Part 1: On the “right” path 🤓📚
Each of us has our own unique story. We are all on the proverbial road headed somewhere. From what I can tell though, generally there are three common types of people on the path of life:
- People who seem to know, often from a young age, where they are going and march along with a sense of purpose and direction
- People who feel completely lost about what they are supposed to be doing and are uncertain where the path is headed
- People who fall somewhere in the middle. They think if they work hard and keep putting one foot in front of the other they’ll end up on the right path and ultimately get where they are supposed to be going
For much of my life I’ve most closely identify with that last person. I’m was busy marching somewhere and was pretty sure when I got to my destination it would be awesome.
If you asked the 18 year old me the secret to success here is what I would have said:
- Get decent grades in high school
- Get a degree from a college or university
- Get a cool job and start earning money
- Get an amazing life partner
- Get a promotion. Earn more money
- Get the happy life that is implicitly promised 😉
Obviously there are many other paths to success but the above is a rough outline what I would have said the right path was back then.
And guess what? For the next many years I pretty much attempted to follow that path. And it all worked out reasonably well except for one small thing. It was that whole happy life part… if I followed the right path why was I not feeling a wee bit happier about the whole thing? How could I have all this stuff and a ‘looks cool on my LinkedIn page‘ job and not be happier about the whole thing? Why am I so stressed all the time? And why do I have hardly any money in my bank account?!?
Part 2: I have to do this for how many more years?!? 😬❓
The interesting thing about following the “right path” is that you can be both “successful” and completely aimless at the same time. That was me.
Growing up I never knew what I wanted to do. I didn’t even know how to figure out what I wanted to do. And once I entered the job world I realized, to my surprise and dismay, that I didn’t like what I was doing. Worse, I didn’t know how to make a change. I thought with time I’d find my niche but on the whole working at big companies thing left me feeling like a round peg in a square hole. It didn’t feel good.
I also had never learned much about personal finance or building wealth. I wasn’t saving or investing much of anything. So while I had a good job I also was spending a large portion of my pay. It’s not like I was eating avocado toast for every meal but I had a decent apartment, a car that worked, and money to eat out from time to time. For reasons I couldn’t understand at the time, although I was successful with this great job I had very little money left over at the end of the day. I got into this vicious cycle of earn > spend > earn.
So here I was a few years into the working world with no material savings, a job I didn’t like but needed, and no way clear idea on how to extricate myself from the situation. It felt like I was running on a treadmill that was going just a bit faster than I could run and pretty soon I thought I’d fall off 🏃
What really messed with my head was that I followed the supposed “right path”. I remember feeling those feelings and doing the math and thinking “I have to do this for how many more years!?! No way, I can’t do it.” The thought of a few more decades sitting in a cube was depressing but finally caused me to make a change.
I know some of you are playing a tiny violin for me. 🎻 And probably justifiably so; I was lucky to have been born a white guy in the US who went to college and got a decent paying job. I can hear lots of you saying I should just have been happy to have a good job. Pull up your big boy pants and stop complaining dude! I get it. And you’re not wrong.
But I would challenge anyone to spend, over the course of multiple years, the majority of your waking hours doing work that deep down you find largely unfulfilling and devoid of meaning. It doesn’t feel good. I suspect most people would be looking for a way to make a change.
But how do you break the cycle and make a change?
Part 3: Running my own race. 🏃 How $5,000 and a $300 Chromebook turned into a MILLION DOLLAR business 💻💲
Two big switches flipped in my head at some point in my 30’s 💡
- I learned about the FIRE movement. For those that don’t know, FIRE is an acronym for Financial Independence, Retire Early. There are different variations of FIRE but the cliff notes version is you cut way back on your lifestyle, invest your money, achieve financial independence, and retire early so you can use your time on earth the way you see fit. I found the whole concept pretty mind blowing and learned as much as I could about it.
- I realized that I needed to take some action to generate more income. I wasn’t going to last in my corporate job over the long haul and needed to find a way out. Based on my skills and interests I though starting a business would be a good fit.
Starting and Building My Business
I started my e-com business with $5,000 and my $300 Chromebook. I was still working my regular day job so it was a nights and weekends side-hustle at the start. I remember the feeling equal parts scared and excited.
I had an idea on my head for a logo and drew it on a piece of scratch paper and hired a freelancer to make it on Fiverr. Total cost of my logo? $5 dollars! At the start you have no choice but to be scrappy.
I found a supplier and ordered almost $5,000 worth of product. I had all the inventory in my garage at the start and had family help label everything. So many boxes and pallets everywhere but we got through it all and everything looked good.
Now there was just one thing left to do… sell the product!!!
Wow… it’s actually working?!?
My business officially started in July of 2016. Here were my sales numbers for the first few months:
- July: $3k
- August: $9k
- September: $4k
- October: $8k
- November: $19k
Then December hit and I was totally blown away with our sales 😲
It was hard make sense of things in my head. Wait… this little business I just started with my $5 logo just sold $90,000 worth of product in one month?!? It was beyond anything I could have imagined and made me realize that I had a real business on my hands.
Over the course of the next few years some exciting stuff happened:
- We had a baby
- I left my corporate job
- I traveled to China
- We became the top selling brand on Amazon in our category
- Sales kept going up up up
The interesting thing I noticed along the way was that I LOVED working on the business. Time would fly by. I could talk about it for hours. It was just plain fun. These feelings were something I never felt when working any past job. Another cool thing was that the online business allowed me flexibility to help care for our son. It was just me and my laptop and I could work while he napped or at night.
Part 4: Selling my business ✅⚡
Fast forward to three years from launching my business. Our sales continued to grow and the business was something people were interested in buying it. The concept of someone selling the business took some time to wrap my head around. On one hand this business was my other baby. I loved running the business. It made me really happy. But on the other hand we had a toddler at home and selling the business would provide our family with some major financial security. There were a lot of mixed emotions. 😬
At the end of the day decided that the financial security was too hard to pass up. I sold the business to a group of private investors and turned over the keys to them. It was hard to let it go but I felt really good about the buyers and knew they would continue to do amazing things with the business.
NOTE: If you are interested in starting an online Amazon FBA business like the one I started check out this article to learn more.
Part 5: I wish I knew then what I know now 🏫
“When you run your own race do not worry about the next person’s pace, mind yours, after all this is your own race not theirs”
I spent many years “running someone elses’ race” and let me tell you, it didn’t lead to happiness or wealth! I was making choices and doing things in life that weren’t really “me”. I kept a job where I felt like a square peg in a round hole. I spent money in ways that weren’t really in line with my values. I felt like I was competing with my peers when in reality I was only competing with myself. It took time but eventually I learned to understand and define my own version of success.
Even if my earnings were half of what I was making at my day job I would have been much happier with my little business. It just felt like the right fit.
A couple lessons I learned along the way:
- The internet can teach you so much about starting a business. Everything I learned was from podcasts, Facebook groups, YouTube videos, and online forums. Very little was what I learned at university or my job. Use this amazing and free resource.
- When you create something it is common for self-doubt to creep in. I remember all sorts of internal dialogue when I was starting my business. “This is a dumb idea, you’re going to lose all the money, why do you think you are qualified to do this, etc“. Recognize these self-doubts are a normal part of taking a risk.
- Take action even if it’s not perfect. It turns out actually doing stuff is pretty important. On a prior failed business I spent hours and hours over-analyzing every little minor detail. That business never got off the ground. Take action and keep moving forward; you can always improve things later on.
- Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Taking smart risks and betting on yourself can feel scary but have results that can surpass your wildest dreams. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your comfort zone.
Part 6: Starting WealthFam 😃💵👨👩👦
Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing. – Miles Davis
Time & Freedom
In my book happiness is the only true measure of success. If you end up rich and unhappy are you really “successful” in the grand scheme of things?
A blog site like this allows us time, freedom, purpose, and hopefully lots of happiness. We can write when we want to write and write about topics that interest us. Plus there is incredible earning potential with top blogs earning .
Sidenote: If you’re interested in starting a blog site check out our how to start a blog article here. You can blog about whatever interests you and have some seriously awesome income potential. The main cost at the start is your time as you can get rolling for under $100. Seriously start a blog!
So what is WealthFam and who might be interested in checking it out?
What is WealthFam?
- A place to help our readers reach their financial goals
- A place to take a supposedly boring or complex topic like personal finance and make it interesting, easily-understandable, and educational
- A place to record our personal progress and keep us accountable to our financial and life goals
- A place to share financial, career, and parenting successes and failures we and other fam members have had in hopes it may help our readers
Who are WealthFam Readers?
- People interested in making extra money via a side hustle
- People who want to quit their job and start a business
- People who want to become financially independent and/or retire early (FIRE)
- People who want to learn how to be smart about their money as it intersects with major life events like marriage, buying a house, or having a child
- People interested in parenting (especially as it relates to raising money smart kids)
Why Create a Personal Finance Site?
There are two big reasons our site is primarily about personal finance and starting businesses.
- First, we are total personal finance nerds and we couldn’t find many resources that felt like they spoke to us. Some websites were super technical and serious, others seemed a bit scammy, and others just plain had incorrect information. We are reasonably entrepreneurial people so we thought why not, let’s try to build a site that we’d actually want to read.
- The other big reason is the unfortunate gap in financial literacy education that our schools and society prepare us for. For many of us the only financial education we receive is at home. If the stated goal of our education system is to prepare well-rounded, productive, and intelligent graduates ready to tackle the real world wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to include mandatory curriculum around personal finance?
We’ve experienced being a student, working an office job, starting a business, selling a business, being first time home buyers, managing money when starting a family, and lots more. Because of these experiences we’ve learned some lessons the hard way so hopefully by sharing our story we can help you in your journey.
Eek this is scary!
I have to confess I feel more than a bit self-conscious about the whole endeavor. Why?
Well first, I’m afraid you will perceive me as thinking I’m some sort of know-it-all when it comes to money, business, or parenting. Let me assure you that isn’t true. The truth is the more I learn, the more I realize how much there still is to learn. There are other helpful websites that discuss personal finance and business topics and I hope you check them out as well in your quest to find what works best for you.
Second, it is really scary to put yourself out there. When I started my prior business, it was largely done without my name or face attached to it. Building a personal finance site is so much more personal and the feeling of vulnerability it causes is scary. I hope you all will be kind to me 😊
I hope this gives you a sense for who we are and what WealthFam is all about. If anything you read resonated with you please drop a comment or shoot me a note. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading and for your support. I wish the best of luck on your wealth building journey!
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