Death to the Stock Photo

Today is my first day as an entrepreneur.

I’m writing this at both as a reminder of this moment and as motivation.

Yesterday I was informed that I was being let go from the job that I have held for the past thirteen years. I had assumed this was coming for quite a while as the company is completing phase two of merging into another company and I knew there was a ton of overlap for my position at the acquiring company. The only question for me was whether it was going to happen this year or next year.

I’m not bitter. It was a good job that paid well and put food on my table. It is business. I had been pressed up against the glass ceiling for a while so it probably was time to move on anyway.

Even though I had anticipated this happening I did not prepare myself. It is hard to plan for something that mentally you view as abstract.

It just got real.

Last night I had a discussion with my wife in which the following exchange occurred:

Me: “I think it is time to go for broke.”

Her: “I don’t like the sound of that.”

After surprisingly little discussion we agreed that I should take this as an opportunity to do what I have dreamed about which is start my own company.

For a long time I have had entrepreneurial ambitions. Things I have done included:

  • Starting a company in college called InvestGift that would have enabled the gifting of shares of stock for weddings and birthdays. (Never fully came to fruition and would likely had not survived the tech crash in 2000.)
  • Made a feature length film. (Sobaka)
  • Made which is software to help independent filmmakers move from development through the production process.
  • Listened to every single lecture of Stanford’s inspirational Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series and published all of my notes. (You can download them all for free on Leanpub.)

I have known this is the path I have to take as for quite a while I could not picture myself working another job. Even when thinking about my childhood dream job (working for the New York Yankees) it still sounded like a job and not something I could be enthusiastic about.

The boys on the Fourth of July (always being silly)

What has kept me from making the leap previously has been fear. Having a mortgage and two children (wonderful boys ages three and nine months) changes the risk equation and makes one more cautious. Without making the leap I never fully felt I was an entrepreneur in the same way that the people were on all of the podcasts I listened to (many thanks to the hosts of Startups for the Rest of Us, Tropical MBA, Smart Passive Income, and Bootstrapped with Kids for providing me great content to listen to while buried in spreadsheets).

The plan in my head had been to work side projects until they were at a level they would replace my income. That time frame just got bumped up.

Between now and the end of next month I will be spending my days wrapping up things at work and training my replacement(!). I will be spending my nights doing the following:

  • Launching StartOpz which is simple operations and h.r. software for small businesses and startups.
  • Marketing StartOpz primarily by publishing content on the blog but hustling up business in any way possible.
  • Creating a compilation book of all ten years of notes on Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders and hopefully getting some people to pay for what I have already released for free.

The last item on that list will hopefully give me a bit more runway and I’ll do some freelancing as well if it comes to that.

Mt. Hood from Bald Mountain by Thomas Shahan

On my actual last day of work I’ll be running the Hood To Coast race in Oregon. A pretty good way to go out and end one chapter of my life and begin a new one.

I am 35 years old and am now an entrepreneur.

Watch out world. I’m ready to make a dent in you.

(I would love to hear any advice any of you may have for me. Please reach out on Twitter (@globalwj) or shoot me an email at will at the domain name above.)