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Starting a Business Will Not Give You Freedom

There comes a point in a successful professional’s career where money starts to matter less and less and the game becomes mostly about freedom and flexibility to spend time with friends, family and doing things you truly enjoy doing.

Depending on what resource you rely on, this “point” varies.  I have seen the $75,000 number thrown out there, and most recently the $250,000 number on the Financial Samurai blog.  Regardless, the point is that there is a “point” where monetary gains have diminishing value.  What starts to take over is the desire for more freedom.

Achieving freedom is one of the biggest reasons I am an advocate of establishing passive streams of income before and throughout your career.  The more streams you can build and the more lucrative each stream is, the more options you will have in life, including the “job optional” option which many crave for.

As of late, I am reading more blog posts and more importantly the comment chain that follows it where entrepreneurs have come out and openly said they have started businesses to achieve more freedom and flexibility, many of them taking a pay cut from their corporate salaries.

I am also seeing an increasing trend in discussions around semi retirements or early retirements and how starting a side business, particularly a passive one, is a great way to achieve that objective.

What I am also finding out is that for most of these entrepreneurs, starting a business did not give them the freedom they desire.  In fact, it demanded more of their time than their jobs did.  Oops.  But wait.  Many of these entrepreneurs were perfectly fine with that.  Let’s have a look at one such reason I’ve be able to scour.

Freedom of Choice and Self Expression

Although starting a business may not have brought the freedom many desired, a common underlying theme amongst those that commented highlighted the fact that your own business allows you the freedom of choice and self expression.  I can related to this, but what does it mean?

It means that you are your own boss and you can write the rules of the game.  Whether or not you agreed with your ex company’s philosophy of doing business, you can instill your own personal philosophies in your business.  You decide what to do and how to do it.  More importantly, you decide what business you want to get into.

When I first left the corporate world, I had a big feeling of relief inside me.  I realized that I was no longer subject to a figurehead making decisions I may or may not agree with and without my input, or what was good or bad for my clients.  My fate no longer depended on some bald headed and out of shape executive who I never met.  As good and lucrative as Corporate America can be for some (including me), these are just some facets that I don’t like.

Owning and running your own show gives you the freedom to express yourself and implement your philosophies in your business.  And what I have realized over the years that I have been side gigging parallel to a successful corporate career is that you don’t have to have a full time business to enjoy these rewards.

Even a side business can bring you the same benefits as owning your own full time business would.  If you absolutely hate how things are at work, this should give you more incentive to start a side business in your spare time.  The positive energy and experience you get from your part time endeavor is more than enough to overcome all the negative aspects of your day job.

You may not even need the money, and most readers of this blog do not.  Everyone is successful in their careers.  But what about self satisfaction and the freedom to express yourself?

That is precisely what a side business can help you achieve.  You may have to sacrifice some of your spare time in establishing your business, but the results more than compensate for the small sacrifice you have to make.  You will be happier, healthier, more enthusiastic and develop a more positive approach to life overall.

How and Where Do You Start?

The million dollar question is often “what to do”?

Remember the reasons why you are doing this.  This is your chance to start something YOU are truly passionate about, not your boss.  You will always have the opportunity in life to execute someone else’ vision, but rarely will you have a chance to shape up your own vision and execute it to.

Determine what you are most passionate about, and find a way to turn it into a business and make money from it. Although all businesses I have started to date have had profitability as the main objective, each business is in an area of personal interest.

It’s because of my interest in them that I am able to continue to push through, learn new things and implement ideas.  I doubt I could have continued with any one of them if I didn’t have the interest or if I lost it somewhere along the way.

So do you know what you love to do? Can you think of ways to turn that activity into a profit producing one?  Do you enjoy cooking?  Do you hate cooking but love to taste all kinds of food?  Or do you like Horse riding?  Everything is game, and most interests can be monetized.  Don’t be afraid to look inside and express yourself!

Find a Mentor

Once you have found a passion you want to pursue as a business, find yourself a mentor who can guide you along the way.  Mentors can come in all kinds of forms, from neighbors, friends, relatives, teachers, online gurus, business and life coaches to books, CDs, Videos and Blogs.

The key is to pick a person for advice or a system that you are most comfortable with and execute religiously.  With so much valuable information available for free online today, one can self train their way to entrepreneurship.  Though this path may take more time, trial and error, it is a possibility to consider if you cannot find or are unwilling to pay for a living and breathing mentor.

Don’t be afraid to get out there and attend events where you are likely to find successful and established individuals in the same field you are passionate about and want to get into.  Even if you don’t find a mentor, you will be able to develop relationships with others who have been there and done that.

This network will help you as you progress.  For example, you will have a go to group who you can occasionally bounce of questions off of.

Experiment During Nights and Weekends

I do not recommend that you quit your day job just because you have found your true passion and purpose in life.  Rather, keep the steady cash flow and start working on your business on the side during nights and weekends or as time permits.

Practical and first-hand experience is the best way to learn and realize whether this is what you indeed want to do.  Forget about making money in the initial few months.  Your focus should be to learn, implement and perfect your craft, and determine whether you are getting the satisfaction and contentment from doing so.  Ask yourself if you will feel the same months and years down the road?

Two things will come out of this exercise, both positive.  You will either realize that you hate what you are doing and exit quickly.  Or you may realize this experience has been the best thing that has ever happened to you, and you can envision yourself in this field forever doing bigger and better things.

Either way, you win.

You Don’t Need Money to Get Started

If financing is the reason you are not able to start, take comfort in knowing that unless you want to start an airline company, most other businesses are not too expensive to start.  Specifically, if you are going to be experimenting on the side, I do not recommend you dump a lot of investment capital into your idea to begin with.

With technological advances and easy to use tools readily available online, most businesses could be started on a relatively low budget.  You will need to invest time however, just as any other worthwhile endeavor would require.  It’s one of the best investments you can make on your self-development.

To conclude this post, I will say that starting a business CAN give you the freedom you desire, but that is not a given.  Whether you get that freedom depends on the type of business you start.  Many businesses however require a lot of physical involvement, time and effort.  However, there are many other benefits to working for yourself rather than for a boss – and the freedom of choice and self expression are just two of them.

What has been your motive to starting a business?  What has your experience been like?

Here are some benefits of starting a business even when you are fully employed.

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15 Responses to “Starting a Business Will Not Give You Freedom”

  1. Romeo says:

    Great post, Sunil.

    Like you have stated, one’s own business may give flexibility, but those businesses can turn into headaches. I have found even hobbies, like blogging, can sometimes be overwhelming.

    I talked to a realtor today who informed me that she sometimes questions the decision that she had made to go into business for herself. She maintained that sometimes it feels that it would be easier to simply work for her past real estate company, despite the lack of choice and flexibility.

    And then every once in a while I talk to owners of small businesses, and they too seem miserable. So yes, I agree that we should all set up some sort of independence from our day jobs, but no one should quit cold-turkey unless that have a source of continuous income to cover their expenses.

    • Sunil says:

      I think a lot of it also has to do with the fact that most people make emotionally charged decisions, based on the idea that the grass is always greener on the other side. What many fail to consider is that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side, but rather wherever you water and nourish it, and that can be the same side one is currently on.

  2. Janet says:

    Thank your for this long but very great post, Sunil. My motive to start an online business as an affiliate marketer was my 2 year old son. After his birth I decided to work in my old job as a teacher assistant but only part time. Though my husband has a job we don’t earn enough money. So I was looking for ways of earning money from home und stumbled upon affiliate marketing. Now I earn money with writing articles for a German article directory, as a blogger and affiliate marketer. I enjoy working online though I haven’t earned as much as to quit my job as a teacher assistant. But that doesn’t matter. I am still motivated to go on with the internet business.

    • Sunil says:

      Admirable of you to recognize and act upon the situation. It’s definitely easy to get started online, but as you are likely realizing it takes time to build your business and benefit from it in the way you had envisioned.

      Question for you – you mentioned a variety of ways to earn money online, but they all seem like opportunities where you are paid to complete certain tasks. In other words, when you stop working, you stop earning. Have you considered establishing something long term that is scalable and “passive” to some extent (whether online or off) ?

      • Janet says:

        It would be nice to establish something that is scalable or passive but at the moment I haven’t planned anything yet.

        Could you make a suggestion on how to make a business more passive when you are just a beginner to it?

  3. The time commitment of running one’s own business cannot be underrated. Entrpreneurship requires patience, diligence, and comitment. There is no activity that has all positives. Period. I really appreciate your generous spirit of sharing specifics of your business matrix.

  4. I see two approaches to starting a business that works:

    1. Work part-time on a business as you suggest; the aim is to create as much extra income as you can – invest as much of your combined income as possible into those “passive” investments (invest for any combination of income/capital growth … you will reinvest the income, anyway).

    2. ONLY leave FT employment to take that business (or any other that you may want to buy or start) full-time IF it can be started/built-up/sold for at least 20 times your desired annual income in retirement (don’t forget to take inflation into account). Now, for most businesses, that’s a very big target!

  5. Sunil says:

    AJC – I hear you and understand where you are getting at. Couple questions:

    1) As it pertains to #1 above, what are some of the investments you have been involved with and recommend?

    2) Where does the factor of 20 come from?

    I’ve read your 7 by 7 journey, and I think this blog’s readership can benefit from some of your thoughts.

    • 1) Great question! I invested any spare cashflow that I could scrounge up from my business (at the time, I was full-time, but not making much money) into real-estate: I started with one condo; bought 4 more; and – over time – bought my own office building!

      2) Factor of 20 says: pick a level of income that you think will sustain you. Multiply by 20. That’s how much lump sum you need to ‘drive’ that level of income. Sounds like a 5% withdrawal rate, but it’s more of a planning number as I would never advocate ANY withdrawal % as ‘safe’.

  6. Joe Smooth says:

    I want to start an airline company. Seems very lucrative.

  7. Evan says:

    I started my journey towards multiple streams of income because of the freedom you discuss (not the free time) but the freedom to choose which of those streams to shut off and when!

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