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EXECUTION Exiting the Slowlane

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TooSlow

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Oct 30, 2015
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Edmonton, Canada
I figure it might be helpful for me to start a journal of my progress out of this slowlane life. I'll start with writing out my current state of affairs and go from there!

I'm a 34 year old web developer. ~$85k/year job (benefits, pension), only debt is my mortgage (~$70k equity), with some cash, stocks, RRSP/TFSA and bitcoins totaling ~$50k. I have no kids and no woman. 10% of my salary is going into RRSP, and with my basic lifestyle end up with an extra $1k/month or so to invest/play with. So really, I could just stay on this path, living and retiring comfortably.

I get up early enough to get to the gym before work, then get home drained and stressed out (largely due to the commute) around 6pm. I fill most of my spare time with pointless distractions, and can't always be bothered to do the simple routine things to care for my house and property. I feel like I'm just drifting along, living weekend-to-weekend, not going anywhere with my life. And now that winter is coming, I'm reminded once again how much I hate the cold and don't want to live here (Edmonton, Canada).

The biggest things I dislike about a job are the lack of freedom and having little impact on my income. I have little-to-no say in the stupid decisions I have to implement, and if I work twice as hard or half as hard, I still get the same below-cost-of-living annual raise. I'm also starting to get a bit sick of staring at, writing, and thinking about code 8+ hours a day. I used to do it as a hobby, so I figured it would be a suitable career choice, but now I have so little desire to do more of it once I get home that I struggle to start any side projects. I might have the opportunity to advance to a team lead/manager role soon, which might be a welcome change and chance to learn new skills, but the main problems from working for someone else (or some corporation) would remain.

I have considered switching to contract work, which would bump me to $60-80/hr, maybe occasionally up to $100/hr. Factoring in down time and loss of benefits, it would be about break-even at the low end vs my job. And realistically, it would only really affect my savings/investments, not my standard of living.

I want to live some place where it never gets to -30C, or at least live there during our unreasonably long winters. I want to have the option to do literally nothing, or spend a few months traveling whenever I please, or picking up whatever hobby interests me and devoting however much time to it I please. This requires not being employed, with significant and reliable passive income. I think $10M is more than I'd ever need, but $1M won't cut it if it has to last my lifetime.

I have no idea how I'm going to get there, but this is my start.
 

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A Muzumdar

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Nov 6, 2015
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Toronto, Canada
Hi there, I hear what you are saying. But if I were you, I would take a very objective look at your life. If you are good at coding then you are already half way through to the happy place. I am not suggesting that you go on coding, but it is time for you to take a look at the other side of the "tech-startup" world. As I recollect from MJ's book of him being a Limo driver and learning the business world one ride at a time and when time permitted learning to code, I think you should look at turning that story on it's head and with coding under your belt look at spending time on reading about anything that has to do with marketing, finance, operations and start-ups.

If reading is not something you want to do after a long day glued to a screen, I would just listen to audio books while commuting and learn as much as you can. Also, spend say about 10 to 20 minutes daily on browsing through trends and insights to see where there are pain points in the world, that you can possible devise a solution for and just focus of the business model and revenue models to build a sustainable business. I would see if there are any "StartUp Meetups" around that you can just go to, to hang-out with. Most at these meetups are business guys, the marketing, investor and sales kinda people. So, as you can see knowing what you know can really make you a valuable asset at these group meetings. Who knows you might meet your co-founder there?

Think about it, I am from Toronto and I feel you bro....!!! :)
 

A Muzumdar

New Contributor
Nov 6, 2015
7
4
14
Toronto, Canada
Also, I have been struggling to get what you got. I started as an architect (building type...not IT type), but after I came to Toronto, I could no longer pursue that and entered advertising and marketing. I used the "transferrable skills" thingy...that most career coaches talk about. Anyways, fast-forward from 1996 to today, I am a investor and business advisor working for a small cap venture capitalist...:)

So you see, anything is doable and possible. MJ's book has a lot of insights, I love his acronym... N-E-S-C-T...I use it every time I have to validate an idea before even speaking about it. There are a lot of books...out there that can energize or even propel your journey. From an IT standpoint...I would recommend reading anything by Paul Graham...read "Hackers and Painters".

Hope to hear from you...don't give up hope...follow MJ and others here. I am new so cannot drop many names yet...more later...!!! :)
 

TooSlow

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Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Oct 30, 2015
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Edmonton, Canada
Thanks for stopping by with your insights AM :) I do find audiobooks make my commute a bit less stressful, and is how I went through The Millionaire Fastlane. I should filter out the less relevant chapters (mostly the sidewalk parts) and give it another go. A lot of the self-help type books I've been into lately seem like they need a more concise version for repeat reads/listens.

I like your suggestion on reading to more business-oriented books, as that's one side I have little experience with or exposure to. Also, getting in the habit of finding ideas (good or bad) and applying the NESCT (which I've seen as CENTS elsewhere, a bit more memorable to me) to them would probably help identify the rare great ideas when they appear. That must help you with investing in companies as well, to find ones with lots of potential growth.

There is group here (Startup Edmonton) that has meetups. I attended a few of the Rails ones but that was a few years ago. I should at least get myself out there again and interact with the community. Like you say, I might meet some like-minded people that need my skills.

This weekend I plan on going through my expenses to see what I actually need to safely leave my job. Well, maybe 2 numbers: matching my current lifestyle, and what I actually need. Daily Starbucks could be sacrificed :p
 

A Muzumdar

New Contributor
Nov 6, 2015
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14
Toronto, Canada
C-E-N-T-S
that sounds neat, like something a VC can use...lol!!!

Getting back to our conversation, I don't think you need to give up the morning latte, I feel for creativity to flow a shot of good coffee is very important, especially in Canada. :)

Budgeting is very important for every entrepreneur, it's more like streamlining your resources (what you have? and what you can use?) One thing, I learned from some successful people in my family (who are all business owners by the way) that it's all in the fine print or rather details. Also, become a wealth builder, think like the banks, they don't make anything and still create money out of thin air. On that note there is a rare book and a great read by an Australian writer Brian Sher, "Money out of Thin Air". I am sure you can dig up a ebook version of it on the web...don't know whether there is an audio book of it though.

Nice to hear that you have RAILS up your sleeve, I always RoR was a very neat framework to build some good software. You must have heard of Jason Fried from Basecamp, they have a great book that might interest you "Rework" (this has an audio version).

I am sure you are going to be someone who is at the helm of another wonderful Tech StartUP...remember DISRUPTION is KEY...:)
 

TooSlow

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Oct 30, 2015
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Edmonton, Canada
I read Rework a couple years ago. I remember finding it a worthwhile read, but I can't recall any of it, so a refresher wouldn't be a bad idea! I did find a copy of How to Make Money out of Thin Air to add to my growing list :)

I spent some time last night going over the past 3 months worth of expenses, categorizing and averaging them out to find a rough monthly budget.

Income: 4850
Mortgage: -1350
Utilities:-850
Health:-150
Food:-750
Alcohol:-100
Random:-250

So it's around $3,500/mo to meet my current expenses (without my 10% salary RRSP contributions). I could cut this down by another 4-500 or so if needed.

I also went through my various savings/investment accounts:

Cash: $19k
Unregistered: $24k
Registered: $30k

Liquidating my stock account, I'd have enough for 1 year of no income (and no unusual expenses like a vacation or household emergencies). About 6 months using only cash savings. This is probably as much of a safety net as anyone needs to quit their job and start a business. I guess I feel a bit of fear that nothing would take off, and I'd have to go back to work after a year having lost all the savings I've been working hard for. At least I don't imagine I'd have too much trouble finding another programming job if it was just a 1 year break. In the mean time, I still need to find something worth devoting my time to, to actually have a reason to quit the job.
 

Jtravismedia

New Contributor
Oct 19, 2015
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There is also the option of moving, even to a crappy flat, but in a more interesting place. Then getting a job with a very very new company (coding allows you to do that) and very small. Either that or start talking to the more business sided people where you work. You can also try out a few business ideas while you work (which would be perfect if you move to a nicer place, more interesting job with start up mindsets). Or go travelling for six months, clear your head and think. Work in loads of random industries and realise how transferable a cafe job is to a software company etc
 

chriss.greig

New Contributor
Nov 16, 2014
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14
Harnessing that "extra time" you have is really the key here. (You don't need to quit your other job at this point it sounds like a breeze for your skill level)

Once you accept that you need to get moving on the rest of your life i would find a job nearer your home or sell and move to gain that time back. (A house to live in is just another possesion as far as im concerned) (even if your salary went down)

I run two businesses that net me a combined 150k income. While this isnt retirement money it has been growing yearly by leaps and bounds as each business grows. (3 years ago 60-70k)

The devil of work is exactly what you described.. not having the ability to affect the outcome no matter if your work is good or bad!

Find a company that will let you code for results driven projects where hours arent a concern. It's not important what the project is your objective is to free up even more of your time by being an awesome coder for this new company.

I convinced my CEO to pay me yearly plus bonus based purely on hitting our growth goals. No time sheet, no punch card. I haven't missed a goal in 3 years and I never dedicate more than 30 hours/week to the business. (But it grows) (key is hiring good people)

With my spare time i started an indie video game studio which now employs 25 people and has about $1million revenue this year. (Approx 30 hours a week)

The key is harnessing that extra time..

TV doesnt exist. No sleeping in. Realisitc quantitative goals are set and hit every month.

Once you get into goal setting its the most natural thing in the world.

You can do it.. don't accept being tired and stressed!

Take action today. I do all this with a wife and a 2yr old at home!

I have the right to say.. NO EXCUSES!!

Cheers!!
 
Last edited:

A Muzumdar

New Contributor
Nov 6, 2015
7
4
14
Toronto, Canada
That is a nice breakdown of haves and have-nots...!!! :)

I think you can take a 6-month sabbatical, if you are afraid to jump with both feet in. There is a great site "SpringWise.com", that will get your creative juices flowing to see what others around the world are doing in through disruption. Also, look at what if scenarios for already prevalent products and services, this exercise helps you to innovate better or sometimes just a better mouse-trap can do the trick.

Without leaving your job, can you invest a small sum towards acquiring a small operating business, say a website or app from site like "Flippa.com" and run it for some time and then make it better and flip-it for a profit. This might be something of interest for you as you are already have the coding know-how. The main thing is to take actions however small that might be.

All you need is a small investment (about $100 CDN per month) and a little time to get started (few hours per week)...there is a good book by Chris Guillebeau "The $100 StartUp". Think about it...!!! :)
 

chriss.greig

New Contributor
Nov 16, 2014
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17
14
I also strongly disagree with the job quitting philosophy. If your objecitve is to get out of the slow lane having dual income streams only amplifies that ability.

1.not working will very likely weaken your financial position

2. There are more than enough hours in a week for two projects

3. If your current job isnt satisfying you thats simply because one shouldnt expect to find satisfaction in a time for money transaction! Its just a job!

Go find whatever it is thats wsiting for you.

I apologize for my enthusiasm but i live and breath these beliefs.
 

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Delmania

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Aug 21, 2015
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3. If your current job isnt satisfying you thats simply because one shouldnt expect to find satisfaction in a time for money transaction! Its just a job!

I can agree with this. I've changed jobs repeatedly the past 5 years. After about a year, I feel immensely dissatisfied and unfulfilled and I start looking again. I realized the issue is with me, I don't like the loss of control and lack of freedom in a regular job. Even though I do need to change my current job (it's not a good place for me), I know I need to look elsewhere for what I want.
 

TooSlow

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Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Oct 30, 2015
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Edmonton, Canada
Not a whole lot of progress here. It's -19C outside this morning, and if I could find a way to turn my negative feelings towards that into long-term motivation, I'd be all set!

I got my less-than-cost-of-living annual raise, and there's no bonuses this year since the company isn't profitable. How encouraging!

I do have one idea for an online business in the works. Researched the features of the biggest competitors, and have started a list for what I'd include, splitting it up by MVP and future features. I feel there's good potential to out-do current sites, especially on the usability side. They already have proven monetization and pricing I could match, and from my rough estimates one of them is pulling in around $10k/mo.

It'd all be user-provided content, so building a critical mass of users will be key. To gain market share I'd need to advertise directly to various online forums where my target audience hangs out, as well as getting high page rank on some key search terms. And the MVP will need to offer a clear advantage to each type of user. It's the type of service that customers could use in addition to the competition, so I wouldn't need to steal customers, just get them to try mine while providing a better and more effective experience.

The only problem is the niche isn't something I could let work find out about, and probably not family either. That means private domain registration and I'm assuming one of the business types I could start would let me stay somewhat anonymous as an individual running it. It's legal, but not for conservative minds!
 

Impressive M

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Nov 22, 2015
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What do you think about House hacking? Selling current house, buying a duplex, live in 1 side and rent other, basically the rent should pay your mortgage or 80% of your mortgage if you put 20-25% down, i am assuming that shouldn't be a problem. There's extra $1000 a month you can save... Just my 2 cents
 

oimate

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The only problem is the niche isn't something I could let work find out about, and probably not family either. That means private domain registration and I'm assuming one of the business types I could start would let me stay somewhat anonymous as an individual running it. It's legal, but not for conservative minds!

yes private domain just costs about $10 extra when buying the domain-Assuming the business type is based in and around the sex/toys and accessories industry but dont want family to know etc-How are you going to control stock (if you arent going to use dropshipping)?
 

TooSlow

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Oct 30, 2015
31
35
115
Edmonton, Canada
What do you think about House hacking? Selling current house, buying a duplex, live in 1 side and rent other, basically the rent should pay your mortgage or 80% of your mortgage if you put 20-25% down, i am assuming that shouldn't be a problem. There's extra $1000 a month you can save... Just my 2 cents

Half duplexes don't seem to be a whole lot cheaper than single family around here. With my current property just having a small decrepit garage, I think building a new one with a garage suite would be a pretty solid investment. I'd just need to come up with the funds without selling my house.

yes private domain just costs about $10 extra when buying the domain-Assuming the business type is based in and around the sex/toys and accessories industry but dont want family to know etc-How are you going to control stock (if you arent going to use dropshipping)?

I don't want to get into details, but stock wouldn't be an issue. I think I'd just want to avoid some curious person looking up the company name and finding me. I'm probably way too worried about it though, it'd most likely just be a bit of embarrassment then nobody would care. And people would be more likely to find out when they see the fat stacks I'll be making and I have no good explanation!
 

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