Rant: 1 Year On — The Self Employment Grind.
March 2016 marks 1 year since I officially quit my job and became self-employed. This article is my take on my first year of business and a bit of a rant too (okay it’s mainly a rant). If you don’t like swearing or swear words this probably isn't the right place for you (so fuck off).
So it started on the 2nd of March. Excited was an understatement, I was ready to stop working 40 hours a week for £6 / hour and instead build something of my own and grow it massive.
But like most people I overestimated everything, including my own ability and underestimated the amount of time it would take to “be successful”. One of the reasons I even decided to write this post was I've just finishing reading Grant Cardone’s the 10X rule. Great book highly recommend to any business person.
One of the keys he mentioned was how long he thought it would take for him to “become profitable” starting his new business. He calculated if he made X amount of phone calls with X conversions he would be on XXXX per month which was his break-even point…. For him he calculated it would take about 3 months. And in fact in took him close to 3 years!! This is someone who is now worth 100 million.
I know for a fact that most people do this when starting out. Whether it’s unofficially in their mind or an excel, or more officially written in a business plan. The issue is, we almost always under-estimate the amount of time it takes to do almost anything! “We are better than the average!” 95% of people think they are better than average at something….
For example based on my personal progress I estimated the business would be around £3–4k profit per month after 6 months. (This was based on picking up 2 clients a month and not losing any in a 6 month period.) I had 2 already before quitting my job and thought 14 in a 6 month period at an average of £500 per client per month would give me: £7,000 a month in billings. Taking away costs and fees it would be pretty easy to be in the £3–4k per month bracket. But that is definitely not what happened… At all.
So many issues and reinvestments meant that within 6 months although my earnings were around the £2,500 mark, the profit was still under £1,000 a month, and most months was closer to £500.
Luckily the job I quit was as an intern paying minimum wage, so this wasn't as bad as it sounds, as the income levels were pretty similar.
That pretty much sums up the first 6 months. I worked hard and (what I thought was) smart and at the end of 6 months my profits were:
- March — £1,346.
- April — -£486.
- May — £616.
- June — £630.
- July — £2181 (client paid 6 months upfront).
- August — £824.
Giving a total of: £5,111. Awesome, less than I earnt before….. But it was on the up…. I had about 7 monthly clients and more leads coming in weekly.
Murphy’s law — Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong!
The 2nd half of my 1 year journey were kind of different, the businesses were growing well, money was coming in and going out as quickly. And everything seemed on the right lines. I was getting better at what it is I actually did for clients, and leads were coming in at the same time.
Then a few things went wrong, some my fault, some still my fault (It’s my fucking business everything is my fault) but less so. The first was I lost 2 clients in 1 month. 1 went suddenly even though they had been very happy and the results were really very good. Another because a 6 month contract had ended and they simply “didn't want to keep investing in this form of marketing.”
After banging my head against a wall for a few minutes I almost wrote an aggressive email back to the latter client stating something along the lines of:
“How in the fuck do you think you’ll have a successful business if you cancel the marketing channel that is clearly giving you a huge ROI (oh and by the way ROI stands for return on investment as you probably don’t know.)”
Luckily I managed to delete that before sending [sidenote: that business has now gone under]. But nevertheless it was month 7 and I was pretty much close to where I started… I had 3 clients when I left my job and now I had 5…..
As well as losing clients I also had technical issues with my website, as well as a budgeting issue. All of which meant I wasn't going to be able to get many leads through the site for a couple of months!
Maybe I'm not the business God I thought I was….. Clearly.
Anyway, grinding on I realised something, that was probably the overall problem with the business. I wasn't passionate about what I was doing anymore. I’d started to only do it for the money. And although let’s not be some hippy and say “it’s not about the money” It’s primarily about the money! But you also need to enjoy what you’re doing too. I wasn't happy so I changed…. This was the key.
Rant: Making changes are so important. People moan about their situation but then never do anything about it!!!! “I hate this job, they don’t pay me enough”…. Yet you just moan about it every time I fucking see you!? The worst people in my life for this? My parents. Some people might think that’s a harsh thing to say but its true. Don’t surround yourself with negative people on a frequent basis.
I changed in 3 key areas. The first was I decided I wouldn’t take on bad clients. Although this is difficult to tell who will be “bad” and “good” clients, I made this change, I wouldn’t waste time on people who weren’t worth it! This instantly made me happier, I wouldn’t receive negative emails or calls from clients.
The 2nd area was I would finally take my dream of owning a fitness company more seriously. I’m a huge fan of fitness and weight lifting so decided to actually put some effort and get this off the ground! And although its still in its infancy, I’m confident its growing into a profitable brand in the near future.
The 3rd area was I would work to create what I call “digital assets” these are websites that I make money from. It’s not a lot and them all combined only make £200 / month profit, but its on the up. In July we hope to break the figure barrier. This not only allows me to rely less on clients, it also gives me more money to re-invest into the fitness company!
And that’s it. Those changes are still in progress and the company’s are growing (slowly but surely.) I’ve got the life I wanted initially, enough money to get by, and I’m building something that has the potential to be huge! So, as I write this in Budapest, drinking coffee getting ready for a late work session — just know that quitting your job is all well and good, but that next year, the first year of business is a mother fucking struggle…. But if you get through it and start to see that growth, you’ll be better for it.
3 Takeaways from 1 year in business:
- Be the positive person — After reading 20+ business books the one clear element that all the writers have in common is they don’t surround themselves with the bull shitters, negative people or haters. You need to do the same. Whether this be work colleagues, friends or family. Ditch the fuckers that are always moaning and keep the ones that are confident and make you a better person…. There is a saying that “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If all your friends and family only talk about “how hard” or “unfair” life is, or how unlucky they are, how tight money is or anything that’s constantly negative, then you’ll find yourself starting to do this. Sidenote: Start to notice who is constantly negative, moaning or whining. Avoid these people before you get into these bad habits. I've never heard of someone extremely successful who moans about how unlucky they are….
- Increase your Goals! — My goal for example 1 year ago was to make £30–40k a year online. This would allow me “work when I wanted” and travel the world in the process. I bet 90% of people reading this would love that. But it’s not a big enough goal. My new goal is to earn £1,000,000 profit per month. This would give me enough income to support everyone I know and care for. It would also give me the platform to make an actual difference, rather than simply buying some new expensive toys. I have other goals later on in life that I haven’t told anyone and I won’t, not just yet (maybe on the year 2 update). Sidenote: Do I ever tell people my goal is to make £12,000,000 a year? Fuck no! what’s the point? These are the same people saying “I don’t have the time” As they sit down to watch another 2 hours of TV….. Going back to point 1 don’t waste your time with negative people.
- Don’t Underestimate the amount of work it takes — This was probably my biggest mistake. I thought that making £30–40k a year would be pretty easy, I mean £40k compared to these corporate giants is nothing! But success just doesn't work like that. Work harder, more often and smarter than your competition. They work 40 hours a week? You work 80. They post 5 videos a week? You post 50! Do more than your competition, a lot more!
(I think) I wrote this to warn people that although quitting a steady, boring, low paying job is very easy and might seem like a step in the right direction. The next year will not be easy! Everything I read said — the first 24 months are incredibly difficult, you just want to keep your business alive yada yada. And I thought, I’m better than this, I’m better than the competition blah blah, better than the average Mr “I’ll start a business” but the truth is whoever you are, if you’re on a budget — That first year of business is a fucker, it’s a grind, you have to learn to love the grind.”
In this last year I've worked more than I did in sixth form, Uni and my 8 month job combined (everyone I know can vouch for that too.) The difference is nowadays I'm working towards building something, something that has potential, the more I work the more potential. Not a piece of shit degree that I didn’t even want to do, or some A levels that would help me to get into that piece of shit degree. And although I'm still a broke MF, I'm writing this from a different country with a smile on my face.
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