Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Tim Duffy, @uglybrostudios. Tim co-founded Ugly Brothers Studios with his twin brother Mike two years ago. They’ve created TV shows for NBC, Sky, Spike TV, ABC Family, Oxygen, Amazon, and Comedy Central. Previously, Tim Duffy ran development on Spike TV where he made Auction Hunters, Ink Master, and Bar Rescue. For more information, visit www.uglybro.com.
SmallBizLady: WHEN DO YOU KNOW IT’S TIME TO JUMP, AND WORK FULL-TIME ON YOUR STARTUP?
Tim Duffy: There’s no one answer. Before I left my corporate gig, I talked endlessly with my wife to prepare for the lifestyle change. Then I reduced my expenses to the bare minimum and made sure I had enough in the bank to last for at least two years. Finally, I hit a spiritual, emotional and intellectual point where I couldn’t hold back any longer- I had to take the leap
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE PANIC OF CUTTING OFF THE CORPORATE CHECK?
Tim Duffy: The corporate life is great if you don’t mind a boss, and you don’t mind being a small part of a big machine. If you want more- to know that you are in control of your future, you need to sacrifice now to reap benefits later. Cut costs. Build a personal financial plan that’s realistic as hell. What is the least you can live on for two years? If you need financing to start, don’t be greedy ‘cuz you will pay it back or give up ownership, which defeats the purpose!
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU PREP YOUR CHILDREN AND WIFE FOR THE TRANSITION FROM THE CORPORATE JOB TO THE STARTUP?
Tim Duffy: Nothing challenges a family like financial instability. Everyone needs to go in with eyes wide open, willing to sacrifice. It is essential to maintain communication about the realities of the progress of the business. And continually keep your partner informed and invested in both successes and failures. It feels selfish at first, but when business gets going, and finances stabilize, you all realize the struggle was worth it.
SmallBizLady: WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES WITH RAISING YOUNG CHILDREN WHILE RUNNING A SMALL BUSINESS?
Tim Duffy: I didn’t start a small business just for myself, I also did it so I could set my family up for the long-term. The hours are long, and the strain is challenging. But I can still be a good dad and husband in the short-term. Yes, “me time” as I had previously defined it has gone away. But “me time” now means that I’m present, loving and supportive with my family.
SmallBizLady: HOW HAS THE STARTUP DISRUPTED YOUR FAMILY’S LIFE?
Tim Duffy: I’m not around as much, which means I need to be deeply present and supportive of them when I am around. The strain can be as difficult for them as it is for you. The key is to remember that how you handle today will affect you as much in business as it will in the family. What’s most important? Being the richest guy in the room? Or being a good dad, husband, person? The answer is clear to me.
SmallBizLady: IS IT NECESSARY TO SEPARATE BUSINESS AND FAMILY FOR THE COMPANY TO SUCCEED?
Tim Duffy: My business partner is my twin brother, so this question has many layers. We are family first! But building a business with family requires an entirely different style of communication. We work hard to communicate respectfully and efficiently as opposed to the way that competitive brothers often do.
SmallBizLady: WHY DOES WORKING WITH A FAMILY MEMBER STRENGTHEN THE COMPANY?
Tim Duffy: The trust level is the key driver of our success. We used to be landscapers. When we arrived at a property, we each intuitively knew which elements of the job to take on. Back then; we trusted that the other was executing his job perfectly. That same energy of complete trust supports our business today.
SmallBizLady: WHAT IS THE KEY TO PROPERLY PRIORITIZING YOUR TIME EFFECTIVELY?
Tim Duffy: Spend less time emailing and staring at a computer and more time talking to your employees and clients. The email was created to increase productivity, but it’s a time-suck. In fact, I would argue that email is a major factor in why people feel so stressed and busy all of the time.
SmallBizLady: WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT, AND WHY?
Tim Duffy: Unfortunately, the thing that keeps me up at night is money. We’re not at a stage yet where we’ve got the cash stores to support us should business dry up. Also, the balance of driving new business while ensuring the current business is executed meticulously is a constant focus.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU RESOLVE CREATIVE ARGUMENTS WITH YOUR BROTHER AND CO-FOUNDER?
Tim Duffy: By talking directly to one another and staying present and respectful. If one of us feels some sense of conflict, we strive to nip it in the bud through communication. In situations where we need a 3rd party perspective, we tap into the support of our Chief Financial Officer!
SmallBizLady: WHAT COMPROMISES HAVE YOU HAD TO MAKE WITH YOUR BROTHER FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE COMPANY?
Tim Duffy: I’ve had to acknowledge my weaknesses. Accepting and understanding my weaknesses gives us insight into how to make the business stronger. When my brother is good at something and I’m not, it’s important to rely on him and vice-versa.
SmallBizLady: WHAT COMPROMISES HAVE YOU HAD TO MAKE WITH THE BUSINESS FOR THE BENEFIT OF YOUR FAMILY?
Tim Duffy: I do everything in my power to spend real time with my kids and my wife whenever possible. My family is the priority in my life. But the push-pull between being available for work and family is always there. Being mindful of this tension allows me to engage with both aspects of my life in powerful and fulfilling ways. Working towards the future should not mean that we’re allowed to forget about the people that we love.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz
For more tips on how to start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.