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Choose Your Number
It's best to decide early
If you’re on this side of the internet then you already know that the Standard Life Path of 401k contributions and climbing your way up the corporate ladder is a one way ticket to misery.
One thing that a lot of people aren’t aware of is that the life of a business owner can turn into another prison if you aren’t careful.
This prison is definitely much nicer: think about getting upgraded from the max security San Quentin hellhole to the minimum security Martha Stewart resort. But it’s still something you should try to avoid.
The way you do that is by choosing your number now.
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You started a business to be free
In the book Built to Sell, author John Warrillow recommends deciding in advance how much you want to sell your business for.
He advises business owners to physically write the number down on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope.
The idea behind it is that it’ll prevent you from falling into the “just one more year” or “I can get a much better offer” trap. The exact second you realize that you can sell your business for the number you wrote down, you do so.
I think that this is excellent advice.
You can always squeeze a little bit more out of your business. But at what cost?
The point of starting a business in the first place is because you’re tired of living a life of servitude to the corporate grind.
You have to remember that your goal is to be free, not to become a slave to a different master.
Getting stuck on the “one more year for a bigger number” hamster wheel is not the path to freedom. You need to sell it when the time is right.
Which brings me to my real point.
Decide when you’ll get out for good
Not only do you need to commit yourself to a number for when you’ll exit your current business, but you should also pick a number for when you’ll move on from this lifestyle completely.
If you’re the type of person who legitimately loves running an online business and consider it to be your “dream job” then by all means disregard this.
But I don’t think that’s the case for most people. It certainly isn’t for me. I’m not doing this because I love it. The reason I build online businesses is because I’m good at it.
Following your dream when you’re young and broke is nonsense. Unless you have a one-in-a-million talent that just so happens to line up with your interests, treating your dream as a career is nothing more than a living fantasy that you’ll have to wake up from eventually.
Do what you love as a hobby. Start a local band, go out and take pictures on the weekend, paint, whatever. But if you’re a 22-year-old broke kid don’t try to become a professional musician, photographer, or painter unless you’re 100% certain you have the skillset.
Do what you’re good at. Most importantly, make sure that it’s something that can make you rich.
If you’re reading this then business is an area where you know or think you have a potential skillset that can lead to life-changing amounts of money. Dedicating yourself to this path is absolutely the right choice.
But what’s the point of making life-changing money if you don’t ever actually change your life?
That’s why you need a number.
I have one. I’ve made more money then I ever thought possible doing this, but I haven’t quite reached my GTFO number yet.
One day I will.
When that day comes then I’m going to move on to more fulfilling things. Because spending my entire life staring at screens isn’t how I want to spend the next several decades. It’s a means to an end, not the end itself.
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WiFi money is awesome but it’s not everything
That’s not to say that I’m not grateful for everything I’ve gained from WiFi money.
I haven’t had to call another grown my “my boss” in over a decade. I’ve made more money then I ever thought I would. I can take pride in the fact that the money was truly generated by me, not bestowed on me by someone else in the form of a salary.
I can travel whenever I want without asking for time off. I’m not tied to any one physical location. If I get bored with a city I can just pack up and move without any financial risk.
No fancy job title or corporate expense account can compare to the satisfaction I get from living a self-determined life.
I’m grateful for all of these things, but I can’t let myself be trapped by them. And neither can you.
You don’t want to end up as an old man glued to your computer screen, still chasing the dragon.
At some point you need to get your bag and move on to something much more fulfilling.
Decide on what your number is now. Otherwise you’ll never stop.