Blog reader Al sent in a comment today which I thought I’d answer in an article as opposed to a comment.
I imagine many of you come to this site looking for the answers to this same question:
To reiterate: Al doesn’t like working for someone else and wants to do something else. Making money online seems like the perfect solution.
What’s my advice?
Let’s find out.
Let’s Do A Stock Check Here
If only there were a straight, “Do this method and you’ll make mega-bucks” answer.
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Some people would have you believe there is something like that, but really there’s not.
Now the best advice I can give someone like Al is to say, “Let’s be honest about your skills, resources and goals.”
So that’s what I’ve said first. Not only because it’s helpful psychologically, but because it massively effects what my advice would be.
Some questions I’d ask if I were hired to consult on a person’s life direction:
- What is your current job/career goal?
- How much money do you make/have left over at the end of the day?
- Why do you hate your job/current situation?
- What skills do you have currently? (Not just for online business – later section on this)
- What else can you leverage?
- Why specifically are you targeting online stuff?
- Is there anything that draws your eye and why that particularly?
I know… the 20 questions game is boring as hell for the person being interviewed, but all of these things matter.
What Is Your Job And Why Do You Hate It?
Let’s talk about jobs and careers, because I know there are online guru peddlers who will automatically say, “Never go to college! Never work for anyone else! Quit the 9-5 race and live free! Buy my ebooks on unicorn businesses! Be freeeeeeeeee!”
I’m not really like that.
I don’t think that quitting college to write a blog is a good idea for most people and you need to look at your future and your career and think honestly about what you want, because it impacts everything you do.
Let’s say you want to retire early so you can live free and smell the fresh air of the countryside. That’s very different as a goal to wanting to move to a new city so you can party all week and live a life of debauchery.
And both those goals mean nothing in terms of a plan if you don’t know where you’re at. A lawyer earning $200,000 a year has a very different path to a guy working at a supermarket stacking shelves.
If you hate your job, why?
Is it the hours or the task you’re doing? Or is it the specific people? Maybe it’s the low pay or maybe it’s the high hours?
Why Are You Asking Me All These Questions?
Because they matter.
Let’s say you hate your job and you want to start an online business.
If you are a teacher and you hate teaching, then you need to start something else because the actual activity is not a fit for you.
If you’re a teacher and you love teaching, but you hate the low pay and lousy hours, then you can teach online – where you leverage the skills and experience you have and make use of the new stuff you can learn to leverage yourself out of reliance on your employer.
Should you be a lawyer who hates the long hours, I’m more likely to tell you to suck it up for an extra few months while you put money into a piggy bank for your online business than I’d tell someone who works minimum wage.
Now, let’s get on to the universal stuff.
What skills do you have and how would you use them?
If you’re a blacksmith, you can make money online.
If you are an artist, you can make money online.
Selling stuff, whatever it is, online.
You can basically start any business online.
You just need the skills – copywriting, web design, advertising, social media… now you don’t need all of them and they’ll be market specific, but you need to learn them as you go. If you can already do some, great.
Now, if you don’t know what to do but know you want to do something online, then here’s what I recommend in general:
- Learn some skill that you’ll use for your future business and cut your teeth freelancing at it.
For me, that was copywriting. It might be graphic design or whatever else. The important thing is that you go and freelance until you can command a wage doing it professionally. Then you know you’re at the right standard, and hey, you’re also building your war chest. You might love it and stick with that.
- Start your own projects in the meantime.
For me, this was writing niche sites, writing ebooks, writing anything that I could make a profit on. This sharpens your skills, decreases your reliance on the clients and you’re then building assets and cashflows into the future.
- Segue into bigger, more ambitious projects
You can do the two above steps forever, but you’ll probably want to build more sustainable ventures in the future. This might be anything from creating a school to a publishing empire or maybe just selling a million new gadgets from China… but eventually you’ll have the skills, capital and desire to build something big.
I can’t tell you what that’ll be because we’re all different.
Timeline, Scale And Quitting Your Job
Every time someone on an entrepreneur forum says, “Quit your job tomorrow and live by your wits!” I cringe a little inwardly.
That’s irresponsible advice because it’s a dumb idea.
IF you are twenty and work minimum wage and can move in with your mum and dad, then you might want to do this but probably not.
If you’re a father of two with a mortgage to pay and a wife and kids to take care of, quitting your job to fund your dream is damned irresponsible.
Here’s the thing: if you don’t have much money, then start freelancing on the side or doing whatever hustle-based side project you can afford.
If that’s writing ebooks, then go ahead. If it’s selling stuff you make in your garage, then good. Keep your overheads low though until you’re bringing in money from whatever skill or pastime you have.
This will create a positive feedback loop, it’ll keep your wife from divorcing you and you’re building tangible stuff for the future.
If you have money but hate your life, then do the same thing but stack the money and once you have enough skills you’re ready to start putting into action, then you can consider putting the capital to work.
A ton of people think they’re going to be internet millionaires, go on Flippa and buy some websites that they can’t run because they don’t have the skills. Don’t be this person.
Learn the ropes and then use your capital when you’re reasonably assured it’s going to work out positively.
The timeline differs based on your capital, your time and your skills to start with. If you start with freelancing, you have no capital expenditure but a longer time horizon. If you want to do commerce, then you need more capital but you should be moving more quickly.
This isn’t really an easy answer…but I hope I’ve given enough information for Al and others in Al’s situation so that you can be clearer moving forward.
I could just say, “Start a dropshipping business” or “learn copywriting” or “start a personal brand.”
And you honestly could do all of those things – although I’d stay away from dropshipping if you don’t have any capital.
But any set of directions is useless if it doesn’t take into account where you’re starting from and that’s what this article is about.
In all honesty, you can take any of the ideas and make them work. I know people who make a ton of money freelancing and collecting royalties on their copywriting. I know people who make an unbelievable amount selling physical products they’ve had manufactured. There are people I’m friends with who are millionaire authors.
Really, you learn the skills, apply them and build from there. That’s the game-plan wherever you start from. Where you’re going is up to you.
And how to get from A to B is why I’m asking all these god-damned questions.