Freedom of time, money and location.
I was lucky enough that I started my adult life with a screw you fund. Let’s call it a little bag of cash that allowed me to think twice before saying yes to every job opportunity. Now at some point, I realized that that fund wouldn’t last forever unless I create a way to resupply it constantly. Sure one option is a regular job. But in the long run, I needed/wanted an alternative.
I figured that to achieve the full freedom of time, money, and location that I decided I would have to build a freedom business. A business that can be operated from anywhere, at anytime with minimal amount of time. Sounds like utopia? Maybe but apparently, this approach works for a lot of people.
If it can be done, why is not everyone doing it? Well, not everyone is willing to ask:
Is there a better way?
Yes, as long as you are willing to challenge the status quo. There are alternatives. Though they require learning and investment of time. Not necessarily money. In fact, I would argue that to make it work in the long run bootstrapping with as little money as possible is a better way to go. More entrepreneurial ;)
But can I just start with the freedom business full time? I’m personally not willing to take that risk. Though I could probably still afford it. I’m lucky enough that my education doesn’t force me to spend all my time looking for the next job. I can thus focus on how to go a step beyond. After some digging, I noticed that most of the success stories followed something like this:
In theory, all of this sounds easy. I’ll admit that I’ve been hammering at it for a while and didn’t get far. It doesn’t really help that I live in my abstract world, where I imagine those fancy ideas that nobody would want to buy. But I argue that I’m trying — one step at a time.
I began my journey through a startup course in February 2017. In the first try, I worked on someone else’s idea to create a finance management app. Then in May, the team had decided to kick me out. Ouch. Four months of my work and inputs went up in flames. Now that I look back, I’m glad I was kicked off the team. The idea was a dead-end anyway.
Before the final course pitches in June, I came up with another idea. A hub for explanations of scientific articles. I pitched the idea. Another disaster that would not work because nobody will pay for it. Anyway, I learned quite a few lessons. Most valuable one:
You’re not solving big enough of a problem.
Try number three. From 2018 to 2019, I assembled a team of three. We actually tested our product for a few months ourselves. Then finally figured how we can test a dummy prototype with users. Believe it or not, excel sheets were more than enough. Result? OK, not gonna work, and similar products already exist. Thank god we tested the product before building the whole codebase. We didn’t have an idea about where to go next, so we broke the team off. Lesson?
Get the idea to the user’s hands immediately. Not after one year of “development”.
Going along the journey of the startup tries, I kept reading books. If fact, a lot of them since I managed to watch fewer movies somehow. Anyway, I realized that I needed to ask my self:
What are my motives for the business? What values should my business live by?
I realized that I wanted to have a business that gives me freedom. Period. Since I never jump into the cold water before considering my options, I spent some time thinking about what kind of business I wanted to run. After all the books I read and the things I tried, a philosophy is starting to form.
So I ramped up my writing up a notch. I started writing about things I’m passionate about and know a lot. Coding, self growth and travel. Via those topics, I can share my knowledge of software development, data science, writing, photography, … Most importantly, I share my experiences.
I try to build an audience by supplying them with value. In exchange, the audience allows me to bounce around ideas and see what’s popular. I train my creative muscles and learn how to get noticed on the web. Maybe I get somewhere. We’ll see. In any way, I learn something :)
I decided to work on the Freedom business as a team of one. Try to build assets, business relationships, and audience. My biggest blind spot to this day is still marketing, and the customer is the king. I come from STEM, after all. Coding and physics is the easy part here
I want to share my learnings from the journey. I learned a ton from the journeys of others. So I want to give back to the community. Sure I’ll repeat myself and say things others said before. Maybe someone will listen and find things useful. Next week I’ll cover:
Why Team of one?