I’m not going to sugar coat it, sell you rainbows and unicorns or tell you that becoming an entrepreneur will make you instantly rich. And I’m definitely not going to tell you that it’s easy. Starting your own business is HARD. The biggest component to success is a high-risk tolerance.
I have repeatedly struggled to find my footing, pay bills and get everything set up before finally finding a workable formula.
The business itself is easy to create. I’ve written about how to quickly set up an online money-maker for yourself. I’ve even put together some ideas and specific examples for you to help you come up with an idea.
It’s the cultivation of the business that takes time and energy. No matter how great your idea is, it will not flower by itself. You have to nurture it.
And that’s the problem. Nurturing takes TIME. Lot’s and lot’s of time, attention, care and energy.
My goal is to help you harness the digital power to make yourself money with as little effort as possible. We all know the major themes: create products, share value with people, make income. But it’s not exactly a linear process, is it?
So how do you make a relatively smooth transition from corporate employee to automated/digitized entrepreneur without going destitute?
You have to start with the middle road: freelancing.
The bottom line is this – you need time to set up your business. Most corporate jobs have schedules that don’t really allow for the type of time you need to build content, products, relationships and skills.
What I did: In the transition period between quitting my job at Longhorn Steakhouse in Atlanta, making $2 an hour, to creating my digital empire out of my office in gorgeous Santa Monica, I worked as a contracted online freelancer. I got to create my own schedule, meet a bunch of interesting people, and do something that I loved (or at least liked a lot).
And the biggest perk of all? I could charge a LOT more money.
Most corporate jobs are salaried – so they’re going to max you out and overwork you for the same pay.
Hourly jobs can be low-paying by their very nature. The more money you make per hour, the less the company wants you to work. It’s a catch-22. But as a freelancer, none of this applies to you. You set your own schedule and you set your own rates.
Inevitably, this is where the objections start to crop up:
“I have no idea what I would do. I’m not good at coming up with ideas.”
“I don’t have any valuable skills. I just have my job-specific skills.”
“My market is already saturated. There are better people doing what I do.”
“Nobody will pay for what I know when they can just teach themselves.”
(These are exact copy and pastes from fans and readers who follow my work.)
What are your skills?
There are literally HUNDREDS of things you can do that are enjoyable and that other people will PAY you for. Start thinking about where you could mine your talent for freelance skill:
- What do people consistently ask you for help or advice in?
- Do you have any unique skills, talents, hobbies or abilities?
- What areas of life have you excelled to an “advanced” or even “intermediate” level?
- What skills ideas interest you enough to learn, and then teach to others?
- Could you work independently doing what you do now at your current job?
- Do you have any friends with talents that compliment yours? Maybe you could team up.
Best to learn by example, I think. Here’s how I did it.
When I first started freelancing, I was working at Longhorn Steakhouse (I’m basically a steak aficionado now). I was also working for Kaplan Test Prep.
My steak skills weren’t worth much. But my Kaplan skills were. I realized that people were paying $100+ per hour for me to tutor their student one-on-one. You won’t believe how much I was making…$18/hour!
And the worst part was…I THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD WAGE!!
Our perceptions are skewed because minimum wage is $7.25. So we think that anything significantly higher than that is good money. The reality is, $7.25 isn’t even livable. You probably need a minimum of $20/hour to make it out here.
But when I really sat down to think about it…I just got INFURIATED.
Here I was, doing all the teaching, grading, talking, communicating with parents, driving from school to school while Kaplan just sat back remotely and took 82% of my money.
Since I as the one with the skill, I needed to be the one making the money. I knew I could make this work on my own and cut out the middle man.
So I bided my time. I looked around, I made some calls.
I found a partner who was also interested in getting a freelance education business going. He was the consulting side, I was the teaching side. Together we knocked down doors, created classes and started making money. A lot more of it.
First, I quit Kaplan. Didn’t want any conflict of interest. Then, as soon as the restaurant started to get in the way of my new endeavor, I quit that as well.
When I quit both jobs, I wasn’t making quite as much with the new business…but the projections were giving me a solid indication that things would pick up quickly. So I just took the leap.