It's this time of the year again. And I'm still doing it. I'll keep writing about this every single year. So I'll probably write about it again next year. And the following year. I'll never stop. So here it is. One more time...
Don't quit your job in 2018. Or 2019. Or...
Now you might say "but Yann that's easy for you to say. You already quit your job and you don't have to go through the horrible pain of doing work you don't want to be doing anymore.“ And you're right...
I've quit my job more than four years ago. And now it's easy for me to say this kind of stuff...
Just like now it's easy for me to talk about the fact that I was making less than a cleaning lady for almost three years after I quit my job. Not because I wanted to. But because that's the reality.
I was working more than 14 hours each and every day. With no weekends. Why? Because it's just really, really hard to build something totally from scratch. Anything as a matter of fact. When you're out there on your own you've gotta put in a ton of work. More than anybody else. And most of the time you don't get anything in return.
Now you might say that you could pull it off faster than me. And you're probably right on this one also. Or maybe you might say that you know a lot of people who did it a lot faster than me. Again, that might be true also. I'm actually absolutely certain that there are a ton of people who did it a lot faster, smarter and better than me.
But what you should never forget is to take a look at what other people did before. How long they've been doing the things you now see them doing. What backgrounds they have. Who supported them financially (parents, uncle, family, etc.). What kind of network they had before they started. And on and on and on.
So here are a few things I'd take into account if I were thinking about quitting my job today. Or next week. Or the next year. And yes, I already quit my job. And all of these things are based on what I#ve learned being unemployed for more than four years now...
It gets harder and harder every single day to make anything work. No matter what that thing is. It got so much easier to get started over the last couple of years, so that everybody is now constantly starting and creating something.
So the market is just way too saturated. Any market. There's enough everything of everything out there. There are millions of designers out there. Millions of freelancers. Millions of writers. Millions of photographers. Millions of life coaches. Millions of businesses. Millions of everything. And they're all in competition with each other.
The internet has revolutionized everything. And by now everybody has figured this out. Even kids in the most remote villages somewhere in Asia can start an online business. So everybody wants to cash in. But most stuff doesn't just work anymore. Because it's just too crowded and too hard to stand out.
Especially the easy stuff. That's why there are now more than 400,000,000 products on Amazon. Yes, that's right. 400 million. Millions of ebooks. Probably billions of blog posts. Hundreds of Startup Weekends each weekend. It's no secret anymore.
Look. A lot of people want to make you believe that it still works. Maybe they want to sell you something. I don't know. Sure, it still works and always will keep working for the best of the best out there. In any field. No matter what field. It'll always work for the ones who've been doing it for decades already.
And if you're not among the best of the best in your field, whatever your field is, then you'll be competing with the rest of the world who's competing with everybody else who's competing with everybody else.
And that's a race to the bottom. Because if it's easy, if it's something that can be learned by following a map, by getting a degree or something similar, then millions of people all over the world will follow that map. And there will always be someone who's able to do your job cheaper AND better than you.
So what works then?
# HARD & NEW STUFF
The hard stuff still works. The hard stuff will always work. Just like the new stuff still works. And will always work. Because no one tries to do the hard stuff. Or the new stuff. Because there's no map to follow. No guidebook out there.
Hard stuff and new stuff work. Easy and old stuff never work. So the hard stuff is actually really the easy stuff. And the easy stuff is actually the really hard stuff. The more people doing it, the harder it'll get to succeed.
So how do you do hard stuff and new stuff?
How do you succeed?
# TRIAL & ERROR
The only way to ever get anything new or hard to work is by trial and error. Unfortunately, there's no map and there will never be a map for any of it. And it's the exact opposite of what we've learned at work. Or in school. That's why it's so difficult to do new stuff and hard stuff.
At work, in school or in college we've been taught that errors and mistakes aren't allowed. No matter what your boss tells you. No matter what that new corporate innovation hype in your company is all about. If you screw up, then you're out.
And it's hard to unlearn this. It's hard to unlearn the fact that when we do everything right then we get a nice and tasty banana. It's hard to unlearn year long training.
So how do you unlearn all of this?
Again, trial and error....
If you achieve mastery in your field, no matter what field you're in, then you have a chance. Then you can rise and shine. But the truth is that you have to invest a hell lot of time, resources and energy to reach mastery. In any field.
But if you don't have the time, energy, focus and resources to become one of the best at what you do then it's going to be really, really hard to make it out there on your own. No matter what it is you're trying to build.
Here's the thing...
No one watches mediocre videos. Reads mediocre books. Listens to mediocre music. Buys mediocre products. Or services. Or whatnot.
And if you're not at that point yet, then you won't be able to make a living doing your thing. But even mastery isn't really enough anymore these days.
Having a good product, a good service or a good offer isn't enough anymore. Mastery isn't enough anymore. It probably never was. Mastery is just the first step of many steps. Steps you could either take while you have a paycheck at the end of the month or while you don't have a paycheck anymore and instead have a gun to your head. It's your choice.
Not only do you have to master your craft to succeed, but you also gotta master dozens of micro skills at the same time. Micro skills you probably don't have after having worked a job for a couple of years where you were getting paid doing the thing you were already pretty good at...
When I quit my job I didn't have any of these micro skills that you need to survive in the 21st century. I don't know. Maybe other people have them. I clearly didn't...
# THE MICRO SKILLS YOU NEED
There are tons of micro skills you need to succeed when you're out there on your own. And it doesn't matter whether you want to be an entrepreneur, an author, a blogger, a YouTube or Instagram star, a singer, a freelancer, a designer, a life coach or whatever. They're the same for everybody.
And I've written about these micro skills a couple of times in the past already. But if you want to take a look at them once again (which I think you should), I've put together a detailed list of them here.
Sure, you can also hire people to do all of these things for you. But these are skills that are so particular that hiring someone just for one of these tasks would probably cost you a couple of thousand dollars each...
But what if you don't want to learn any or all of these skills?
Well, you don't have to.
But if you're thinking about quitting your job, these are the skills you need to be able to succeed.
If you don't have them, then it's either going to be really expensive hiring people to do it for you or you're going to have to learn them with a gun to your head when things aren't working out for you.
And things are never going to work out for you. And when I say you I'm really talking about myself...
# COMPETITION IS BRUTAL
Now you might wonder why you need to learn any new skills. Why you can't just put yourself out there and wait for people to find out about you, your ideas, your message, your business, your products or services.
Well, the truth is that the world is very crowded. The world changed over the last couple of decades. Just a few short years ago all you had to do was to put up a sign and you were in business. And people would come.
But today it's different. There are millions of people putting their open for business signs out there each and every day. And millions of new signs are being added every single day.
Here's the thing...
It has never been easier to get started than today.
You can get an entire website for less than $100 a year including hosting. Just a couple of years ago you had to spend thousands of dollars to get your website done. Today it's just a few clicks.
Same with online shops. You can go live with a scalable online shop for less than 30 bucks a month. Which of course cost you thousands of dollars just a few short years ago. Just like writing books. Or shooting videos. Or recording music.
Everybody can create anything today. That's why everybody does it. And the competition is just insane. And the ones who are winning have been doing it for many, many years. And those are the ones you'll be competing with.
No matter what you do, you're in direct or indirect competition with professionals. With people who've been doing this their whole lives. In every single field. No matter what you do.
Simply because everybody gravitates to the best offer. And because of the internet we now all have access to the best of the best. That's why if people have a choice they'll gravitate to the best stuff. And people always have a choice.
Just like you gravitate to the best stuff.
Or the stuff that everybody else gravitates to...
By now almost everybody on this planet has realized that the Internet is one of the biggest opportunities ever. It's so big that most stuff already stopped working again. And it doesn't really matter anymore where you live, where you were born or what you did before or what you want to be doing.
Which means that you're now competing with the entire world. And it doesn't matter whether you're starting your small grocery shop just around the corner or you want to sell online courses. You'll always be competing with the best of the best out there.
Simply because we all have access to the best of the best now. And the problem is that the economies of scale will never ever play in your favor.
If you want to be a blogger you'll be competing with the best bloggers in the world.
If you want to be an author, you'll be competing with the best authors in the world.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, you'll be competing with the best entrepreneurs in the world.
If you want to raise money, you'll be competing with the best businesses in the world.
If you want to become a singer, you'll be competing with the best singers in the world.
Or life coaches.
Or business coaches.
I think you get the idea.
Whatever it is that you want to do after you quit your job, that's the reality.
Even if you're really good at what you do, it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to succeed.
It's all about the micro skills. And trial and error.
But again. This is based on my own personal experience.
Now I know this might sound harsh and not very pleasant.
But being out there on your own isn't pleasant. At least not all the time...
So if you're starting from scratch, if you want to put yourself out there, how do you get anything to work then?
You've gotta do the hard stuff.
And the new stuff.
Over and over again.
Because there's no guarantee it's ever going to work.
And you're going to fail.
Over and over again.
You've gotta master your craft.
And your failures.
But even more importantly you've gotta master yourself...
By now most people have also realized that the traditional path of getting a good education doesn't necessarily mean a good job, safety and stability anymore. Simply because there aren't that many jobs for that many highly qualified people anymore. What worked a couple of years ago doesn't necessarily work anymore today.
Sure, it still works for a lot of people. But for less and less people. Because more and more jobs are disappearing and they'll never ever come back again. And at the same time more and more people from all over the world are competing for a shrinking amount of jobs. Maybe new ones will be created. But probably not that many. Everything is getting more and more efficient.
Algorithms are getting smarter. Robots are getting smarter and pretty much everything else is getting smarter as you're reading this right here.
But I don't want to scare you. It's just the reality. And sometimes it's good to know what could happen next. So you can get ready for what might come next...
Again, some people will always find jobs. Maybe the top 5% or so will always find jobs. It's the law of nature. Survival of the fittest. I know that I wouldn't survive the job market. I'm far away from being the fittest. And I'm not good at following orders either. I'm just good at doing my own thing. But that's another story.
So at one point there'll be a huge consolidation period.
As a matter of fact it already started.
Now what does that even mean a consolidation period?
Most people won't be needed anymore. And that's what most people have realized by now. That's why no one really knows what to do next. That's why you're probably also thinking about quitting your job. That's why you're probably also still reading this right here because you don't know what to do next.
Personally, I think the worst thing you could do right now is to quit your job. No matter how much or how little you make. In case you still have a job...
# $3000 FOR DOING NOTHING
There are basically two kinds of jobs out there. Well, actually three kinds of jobs. And you should try to keep all of them for as long as you can...
The first one is a job that pays enough to live a relatively comfortable life with something like $3000 a month (or equal buying power in your country) and you don't really have to do that much. Maybe you have to do things you don't enjoy that much but it's still not a lot of work. From what I remember when I still worked, most jobs belong into that category.
Then the second kind of job out there is a relatively similar kind of job. With the only difference that you have to work a hell lot and it's very demanding. But if you have to work a lot that probably also means that you're already relatively good at what you do. Of course, I'm simplifying a lot here. But that's basically what it boils down to.
So if we look at the reality, why would you want to give up any of those two jobs?
Sure, it's very likely that your job might not exist anymore in the next couple of years. But why not pocket that money for as long as you can?
After all, making $3000+ after tax being out there on your own is just really, really, really hard. I'm not saying it's impossible. But if you're coming straight out of a job, it's very likely that you have zero skills other than the thing you've done at your job.
So it's also very likely that you have exactly none of the other micro skills I talked about earlier that are absolutely necessary to succeed these days. And again, learning these skills takes time. A lot of time.
So why would anyone throw away a $3000+ opportunity just like that? Keep it for as long as you can, build something on the side, learn the skills and save as much as you can for your freedom fund.
But before I forget...
There's a third kind of job.
Maybe you have a job you hate, are barely able to make enough to get by and it's a mind numbing job. I don't want to be sarcastic or anything. But I think that's the best position you could find yourself in right now.
Because you can only win. No matter what you do, you'll always win. You've got nothing left to lose anymore.
If you have a mind numbing job, let's say you sell stuff at a super market, are a security guard or whatever, then you can use your free time to learn new skills. You can start something on the side. And you don't have to be worried. At least not right now. There will always be low paid jobs.
If you are in that kind of situation don't worry about your career. Because you probably don't really have a career. But here's the flipside... you can only win.
So stop waiting for the government to save you. Or politicians to save you. Or anybody else. And instead start helping yourself. Because no one else will be able to help you. Start something on the side. Build a side business in your free time. Learn new skills.
Don't have a degree?
Exactly none of the things I do right now to make money have anything to do with anything I learned in school or university. It's all self taught. Except maybe writing. That's what I learned in school. But that was a totally different kind of writing. One that actually ruined me instead of giving me any pleasure.
Either way. I wouldn't quit any of those three jobs. And instead I'd do a really good job and wait until I get fired. And at the same time learn new skills. So get out there and start doing your thing. Get better at it. Master it. Learn new skills and save as much money as possible...
# SAVE, DON'T SPEND
I get it. Sometimes doing two things at the same time just doesn't work. Sometimes you just can't work on a side business, learn new skills and keep a very demanding job at the same time. In these rare occasions, you have a choice. Which is basically the only choice.
Needless to say that this is an excuse. You can ALWAYS work on something at night. When your wife, boyfriend or the kids are asleep. And if you don't want to work at night, then you should probably never ever quit any job...
Well, maybe there is an excuse. When your friends see you and they ask you why your face is so yellow after you've been working on multiple things at the same time for a couple of months and none of them worked out. Then it's probably also time to rethink that strategy...
Either way. So when I say the only choice, there are probably millions of other things you could do. So if for whatever reason, if for whatever excuse you can't build or learn anything on the side while you still have your job, then the best thing you could do is to stop spending money on stupid stuff.
And instead save money. Money to reinvest in yourself. And in your freedom.
So what's stupid stuff?
You know, the kind of stuff we buy ourselves because we feel like we deserve it. The things we buy when we feel down because we spent the whole week working on things we don't really want to be working on. You know, those kinds of things...
"I deserve this because I worked hard this week. And now it's me time. Now I will pamper myself. And get all the joy back that was robbed from me during the week."
This is stupid stuff...
Going out for fancy dinners. Drinking massive amounts of alcohol at parties with your friends. Going to the mall and adding more clothes to your wardrobe full of clothes that's already so full that it would take you an entire year to wear all of them. Going on expensive trips. And on and on and on.
So instead of spending all that money on these kinds of things, put them into your freedom fund. Save as much as you can. And then once you have enough cash in the bank, maybe two years of expenses, or maybe even three, then go ahead and quit your job.
Why two or even three years of expenses?
Because that's how long it might take you until you're going to make money doing the things you want to do.
What about investors?
Go back to the point where it says mastery. More precise where it says that you're in competition for money from investors with the best businesses out there...
Here's the thing...
Before I quit my job I had worked a job for almost two years and saved up around 70% of that income and put it into my freedom fund. I lived like a student on a tiny budget for more than two years. I actually still do. Not because I have to. But because I want to. And reinvest everything into my freedom.
So once I had enough cash in the bank for 2-3 years of expenses (depending on where I'd be living) I went ahead and quit my job. With enough cash in the bank.
And guess what. I really needed that cash...
So at the end of the day you save that money to invest in yourself.
You save that money to ultimately buy yourself some freedom.
Sure, you can never save yourself rich. But what you can do is to invest the money you saved into learning skills that will help you to build up future wealth by buying yourself some time to learn all of these things.
That's why I call it freedom fund. Because you invest in your your freedom by giving yourself time to learn new skills. Time and freedom to build something on the side. Something that might or might not turn into wealth and even more freedom in the future...
# SPREAD YOUR RISK
No one knows what's to come next. I have no clue what's going to happen next. No one really knows. All we can do is to make assumptions. And then spread our risk across multiple projects, investments and streams of income.
That's really all we can do. And yes, a job is a great income stream. Maybe one of the best. Maybe not as stable anymore as it was a few decades ago but it's still a great way of making money.
Again, jobs are probably going to disappear sooner than we all think. But just because they're going to disappear some time in the near future doesn't mean we should make it disappear even before it does, right? It makes a hell lot more sense to keep your job for as long as you can and work on something else on the side that will save your ass when the time has come...
Here's the thing...
Any job is relatively easy money compared to making money on your own. Sure, screwing your friends and relatives into buying some MLM stuff might be easier. But not necessarily what you want to be working on. I guess... Either way.
If you have a job, all you usually have to do are the things you're already relatively good at. So there's not that much friction. And you don't have to learn completely different skills by trial and error and failing and on and on and on. Otherwise no company would have hired you. A company needs you to be as efficient as possible or else they're losing money with you.
And the only thing we can do is this...
Build as many different streams of income as possible. Invest in many different things. Spread your risk across multiple industries, things and projects. So in case that one income stream disappears you have a couple of other income streams to replace them.
So that once your job disappears you can go all in on all the other things and dedicate more time to those things. And yes, all of this stuff will take time. A lot of time. That's why you should start doing it now and not once you've lost your job or quit your job...
[Related: 10 Ways To Double Your Income]
# SIDE BUSINESS
Now that's probably the most obvious one. And it doesn't really matter what that side business is. It doesn't have to be sophisticated or complicated.
As a matter of fact, the simpler it is, the easier it is to get started and the less time and money you have to invest to get started the better.
Because all you've gotta do is to figure out how certain things really work. And when I say how they really work I'm not talking about reading books about it, attending conferences about it or anything else that isn't doing.
The only thing that will ever help you to understand the nuances and the involved skills of a business, no matter if it's a side business or a main business is to actually start that business. No matter how big or small. Or how "stupid" it might sound like when you tell your friends about it.
What matters is that you learn the basics. That you learn how to REALLY market your product. How to REALLY sell your product. And on and on and on. That's the only thing that really matters.
At the end of the day the mechanics are always the same. No matter what kind of business we're talking about. Services. Products. Subscriptions. Books. Music. Whatever. It's always the same.
At first you've gotta figure out whether or not people really want what you're thinking about offering. And not by doing some lazy ass research. No, by actually going out there and trying to sell or maybe even pre sell your product, service or whatnot.
Then you build an audience, a community, a tribe around your topic, niche or product. Then you try to figure out what you need to do to build up enough trust. Because people need to trust you and your offer before they're going to buy from you. And then once you're there you try to sell it. And market it. And on and on and on.
Another thing you should do while you still have a job (and money) is to invest a portion of your salary. And it doesn't really matter how big or small the amount is. What matters is that you figure out how things are working.
So that you learn how to buy low and sell high.
So how can you buy low and sell high?
Years and years of experience. Years and years of losing money. And making money. Only to lose it again. And then learning your lessons.
So better learn those lessons while you still have a steady paycheck. Better learn those lessons as early in your "career" as possible with as little money as possible. So that the damages won't be that big.
Sure, you're going to make money when the market is strong. And then you're going to lose all that money again when the market is weak. Now you might think, well that's easy. I only invest when the market is strong. And I don't invest when the market is weak.
But the problem is that you never really know when the market is about to go from good to bad. And from bad to ugly. And no matter how smart you think you are, you're probably going to double down on the things that work. Until they don't. And then you'll lose it all again.
And again, when I say you I'm talking about myself again
So how can you buy low and sell high?
After having gone through dozens of lows and highs and actually losing and making some money along the way. But again, the learnings are the same. Whether you lose a lot or just a little...
But don't listen to me. I've always bought high and sold low...
# A 6 FIGURE BUSINESS
Everybody wants to show you how to build six figure businesses. But do you actually know how much is left of a six figure business at the end of each month?
Well, usually not that much. Especially when you're in the lower end of six figures. Simply because you can't build six figure businesses without having to pay for ads. Or hiring people. Or having to pay for physical products. There's no way your costs won't eat away almost all of your revenues.
Sure, if you're already in business for a couple of decades then it's a totally different story.
For example one of my newer side businesses will probably generate 6 figures in 2018 if it continues to have the same amount of sales each month.
And do you know how much is left at the end of the month after paying for the products I'm selling?
Less than what I made in my last job a month. Sure, this is just one income stream. But just to build that one business to the point it is right now took more than a year. It's just a side business. And I didn't work on it 24/7. Still, it took time and energy. But even more importantly it took me almost 10 months to understand how it really works.
And right now margins are anywhere between 10-20%. So let's say you have a job that pays you $50,000 a year. That means you'd have to generate $250,000-500,000 in revenues a year (assuming a 10-20% margin). Or roughly $20,000 to $40,000 a month. Seems like a lot? It sure is. A hell lot...
You could also get cheaper products from China and sell them with a higher margin. But then you'd have to spend a ton in Facebook ads to be able to sell some of your products. And it's usually not recurring sales. It's maybe a one time sale. Because most people won't come back again. And traffic is expensive. And is getting more and more expensive every day.
And you're right, selling digital products is very different. The margins can be up to 100% if you do everything yourself. My margins on my digital products are something around that. But if you want to scale it you'd have to invest massive amounts in ads. And in hiring people. And on and on and on. So margins would go back down again to something like 20%.
So to have a proper income at the end of each month you'd probably need a seven figure business. And I'm not exaggerating. Hiring people and paying for ads is a really, really expensive game. And you can't just scale a business on free traffic. It maybe works for a couple of months. But then where do all the new customers come from?
So make no mistake when you see everybody online making 6 figure incomes. Most 6 figure incomes won't leave you with more than what a regular job pays...
# BUILD YOUR TRIBE
At the end of the day, no matter what you do, the most important thing is to build your tribe. To build a group of people that enjoys what you do and have to say.
So no matter what happens, whether that business crashes and burns or you'd have to start all over again, you'd still have people who want to hear from you.
People who could help you to get back up again.
People who support you.
People who can introduce you to someone who could introduce you to someone who could get you a job.
People who read, watch and listen to what you have to say.
People who are willing to hire you.
Willing to buy your products.
And on and on and on.
That's the only thing that matters.
How you get there is up to you to figure out.
But I guess writing something like this right here is already a good start....
P.S. Thank you for supporting my work. For reading. For listening. And for caring :)