It was 2016 and the end of my first year in business. I had mixed feelings as I reviewed my annual accounts.
The goal had been simple – to survive.
On that front, things felt good. I’d built a small base of retained clients and managed to make a modest profit.
What I didn’t feel so good about was the amount of effort I had to put in for what felt at the time like little reward.
At the back of my mind was a nagging doubt. Was going all-in the right decision?
The side hustle
In the run up to launching my company some family and friends had suggested taking a cautious approach – what Americans have termed the side hustle.
Essentially, enjoy the security of the day job, build the business over evenings and weekends, then take the plunge when it looks safe.
Makes sense on face value, doesn’t it?
At least it did to me. But in my gut, it didn’t feel quite right.
So I quit my job, stepped into the unknown and committed to making the company work.
All-in pays off
The returns came in year two.
By the end of my second year my retained client base had grown four-fold.
The only thing that hadn’t grown was the amount of time I was spending on the business.
This remained pretty much the same throughout.
What explains the growth?
Consistent and focused effort, compounding over a short space of time.
Numbers don't lie
If you’ve got a pension, you’re likely to have seen a projection of your savings over time.
Every time interest is paid, it’s paid on your contributions as well as the accumulated interest.
That’s why the amount of money you start with and the amount you regularly contribute has a big impact on the final balance.
Side hustling is the equivalent of starting with no lump sum and only ever making small contributions.
Will it add up to something? Yes.
Will it add up to much? Possibly, but it could take a very long time.
Taking out insurance
Committing to going all in is stacking the odds in your favour.
Time is on your side and you’re devoting the best hours of your day to yourself.
Compared to side hustling you’re already ahead of the game, but it doesn’t hurt to have insurance.
Here are some steps I took to maximise the upside whilst minimising the risk I was taking on.
- Living Costs: Before leaving my job, I began cutting my day to day living costs, lowering the level of minimum income required to survive my first 12 months.
- Savings: As my living costs came down it became easier to save. I set a goal of having enough money in savings to get me through at least 6 months of no income.
- Last Resort: Remain employable. Should all else fail, the final fall back of returning to employment is an option. Or it should be – don’t leave your job in a fashion that jeopardises it.
That first big decision is just the beginning.
Over the years I've spent working with business owners, I've observed a key difference in the way the most successful operate compared to the rest.
They continue to commit fully to their chosen courses of action time and time again.
The rest? They straddle, keeping a foot in both camps, playing it safe and never really getting where they want to be, or even knowing where that is.
Let's decide what we really want, put our full force behind achieving it, and see where it takes us.