On July 1st, 2017, my whole life changed. I was back officially from my one-year RV trip across North and Central America. After spending over 365 days away from my house, I was taking back my old life, the one that I had packed in a cardboard box in my basement. I took everything back… but my job. I started my journey toward entrepreneurship on that day. Since I never do things half-way, I got my house keys back on July 1st and hosted my first business meeting on July 3rd. Here’s a taste of what my office looked before and after:
I wasn’t joking about this; I was dead serious. After all, I’m 36, have 3 young children, and my wife doesn’t work. During my last three months on the road, my online business generated an average of $4,424 monthly revenue. This obviously doesn’t include any expenses (or my salary!). In other words, when I made the decision of quitting a 6-figure paying job; my company was bleeding at least -$5,000 per month. Keep in mind, I don’t have a building or equipment to finance or give as collateral. Therefore, the company has no loans, no line of credit, no safety net. This was literally a leap of faith.
Now, 150 days passed since my first day “at work”. What is it like to work for yourself? Do I have fears? Can I pay my bills? Do I eat enough? (Haha!) Here are my thoughts after five months in this amazing journey.
The Journey so far
When I started working full-time, most people thought that my business was making tons of money already. After all, I financed a one year trip throughout 9 countries with this very company, right? But what really happened was that I worked very hard for 18 months prior to leave. This created a “wave” of income that I used to surf until my trip was over. Toward the end, the wave was dead, and I was back to my 2014 numbers.
But something incredible happened when I started working for myself. My motivation level reached an unknown level, and my brain literally exploded. Each day, each week, each month was leading to a new project on top of what I already had on my table. I guess there is no better way to learn something than to do it without a safety net.
On the very first month, the company was down by only $535. At first, I thought it was just luck. To be honest, I couldn’t really explain what was happening. Then, in August, we were profitable. When I use the word “profitable”, I mean that the company makes revenue, pays its bills, pays my salary, and there is something left in the account. I’m talking about positive cash flow. Since that day, it has been a hectic path, but I never fell in the red again.
The graph below shows you the business revenue during 2016 in blue (with the income wave at the beginning of the year) and the comparable revenue during 2017. You can see clearly what happened right after I started working:
The month of September represents an anomaly as I ran an important promotion. Still, you can see the effect of working full-time. In November, it was the first month since we started that we didn’t do any substantial promotions or launch a product. We didn’t even have a Black Friday deal! Yet, revenue was up about 10% compared to October.
The fears, The Struggles
As I mentioned on this blog a few times since I came back from my trip, fear isn’t a topic for me anymore. I wouldn’t say that I am fearless, but I would rather tell you that no fear is hurting me. I am well aware of my current financial situation and that I can’t “drop-it”. I’m not allowed to make mistakes, and I am condemned to perform every single day. For that reason, I quit the idea of leaving for a week in Guatemala next February, and I cut my Christmas budget by 60% this year. On the other side, we don’t need much “stuff” anymore, and my children are also following this path. Therefore, even if I had the money, the budget would have been cut anyway!
The biggest struggle I had to face was to manage my time, my motivation and my energy level. After all, I had stopped working for a year! Going back to work full-time was very difficult. My motivation was there, but sometimes, my brain was just out for a walk. As most of my job resumes in writing and analyzing, I need my brain comfortably seated and fully operational. Most weeks were filled with incredibly productive days followed by poorly managed ones. In fact, some days I would have been better off playing Metal Gear Solid on my PS4 than working!
It took me four months to master my new schedule and level my energy into equally productive days. Last month was a huge win for that. In November, I was able to perform week after week with little variation from one day to another. The most difficult part when you work for yourself is keeping an even amount of work done day after day.
One thing that really helped was to cut off work from time to time. I make a point of not touching my computer some days and not even looking at my emails (alright, barely looking at them). When I take time completely off my screen, my brain gets some rest, and I become more productive once I’m back.
Finally, if you think of leaving your job to create your own, you must not forget the struggle and hectic path to success. One thing I still have a problem with is the inconsistency of my income level. I can easily make $800 in a single day. The problem is that I am not able to replicate that for a few days or a few weeks in a row. Therefore, on each Friday when I look back at my week, I either could smile or cry. I never know on Monday what my feeling will be five days later. I often run into a bad week where I make $1,000 only to make double or triple that amount the next week. Any early stage business will go through that. This is painful, but I must stick to the plan. I keep my sanity by taking a step back and looking at monthly revenues or progress done so far in comparison to last year.
For one, I have a hammock in my office! This is just an example of the small perks you enjoy when you are your own boss. I will skip the part where I tell you that I do what I love and make my own schedule; you read that a thousand times already.
However, I’d like to tell you about another type of win. I have a win almost every day. I’m excited about my day almost every day. I am proud and feel strong about myself almost every day. The feeling of building something and building it for me is incredible. This is another kind of paycheck!
Another big win is to see how my business is scalable. My goal isn’t to become self-employed and live a good life. My goal is to build a scalable business where I will always make more money with less effort. One day, I will have a bunch of employees with which to work. We will actually open a part-time spot as a financial writer in January. The job will not replace me but will help increase the number of stock analysis we can deliver in a week. If this goes well, I see clearly that this position to become full-time by the end of 2018.
Speaking of full-time associates, I also feel blessed to work with the most supportive partner ever. This guy is right beside me for each move I take, and he helps me in any way he can. This is quite a feat considering he still has his full-time job! I also have the happiness of working with my sister-in-law. I like the fire burning inside her and her will to make this all happen. V has been working full-time with us even before I quit my job! It’s definitely an asset to have someone with strong opinions that can challenge me from time to time!
What’s Coming in 2018
After working 150 days in my company, I now have a clearer idea of what will happen in 2018. I am slowly getting out of the “day-to-day” tasks and gaining perspective on the future. While it is important to know how you will make money by the end of the month, it is even more important to know how you will make money in 12 months from now. Evolution is key for any company. If you snooze, you lose!
I have several projects on the table. Among those I can share with you now:
- We are currently going over our two blogs (this one and The Dividend Monk) for a new look for 2018.
- I will be doing a lot more free webinars coming next year.
- Exclusive webinars for Dividend Stocks Rock subscribers are under work.
- We will launch a new investing site (stay tuned!)
Final Thought: This Was the Best Decision of my Life
I think five months is enough to look back and think about the journey I’ve done so far. I am convinced I would have been terribly miserable if I had to go back to my job. I’m not making as much (yet), but the excitement I feel each day about what I do compensates largely. If I keep going on this track, I will be able to fulfill my wildest dream… working with a laptop while traveling the world.
Readers, have you ever thought of quitting your job?