Got a question from a reader recently. Paraphrasing, he went into business enthusiastically about a year ago, and he's made only a few thousand dollars in business profit, and is considerably negative considering his personal expenses. He'd expected to be successful already, is feeling burnt out, and was asking for some perspective. He's my reply --
It's normal. I heard a quote recently -- in business, expect to lose money for the first two years, make your money back the next two years, and make real money after that. There's something to that.
Life's a long game. If you're burnt out, it might make sense to do something else for a while to stabilize. But when you go into business, you need runway and persistence and expect to endure for 2+ years to make things work. Overnight success is not the norm at all. There's too many skills that need to be acquired, and you're competing against individuals with 10 to 20+ years of experience, and conglomerates with literally decades (occasionally centuries) of cultural/institutional experience at distribution, marketing, sales, etc.
If you're feeling driven still, plan to stick with it for years more. If not, stabilize by doing something else. Next time you get into the game, plan to have at least a year where you can burn down savings (or otherwise get funding, but personal debt is probably a bad idea for it), or have a partial/part-time income source, and expect to maybe have even a second rough year after the 1st and be ready for it.
When you do get started seriously and full-time, block out standard working hours and follow them religiously. I'd recommend 50+ hours per week for as long as you can handle it, and then maybe scale down if burnout comes on or the hours aren't used well. Doing all this gives you a reasonable chance to have big successes somewhere in years 3-5. It sucks while it's happening, but afterwards you'll look upon it fondly.
This is so true. I am at the 8 month mark in my startup and tentatively seeing signs of a turnaround, but it's been a rough ride. I really grok all those burnout/depression posts on HackerNews now.
Edit: I gave up on financial goals in late 2011 after some huge financial and artistic wins... money shouldn't be taken too seriously. For the record, they were all basically on track, some were being massively exceeded, others were a bit behind schedule, but were all happening.
I set my next 10 years of financial goals on June 28th. That was exactly a month ago.
1 year - Critical Thinking [my first book] out. Blog income trickling. Some info products. Some freelancing. Something else, some X-Factor thing bringing in cash. Net monthly income positive. Health insurance. $50,000 in the bank. Expenses = income per month minimum.
3 years - 3 to 5 books out, many products out, blog income robust, some working on big exciting deals. $10,000 per month total, $5000 passive at least. First property owned. $300,000 in the bank.
5 years - 7-10 books out, many many products out, many passive income internet properties, working on big exciting things, $50,000 per month total, $40,000 passive at least. $1,000,000 in the bank.
I've been saying that college is obsolete for a very long time. I dropped out in 2000, because even back then I could see that it was a really poor value proposition. I didn't predict this because I'm some crazy genius, but because I'm willing to discard emotional attachment and stare plainly at the facts.
School is outrageously expensive, leaving graduates with a debt (or net expenditure) of tens of thousands of dollars-- sometimes even one or two hundred thousand. There are some things that are worth that amount of money, but for many people school isn't one of them. In fact, apart from very specific cases, I think that school is a bad thing, not worth doing even if it was free.
That's not to say that school has no benefits whatsoever. It does, and although I left with zero additional skills after my three semesters there, I had a good time and benefited from the social aspect. The problem is that you can't just compare college to doing nothing at all. You have to compare it to what you COULD have done.
Let's say that when you turn eighteen, it's a good idea to take four years to develop yourself. College is one way to do that. If we were to construct an alternative way to do that, what could it look like? One of the biggest weaknesses of school is how inflexible it is, so one of the greatest benefits of designing your own curriculum is that you could come up with one that uniquely suits you. That said, here's a plan that I think would benefit many people MORE than school would. Let's call it the Hustler's MBA.