So like many of you I have a JOB! Yes, I do own a consulting business in the digital marketing and analytics space (which I shut down so I can put more focus and attention on this blog), but I also have a day job in Finance. And before I ever had a business (I have had several), I had always thought of myself as an EMPLOYEE and had aspired to one day own my own business and break away from working for “THE MAN.”
At least that was how I looked at things until I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie, who provided me with a whole new framework. One weekend, at a conference for a previous employer, I got the opportunity to have breakfast with a good friend in the industry. We were unexpectedly joined by one of his fellow co-workers (our pal Charlie) that I had met previously, but hadn’t had the opportunity of spending much time getting to know.
That day I got to be a sponge and learn a lesson from Charlie. I now believe that everyone owns their own business and I am going to explain this in just a second. This is true even if you don’t have a side business like I do. Yes, you heard me correct even if you don’t “OWN” your own business and you work for someone else that pays your salary, you still run your own business.
Let’s take a look at how this could be TRUE!
The Business of YOU
First let’s define what the primary objective is in any business…I can sum that up in one word…PROFITS!!! But in order for a business to be profitable they have to find a way to bring revenue into the business in an amount that exceeds expenses.
The simple formula is: Revenue – Expenses = Profits
As an individual, this isn’t any different. We have the same objective when we seek employment, we are looking for a way to bring income into the “household” to cover expenses and hopefully more, so that we can save and do other things beyond simple existence. When you get hired by a company, you are selling them your services in return for a salary or hourly wage. You might even be entitled to a bonus or commissions.
How is this any different from a business selling its services to bring in revenue? Of course there are less tax advantages on W-2 income vs. 1099 or other forms of business income, but mechanically it is the same. A business provides a service and they get paid. You provide a service and…..YOU GET PAID!
The company you work for is essentially just a client (albeit a really big one, especially if it’s your only source of income). And for most, every year you have an opportunity to go over the services you have provided to your client, address any concerns they/you may have, and also offer additional services that the client may be willing to pay more for (in the form of an annual review and raise). But you already know how this relationship works, right?
You see this is where most people stop and wish they could be self-employed or own a business. They don’t recognize that they already own their own “BUSINESS.” I will be the first to admit that it may not be your dream business where you get to run the show all the time. However, it will provide you with the means (cash-flow) to live and work to diversify your income, and maybe if desired, replace this income stream entirely.
What most people miss is the fact that businesses go out and find other income streams by adding additional services to existing customers, find new customers, invest in JV’s, etc…(Did you just have an “AH HAH” moment as this starts to click in your brain?!)
If you are married then another source of income may be the income your significant other brings into the household. Or think of it like this – you open up another “Division” of your company when you get married.
Other Possible Divisions
- Maybe it is a Health and Fitness Company
- Maybe you are really into fashion and so you decide to start a clothing line.
- Or maybe you are really good at finances (wink wink), so you start to offer financial coaching to help people get their finances in order.
- Maybe you are really knowledgeable about a certain topic and decide to start a blog and monetize it through advertisements, affiliate links, and/or your own digital product(s).
- Or maybe you decide you want to invest and have your money work for you and buy an investment property or dividend paying stocks.
The list is only restricted by your imagination. And you can do many of these simultaneously.
Are you starting to get it?
The point I am trying to make is
You need to re-frame the way you view your job (business). Like you, I want the freedom to own my dream business. I want to have absolute autonomy over my life. I want to choose what I work on, when I work, and where I work from. And for some, this is an easy decision to leave formal employment and start a business.
But I think for a lot of people (including myself) I would advise you to keep your day job, your cash cow business, and work on your dream as a side hustle until it can become your main hustle. I’m really suggesting that you travel down two separate paths until you are sure that you are ready to fire your employer (your client).
This allows you to reduce the stress and risk of going off on your own. It also allows you to build up a runway in the form of savings for that fateful day when you tell your client that you will no longer be providing your services to them. After all, it is at will employment. You can fire them just as easy as they could fire you.
What does this look like in real life?
Let’s take a look at my own life and use my household as an example.
Income Stream #1: I provide my services in corporate finance. My client (employer) pays me to provide my services. The revenue I receive is in the form of a salary and bonus.
Income Stream #2: My wife is employed in real estate providing escrow services. She gets paid for her expertise and services in helping facilitate real estate transactions, also in the form of a salary + commission.
Income Stream #3 : I own a consulting business. My clients pay me an agreed upon upfront fee + revenue sharing based on my efforts to grow their online business. By the time you are reading this post this income stream will be shut down (was closed 2/28/15).
Income Stream #4: We own an investment condo. We get paid monthly rent from our tenant.
Income Stream #5: We own some 12-month CD’s paying 3% interest.
Income Stream #6: We own dividend paying stocks. Most of these are in retirement accounts, but it is still helping to build our financial future and future income streams.
Income Stream #7: My wife is a mobile notary and brings in extra income from this side business.
Income Stream #8: This blog can now be included as an additional income stream (we have officially earned our first $300 online).
Now don’t get me wrong, not all the income streams are equal and income stream #4 is still just a break even business (from a cash-flow perspective, but we are building positive net worth in the form of equity).
We are still at a place where the service our household provides, for the companies that pay our salaries, is much larger than the other income streams. But as we continue to grow our other income streams that will not always be the case. We have plans to add a 2nd investment property sometime in the next 6-12 months (actually we decided to go with Rich Uncles Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust).
Some may still argue that being employed is not a business. And by the technical definition, they may be right, but I will still argue that mechanically they are the same. When you set up multiple streams of income you get to decide which ones to focus on, grow, and eventually pull out of income streams that you no longer think are a good fit for your business (i.e. quit your job).
The Take Away
The sooner you realize the fact that you are already running a business, the sooner you are going to grow your business by leaps and bounds (developing multiple streams of income). Remember that just as a company can fire you at will, as the service provider you have the same option. Your employer is nothing more than a CLIENT. If you don’t like the terms of your current set up, then go to the negotiating table!
The more value you add, the more negotiating power you have. And if at any point you don’t think it is a good fit anymore, then fire your client. In the meantime use that main stream of income to grow other areas of your BUSINESS (the business of YOU).
I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing and sharing it with you.
I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.
– Gen Y Finance Guy
p.s. Two books you should check out are Linchpin by Seth Godin and Startup of You by Reid Hoffman. These two books will help you shift your mindset to maximize your full potential. They really changed my life.
The timing of the article is perfect. All weekend long i have been thinking on running my own business, to find a way to start living my dream life. In fact, the answer might be more easy indeed… I need to look at life now as already a business. It just needs diversification.
One way to move forward could be to start investing in bevoming a personal fiance coach. This might be difficult, given my current employer.
I will also take a look at the books. Sounds lie a good investment of my time.
Thx for keeping the thoughts running
Hi Amber Tree,
Glad this post found you at the right time. I love when that happens.
Keep me posted.
CD with 3% interest? From where? Best I’ve seen in recent years barely tops 1%. I’d love to get in on that :-)
Hey D*Rock, Navy Federal Credit Union is offering 3% CD’s.
That’s a nice way to put it. On the other hand, you need focus on do really well at developing those alternative income streams.
If you create your alternative income streams in areas you are competent however, you can leverage knowledge, time and reduce effort. For example, if you are a lawyer, you will earn money from your job. You can then write a blog/book about the law (small niche audience, but could earn money). You might also use your knowledge to find special situations – foreclosed properties before everyone else etc.
So true DGI!
Great post! I definitely need to stop procrastinating and work on building my brand/business and my alternative revenue streams.
Glad I could add a little motivation. You got this!
Thanks for the post. Very good inspiration. I’m still at the point where I’m working too much to have side-businesses, but maybe in the future! Good luck with yours.
Thank you Professor! Don’t forget you blog as a side-business. If you stay consistent and in it for the long term that ad revenue can turn into something.
I like this perspective GYFG. A business that is serious about growing wouldn’t just kill off it’s core operations (salary) just to try and start something new- it would test it, grow it, until the original core operations became non-core. I’ve been seduced by the idea of ‘throwing it all in’ occasionally to start something new, but that’s not how a real business should be run. And of course, don’t forget you have other stakeholders to consider too!
Love you extension of the analogy Jason.
“And of course, don’t forget you have other stakeholders to consider too!”
Yep, there is always the wife and kids if you have them…I don’t have any kids but I do have two dogs.
I think running a small business is becoming increasingly difficult these days. There are no new industries (this isn’t the 1990s), so many people just keep looking for opportunities in existing industries (e.g. the internet). What ends up happening is that small business profits get driven down because there are so many more competitors.
Thanks for the comment Tony.
I respectfully disagree. I think there is still plenty of opportunity, especially online. The internet is allowing small businesses to get smaller. It breaking down barriers to entry. New industries are the toughest place to find success. There are something like 2-3 Billion people online today and it’s estimated to increase to 5 Billion by 2020. The pie is still expanding.
Plus you have to remember that like it or not, most people won’t be willing to put in the necessary work to build a thriving business.
These days an internet business has minimal overhead and can survive off of 1,000 true fans.
The opportunities are endless my friend.
Great post. I definitely learned my lesson when I fired my one and only client over 10 years ago. Right now, my job is an angel investor in my business. My immediate goal is to add another source of income.
Right on Shimeka!
I know you will do what ever it takes to make it happen. You are off to a fantastic start.
This is great! Re-thinking your job (“business”) is a wonderful analogy. Oftentimes, people fall into the trap of feeling powerless, stuck, or as if their earning potential is limited. You have the potential to negotiate, or decide whether that income stream is right for you any more. Building your brand and what you can contribute is important. Working on side businesses/creating additional income streams can also add to your value at your job as well. Giving more power to the negotiation table!
Glad you enjoyed it Alyssa.
This is a great mindset shift whether you plan to stay in your chosen job and/or career or if you plan to eventually grow the side hustle into the main hustle.
Definitely a great perspective that you have brought into light here. The moment that you stop looking at your job as something that you do everyday and actually own it productivity will definitely be improved.
Completely agree that we run our own business & we’re also salespeople whether we’re in sales or not right?
It’s then up to us how long or little we want to work & how we can then get most efficient with the way we spend our time & cash to have an army of $$ out to work for us..
Cool post & kudos to you for always learning Dom!
Absolutely Jef, we all have to do some form of sales in our lives.