Ten years ago, I came across a book called, “Making a Living Without a Job“. In it were the concepts of how a person could make a living without having a job (obviously). Nothing too profound really, but it helped the me of 2005 reinforce the way I was already thinking, which was “I want to be able to make a living independently and I want it to come from multiple sources”. Ten years later, I’ve got that set up.
I did the math last week as the year 2014 came to a close. I officially sold over $42,000 worth of products and services, netting $27,000 in profit after paying all expenses (including two business trips and a bunch of tech gadgets I use for my business). Okay, $27,000 isn’t a lot of money, but it’s enough for me to live on alone, not even counting the several thousand dollars I earned on top of that from my investments during the year. Also, one interesting thing to note about my business income was that most of it was earned between June and December as things started to really take off in my business.
Assuming earnings for this coming year (2015) are equal to the way last year was over the past 7 months, I’m predicting $40,000 in net profit for 2015. That’s far more than I need to live, which means I’ll be “making a living without a job” once again AND saving a solid percentage of my income as well.
The snowball is really starting to roll. During 2013, I only earned about $1,500 outside of my W-2 full time job. In 2014, I didn’t have any W-2 income at all, which was my first year since 1999 without any, and I still made enough money to pay all of my expenses. It’s official: In 2014, I made a living without a job.
I get asked all the time how to do this sort of thing. I really don’t believe it’s a one-size-fits-all type of thing, but I can certainly share what I did to make it happen. It’s seven parts really and here they are:
1. Connect with the “You” of the future
Jason Fieber from Dividend Mantra and I talked just last night (Side note: I’m down in Sarasota, Florida for a few days and it’s been truly great spending time with him) about how each of us has a future self that’s where we want to be. If we want to be financially independent (and/or an independent business owner), there’s a future version of ourselves who has made it happen. We just need to connect with that future us, see the path to get there and follow it. Ten years ago, I had a future me, the me of 2015, who had his own independent business. I could see it. Jason shares his story about this in this post titled, “I’m already financially independent“. Find your future self “who’s where you want to be” and see what it looks like and how you can get there. Use that future self as motivation.
2. Pile up cash
The journey for me started when I woke up to the fact that I was broke and wasn’t ever going to get out of it if I continued on the path I was on. I was 25 years old and in debt with a depreciating car and a low income. I was not on track to be able to create my own business. I had to realize some truths before I could get my act together financially and they are these:
- Money is time (and time is money)
- Money doesn’t buy happiness
- There is a point where enough is enough
- I was getting older (and closer to the end of my life) every year
So this meant I needed to act and act fast. Deciding my little one bedroom apartment was “enough” and that I was perfectly capable of cooking my own meals and that generic goods would do the trick was a big turning point for me. I was able to cut my expenses and start living on less. At the same time, I pushed through to double my income (for purposes of gaining future independence).
Piling up cash is key to being able to take the risk of building up income outside of a job. Without my financial cushion (my pile of cash equal to 5 years of my living expenses), I could have never took the leap to start my own business.
3. Build your platform
On December 4th, 2011 I took action on making my own business happen. I decided to start a blog to take advantage of new media, which was becoming more and more popular. With new media, any person (like you and me) can build an audience and a community out of thin air without needing anything but some hard work. I decided that there was a whole world out there that I could connect with and I got started that day.
Did my blog suck when I first started it? Yes. Did I push through and make it anyway? Yes. I’d recommend to everybody to build some sort of platform. It doesn’t have to be online. It could be a talk radio show or a TV show, but the perks of doing it online are pretty great (and the costs are a lot less).
I built a platform and kept growing it and to this day, I give it credit for helping me to start my business. I can attribute most of my profit from last year to having created this blog.
4. Put in lots and lots of time and hard work
I started putting in time right after starting my blog. For the first couple of years, my time was focused on the blog. Once I started taking on clients for WordPress development and selling big projects, my time started being focused there instead of on the blog, but none-the-less, I continued to put in massive amounts of time.
Making a living without a job is possible, but it does take quite a bit of time up front (where you’ll likely not make any money for quite a while),
5. Choose opportunities wisely
Sometimes we start on things (like my blog in my case) and we think we know where our opportunity is. I thought I was going to make it big with the blog and earn thousands of dollars per month from advertising. Let’s just say that after 3 years, I finally am realistic about the fact that that’s not going to happen for me.
Then, I thought the “internet riches” (which is what my friend Bob and I like to call it) would come from selling online courses. I was wrong again on that one.
But when people started asking me to create websites for them, I saw that as an opportunity. Not only was it just another opportunity, but it was one that had real potential for making money. I chose that opportunity wisely and took my focus off of less wise things and moved it over there.
6. Double down on what works (and ditch what doesn’t)
Like I said above, this WordPress development thing (that honestly came out of thin air) was a wise opportunity to jump on. It was something I could only do if I took the focus off other things. So, I decided to take the focus off my blog and my online courses to go after it.
As it turns out, most of my $42,000 plus in revenue from 2014 was earned from that category. It’s all about choosing wisely and doubling down on what works.
7. Keep the end in mind and keep at it
“Beginning with the end in mind” is a concept straight out of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. It just means you have to keep your eye on that “You” of the future (which I talked about above) and see that you really can get there.
It’s sort of like if you are on a road trip, you will need a map to get where you want to go. If you don’t know where you’re going to go, you’ll never get there.
The way I got here was always keeping that end (the future me who has a profitable independent business) in mind.