If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I decided to quit my career in engineering and start a business – basically this website, along with other side-hustles.
I’m also working my way towards a life in which I don’t have to depend on working in order to survive. I want to be able to detach my time from my income by working to create sources of passive income.
You see, most people have to work to get paid. If they don’t work they don’t get paid – simple!
Once they want to retire in their late 60s, they might be able to earn some social security (we’ll see what happens with social security in the future…) which will cover a modest amount of their expenses.
I don’t want to have to wait until my late 60s and then have to rely on social security to survive – I have other plans… 😉
I Want Financial Independence
I’m sure you’re no stranger to the concept of financial independence. By creating streams of passive income that require little or no work to maintain, anyone can live life like it’s meant to be lived.
Life isn’t meant to be spent working most of your waking hours on something that you probably don’t even like.
The sooner you can cover your living expenses with work-free passive income, the sooner you will unlock life and all its possibilities.
Just imagine what you’d do if you didn’t have to work for money.
You could go hiking on a Tuesday morning, spend hours playing with your kids or be able to finally learn the guitar and start the musical career you always wanted. It wouldn’t even matter if you didn’t make any money from it – you’d be covered!
The Typical Path to Early Retirement
When I first learned about the concept of financial independence and early retirement, I got right to work. I started tracking and lowering my expenses and learned how to invest in dividend growth stocks.
Related: The Best Way to Track Expenses
I then started saving and investing around 30-35% of my net salary each and every month. The dividends were a nice addition, and I got a strong feeling that I was following the right plan.
This is what it looked like:
After several years my salary would increase thanks to pay-rises, promotions and changing companies for more money. The average person changes jobs 12 times over his or her career – although I hoped that it was only going to take me a handful to reach FI.
All the while, I’d be saving a large part of my salary and letting compounding do its thing. At some point, the passive income alone would cover my expenses and I’d be able to quit working altogether!
If you’d like to work out your own scenario, check out my free spreadsheet below:
There was only one problem: the thought of spending another 10, 15, or 20 years working a 9-5 job in a career that I didn’t like that much made me shudder.
So I decided to hatch a new plan. One that would get me to my goal of financial independence quicker while doing something that I felt real passion for.
The Alternate Route
As you know, I quit my career in engineering back in May last year and made the decision to start my own business. This website is the central part of that business, which I plan on making at least a moderate success.
And if it ends up being a wild success, you won’t find me complaining! 😛
This is what the graph looks like now:
After a shockingly short career in engineering – which my past self would hate me for quitting – my income went back to zero. ZERO!
The past few months have been like banging my head against a wall. It’s been a lot of constant work for very small returns. I am now just starting to earn some money from this site, in the form of affiliate marketing though my Resources page and sponsored posts.
This quote easily summarises what starting an online business is like:
“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter
hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as
much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first
blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last
blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
– Jacob A. Riis
As hard as it is to go without results for so long, I know that I will end up making enough money to cover my expenses, even if it takes a while. That’s why the orange curve starts off very low.
Once enough time has passed, and my business starts generating enough income to live comfortably, the most powerful element of a business will come into effect.
A well-established business model can be set up in a way that lends itself to scaling. This essentially means that you can pump in more money and resources to make more profits.
Let’s imagine that you run a business in which you sell personalised t-shirts for basketball lovers.
You have some slick Photoshop skills and you can easily doctor pictures to make your clients look like they’re shaking hands with their favourite NBA superstar. Crazier businesses have worked, right?!
Now let’s imagine that you’ve set up your business to function without too much input from you. You have a system to take orders, a team of people who can photoshop your images and a way to deliver the goods and deal with returns.
You’ve worked out that for every $1 you spend on marketing, you make a 40 cent profit. You’re confident that this system is repeatable, so if you scaled up and tripled your resources and your marketing budget, you should expect your profits to also multiply by 3.
Although I’m far from scaling my business, (gotta make it work first!) I’m really excited about the potential profits I’ll be able to make.
I truly believe that I’ll be able to earn way more money than I ever would have in an engineering career. Even if I managed to reach “Director of Engineering” level at a large company, I don’t think I’d make as much as I hope I will now!
Besides, having met some directors myself, I’d be working crazy amounts of hours and would probably be dragged down by the weight of stress. I wouldn’t want to trade years of stress and suffering for the certainty of more money.
I wouldn’t want to trade years of stress and suffering for the certainty of more money. I’d much rather take the risk of my business failing and have an uncertain future!
Pros & Cons of My Strategy
As awesome as I’ve made it sound, there are some negatives to my strategy:
- I could fail and waste years of my life that I could’ve spent progressing my engineering career.
- Income is very uncertain and there is no guarantee that I’ll reach the levels I hope for.
- I don’t get a pension plan anymore, so I have to take care of my retirement plans – that’s not a problem, as I’m doing it anyway 😉
- It’s emotionally and psychologically draining to work so much and get such few results. A lot of people quit before they make it!
You know what? I’m ok with those.
Because I saved $20,000 in a year to prepare for this, I’m financially OK. This really helps with the fear of failure, which is such an integral part of being an entrepreneur!
Another great point is that healthcare is completely free in Spain. Everyone has the right to free healthcare so I should be fine without having to fork out a monthly chunk of money for health insurance.
I’ve discussed most of the pros in this article, but here are some more:
- I feel that this website can have a much stronger impact on the world than any job I could have ever worked. It really makes me incredibly happy to wake up in the mornings and think that I get to help people to escape the 9-5, build and online business, and take control of their finances. 🙂
- Talking about money and personal finance makes me strive to become better with my own finances! I need to practice what I preach – I just would not feel genuine otherwise.
- Once I reach financial independence, my business will be an asset that I can sell. If anything, it could even accelerate my early retirement even more!
So there you have it. This is my plan to grow my business, lead a life that makes me happy, and eventually, retire from paid work by 35.
After that, I’ll have fully unlocked life and I should be able to spend my time doing things that I love and that help others. Nice. 🙂