So it has finally happened folks. The talk is over. I have quit my job, my Christmas vacation is over, and I am back home with nothing standing between me and world domination. I can no longer say, “I’m ready to kick start my business, but…” The barriers are down and it’s all me from now on in.
Reality, Like A Punch In The Face
And boy does it feel like it. I only arrived back in England on Wednesday morning, but the reality of my situation is already crystal clear.
I don’t think you ever quite know how it feels to be totally exposed until you actually are. For me, emotions are currently ranging between mild panic and near-euphoric excitement. I have a feeling that keeping my emotions in check will be important.
Flying from east to west, I have no problems with jet lag whatsoever. I typically fly out in the early morning, catch an hour or two of sleep on the flight, and arrive in the USA in the early afternoon. Then it is just a case of staying awake until around 10pm, at which time I go to bed and have a fairly restful night’s sleep.
Unfortunately, the same level of acclimatisation cannot be said for west to east flights. It is always an overnight flight (that I get no sleep on), and the first day back is a hellish struggle to stay awake. If I do manage to stay awake, I can look forward to a solid 10 hours sleep.
But that doesn’t spell the end of my jet lag woes. The second night’s sleep is the killer. I say that from immediate experience – it is currently 2:18am, and I am wide awake. This does not bode well for my wakefulness tomorrow.
One other thing – it seems that leaving the States is more of a wrench every time I do it. It will be interesting to see how that affects the big decision of where I want to live in the future.
One thing that has hit me in the short time I have been back is just how important time management is going to be. I am planning to achieve a great deal, but my time will be limited, and extremely precious.
I have already decided that 2012 will be a year of discipline and goal-setting in all parts of my life, and time management will be no exception. Control over time spent on the “secondary” (i.e. not incoming producing) aspects of my business – emailing, social media, blog reading, and so on – will be key.
The Importance Of Balance
For any of you who have been keeping up with my plans, you will know that my number one priority is to establish an income that matches my outgoings. That goal takes precedence over everything – a cash flow negative business will rarely be in business for long.
The key will be in achieving a modicum of balance. I have set myself goals for a reason, and moaning that there aren’t enough hours in the day will not help my achieve them (quite the opposite).
I am certain that there will be many long days ahead, and I know that it will become hard at times to justify my more speculative endeavours. At that time, conquering my logical thought processes with leaps of faith will be vital. As they say – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
As you probably know, I promote pure transparency and honesty as the two key selling points of this blog. I use the word “pure” very deliberately, as I know of a lot of blogs out there who claim to be transparent and honest, but are in fact hiding ulterior motives.
So in the interest of transparency, I think it is only fair that you see my cash flow projection for the next three months:
As you can see, all things being well, I will not be sailing too close to the wind.
The two commission payouts from my previous job and the rent I get from my housemate will be an enormous help in what will be my most income-poor months. I will also receive a final commission payment in April.
As you can see, I am putting aside 30% for taxes. Given my fairly considerable expenditure in this financial year, my tax bill in April will probably be far smaller, but I don’t like nasty surprises.
My income estimates are very conservative – and that’s how I like it. Like I said – I hate nasty surprises. I am assuming that I will acquire no more freelance clients in the next 3 months and make no money from my authority and niche sites. As far as the cash flow is concerned, anything I do above my existing efforts will make a positive difference.
Given the relatively positive outlook that I read from my cash flow, I am comfortable with setting some money aside for my more speculative internet marketing endeavours. There will be more on that in the near future.
Room To Breathe
The most important thing that the cash flow shows me is that I have time.
I am currently reading Quitter by Jon Acuff (thanks for the suggestion Deacon!), in which he basically advises not to do what I am doing. Putting that amusing fact to one side, he states that one of the reasons you should not quit your job “early” is because you will be pressured into accepting low-paying jobs just to make ends meet.
However, my cash flow projection tells me that I don’t need to do that – although my savings are far from endless, I have quite a lot of room for manouveur in the short term. This goes back to the safety net principle I spoke about previously. I don’t even need to consider compromising my goals until April, so I can approach my work in the coming months with a highly positive outlook.
Confidence Is Key
My cash flow projection makes one more vital thing clear – I don’t need to panic. It is natural to think, “Shit – I have a mortgage and bills to pay, and my outgoings far outweigh my current income”. But I need to trust myself and my abilities.
One of the most common character traits of any successful entrepreneur is supreme confidence (bordering on arrogance, if you can get away with it) in one’s own ability. Nothing in life is guaranteed. All you can do is set goals, then hit them out of the park. That is what I plan to do.
Only Time Will Tell What The Future Holds
There is one more key takeaway from my first couple of days as a self-employed businessman – I will only get out what I put in.
My business is clearly divided into two areas – freelance writing and internet marketing. I am going to need to hammer away at both disciplines, knowing that there are no guarantees of success, but also knowing that there is certainly a guarantee of failure, if I don’t try. “Speculate to accumulate” is a well-worn phrase, but will apply well to my efforts.
Exciting times abound! Now to try and get some sleep…