self employed online since 2004 and have had definite bust and booms. I had built up a very successful software company selling registry repair applications and had an income of $1 million a year for several years straight only to see Google wipe the registry industry out in 2011 due to all the poor products loaded with spyware that were flooding the market.

    I changed my focus to niche sites as to me they represent a low risk, long term investment strategy. I find the biggest challenge is balancing my time – either I’m locking myself up for 14 hours a day or I go in a cycle where I am not focused on getting anything done. I’m approaching 70 plus sites now in my network and growing fast.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Wow, $1 million a year is HUGE…sorry to see it go. Hope the niche sites turn continue to grow for you!

  51. Josh

    Josh

    Congratulations on your fourth!

    Great post that gives me hope.

    No kids yet myself, but between a full-time job that leaves me mentally exhausted, spending time with my wife, and working on my 5 acre property, it’s definitely a challenge to find time for building anything on the side.

    I’m still in the beginning stages, just trying to get anything to work at this point, but you continually inspire me to keep plugging away when I do find those precious spare hours.

    Thanks, and keep it up!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yep, its important for everyone to determine what their priorities are and focus. And for some, that may be NOT building a business on the site…I’m not saying that’s the case for you; but for some, that might be the answer.

  52. Jill @ Called To Be A Mom

    Jill @ Called To Be A Mom

    Spencer,
    They do say that great minds think alike. We are just starting on our online adventures. My first blog was bought in June 2011. We have learned a lot of lessons and in March, I started working on niche sites.
    Thanks for your encouragement. This is something I struggle with a lot. My husband is building a program and I am working as an author and blogger. It has been tough to find the balance and I love how you spelled out your story. It takes time and effort and I agree 100% that you shouldn’t go in debt to start an online business.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Great to hear others think like me…best of luck, Jill.

  53. Will

    Will

    Awesome, thanks so much for writing this. I always hated the phrase, ‘its not what you know but who you know’ as well. I absolutely hated it because it’s what the rich lazy people at my school used to say when they didn’t work hard but got daddy to hook them up with good jobs. I always thought ‘what you know’ is much more important especially for people who have to hustle and scratch their way to the top like us. Thanks, keep it up
    Will

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Exactly. Well said about those that are handed jobs or money, privilege, or whatever. The ones that work from the ground up are the real heroes.

  54. jorge

    jorge

    Congrats on the new baby!

    Definitely learning to manage family and learning time!

    thanks for the post and the push!

    . )

  55. Matthew Allen

    Matthew Allen

    Congrats on upcoming kid #4 Spencer! That’s awesome news. Hope all goes well with the delivery.

    Your story resonates eerily similar to mine, except that I do my work in the early AM, before my family awakes, and I am about 3 years behind you. Separate time for business and family is key, like you said. And family always comes first.

    I’ve also completely bootstrapped my business. Heck, I had to save for months just to be able to buy Long Tail Pro! I’m finally to the point where I am making pretty good money, and starting to outsource more and more. I’m ready for that exponential growth period like you experienced. Thanks for all the inspiration man. Your content here has meant a lot in my journey to create income online.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I hope you see that exponential growth soon as well. You are putting in the time, and that’s the best way to work toward success. Best of luck!

  56. Blaine

    Blaine

    Awesome post Spencer, you definitely have your priorities in line. It’s amazing how many parallels I can draw between your story and what I perceive mine to be anyways. I finally started making a little money after a year of struggling online and a lot of what I learned is from this site, thanks!

    While your on your break if you have spare “thinking” time I have a post idea for you to consider.

    You mentioned how you were able to set Perrin up with a business entity to use for an Amazon associates account.

    Is there any way for a little guy in a disqualified state to do something similar? This would be helpful to a lot of people and I really haven’t found anything through research that helps.

    With your previous experience and uncanny ability to explain things in Lehman’s terms, I’m sure it would help you with blog promotion and anyone else looking for a solution.

    Just an idea, God bless and I hope #4 is as healthy as your business portfolio!

  57. Dražen F.

    Dražen F.

    Hi Spencer!
    I read your blog few years now. And this post arrived in just a right time for me.. I have a same family situation – wife and 3 children.
    And I plan to quit my job in June, to start own business in internet marketing (Google AdWords, Analytics, Facebook, Bing, LinkedIn, Yandex, Baidu).
    When I read this post I see the same pattern in starting own business between you and me..
    So, thank you once again on all valuable information that you shared with all of us.
    PS. Sorry for my bad English. :)

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Best of luck when you quit your job!

  58. Chris B

    Chris B

    Great post Spencer, and love the fact that your family is what it’s all about and It’s not about the money as to why we do the internet thing!
    Haven’t posted on your blog for ages… been very busy to say the least!

    Best of luck to you and your family, and I hope all goes well for you and your new kid on the way :D

  59. Lisa

    Lisa

    Spencer, I read almost every single post that you put out. I love how simple you make everything and how open you are when you relay your happenings and findings. This is the first time I have commented, but I do want to say that it was very touching to learn a bit more about the personal you and hearing about your family and your story. Thank you.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thank you Lisa, always great to hear from long time readers…even those that don’t comment much…thank you!

  60. Ben

    Ben

    Spencer,

    Thank you for this. It gave me a boost. I’m where you are – Married 12 years, 3 kids with a 4th in a foster to adopt situation.

    Many make-money-online bloggers are NOT busy family folk trying to grow a side business. The IM world needs more stories like this to keep us motivated and encouraged. Keep it up, give your kids your BEST time, and make sure your wife knows she’s always #1!!

    Praying for a safe and happy delivery!
    Ben

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Great to hear from so many others in a similar situation…best of luck Ben!

  61. Michael (R.Miguel)

    Michael (R.Miguel)

    Great priorities! Haven’t identified with anything I’ve read on the internet for a long time. Your post just changed all that.

    I’m always telling my friends that my career… is my family. So congratulations and best wishes to you and your family. Seeing a baby take its first breath is so special.

    Cheers, Michael

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Glad you were able to identify well with this post. Thanks!

  62. Paul

    Paul

    Congratulations on your success and newest child and having your family priorities straight. Would love to see more on ecommerce product sites which I know is not your exact arena but always look forward to all your blog posts and podcasts.

    Best

    Paul

  63. Crystal ~ Fine Art Mom

    Crystal ~ Fine Art Mom

    Great post Spencer. I’m always eager to see how those I look up to make the balance work! It’s a juggling act and you’ve succeeded in making it all go just right! Congrats tomorrow and welcome to baby #4! Wishing you and your family all the best!!!

  64. Keith

    Keith

    Spencer,

    Congratulations on # 4 !
    I have 4 children myself so I know just how much fun they are and the joy they bring to your life. They are truly a blessing.

    I really needed the message in this post too so thank you.

    I have a full time ‘day job’ which has been slowly sucking the life out of me over the last few years. I decided in 2011 to build a website to try to make money online but quickly realized that I knew nothing about how to build websites, or make money online. So I began earning my ‘google degree’ in both.

    I have spent the last 2 and half years learning all about building websites, monetizing sites, SEO, email marketing, copywriting, etc… I now know more than I thought I possible on building an online business :)

    My problem is that I have been in ‘learning’ mode for so long I am having trouble switching over to ‘taking action’ mode.

    It doesn’t help that I have a deep rooted fear of success which has manifested itself in chronic procrastination throughout my life. I am working on reversing this belief, it hasn’t been easy but I am making progress.

    Reading your post helped put the process of building an online business into perspective and reminded me that I can be successful as long as I prioritize my time wisely, stay focused on being productive and make good choice about how resources are reinvested into my business goals.

    Thank you Spencer!

    • Josh

      Josh

      Keith,

      I feel like I’m in the same boat. I’m a bit of an obsessive researcher and have been in learning mode for several years.

      I recently have decided that I know everything I need to know in order to start creating something successful. I don’t need to keep investing time in learning until I use what I already know to start getting some results. It really just becomes a procrastination excuse and a waste of time and energy.

      Now when I catch myself reading another blog post or how-to, I try to stop and ask myself what action I can be doing instead of reading about. Still easier said than done though!

      My other bad habit is frequently switching my focus – ooh! another internet business model that I can spend time learning about!

      But my lack of progress, a job that burns me out, too little time for pursuing my passions, and the desire to be around for my kids when I do start a family are building up the pressure to push me into the take action mode.

      Keep challenging those old habits and thought patterns, and best of luck to you!

      Josh

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        Yep, I recommend you stop reading and start doing. As much as it hurts me to say, maybe even stop reading my blog here if its distracting. Take action and don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll learn 100 times more from one failure than reading a bunch of blog posts or buying how to products.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for the comment Keith! Its amazing how many others out there in a similar situation to what I was a few years ago. Many others are working a less than perfect day job and hope to create a great business. Learning is so critical, but I do find that I usually learn the most with failed or successful attempts. So just try and fail…and learn through the process. Best of luck.

  65. sandema sunday

    sandema sunday

    Hi Spencer,
    Pre-congratulations from Kenya….If you get that baby late on the 5th then he/she will share the birthday with my girl.

    Oh what can I say I have wished to be able to get this online thing going even with my husband and girls and I have not been able to nail it down. Being a stay at home mum I find myself wiped off at the end of the day. I have to wake up early to work and then get kids ready for school. I really want to earn online and right now I am hoping I will as I get to work when they are in school. There is always guilt and then pain and wanting to give up and yet I know there are mums out there who are like me who earn online and I want to be there and be an encouragement to someone..to my kids.

    Thanks for writing this and I do hope I will one day write such a story too,

    Regards to your family.

  66. yskan

    yskan

    Inspiring post Spencer!

    Balance in work and life is so important.

    Hope all goes well with the delivery!

  67. Joe

    Joe

    Congrats on your 4th! My wife and I have 8 kids, they are the best. BTW – it does get easier, believe it or not. How old are your kids? I have four girls and four boys between the ages of 28-13.

    Just got laid off and have a severance package for the next 4 months. I am interested in starting my own web business like you’ve mentioned. Where do I start?

    Wishing you and your family the best!
    Joe

  68. Sibo

    Sibo

    Hey Spencer,

    Congrats to the new addition to your family! You make the Internet such a better place to me.

    I enjoy reading your story.

    Cheers,

    Sibo

  69. How to Be a Family Man and Still Bootstrap a Successful Business | 50fans
  70. nap

    nap

    This is very inspiring Spencer … I’ve read a lot of your blog entries and this was the only time I didn’t resist to comment and to praise you on your blog post. One reason was I see my experiences in what you’ve went through … and also see myself succeeding like you did … ! Thanks for this post.

  71. Pete

    Pete

    I like that finally is saying that it does not take money to make money. However, a little you still need, but the knowledge you have is more important.

    • Pete

      Pete

      Also, if you could help me out on smg that would be appreciated. Some of my new domains i have bought, they do not want to get indexed, what method do you use to get your pbns indexed? i know some are already indexed, but what about the dropped ones?

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        As soon as you get content on your sites, they will get indexed…you don’t have to do anything. Once your site is live google will find it because it already has lots of links pointing to it.

        • Pete

          Pete

          I see, how long does it normally take to get a site indexed?

          Thanks Spencer

  72. Steven

    Steven

    You must have to make a lot of money for future education fee, I watched Breaking Bad before.

  73. Donald W

    Donald W

    Spencer,

    Congrats on #4. That’s truly an awesome blessing! I always love posts like this because sometimes it’s hard to keep your priorities straight and time managed properly in the IM world. Also love the importance you stress when it comes to sharing your time with family and your buisness.

    Thanks again for all that you do and have done for us and CONGRATS Man !!!!

  74. fiona

    fiona

    Thanks so much for this Spencer, I’ve been following your blog for 2 years now, have finally built a site myself – whilst being a mum to two children and working full time. I love your story and this post is the first to inspire me to comment.
    I really love your approach – and what you say about NOT needing to be socially famous to get anywhere but just need to know your stuff.

    V inspiring, thanks and loads of luck for the 4th (are you crazy?) child!

  75. Tori

    Tori

    Congrats on no. 4, Spencer!

    I like that you say that with online ventures, it’s what you know, not who you know. That’s a relief for those of us who do not particularly enjoy the race to gather “followers” and “friends” who are seen as mere statistics.

  76. Miki Vicioso

    Miki Vicioso

    Great post Spencer! All you need is the drive to succeed and you will find the way. Congrats on the new baby! Keep it up!

  77. Alistair

    Alistair

    Very interesting post as always.

    Quitting your job for a niche income is a frightening prospect, which is why I’m sure many of your readers will be shocked to to see you closed down your knife site, which was for many readers the “here it is, this is how it’s done” expose that led them down a similar path.

    Was it the affiliate competiton, the neg seo, the expenses involved in keeping a site like that ranked (link fees), how does a hugely successful and profitable site turn into a “not worth it” venture?

    You’ve given us the beginning and middle of an awseome page turner, now show us the ending :o)

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      The site isn’t closed down :). I just moved it to a new URL to keep it private due to the negative SEO. And that was just one site of many…I have lots that were created many years ago that continue to earn…

      • Alistair

        Alistair

        Oh yeh, I see it now. Somewhat interesting. Feel bad for you that you had to give up on the impressive income (for now), just because you shared it as a case study and it became an easy target for leeches.

  78. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson

    Thanks, Spencer, for the great, thorough post on balancing work and family. And congrats on child #4. I can imagine that’s a handful.

    Setting a set time schedule and committing to sticking with it consistently has always been a challenge for me. Your post gives me the inspiration and motivation to push through my obstacles and to focus.

    I like how you dispelled the myth that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and “it takes money to make money.” I, like you, and also reserved and do not have a lot of out of pocket funding to make things happen. What’s most important is that you keep learning and APPLY what you learn. Nothing can be gained without consistent action.

    One tip I’ve read before, which may help increase more family time, is to get them involved somehow. Maybe they can help generate ideas, operate the video camera, or even help format text, which can be tedious.

    Thanks again for the great content and I look forward to reading more!

  79. Ugur

    Ugur

    Congrats for the new family member Spencer!

    Very nice story. Some parts are very similar to my story on some occasions. The only difference I quit my job without saving any money and with some debt which I am still paying. But I do what I am passionate about now.

    But I really have somethings to write in the future. I hope my writings will be as compelling and inspirational as yours.

    Thanks

  80. Dee Neal

    Dee Neal

    just ran across your blog.

    time management is KEY. I’m single mom so I have to master time management. my time for my business is after the kids are laughing, clean, fed, and in the snoozer. I put them before everything. the business/family balance is no joke but the way i see it, if your family isn’t together, the money means nothing.

  81. Laura Radniecki

    Laura Radniecki

    I’m so excited I came across your blog!! This is EXACTLY the type of thing my husband and I are interested in. We want to create online income to allow us to live our wildest dreams [living on the road in an RV!] and we, like you, want to do it debt free!

    Thank you for this amazing resource. I can’t wait to dive in and read more about what you have to say!!

    Laura

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for stopping by Laura! I’ve been tempted to try the RV on the road thing, but haven’t quite convinced my wife yet :) Best of luck staying debt free and growing your business!

  82. Sereyboth Yorn

    Sereyboth Yorn

    Thank Spencer !

    A really valuable life lesson to learn from you here even if I am not a family man yet.

    Nice post!

    – Sereyboth

  83. Ahmed Shawan

    Ahmed Shawan

    What an inspiring moment as of the 4th baby upcoming and your successive days in business. You’re going to get more strives through new challenges in entrepreneurship.

    Hope your better career after all..

  84. Janie

    Janie

    my dear husband, he is now the same to 2002 of u, nothing in the bank, and we sometimes get financial problems. but I dont expect him to give his passion on technology up just for going around looking for kinda of jobs he has never thought about . hope that he will always keep trying!

    Thank You,Spencer, I will show my husband what I have learned from you, :) best wishes for you, your wife and your 4 angels!

  85. SEO Montreal

    SEO Montreal

    Congrats Spencer! I really love this article. It motivates me, great lessons in life. Great father! God bless to you and your family :)

  86. Craig

    Craig

    Hi Spencer,

    This one hit home for me. I usually don’t comment or very social online but dive right in and spend the time learning and figuring things out. I have been making “niche sites” since about 2009, well … its more of a niche business where we create, market and sale a physical product.

    I hired a VA full time last year to help out with some graphic design work. She exceeded my expectations and I didn’t have enough work for her so I had her dive into learning how to rank sites. She has since helped me create a amazon affiliate niche site that has made $500 so far. Im so excited! It looks like it can make a lot more since it isn’t ranking highly yet for the keywords I’m targeting.

    Thanks for all your hard work, your blog has been invaluable in learning the process!

    I also started trying to sale books online form thrift stores. I found pretty quickly that it was a lot of work with low pay, but I’m sure I learned a ton of invaluable lessons through the process. I found a first edition Steinbeck Cannery Row for a few bucks at an estate sale once … haha.

    Congrats on your fourth child and keep up the good work!

    Best,

    Craig

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      That’s awesome that your sites are starting to do well! And that you found a first edition Steinbeck! :) Thanks Craig.

  87. Carol

    Carol

    Very inspiring post Spencer! Gives me motivation to keep at it. Congratulations to you and your wife on your new edition!

    Best,
    Carol

  88. hesham

    hesham

    Spencer congrats for the 4th son and thanks for sharing this amazing post. It might be a bit personal but have you been able to buy your own house from online business earnings as this is my ultimate goal.
    Thanks

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I did pay cash for our minivan a couple of years ago. And I pay quite a bit extra each month to our mortgage each month. So, yes, I’ve purchased a house, but I did that before I started my online business.

      • Hesham

        Hesham

        Thanks for reply Spencer. Two more question if you don’t mind please.
        1- how you determine your salary. I.e how much percent of your profit is going toward the salary.
        2- you have not share with us how you spend your time nowadays(daily routine). When do you work. Where. How many hours. Do you have weekend. Which days. Are you flexible with working times or you have certain times when family is not allowed to distract you. Are you renting an office or you have converted a room at home to be an office. So many questions I think you would have to write a post on it. We love you Spencer and you inspire us, so please share you thoughts in my previous queries. All the best. Thanks.

  89. Neil M.

    Neil M.

    Thank you for showing that you can manage business and a family. I have 4 young kids as well and you have given me motivation to give internet marketing another try after failing a few years ago.

  90. Patricio

    Patricio

    Hey Spencer, I find your story very inspirational. My question though is it too late to get started with Niche sites? I used LongTail Pro 10-day free trial to find my keyword. Then I purchased the Niche Site Theme and have been working on developing the site. After tweaking the layout, designing a logo, and writing about 5 pages of content I find myself stuck. I read Pat Flynn’s backlinking strategy but it seems none of it applies any longer. The only suggestions I see these days are to either purchase links or just deliver great content. Do you have any alternate suggestions or good resources you can point me to?

    I want to know the best way to rank my niche site to the #1 spot on google in 2014.

    Thanks!

  91. The Weekly Hack #1 - Discover what's going on in the world of IM. : NicheHacks

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  92. Maybe You SHOULD Start a Podcast Afterall… | Niche Pursuits

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  93. Christine

    Christine

    This article is not an encouragement for men, but also for women out there who want to earn money while raising their kids alone. Kudos to this post!

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