I’ve always believed that there are three phases of a startup, and they are:
I. You run the business
During this time, you are setting everything up. if you work harder, the business moves faster; if you don’t work, the business does not move at all. You can still deal with fulltime jobs, school, or other things since there is a lot of flexibility.
II. The business runs you
After a certain point, you start to lose control of the progress of the company. Tasks arise by itself in the business: your customers are demanding service, your employees need direction, problems need to be solved. At this point you can’t choose to stop working or work slowly, because this world does not wait for you, and being slow on progress simply means death for the company.
III. The business runs itself
Hopefully, after a lot of hard work, you will reach the point where the business runs itself. Systems are set up, revenue streams in, employees not what to do. If you take a vacation and come back, the business would become stronger itself. This is when you can fully work ON your business, not IN your business (thank you Michael Gerber). Sadly, very few business actually get to this state.