(Photo By Tim Patterson)
Justin recently asked me an excellent question on my post about living cash-flow free for almost a year. The post detailed my financial struggles after escaping the corporate cubicle world last April.
Justin asked me:
How bad do you miss the cube farm?
Of course, my response was not at all! Even though my finances took a huge hit while getting a company I co-founded (The 42nd Estate, of which Justin is also a member) up and running, it’s been completely worth it.
On April 8th, The 42nd Estate officially turned one year old. Like most small startups, our first year was not profitable. However, we did not set out with the aim of being profitable in our first year. Instead, we set only one goal: survive our first year.
We’ve done that, and more importantly learned a great many number of things about running a small business. Chief among them is that there are many non-financial benefits to working for yourself. In fact, these side benefits greatly outweigh the money that comes in. Justin’s regular readers know that he takes a lot of trips to various locations. The fact that he works for himself provides him the freedom to go where he wants, when he wants. Simply put, his digital nomad lifestyle would just not be possible at most large corporations, where often punching the clock is valued just as much as your actual work quality.
So, when I left my corporate cubicle job last March I knew I could not rely on the business to provide for me for at least one year. And I wasn’t worried. My goal was never to become rich with this latest venture, heck I wasn’t even going to try to match my full-time salary from cube world incorporated. And you shouldn’t either!
Instead, focus on finding what you’re good at and enjoy doing. Trial and error is a great way to discover your passion, but first you need a safety net. Before you turn in your resignation letter, make sure you have at least six months of living expenses covered. Next, cut out any luxury or frivolous expenses. Every dollar you don’t spend is a dollar less you’ll have to earn. By living a more frugal lifestyle, you can better ensure that you won’t have to return to a cubicle near you.
Even if you don’t earn much money, don’t fear. Working for yourself means all the work you do builds your personal and business brand. At most corporations, you can work really, really hard and get a small bonus for your awesome performance. With your own business, though, all that hard work goes towards building an asset. The money you earn is not the only measure of your finances, you also must consider that your business is an asset that matures.
Finally, the freedom from working for yourself greatly offsets any drop in income. You’ll have less stress and spend less time fooling around and more time actually working. The experience gained will also be a valuable tool no matter what you do in the future.
So, if you find yourself sitting in a cube farm daydreaming about your escape plan, dream no longer. Start a six month savings fund, create a business plan, and break down those cubicle walls and set yourself free!