My Getting Started Manifesto
So I’ve been inspired to create this by Gary Vaynerchuk’s recent call to create a getting started manifesto.
I’ve been half-committed to starting my own company for a long time, almost a year by my estimation. I’ve put in some work, but I’ve felt crippled by some unknown force, and haven’t done nearly enough to get it off the ground.
As I sit here on this Sunday night absolutely dreading the upcoming work week, just like I have dreaded the previous god knows how many weeks, I’m deciding that enough is enough. I’m not happy with how I am currently living my life, and I no longer accept living life on someone else’s terms.
To give you some context, I currently work as a project manager at a local tech startup doing primarily marketing and managing our foreign reseller program. To the outside observer, I’m doing everything right. I have put myself in a position to have a “successful” life by finding a secure job with room to grow. But internally I’m not happy.
I’m so disengaged from my work it’s borderline funny. I can truly say that I just don’t care about the work I’m asked to do. Instead of completing tasks that I’m more than capable of knocking out, I frequently sit at work starting at my to-do list. I’m frozen by this sense of melancholy. Interestingly, my lack of engagement doesn’t seem to make me a minority based on a 2015 Gallup poll.
I have also come to realize how much I can’t stand working for someone else. I’ve had this feeling in the back of my head for many years, but I think this job especially has solidified my thinking that I am not someone who can work for someone else.
Sure, some of this is about money. I don’t feel like I’m making what I deserve. But more importantly is time. I hate trading away 8 or 9 hours a day. If I’m going to be happy, I need to live, and therefore work, on my own terms.
Something I’ve really notice this year is my declining health. I used to be a pretty good athlete, competing to win running races and dabbling in triathlon. While I still race, I hardly ever train. Over the past year I’ve put on 10–15 pounds, and I guarantee you it wasn’t in muscle. I miss being an athlete.
Perhaps more importantly is my declining mental health. I don’t think we as a society talk about mental health nearly enough. This is especially true for men, who have this tough persona that we have to maintain. I think the lack of time, or perhaps my lack of prioritization, to set aside time every day for introspective thoughts has definitely led to poorer mental health. I’m kind of an irritable jackass right now.
So what am I going to do about it? I’ve been throwing around this idea of this company that I’m calling Endurance Scout. It’s basically Yelp/Kayak for endurance races like marathons and triathlon. It provides a resource for athletes to research and sign up for the best races. I’ll have more details on the company in a future post.
The problem is that Endurance Scout needs my full attention in order to have any hope of succeeding. While I’ve built the base product in the hours between 8pm and 2am over the last year, it needs a fresh and hungry me, not a tired, already worked a full day me.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the savings to be able to quit my job and commit to Endurance Scout full time. And the site doesn’t have traction, so wouldn’t be an attractive investment opportunity for an angel or VC. Furthermore, with the looming startup bubble, I don’t want to go down the traditional growth at all costs model of relying on VC money to stay afloat. I want to build a revenue producing company, not just one focused on growth. Totally foreign concept to many founders.
So it’s a chicken or the egg problem. I can’t grow ES while I am working my day job, but I can’t quit my day job because I’d be on the streets within a few months. I’m solving this by creating a side-side-hustle, Endurance Maps, which I will then be able to parlay into the full Endurance Scout company.
Runners love to celebrate their accomplishments and everyone loves customized goods. I’ve created a product which allows customers to create customized finisher maps for any race. So when a new runner completes their first 5k or a seasoned vet PRs at Boston, they can create a custom map with the course as well as their name and finishing time. I believe that this will bring in enough revenue over the coming 6–9 months, that I will be able to leave my 9–5 behind and venture out on my own.
So I’m starting this journey with basically nothing but a few thousand dollars and some desperation to change my life. I plan on documenting my journey through my various social accounts: Instagram | Youtube | Twitter and hope that you will join. It’s going to be a fun ride as I cover the good, bad, exciting, and scary.
That’s my getting started manifesto to living life on my terms.