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Entrepreneurship

This The Reason Why You Will Never Quit Your Job

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72% of us dream about living life on our own terms, escaping the day job, breaking down the cubicle walls and adventuring into business for ourselves. Since you’re reading this blog, I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that you are part of this overwhelming majority. I was too.

In late 2004, I was approaching 9 years at my job. I worked in a management position for the largest privately held corporation in Philadelphia. I was being compensated well with a 6-figure salary and benefits package.

I managed to make a 1 hour commute through traffic into the city in the morning.
I spent an average of 10 hours in the cube daily.
And then another 1 hour commute through traffic back out of the city in the evening.

50% of my life during the week was dedicated to growing someone else’s business.
33% of my life during the week was sleep; replenishing my energy to grow someone else’s business.

That left me with 17% of my life to split between my wife, my two young children, and myself.
I sold 83% of me so I could try and “live on my own terms” 17% of the time.

I was comfortable, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming about what it would look like to live life on my own terms 100%.

You know the dream. You reject the identity of being a cog in someone else’s wheel. There is something inside of you drawing you into a greater purpose… be still; listen.

The Search for Fulfillment

I enjoyed my work, my coworkers, my compensation and quite honestly it wasn’t a bad company to work for at all. I was young, and in a position to be groomed for higher responsibilities and next stages of leadership. My accomplishments and achievements for this company were something to be truly proud of. I was the youngest person in company history to ever be recognized by the President personally for an award. When times got tough for the company, and others were being laid off around me, my job remained. I was really very fortunate to be in the position that I was.

Yet, there was something very wrong. Something inside of me. There was an emptiness and a longing to enter into something bigger. I was completely unfulfilled. I felt underutilized, limited, and held back by corporate politics and ceilings of positional career growth. I had ambitions of offering my talents and strengths to the world outside of the limitations that I felt at the company.

Fulfillment to me didn’t look like a paycheck, or a benefits package, or a stable job, or a career path.

Fulfillment to me, was the pursuit of the dream. I didn’t really have a choice. I was compelled to respond to that spark inside that was calling me into something greater.

The Overwhelming Chasm

As I took inventory of my situation, this is what I saw:

  • Young family, dependent on me as “bread-winner”
  • Big house in the suburbs = big mortgage
  • Debt that we accumulated early on but were chipping away at
  • All savings invested in retirement plan
  • Limited extra time in the day to invest in building my dream
  • Early signs of an economy moving downward

The visual that I was left with was this huge gap between my dream, and my current situation. Imagine standing on the edge of one side of the Grand Canyon. If you’ve ever been there, you know the feeling… your heart skips a few beats and you find yourself breathless as you approach the edge. A massive chasm, very wide and very deep, standing between you and the other side.

The reason most of you will never quit your day job, statistically speaking, is because this chasm will always be insurmountable in your mind. Most of you will systematically attempt to eliminate each item on the list. Everyone’s list of challenges standing in the way is different, and the list is ever-changing with the ebbs and flows of life. In many cases, new items are added faster then you can remove them. It’s only natural for you to work toward eliminating all obstacles; narrowing the chasm so that in the end you can simply step across, without any risk at all.

After 6 months of deliberation, standing on the edge, heavily weighing my own chasm of obstacles, I came to a profound realization. If I’m ever going to go after the dream, and get to the other side, I must jump.

So I jumped.

A Big Shock: After Taking the Leap

We had a little bit of a parachute… some savings and some clients that would give us a bit of time before crashing to the ground.

But it wasn’t enough.

2 years after taking the leap, my family and I watched our house get foreclosed on, our cars get towed away, and our debts climb to unbearable heights. Our marriage was on the rocks… we were both suffering through heavy bouts of depression. We had crashed into the bottom of the canyon floor, and found ourselves completely broken.

If my story ended here, with my family and I in pieces on the ground after a long fall, I honestly do not believe I would be here to write this today. It is critical for you to understand how far we fell and how messed up things got as a result of our choice to jump. Without that perspective and understanding, you wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate what happened next.

You see, the shock wasn’t that we found ourselves crashing, and later picking up the pieces on the bottom floor.

The shock came as we started to piece our lives and ourselves back together… we stumbled upon a remarkable discovery. As we began to help each other up, and stand again, there was something very different about us. We were changed. We had wings. We could fly.

So we flew.

We experienced a wholeness as a family, and wholeness as individuals that we’ve never experienced before. The story that developed and grew out of our brokenness and our newfound ability to fly became a platform, and a place where we could help others. You see, that original dream that we so desperately wanted to reach was replaced with something greater. As we spread our wings and flew up above the canyon, we were able to see life from a new perspective, and were able to recognize that the original dream was too small. Inside of us, existed a new strength and power, an incredible flame, that rose out of our story. The flame has compelled us to inspire, and help people in the various stages of their own process of following their dreams.

It all starts with the spark.

Your Small Spark Can Change the World

My hope is that my story will not scare you from taking the jump into the chasm in your own life, but that it will inspire you into a realization that you have wings to fly. Everyone has their own journey, and yours will look different then mine. Doors will open and they will close. Some will need to be broken more than others, and some will learn how to fly before they reach the bottom.

The small spark inside of you is trying to get your attention. May you respond and allow it to grow into a flame that will compel you to step into your purpose and change the world around you.

_______________________

About the Author

This article was written by Jason from TRIBE.LY. Jason writes at TRIBE.LY, a blog about building tribes that can make positive change in the world.  He has a passion for helping people start TRIBES with ONE leader, ONE idea, and ONE community.  He believes that everyone has a spark within themselves that has the power to change lives and send positive ripples into the world. Jason had written this article for Paid to Exist, a web platform that contains resources on how you can achieve the financial and career independence through meaningful work. See more of Paid to Exist.

Entrepreneurship

What Kills A Startup

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1 – Being inflexible and not actively seeking or using customer feedback

Ignoring your users is a tried and true way to fail. Yes that sounds obvious but this was the #1 reason given for failure amongst the 32 startup failure post-mortems we analyzed. Tunnel vision and not gathering user feedback are fatal flaws for most startups. For instance, ecrowds, a web content management system company, said that “ We spent way too much time building it for ourselves and not getting feedback from prospects — it’s easy to get tunnel vision. I’d recommend not going more than two or three months from the initial start to getting in the hands of prospects that are truly objective.”

2 – Building a solution looking for a problem, i.e., not targeting a “market need”

Choosing to tackle problems that are interesting to solve rather than those that serve a market need was often cited as a reason for failure. Sure, you can build an app and see if it will stick, but knowing there is a market need upfront is a good thing. “Companies should tackle market problems not technical problems” according to the BricaBox founder. One of the main reasons BricaBox failed was because it was solving a technical problem. The founder states that, “While it’s good to scratch itches, it’s best to scratch those you share with the greater market. If you want to solve a technical problem, get a group together and do it as open source.”

3 – Not the right team

A diverse team with different skill sets was often cited as being critical to the success of a starti[ company. Failure post-mortems often lamented that “I wish we had a CTO from the start, or wished that the startup had “a founder that loved the business aspect of things”. In some cases, the founding team wished they had more checks and balances. As Nouncers founder stated, “This brings me back to the underlying problem I didn’t have a partner to balance me out and provide sanity checks for business and technology decisions made.” Wesabe founder also stated that he was the sole and quite stubborn decision maker for much of the enterprises life, and therefore he can blame no one but himself for the failures of Wesabe. Team deficiencies were given as a reason for startup failure almost 1/3 of the time.

4 – Poor Marketing

Knowing your target audience and knowing how to get their attention and convert them to leads and ultimately customers is one of the most important skills of a successful business. Yet, in almost 30% of failures, ineffective marketing was a primary cause of failure. Oftentimes, the inability to market was a function of founders who liked to code or build product but who didn’t relish the idea of promoting the product. The folks at Devver highlighted the need to find someone who enjoys creating and finding distribution channels and developing business relationship for the company as a key need that startups should ensure they fill.

5 – Ran out of cash

Money and time are finite and need to be allocated judiciously. The question of how should you spend your money was a frequent conundrum and reason for failure cited by failed startups. The decision on whether to spend significantly upfront to get the product off the group or develop gradually over time is a tough act to balance. The team at YouCastr cited money problems as the reason for failure but went on to highlight other reasons for shutting down vs. trying to raise more money writing:

The single biggest reason we are closing down (a common one) is running out of cash. Despite putting the company in an EXTREMELY lean position, generating revenue, and holding out as long as we could, we didn’t have the cash to keep going. The next few reasons shed more light as to why we chose to shut down instead of finding more cash.

The old saw was that more companies were killed by poor cashflow than anything else, but factors 1, 2 and 4 probably are the main contributing factors to that problem. No cash, no flow. The issue No 3 – the team – is interesting, as if I take that comment ” I didn’t have a partner to balance me out and provide sanity checks for business and technology decisions made” and think about some of the founders and startup CEOs I know, I can safely say that the main way that any decision was made was by agreeing with them – it was “my way or the highway”. I don’t therefore “buy” the team argument, I more buy the willingness of the key decision makers to change when things are not working (aka “pivoting” – point 9).

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About the Author

This article was produced by Broadsight. Broadsight is an attempt to build a business not just to consult to the emerging Broadband Media / Quadruple Play / Web 2.0 world, but to be structured according to its open principles. see more.

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Callum Connects

Jasmine Tan, Director of Stone Amperor

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Jasmine saves her clients time and effort when doing kitchen fit outs with her biz Stone Amperor.

What’s your story?
I started working in the industry in 2003. I was in a marble and granite supplier company for 5 years. Even though I left the company, I still had customers calling me for my services. I referred them back to my previous company but they refused to because they loved the fast response service that I offered. I realised that customers do look at prices, however most of them prefer quality over quantity. Thus I have decided to establish a sole proprietor company also known as 78 Degrees which later rebranded as Stone Amperor in 2014.

What excites you most about your industry?
The kitchen countertop industry is a very confusing market. There are many brands, materials and prices to choose from. What excites me the most is my ability to help clients choose the best materials and brands within their budgets, whilst saving them time and effort.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have been in Asia all my life and I love Asia. No matter where you go there is no place like home.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. This is because Singapore has always been a stable country and it is great for doing business. However as it is a small country, it can be really competitive. I believe that if just do your best and give your best to your customers, you can overcome this.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Take actions. Learn and improve continuously. An idea without action is just a dream.” This was really good advice that I received from my partner.

Who inspires you?
A very down to earth billionaire from Malaysia, Robert Kuok

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Property is the foundation of every business.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Own instead of renting property for my business.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy going shopping, watching movies and hanging out with friends. I am quite a simple being.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love going to Taiwan as I love the culture there. Everyone is so polite and the weather is great.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Sun Tzu, Art of war

Shameless plug for your business:
Perfect top, Perfect price, Perfect life from Stone Amperor

How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@StoneAmperor

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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