Today marks the one year anniversary since I quit my job in 2016. Leaving the corporate environment after spending 16 years of my life there wasn’t easy, and it was definitely a risky move to make by any measure. Therefore I decided to share some of my first year experiences as a full time online entrepreneur in this post, and I hope aspiring entrepreneurs get some value from it.
I’m happy to wake up for work
This is a truly amazing feeling to wake up and wanting to work. When I was working for my previous employer, I wasn’t motivated. The amount of meetings, bureaucracies, poor management and corporate politics were demotivating. I simply do not see myself in that environment for another 5, 10 years. Now, it makes me smile when I wake up in the morning knowing that today I’m going to build value for myself, my wife and our twin boys. I decide what to work on that day, and all the value I produce go directly to my family. That’s a wonderful feeling.
I am responsible for my own P&L
There’s no longer a cap, nor a base salary for how much I can make. I am responsible for all the profits and losses, whether I like it or not. If I make $10K, I take home $10K, if I lose $10K, I have to cover that $10K loss. It’s simple and that’s how it’s supposed to be. When I was still an employee, the correlation between what I do daily and what I was rewarded was no where to be found. I used to work in the technology division which is not a revenue generating department. That makes it hard to quantify the value the division produces for the firm. To make things worse, political battles take places in these divisions because of the same reason. Now, it’s a totally different world. As a business owner, almost everything I do and every decision I make directly impact my business’s baseline. I keep a close eye on all my revenue streams and cost items, and I think about P&L and ROI on a daily basis. A complete mindset shift from before.
Time is the most precious thing
When I still had my full time job, I wish time goes faster so I can go home. When I work for myself, the whole day is gone like a snap of fingers. The amount of time in a day in both cases were identical of course, the difference is the mindset. Demotivated employees are people waiting on death row because they waste their entire lives waiting to go home each day. If you are currently in that situation, Change ASAP. Since later half of last year, I became a productivity hacker and I started to value my time more than anything else. I applied tools to monitor my productivity and I carefully optimized my daily routines in order to achieve optimal efficiency. When people invite me for lunch and just to catch-up, I ask for an agenda and offer a 15 minutes Skype call instead. What people do not realize is, wasting somebody’s time is the same as stealing money, or worse: stealing somebody’s life. I realize it may sound bitter and unfriendly, but that’s how precious time really is and everybody should treasure that.
I started to learn how to become successful
Go to school, graduate, find a job, then find a better job. That’s a script the society designed for everybody. Most people follow it without asking the question: what do I really want to achieve in life. I followed the same script for most of my life then I realized that I wanted something different. I want success and personal freedom instead of a predictable slow dying 9-5 job. I took actions by exploring opportunities in the world of digital marketing. Since I became a full time online entrepreneur, I found myself more craving for success than ever. Sure, everybody wants to be successful. It’s one of the clichés you hear about all the time, but most people do not take actions to learn how to become successful. Yes, skills can be learned to help one become successful. There are lots common traits you see in successful people. They are hustlers, open minded, productive, respectful to others’ time, have good judgements, etc.. Following is a list of skills I’m developing to be more successful:
- How to say no
- How to stay focus
- How to influence more people
- How to negotiate better deals
- How to be productive
- How to make better decisions
- How to become more likable
- How to connect with others
These skills were never taught in schools, but are essential in order to become successful. Luckily, there are plenty materials such as books, videos, blogs, podcasts available to help you obtain these skills. Feel free to take a look at my audiobook collection, it’s a good starting point.
I customized my social profile
When we go to school we meet classmates, when we go to work, we meet coworkers. They make up the base of our social profile. As you can tell, you don’t get to choose whom to be classmates or coworkers with. Some of those relationships are not matches made in heaven so you are stuck with it for a few years. After I started my own business, I’m more conscious about whom to pick to hang out with. As Jim Rohn said: you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. After I quit my job, I customized my social profile so that it’s better aligned with my long term success. Here’s the snapshot of my current social profile (I didn’t include family, classmates or coworkers because that’s assumed).
- I lead a group of 200+ local Chinese American Enterpreneurs on a social platform. We occasionally meet up in person in smaller setup (20 or so)
- I’m in a mastermind group of 15+ successful online entrepreneurs from all over the country. We chat regularly online, meet virtually once a month and in person each year at a conference in Las Vegas
- I attend 2-5 digital marketing industry conferences each year. I use it to meet new and old friends and take a break from my daily routines
- I’m in a few private facebook groups where I participate business discussions regularly
- I have 2 partners on a side project, we regularly discuss our project and sometimes topics go beyond just business
- I have a group of investors who invested in my business. I report to them each quarter on how the business is doing
The purpose of customizing my social profile is to associate myself with like minded people who share similar long term value. Not only I get inspired and motivated, it help me stay away from people filled with negative energies. I recommend everybody to customize theirs social profiles too.
There you have it. These are the things that I felt strongly about after I broke free from my 9-5 job. Looking back the past year, it’s not only a new lifestyle for me, many aspects of this new lifestyle are shaping me into a different person. Many thanks to my family, friends, mentors, and fellow online entrepreneurs who made my freshman year in this free world so exciting.
Stay tuned for greater things in 2017