Maybe the biggest motivator for starting a business is to get out of a job people hate… for me this was carpentry.
During my first year in business I spent many late nights working on my business after a full day on a construction site, all the reasons I wanted to succeed so freshly on the mind.
For 6 years I woke up every morning at 5:15am whether I got enough sleep or not, put on my full rain gear, & driving 45 minutes to go build shit with a bunch of people I don’t like.
Ever heard you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with? At least 2 of those people were alcoholic, cigarette smoking construction workers who bitched about how much their lives sucked or how drunk they got on the weekend.
I saw my whole future laid out in front of me in every carpentry boss I ever had… it would be rough, have a hard toll on the body, and statistically I would be a grumpy old alcoholic who took his anger out on the apprentices.
This scared the living shit out of me.
I had finished my 4 years of carpentry schooling and apprenticeship, and the next logical step was to hire a few workers, buy a truck & a bunch of tools, & start my own construction company.
You could make good money doing this, my bosses were often taking home $100k to $500k per year, but with only one exception they were all miserable pricks.
Was that going to be me?
The one exception was my favorite boss I’ve ever worked for, a cheery fun loving man who seemed to have it all figured out. He would wake up at 4am to hit the gym before coming in to work, and had aquired a beautiful farm & property in the mountains with his wife & 2 kids.
But then shit hit the fan… shortly after his 40th birthday, he was told by a doctor that his shoulder was done. The painkillers he was taking at work wouldn’t prop it up to finish off another 15 years of his career, he had to fold the company.
Within a few weeks everything he’d worked so hard for came crashing down, his wife separated him, he was forced to sell his dream farm property, and was left with no clear way to make a living any more.
And then it hit me… this was the best role model I came across in 6 years of carpentry, and this guy got royally fucked by this industry?
I knew right there I was out and I had to do it now. Most of the people I worked with over the years were much older than I, and most of them hated their job as much as I did, but they tolerated it… for decades.
I knew I needed out, but I didn’t know how yet. I had read the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss which opened my mind to the possibilities of working online & shifted my perception of owning a business.
I’d always thought that business was always a direct tradeoff between having a life & having more money or you needed to “have money to make money” so I never considered it an option.
The 4 Hour Work Week shattered my false beliefs, now I just needed to figure out which business to start. I had been listening to Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn & learning the whole new world of online business models that allowed for location independence, removing the time for money equation, and generation of truly scalable wealth.
I became obsessed with learning about it.
But it wasn’t until a near death experience longboard racing in the Philippines that I decided this happens NOW. It’s funny how a reminder of our mortality can cause a moment of crystal clarity when the mind is indecisive.
At this point in my life, I was at the peak of downhill longboarding insanity. I had already hit 3 cars, fallen at 100kmph and luckily escaped without serious injury. Having close calls with death defying situations was a truly normal thing for me & my friends.
But this one was different, a little too close for comfort & it really shook me.
I was competing in a race on the small remote island of Siquijor, many hours away from the nearest hospital. At longboard races the road is closed to vehicles, but this was the Philippines!
In the middle of a race run there was a motorcycle coming up the track straight at us. I swerved to the left side of the road to avoid it exactly as the motorcycle swerved in the same direction to get off the road & missed me by 2 inches or less.
If I hadn’t reactively swerved and dove off my board that would have a been a serious, serious accident in a foreign country on a remote island with no hospital on it.
After the initial adrenaline spike of anger at race officials & massive spike of fear wore off, I started to contemplate my life direction and whether what I was doing was worth it. I’ve always been willing to play the risk/ reward game in action sports and still am, but what I realized was…
I almost died before I got the chance to start this next phase of my life, grow this online business, quit my job I hated, really build something for myself and design the life I want. There was so much more I wanted from life & I needed to do it now, the urgency in that moment & the following months was more real than anything.
I decided right there that my business starts the second I get back to Canada. I was all in on building a business and would do whatever it took to succeed.
Quitting My Job Slowly
I think a lot of people think they need a build up a lot of money to quit their job and start a business. It’s not true.
The way many people start, myself included was a 3 step process.
- Moonlighting: Keep your full time job, then work on your business in your free time.We all bullshit ourselves that we don’t have time, but really we just don’t prioritize it well enough. I can assure you my near death experience cut out all my BS excuses about how much time I had to work.
- Part Time Job: Work part time hours at your current job to free up more time to build your business.I did this at the stage in my business where I was making money in the business, but not enough to support myself. The new business needed as much reinvestment as possible, so keeping the part time covered my living expenses so I could reinvest 100% of business profits back in.
You can negotiate either less hours per day or ideally less days per week. Don’t assume your boss won’t go for it. The 4 Hour Work Week has a great section on how to negotiate these types of work arrangements and frame them in a way with low risk and high upside for your boss. I successfully used those techniques.
- Quit: Quit your job to focus on the business entirely.I waited until I could financially support myself from the business consistently for a few months. Some people prefer to have a certain number of months in savings before doing so. Fro my carpentry career I knew I could have another carpentry job with 48 hours any time I needed to if it came down to it, and the time spent in my business was becoming more valuable than working carpentry anyway.
This is a scary process going from a predictable paycheck to a sporadic one, but don’t forget this is what you signed up for. Are you willing to sacrifice predictability for location independence? An asset that will eventually make you far more than you make now? Setting your own schedule? Building true freedom? I know I am any day of the week, and after living it for the past 3 years, there’s no going back.