Unlike many people involved with the whole “escape your 9-5 job” that hate their jobs, I was fortunate enough to have pretty good jobs throughout my life. In the almost a decade before I quit, I was working for a huge Silicon Valley company (a famous company you all know about) making over $150,000 per year writing software code.
Not only was I making decent money, but I also enjoyed what I was doing quite a bit. Of course, I complained every now and then, but for the most part, I was pretty lucky.
When I quit my job and moved to Brazil, I had to learn how to make ends meet myself. Gone was the $150k salary. Gone were the sweet perks and benefits like free food. Gone was the marketing department that figured out how to create a desire for our company’s products. Gone was the sales team that knew how to close deals to anyone who showed interest. Gone was the security that I would always have money in my bank account—every two weeks without fail.
Although I’ve dabbled in various businesses since I was pretty young, starting a new business is always challenging. Making money is never a guarantee. After all, that’s why businesses fail; there’s no room for every single idea to succeed. Only the good ones do.
Years later, when I finally got something working, but was still barely treading water, I fantasized about returning back to work, having a 150k/year salary (or even more) and enjoying life as I used to.
Returning back to work would mean the end of my worries. It would mean I’d no longer need to worry about having enough funds for a nice apartment. I’d no longer have to worry about having enough funds for a random trip. I would finally have enough money to truly enjoy life and never again needing to check prices in the restaurants.
The Invisible Chinese Wall
But then I realized something. When you become an entrepreneur, a sort of a Chinese Wall erects between your entrepreneur/business thinking and the 9-5 mindset of working for someone else, trading your time for money.
When newbie entrepreneurs start and fail with a business, they immediately begin thinking about getting back into their former life. They yearn for the comfortable life of stability and security, one with a bi-weekly paycheck and other perks. They view starting a business as a sort of a hobby, a game that one plays while having more serious things going on like a 9-5 job at a big company.
That’s completely normal. I used to think this way as well.
But having this viewpoint is a huge disservice to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship isn’t a little hobby you do on the side. It’s not like collecting stamps or completing a crossword puzzle for a few hours after work. It’s not something you in engage in after you’ve done your serious job.
If you’re in business and you’re not making enough money (or as much as you’d like to fly first class and stay at Four Seasons), there’s a simple solution.
The solution is not to drop everything and apply for a 150k/year job. The solution is not to give up and join the status quo.
The solution is to work more. Do more. Create joint ventures. Expand your existing businesses or start new ones in new markets.
Entrepreneurship is value creation. It’s a way of life. It’s how you think and view the world. It’s about connecting with people, figuring out an opportunity that isn’t being served by others and exploiting it.
Value is continuously being created in this world. Instead of trading your time for money by working for someone who’s creating value, you create value yourself. You essentially cut out the middle man.
After all, “a business” is not some one-dimensional pursuit. It’s not a game where you play for a bit, then get tired and go back to your “regular” life.
It doesn’t work like that.
Back to 9-5?
Nowadays, I can’t even picture going back and getting a “regular job.” Not because I hate jobs or despise people who have regular jobs. I don’t. Those people are definitely creating value and helping others. Many of them even like their jobs.
It’s because when you’re an entrepreneur, your possibilities of making money—as much money as you want, really—are unlimited. There’s just so much that you can do. There’s so much value that you can create.
Of course, the hard part is work, but whoever is willing to put in the hours will be simply unstoppable because they will get as rich as they want to.
And, often times, it’s easier to make more money when you’re an entrepreneur than when you have a regular job.
Because unless you live in a truly planned economy like North Korea or the former Soviet Union, everyone is out there creating value one way or another.
That means you’re already in business whether you realize it or not. There are customers all around the world who’re hungry for your products and services. And, some savvy entrepreneur out there will have no problems satisfying their hunger.
Maybe it will be you. Or it might the man you’re working for.
Personally, I’d rather it be me. I’d rather it be deciding how much value I want to create, how hard I want to work when I should work, and whether I’ve worked hard enough and it’s time to take a day off and visit another city.
So, instead of getting depressed and confused that things which aren’t going your way and immediately seek the shelter of a stable job, leverage this uncertainty as an opportunity to do more and continue to chart your path instead of relying on others to do it for you.
Carving your path
In the simplest terms, when you become an entrepreneur, you automatically carve out your path. There’s no other way to do that. Everyone wants to have freedom—whether it’s location-independence, having passive income or something else—but few understand the amount of sacrifice you have to do to get there.
Of course, people want cake and eat it, too, but instead of actually starting a business, they opt for something that’s a lot safer and less rewarding: teaching English abroad, freelancing, working on sites like Elance.com, doing a million Fiverr gigs for others, etc.
This is not entrepreneurship. This is a perfect example of changing the person you report to. Instead of reporting to John Doe at Big American Co, you now to report to John Doe at American English School in [Insert your city here].
There’s no substitute for entrepreneurship. Unlike switching bosses, when you create your own value, the potential money you can make is unlimited.
You decide how much you want to work. You decide how hard you want to work.
Work, work and more work
When I mentor people, I take their existing ideas (or we brainstorm ideas) and help them build a sustainable business model based on my more than 10 years of building location-independent businesses. Willing to learn is important, but experience matters a lot. If you’re training for your first boxing match, do you think it’s important to have Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield as your training partner and in your corner during a fight? Of course, it helps. A lot.
As with anything else, there’s a catch or the weakest link: work. While I can give you the blueprint for building an online business and guide through each of the steps, there’s still something that you must do: put in the work.
Not all work is the same. Working for the sake of work and not getting any results is insanity, but work with a clear strategy and plan can yield amazing results. Nevertheless, there’s still work.
Many people read tons of books, swallow a lot of articles, memorize all the how-to guides, attend tons of conferences or workshops, get motivated to the moon, but then come home and settle back into their regular routine. They fail to do the actual work.
And, unlike pretty much everything else where someone can hold your hand and walk you through something, work is something that you must do yourself—nobody else will do it for you. Don’t even think about outsourcing it: if another person can successfully do it, then why would anyone need you?
There’s no substitute for work, whether it’s of strategic type (planning what to build) or grunt work (actually building stuff), you must be willing to roll down your sleeves and do the actual work. Even later on, as the business grows, you’ll still do the work, just that it will be higher level work, but still work.
So, if you’re lazy and just aren’t motivated to do the grunt work, at least initially, to get the business of ground (and continue to do so for a while), entrepreneurship just isn’t for you. Keep your 9-5 job.
Entrepreneurship is a not a hobby
The biggest thing that pisses me off about how entrepreneurship is viewed and taught nowadays—especially in the West—is that itself it’s viewed as a hobby, in other words, as something you can try out for a bit and give up if it doesn’t work out.
It’s as though people are born natural slaves and are meant to do slave things (e.g., 9-5), but once in a while they leave their comfort zones and dabble in some activity called entrepreneurship.
It also doesn’t matter if they’re successful or not because there’s always the safety of the 9-5 not too far behind.
This is nothing more than an illusion. As long as you cling to the safety of the 9-5, you will always do a half-ass job as an entrepreneur. It’s only when you realize you have to make a choice: be a slave or become free, will you finally become a successful entrepreneur and carve your own path.
Interested in building your own passive, location-independent business? Want to avoid needless trial and error? Want to start off on the right foot under proper guidance?
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