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EXECUTION Burned down my slowlane political career for entrepreneurship 17 months ago

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Cat Lady, Apr 26, 2018.

  1. WestCoast
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    WestCoast Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    @Cat Lady

    Great work on making such a switch in careers. No matter what the numbers, you're clearly focused and checking things off your list towards your goals.

    It's also really good to see more female participation - we need lots more of that in business!

    There are more entrepreneurs in Portland than you might first expect (sounds like your SSO might know some of them :). I find it to be a tight community that actually seems to care.

    Regards from NW PDX
     
  2. Adeoluwa Adejumo
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    I can already see several opportunities that you are overlooking...
     
  3. Cat Lady
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    Cat Lady Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I'm pretty familiar and friendly with a lot of them - unfortunately there's not as many media entrepreneurs here, they tend to be pretty tech- and manufacturing-heavy. But this community is filled with really amazing people, and Silicon Florist and Nedspace (two lynchpins of the startup community here) really helped me get off the ground. Mercycorps NW (our small biz nonprofit) gave me a start-up grant. I also got runner-up in a pitch competition run by the local biz community last year.

    I do, sometimes, seriously want a business partner. For both my own accountability and for the mashing of skillsets. Someone who LOVES marketing and can take my marketing ideas and turns them into better things. I do not like marketing, but I recognize the value because when I get a PR or blog hit, I make money. People find me, and are helped by my content. I just can't make myself spend time on it (I prefer the "making" not the "marketing" side.)

    Well, that's a wildly unhelpful comment.

    Here's the thing about "opportunities" - I have to pay my bills each month, I have to sleep and eat food, and I'm only one person. There's a HUGE amount of opportunities out there, but many have a long lead time to profitability and require upfront capital/time investment or require skills that aren't my specialty. I allocate my time to have minimal capital investment while recognizing that I can only work about ~60 hours a week consistently before my body breaks down (as I keep discovering).

    Media is a slow build business without lots of marketing investment especially if your brand is centered around authenticity. However, I feel pretty good about where I am at for 1.5 years of doing this as a side gig.

    (She says before she spirals again into feeling like she's wasting her life.)
     
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  4. Adeoluwa Adejumo
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    w
    what's the book about if you can share and how many people already bought?
     
  5. Cat Lady
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    Cat Lady Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    The book is cats explaining purr-sonal finance - and I've made about $22,000 gross off of it, with about 600 copies sold. Total print run of 1000 copies, with about 200 of those going to low-income youth through our pay it fur-ward program.
     
  6. Adeoluwa Adejumo
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    so to be clear you are really interested in revving up revenue + strengthening your brand

    I'm sure you i can show you some of the things you totally have the ability to do and are NOT doing YET

    & you'll probably share a thing / two about fundraising with me sometime

    If It's okay I'm going to send you a private message
     
  7. Cat Lady
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    Cat Lady Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I'm sure I have plenty I can learn, feel free to DM me.

    --
    Relatedly, this week has been exceedingly frustrating. I am having so many issues with Amazon - all I want is my Kindle book to be uploaded and linked to a fulfilled by amazon version of my print book with my ISBN (NOT print on demand) with my author profile linked to both. Not so hard, right? At this point I have:

    • 2 different versions of the book, neither of which are displaying the cover
    • 4 different amazon accounts all of which required identity verification: amazon merchant, amazon advantage, amazon KDP and amazon author central
     
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  8. Cat Lady
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    Cat Lady Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    It's been quite awhile since I updated.

    Book is on Amazon and has been selling steadily thanks to 2 great reviews that came out on blogs (yay sending sample copies!) Doing both FBA and FBM for that.

    I got a sponsor in the financial service industry for the podcast finally!

    I decided to not go for the podcast production contract due to the amount of time I'd need to work on it instead of my own media production - plis on the fact that for-hire podcast production is not the focus I want my company to have.

    Went on an 11 day business trip and had two listener/book events in two cities and one speech to a few hundred people while in spandex, a wig, and 5" platform boots. Met a bunch of potential awesome folks that can help the business, including several podcast networks, a radio broadcast broker (I have been doing the sales myself) and have a few calls set up with potential talent managers.

    Booked two paid mainstage speaking gigs - one at a college, one at an invite-only conference for internet creators.

    I've been mildly depressed all of July and going into August, and it's definitely affecting the business - the amount of sh*t I need to be doing that I don't have motivation for (more wholesale sales, instagram strategy, finishing website rebuild, editing and producing more videos) is really f*cking with my interest in being an entrepreneur, combined with low take home pay ($434?! seriously fuuuuck) last month due to travel expenses taking up most of my business income. I did completely sell out of books while on the road though, and even sold quite a few to random people I met in bars. So that was cool.

    I have started to use Airtable and it's been pretty awesome for managing media schedules and sponsors across all the different content platforms and stations I'm on. It's a lightweight CRM + google sheets, essentially. I have been loving it.

    I have had a few offers of "day jobs" and I am sorely tempted right now to take one with income as it is. That being said, I'm not in any acute financial stress - the business can still pay its bills, taxes, and I'm taking a small ($500/month) amount of money out. I have personal savings.

    But as I've been writing this, 3 more amazon orders have come in, which is saying something about maybe I should stay in the business.

    Still considering making a paper planner focused on budgeting pretty heavily - extremely small test print run (250-500), launch on kickstarter (already had some success). I love planners and know exactly what I want to make but want to know if I can actually sell it before I invest the time in graphic design (which I hate doing but can, begrudingly.)
     
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  9. CareCPA
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    I wouldn't take any job until you're sure that you've contacted every outlet you possibly can about wholesale options. @Scot has a good thread on wholesaling in here that may give you some pointers (I don't know if I mentioned that before or not).
     
  10. Cat Lady
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    Cat Lady Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Even if I wholesale 100% of my remaining inventory, I still take home less than half of what a 3-month contract position would give me.

    Here's the thing: the business earns money every day (passive income! The magical promise!) but it's still not enough to live on by itself most months. I can buckle down and press hard to get it to cover my living expenses and whittle a few hundred bucks off my (significant but not endless savings) each month the next three months.

    OR I can bank $8,000 doing a contract position that's Monday - Friday, 9-5 through November.

    But if I took that, I would be working 55-70 hours a week for 10 weeks just to tread water and it's likely I'd have to say "no" to some opportunities that would be good for my business. I'd put off some projects I should be doing for my business since I still need to be doing weekly show production, shipping books, and doing a speaking gig nearly every weekend between September 8 - November 3rd (including a TEDx talk!)
     
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  11. CareCPA
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    Right, but the wholesale route should be repeating orders. Plus, as you add new products, you already have an established relationship with them. Current effort-to-pay ratio is high, but gets dramatically lower as time goes on and you have the relationships developed.
     
  12. Cat Lady
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    Cat Lady Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Yes, good point. Short term brain says "but I don't have money to restock because I need that to pay myself." But long term brain says "building a business takes time and also you do have more money in savings." It just feels like quite a treadmill.

    Relatedly; I just had a call with a talent agent who specializes in audio. They are interested in representing me. This could be a big deal as it outsources ad sales and affiliate (radio station) sales for me.
     
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  13. CareCPA
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    A data point on this: for a lot of product-heavy e-commerce businesses, the owners take very little money out and reinvest the cash back into their products as they're growing. I know you probably don't view yourself as an e-commerce business, but I would argue the concept is the same.
     
  14. Cat Lady
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    I actually kinda of do, with a sideline in content marketing for the e-commerce!

    I still need to pay myself, though. That's the issue. I need to pay rent and eat food. At 2 years into building my tiny empire, I would like to stop taking other jobs to pay the rent, but I'm still not there, and I'd really prefer not to whittle into my savings. I'm very cheap, but $600 a month is not enough to cover my expenses.
     
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  15. WestCoast
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    WestCoast Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    @Cat Lady - no one can tell you what to do here, but I try to offer one single question:

    'Do you believe in what you're building?'

    Deep down, does it get you fired up to get your book/message out to the people?
    Does it motivate you to help spread whatever your message is?
    Or is it just a business grind where you are thinking you might be able to grind elsewhere - more profitably?

    If it's a calling - a true passion to tell people about your concept/idea/story - that counts for a lot.
    And two years of business isn't that much, you might suffer for 5-10!

    In my experience - when it's a mission - I can grind through a lot, for a long time.
    If it's just a job, I'm not motivated to grind at all.

    --
    Related. I know you said your partner was well off/financially successful. Are you connected with other entrepreneurs in town? Are you getting together with others to discuss issues like you're going through in more detail?

    I've found that to be immensely helpful to my own enterprises. Just hearing others are going through the same thing, listening to how they did it, etc. (not just friends and people giving you advice, but, just being around other business owners who share experiences?)

    I know there are various ones in town - I've found a lot of value in one of them, personally.
     
  16. Cat Lady
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    Cat Lady Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    My partner is back to the world of working for a corporate job (remotely/on the road a ton) so while he's there for me to bounce ideas off of, he's less connected to the current entrepreneur scene. His company got acquired several years ago.

    Of course I believe in what I'm building and the value I provide. I get to see clients/listeners lives changed all the time. It's freaking great. Drive or passion has never in my life been something someone who has met me in person has doubted I have. But I've also rarely had a job I'm not passionate about (side effect of working in non-profits and inventing my job my whole career!)

    Passion doesn't pay the bills right now. Nothing disputes the fact I need to pay my bills though and the business isn't doing it right now. I've had many non-profit projects where I've had to string together side jobs while I wait for funding to come in; I'm used to the passion vs practicality balance hustle. I'm questioning if I can balance it for 10 weeks to get more money in the door to buy myself more runway.

    To answer your question about networks, I was doing more entrepreneur networking things and talking with folks especially when I had a free co-working space that was filled with entrepreneurs, but I stopped since it takes a lot of my day to head downtown just for a short meeting. Plus most of these things involve meeting during my working hours (I do shift work and radio work, can't move things around) so I haven't sought them out as much. Right now I'm stretched pretty thin and have been on the road about 1/3 of the past few months so I haven't really sought out more people time.

    Mostly excuses, I should probably reconnect with more fellow entrepreneurs. I've been pretty socially isolated both personally and professionally, and been dealing with some mild depression that makes social stuff seem especially hard. Easy to "turn on" for work events but I'm knackered after 13+ hour days of it many days in a row as I have been.

    Relatedly I had the 3rd interview for that contract job today and found out they're launching a new product vertical my business/me could provide content for. Now I kinda want the job.
     
  17. Cat Lady
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    Cat Lady Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I took the gig. The corporate financial education was too interesting. This should put enough in my coffers that it will force me to get my sh*t together around automation and outsourcing.

    Hopefully my business will be okay in 12 weeks with only 10-15 hours a week of focus. I think it'll be fine because making business decisions in the face of scarcity sucks. Now I can reinvest what the business makes back in. I need to find a VA for social media ASAP.
     

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