You know what’s easier than entrepreneurship? A day job. I say this with emphasis after not having a day job since 2012! But let’s go back to September 2012, three months after I left banking for good.
No sooner had I announced my retirement did e-mails and phone calls start flooding in from competitors who wanted to meet. Some were curious why I had retired, while the majority of them were basically trying to see if I would be a good fit to work with them. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the carrots that used to be delicious are not as orange anymore. Still, getting offered big bucks to work in a new environment, with a growing product is an exciting proposition!
The main reason why I retired from corporate America at the age of 34 was so that I can see what I can do entirely on my own. With all the work experience, education, and moonlighting, I’m curious to know if I can create a sustainable and fun business that can grow long after I’m gone. What I lacked was enough of my own time to make it happen.
Up until now, I’ve just been a hobbyist, writing online and not focusing much on the business aspect of things. I enjoy doing things for fun because I get impatient with boring activities the older I get. However, what I’m quickly discovering is how enjoyable it is to learn about business online no matter how slow the progress is! I just need more patience.
A Day Job Is So Much Easier Than Entrepreneurship
With a job, all you’ve got to do is be a nice person and do your work no matter how mindless it is. You can put in 60% effort or 110% effort, you will get paid an expected salary. Maybe you’ll get a nice bonus at the end of the year as a sweetener if you are extra special.
With entrepreneurship, you’ve got to not only come up with an idea, you’ve got to market and execute your vision. Even if you execute your vision, there’s no guarantee you’ll be profitable. Think about all those small business owners who borrow startup capital only to close down and lose all their investor’s money a couple years later.
Everybody who is disgruntled with their job should try their hand at entrepreneurship for six months to appreciate what they have. Starting a small business will also make you realize how much government bureacracy there is that seems to want to keep you from succeeding. You’ll also never want to pay taxes again.
Your job may be soul-sucking, but at least you’ll be able to put food on the table and insure yourself from any unfortunate disasters. With entrepreneurship, you might be ecstatic every single day, but you might also end up living in your mother’s basement. You might sacrifice your entire social life for the sake of a dream that might not come true.
This is why I made sure I could live off my existing passive income for 20 months in a row before I engineered my layoff. I didn’t want to go back and live with my parents. That would be too embarrassing for a 34-35-year-old man.
The Regret Minimization Framework
I don’t want to short change myself before I even get started with my entrepreneurial endeavors. As a result, I’m trying to go off the grid and not keep in touch with old colleagues and clients for the first three months.
I know there will undoubtedly be job opportunities which I will be tempted to take before giving my new journey a go. I don’t want to have to choose, because if a great person gives me a great offer, it’s going to be next to impossible to turn down!
When I look back on life, I want to know I at least gave entrepreneurship a full year before calling it quits. That way, I won’t be asking myself “what if?” I don’t want to be “an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.”
Real entrepreneurs are successful, otherwise we’re just hobbyists. We can’t go on and on, spinning our wheels and not make enough to live a comfortable life. At some point, we have to face the music and realize we are failures. I will know in 12 months whether I am a failure based on my goals or not.
The Original Goal Of Work
Originally, I planned to work for another five years until the age of 40 and really kick back after. The problem is, it’s not in my nature to kick back, and I never anticipated five years ago there would be such opportunity online. Funny how opportunities randomly appear. It’s the X Factor I tell ya. You’ve got to be in the game to win.
So often we want things, and we want things now. We aren’t willing to wait for when we can afford something, which is why we get into consumer debt. We aren’t willing to accept we are “C” students foolishly trying to live “A” lifestyles. I am no different. I want my online success to be immediate rather than put in my dues over the next three years. As a result, I get frustrated with myself when things aren’t going the way I want. I’ve got to remind myself that I’ve only just begun and need to give it some time.
After all, it took 13 years to generate ~$80,000 a year in passive income, what makes me think I can replicate that amount in just several months? Patience is indeed a virtue. Besides, what the hell is the damn rush? The income / work goal is $200,000 a year / 20 hours a week in three years. It sounds like a pipe dream, but if you read the post, you’ll see that maybe, just maybe with some focused work, it can be achieved!
Take a couple minutes to watch Jeff Bezos talk about his regret minimization framework and why he left his stable, high paying job to start Amazon.com.
Trying Entrepreneurship For 12 Months Or Bust!
I’m going to give my entrepreneurial endeavors 100% attention for one full year. It’s brutally difficult to make a meaningful amount of income on your own, but at least it builds character! There are plenty of newly listed IPOs with millions of clients who still don’t make any money. But hey, the public is willing to buy a piece of a founder’s dream and make them wealthy.
The temptations of going back to work are everywhere. I miss the corporate card to spend with clients and friends on steak dinners and SF Giants ball games. I enjoy the occasional international business travel to a new country. Meanwhile, a healthy paycheck and benefits are also quite a treat. These are all the good things and I won’t mention all the bad things.
Alas, in order to realize my dreams, I must forsake these benefits. And if I decide I’m not on track to build something I’m very proud of that can also make enough money, then I’ll just have to re-strategize. In one year, at least I’ll be able to look back knowing I gave it my best and have no regrets.
For all of you who have taken the leap of faith and gone out on your own, I commend you! I know your struggles and have felt your highs, your lows and your frustrations. Remember that nothing good comes easy. We must fight for what we want and never fail due to a lack of effort. In the end, the journey is the reward, so let us never forget!
It’s Worth Starting An Online Business
Although being a successful entrepreneur is much harder than having a day job, it’s easier than ever to start your own website or online business now. I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build.
If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog like mine in 15 minutes. It’s imperative that everybody brand themselves online and take advantage of the 3 billion+ internet users today. You never know where the journey will take you!
Always Negotiate A Severance Before Leaving Your Job
Finally, never quit your job, get laid off instead. If you get laid off, you can potentially get a severance, unemployment benefits, and job training. If you quit, you get nothing. You have more rights as an employee than you know. The book is on its 5th edition and has grown to 200-pages from 100-pages. Negotiating a severance was the catalyst for me to leave banking for good and focus on Financial Samurai.
Although being an entrepreneur is hard, you feel so much more proud earning $1 on your own than through a day job. Once you earn your first $100, it becomes easier and easier to earn more. The freedom an online business has provided us since 2012 has been wonderful.
We traveled the world for 6 weeks a year for the first five years. With the birth of our son in 2017, we appreciate even more the freedom to both raise our son every day! And with th birth of our daughter in 2019 and the global pandemic, entrepreneurship has been a life-saver. The value of online businesses have increased immensely because they have more defensible income streams. Even during a pandemic, an online business can’t get shut down.
Here’s my 10-year entrepreneurship recap. I plan to run Financial Samurai for as long as I can think and type. I see owning a small business as a productive use of my mind.
Having a small business also serves as career insurance for my children, who are facing an increasingly competitive world. With college acceptance rates dropping to the single digits, it’s very hard to get ahead nowadays.