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INTRO 6 years later

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pinekoan

Contributor
Jan 23, 2014
16
62
25
It is over 6 years ago now that I read MJ DeMarco's "Millionaire Fastlane". In that time I've seen consistent growth in my chosen slow lane profession of Software Engineering, and am now embodying mastery of the craft after nearly 12 years. I've also seen two failed startups - one with a partner and one on my own. I'll confess, after the last failure I mostly gave up on the prospect of a fast lane life as my salary increased and my lifestyle comfort with it. With the experience I now have and position I hold, the next "sensible" move would be into FAANG and a plush total compensation in the 400k range.

But 2020 happened. The intensity of emotion from media, politics, the economy, and social isolation reconnected me to a part of myself I'd forgotten. A source of real inspiration which is revealing to me what I really value in life; freedom and service, and (maybe more importantly) what I don't value; money.

To me freedom means not answering to an arbitrary authority (my superiors at work) but instead to the feedback and needs of people in the market. It means forgoing the safety of a 9-5 for the risk, responsibility and spontaneity of entrepreneurship, being in charge of my own time and accepting the consequences. Service means realizing the union of passion and utility, but this hasn't come easy. I can safely say software is not a passion of mine, but the creative aspect is. My real passion lies somewhere closer to nature, therapy, art, and the human spirit, and from that fusion creating a ripple of positive change in the lake that is the consciousness of humankind.

Well, so what? Everyone has dreams, and this is a forum on entrepreneurship. I see now how forming an income generating SaaS business can lead to the realization of my values and an unscripted life. Software engineering has been good to me, and I have enough savings that I could live frugally for years while I invest in my business. Most of my peers have invested in real estate (a place to live), relationship (marriage isn't cheap) and family. I once had that same trajectory but things didn't work out. Being unattached, I exited my NYC lease 2 months ago and have been traveling while working remotely, taking in some of America's natural beauty which inspires me so much. I'm now honing in on a rental in a gorgeous (and inexpensive) area where I can begin to build out SaaS product(s) in earnest. I've already laid some of the groundwork and am working towards a prototype of one idea.

I don't have much of a formal plan but here are some of my thoughts.

SaaS is a natural fit for me because I've spent most of my life absorbed in computing.

As a highly skilled engineer I am my business's competitive advantage. For example, in a low competition B2B market I can quickly ingest and parse existing solutions, reproduce a lighter weight composition of their best elements and sell for a fraction of the cost. This works because I am much smaller and have very little overhead compared to the large companies offering existing SaaS solutions.

I'd love to stumble on a novel solution to an existing problem, but 6 years of asking people "What is your biggest pain point?" hasn't gotten me anywhere. I'm open to it, but lacking a novel niche I'm more than OK with iterating in existing spaces.

I will need help with copy writing and marketing, when the time comes. I've reached to a friend about this, and hope to continue the conversation as the need arises.

I have an abundance of ideas, how does one know which one to pursue? I've looked about as far I can into existing competition, market size, interest, and beyond that it's tough to judge. Is execution really king? How does one really judge the viability of a SaaS market? Am I using the right tools to make that determination? Any guidance anyone can offer here would be welcome.

When should I quit my full-time job? I realize this is a pretty absurd thing to ask the internet, but I'm going for it anyway.

Thank you for reading. Writing my thoughts down on the page has been helpful for me, hopefully something here rings true for someone else also.
 

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Raja

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Dec 31, 2019
328
147
70
you can build it on the side, hire someone to build it with you.
 

LordGanon

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 22, 2020
170
437
191
Germany
... I can safely say software is not a passion of mine, but the creative aspect is. My real passion lies somewhere closer to nature, therapy, art, and the human spirit, and from that fusion creating a ripple of positive change in the lake that is the consciousness of humankind.

Yes, that part especially rang a bell with me. People often ask me why I don't become a programmer, because I already know how to program. My reasons for this are:

1. I'm probably not good enough. Sure, I can get things to work, but far from elegant and I probably need far more time than a professional. I rely a lot on Google and Stack Overflow.

2. Most importantly - It takes the fun out of it. It's great that after several failed attempts during childhood and puberty I finally somewhat got it in the middle of my 20s. And it was fun to simulate zombie infections or build prototypes on microcontrollers and to finally understand how all this stuff around me works.

3. I have the nagging suspicion that I'd end up doing more robotic than creative work.


My real passion lies in nature, art and spiritual matters.

But as MJ points out correctly again and again and again: Once you've hit gold and got the money out of the way, you can spend your time on whatever you want to without worrying about the business side of things.

I think you're in a good position to get that done.
 

Speed112

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Dec 5, 2013
30
39
109
26
Bucharest, Romania
My real passion lies somewhere closer to nature, therapy, art, and the human spirit, and from that fusion creating a ripple of positive change in the lake that is the consciousness of humankind.
That's really cool. Freedom and positive change go hand in hand... the more good you can create in the world, the easier it is to earn your freedom. Your mindset seems to be in the right place, and that's the first step.

I have an abundance of ideas, how does one know which one to pursue? I've looked about as far I can into existing competition, market size, interest, and beyond that it's tough to judge. Is execution really king? How does one really judge the viability of a SaaS market? Am I using the right tools to make that determination? Any guidance anyone can offer here would be welcome.

You've got to test. Especially from the perspective of an engineer and developer, you won't know things work until they're experimentally proven. It's the same with ideas and businesses and markets. Getting a feel for things comes with decades of experience and low chances of success, and not everyone has genius intuitive chops for that.

So find the people in pain. You said 6 years of asking people about their pains lead nowhere, but that in itself is a skill. Getting people to open up and talk about their deeper frustrations and insecurities, the things they'd most desperately want to change about their life... that takes a different approach than brute forcing them into problem-solving mode. It takes trust and comfort.

Regardless, people often don't know what's wrong with them... that's why they go to a doctor to get diagnosed. But they know they're in pain. It's your job to figure out what's wrong and how to fix it, as an entrepreneur.

The ideas worth pursuing are those that help the most amount of people solve their deepest pains in the easiest way. Oftentimes less is more. So build that prototype, take it to the people in pain, and see how well it solves it. Once you do that, it will be come painfully obvious whether or not the idea is good.

How grateful is the client for your help? How much are they willing to pay for it?

Is the solution so good or does it have so much potential they're willing to pay for it before it's even built? Pre-selling is a great way of validating ideas and raising up the capital necessary to build your minimum viable product. You don't have to shoulder all the risk.

Are they so excited by finally solving their deep-seated pain that they can't help but want to share the prospect with their colleagues? If the pain is sound and strong, it's likely to permeate through the industry. If your idea is worth pursuing, your client is likely to want to help you pursue it.

The only tools you need to make these judgements are communication, reasoning, and empathy. They lie at the foundation of business and entrepreneurship.

And if you focus on growing those facets of your acumen, you'll inevitably also get a solid grasp of copywriting and marketing, since they're based on the same principles.

As for execution...

Ideas are abundant, as you've seen for yourself. If you can't turn those ideas into reality and put them forth to a large enough audience, you won't get the freedom you're seeking. That's where execution comes into play.

But with your engineering experience you probably know it's not as hard as it seems. You've already got some serious problem-solving skills. Taking a big problem-solution pair and streamlining it for a fraction of the cost? You could build 100 businesses like that.

Get a mock-up going. Pitch it to your network in the niche you sourced the pain. Pre-sell and validate a MVP. Prototype it. Sell it. Iterate and scale. It's pretty common stuff.

When should I quit my full-time job? I realize this is a pretty absurd thing to ask the internet, but I'm going for it anyway.

The truth is only you can answer this... The only fair answer the internet can give is: when you're ready.

When are you ready to go all-in on your business and shift the burden of risk all on yourself?

If you've got the balls for it, you could literally do it now. Trust in the process and gamble your position for the chance of success. I've done that and failed, but earned my freedom even with the failure. So if the goal is freedom, you can get immediate freedom without immediate success... but that comes with sacrifice. A sacrifice you don't have to make.

Because you don't need to do it all at once.

You can start by keeping your job and status and building your SaaS on the side. The job comes with lots of benefits, such as stability, peace of mind, and networking opportunities. Then as your business develops and you're more confident in its success, you can start lowering your hours, shifting to consulting or other ways of maximizing your value/time ratio. Then, finally, cutting the noodle and letting it flop, leaving the slowlane behind.

When is the right moment for that is your judgement to make.

Finally...

To help on your journey through all these I'd like to recommend Dan Martell's and Dane Maxwell's stuff on the topic. They've both done a lot of good work in the SaaS sphere and have a lot of great content on the needed mindset and process, as well as great insight in the marketing and copywriting areas, too.

You've already got all you need to get started. It's just a matter of sticking to it.

May you be free soon enough :)
 

Matua

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 4, 2020
6
6
15
Virginia
I have an abundance of ideas, how does one know which one to pursue? I've looked about as far I can into existing competition, market size, interest, and beyond that it's tough to judge. Is execution really king? How does one really judge the viability of a SaaS market? Am I using the right tools to make that determination?
Just take action. You can think all the time about x, y, z scenario and possible circumstances, but nothing will happen unless something moves. Any action will do, so long as you do it, even the minor and smallest of tasks.

This isn't to say that researching and learning about the market is bad, far from it. But don't fall into the trap of asking yourself questions that paralyze you before you begin working.
When should I quit my full-time job? I realize this is a pretty absurd thing to ask the internet, but I'm going for it anyway.
Address your needs first.

Does it make sense to leave your job because you can't tolerate, or hate it? Will it make sense to continue working at your job, while pursuing entrepreneurship? Do you have a plan in a scenario that you DO leave your job, but still desire to work on your projects?

Trust your gut, but lay out a plan to get yourself where you want to be.
 

mishanya911

Mikhail L
FASTLANE INSIDER
Aug 26, 2017
10
10
19
Minnesota
Yes, that part especially rang a bell with me. People often ask me why I don't become a programmer, because I already know how to program. My reasons for this are:

1. I'm probably not good enough. Sure, I can get things to work, but far from elegant and I probably need far more time than a professional. I rely a lot on Google and Stack Overflow.

2. Most importantly - It takes the fun out of it. It's great that after several failed attempts during childhood and puberty I finally somewhat got it in the middle of my 20s. And it was fun to simulate zombie infections or build prototypes on microcontrollers and to finally understand how all this stuff around me works.

3. I have the nagging suspicion that I'd end up doing more robotic than creative work.


My real passion lies in nature, art and spiritual matters.

But as MJ points out correctly again and again and again: Once you've hit gold and got the money out of the way, you can spend your time on whatever you want to without worrying about the business side of things.

I think you're in a good position to get that done.
Creativity is something that i felt I was born with. However, I’ve chosen a career path of sales. Not sure if I should regret it or not, but it’s probably too late to start learning how to code. I feel like I’d rather outsource this task for the sake of saving time and focus on sales/marketing aspect of it.
anyway, I’d love to connect with you sometime and chat. I feel like we could help each other in the long run
 

LordGanon

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 22, 2020
170
437
191
Germany
Creativity is something that i felt I was born with. However, I’ve chosen a career path of sales. Not sure if I should regret it or not, but it’s probably too late to start learning how to code. I feel like I’d rather outsource this task for the sake of saving time and focus on sales/marketing aspect of it.
anyway, I’d love to connect with you sometime and chat. I feel like we could help each other in the long run

Sure. Just drop me a message.

And you're never too old to learn anything. You probably learn slower, but if you're going at it with passion, you'll be far more dedicated than the common computer science student. As almost always in life, consistency is of the essence. The spasmodic Hercules usually doesn't get far.
 

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