Make a thing. Add Buy button. Tell people.
If you have the entrepreneurial itch but don't have the financial security to back up the risk, becoming a bootstrapped micropreneur is a great first choice.
Start your business on the side, and once its revenue is high enough to live on, make the jump. It's slower than a funded startup, but it’s a lot less risky.
Sure, it comes with a social opportunity cost (long nights and weekends), but so does a startup. People say startups are a way to compress your whole working life into a few years.
If your sidehustle does well, you can later leverage it to fund your big startup idea. Or, hell, live a good life on a lifestyle business making a few hundred thousand per year.
$150k/year revenue won't get you any headlines, but it's plenty to live on and run a solo business.
Get to $500k/year, and you have a higher expected ROI over N years than any startup founder.
Think about it. A digital business can have almost infinite margins. Once you build the thing, your only expenses are marketing, support, a few SaaS services, and a helping hand or two.
What if you made $500k/year in revenue, and $400k of it was pure margin? $400k of cold hard cash, just for you, every year. How happy would you be?
What about if you made $1,000,000,000/year in revenue, had 10,000 employees, 20 board members, a $200k salary, and $500,000,000 of imaginary money you can't turn into cash (stock). Would that make you happy?
My sidehustle is a combination of books and teaching. I'm experimenting with coaching, and a company is sponsoring my React Native writing on a cobranded blog/YT channel.
I publish monthly breakdowns, and that lists all revenue streams and expenses.
Midpoint of year, sidehustle revenue exactly as much as all of last year. #ontrack 💪🏼— Swizec Teller (@Swizec) July 17, 2017
Expenses come down to about $2000/month, and I'm well on track to make around $50k this year. That's with about 60 hours per month of active work.
If I didn't insist on living in SF, I could have a very cushy life back in Slovenia. $24k expenses, $24k personal salary. Average salary in Ljubljana – my hometown – is $25k. For people who work 160 hours per month 😉
I never had an official mentor, but plenty of people helped and nudged me in the right direction and answered my questions. You can find most of them on the internets.
It all boils down to this: Make things. Add "Pay For Thing" button. Tell people.
I started with following Ramit Sethi's emails for a few years (he's great to drive home the point that yes you do deserve to get paid), then Brennan Dunn's emails and content (he's great for "you totes can make shitloads"), then Nathan Barry's book Authority which is great for "Here are concrete steps to start making bank", and I went to Dunn's DYFConf which is like a baby MicroConf (to which I want to go, but still haven't), oh and of course I listened to all mp3s of all past talks from MicroConf. Patio11's writings helped a lot as well. I used Bryan Harris stuff for ideas on growing an audience, and Kai Davis is great for being a cheerleader and giving good ideas on positioning and writing.
Somehow I got invited to the Slack group where many of these micropreneur/microconf celebrities hang out and that's been superb as well. Much inspiration, many great ideas.
Oh and I used Ken Wallace's MastermindJam to join a mastermind of likeminded peers. That helps with keeping you accountable and shipping stuff.
I also used Amy Hoy's 30x500, but I bought that too late (or too early, hard to say) and it didn't help super much. I should revisit.
Pieter Levels' twitter stream is also a huge bundle of inspiration.
But really Patio11's tweetstorm says it best:
You don't need a mentor to start a business. You don't need a mentor to learn a new programming language. You can just straight-up do these.— Patrick McKenzie (@patio11) July 19, 2017
Make something. Charge for it. Congratz, you're a business.
This post first appeared as a thread on HackerNews
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
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