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fastlane_dad

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OK so there's a lot to my story - my journey and how it all happened (I'd be willing to share if there's any interest) - but long story short I have recently achieved the pinnacle of the 'fastlane journey' - selling my online business a year ago and amassing a low 8 figure net worth.

This was not a 'get rich quick' story either as this took the better part of the last 15 years to begin my entrepreneurship journey full time, and eventually build a business to the point of sale a decade later. I was working a full time corporate job (with my slowlane degree!) prior to embarking on this wild ride. I quit at 25 years old, and never looked back again or had a boss since that lovely July day. There were MANY failures, trials and tribulations along the way. If you want a 'process' and not an 'event' ---> I am no better example of that.

I am now at a point of figuring out what the best next steps forward are. Some of the things I have started working towards is thinking about starting another business for fun rather than just profit (orienting it closer towards a passion), currently investing the proceeds of the business sale, and gauging if there are other values to chase in this lifetime vs. the constant pursuit of building / scaling / selling businesses and building wealth for wealth's sake (once you figure out your 'enough').

I am late 30s with a small family (one child) and *think* I have close to enough to make my money last until the day I die, so pursuing extra wealth through hard work and additional sacrifice is becoming less and less appealing with each passing day. I have experienced all the exotic rides, dream vacations, top restaurants and parties (all responsibly of course) and many of all the other luxury goods we all aspire to. While great in its own right, and was a lot of my motivation from the get-go -- much of that has lost its charms on me over the years.

Additionally, I am looking forward to merging my life towards providing value to any/all that want help with business advice in any facet. My schedule is open now (as I consider myself partially retired) and I am open to mentoring / coaching anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship, scaling a business or just thinking of ideas / niches to pursue.

I haven't participated much on these boards while pursuing my entrepreneurial journey but am at a point now where I have the time, motivation and willingness to engage in helping others achieve 'the dream.'

In a way I am now back to ground zero - and yes, even though the pressures of day-to-day paycheck are further beyond me, I am in many ways faced with the same but different constraints that I was bootstrapping and growing a business, or trying to figure what is it now that I'm 'optimizing' for.

I am very conservative in my investments as well, so having money does not automatically enroll you in some special club where now 'making money' becomes much easier (in facts sometimes its the opposite when you are afraid of losing it all).

For those wondering how I made the bulk of my money it was through various e-com ventures, latest being an Amazon FBA business that led to an exit. The 'process' took me the better part of the last decade (the Amazon business actually was started exactly a decade ago this month!) - but I have been entrepreneurial in various facets since the age of 14.

While I haven't hit all the tenets of CENTS with my last business (primarily violating control and entry) - the rest of them were hit right on the mark to make it a success.

I'm still learning and browsing these forums weekly but will plan and contribute more as time goes on!
 
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NeoDialectic

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Chiming in to add that I have been working with @fastlane_dad for ~15 years and even though we just recently sold our business together, don't let him make you think he's hung up his work boots!
 
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Kak

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Congrats on the exit! Glad to also hear you aren’t finished making cool things happen!

The world always needs value!
 
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Antifragile

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OK so there's a lot to my story - my journey and how it all happened (I'd be willing to share if there's any interest) - but long story short I have recently achieved the pinnacle of the 'fastlane journey' - selling my online business a year ago and amassing a low 8 figure net worth.

I am now at a point of figuring out what the best next steps forward are. Some of the things I have started working towards is thinking about starting another business for fun rather than just profit (orienting it closer towards a passion), currently investing the proceeds of the business sale, and gauging if there are other values to chase in this lifetime vs. the constant pursuit of building / scaling / selling businesses and building wealth for wealth's sake (once you figure out your 'enough').

I am late 30s with a small family (one child) and *think* I have close to enough to make my money last until the day I die, so pursuing extra wealth through hard work and additional sacrifice is becoming less and less appealing with each passing day.

Additionally, I am looking forward to merging my life towards providing value to any/all that want help with business advice in any facet. My schedule is open now (as I consider myself partially retired) and I am open to mentoring / coaching anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship, scaling a business or just thinking of ideas / niches to pursue.

I haven't participated much on these boards while pursuing my entrepreneurial journey but am at a point now where I have the time, motivation and willingness to engage in helping others achieve 'the dream.'

In a way I am now back to ground zero - and yes, even though the pressures of day-to-day paycheck are further beyond me, I am in many ways faced with the same but different constraints that I was bootstrapping and growing a business, or trying to figure what is it now that I'm 'optimizing' for.

I am very conservative in my investments as well, so having money does not automatically enroll you in some special club where now 'making money' becomes much easier (in facts sometimes its the opposite when you are afraid of losing it all).

For those wondering how I made the bulk of my money it was through various e-com ventures, latest being an Amazon FBA business that led to an exit. The 'process' took me the better part of the last decade (the Amazon business actually was started exactly a decade ago this month!) - but I have been entrepreneurial in various facets since the age of 14.

While I haven't hit all the tenets of CENTS with my last business (primarily control and entry) - the rest of them were hit right on the mark to make it a success.

I'm still learning and browsing these forums weekly but will plan and contribute more as time goes on!

A perfect Monday feel good story. Thanks for sharing.

Keep us posted on the next venture! We need more people like you here posting, contributing, sharing etc.
 
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MJ DeMarco

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Congrats!!! In your 10 years of experience, do you have any quick takes on what it takes to build something from nothing to something?
 
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RicardoGrande

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Congratulations man!
it sounds like you reached the end of your first journey, and though you're not pressed for money, you still have so many questions about what you'll do in the future?

More importantly, thanks for posting that you did have your exit and your big fat fastlane win.
We have countless progress/problem threads, but it feels like catching a ray of sunshine hearing about someone who "won"and did it by sticking to the fastlane.
 
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NeoDialectic

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8 figure net worth and you're concerned about running out of money? C'mon.

Congrats on the successful exit!!

Most people that aren't in this situation don't actually realize how difficult it is to retire with a family at a young age. Especially if your goal isn't to live an ascetic lifestyle.

So let me choose some round numbers for an example. Lets say your worth 10mil. You are comfortable investing 3/4 of your net worth in stocks/bonds. A safe yearly withdrawal rate based solely on history that will guarantee you don't run out of money is about $225,000 a year (adjusted for inflation yearly). Assume 15% taxes on that and your at 195k disposable income. That's great.... But just so you know, thats not the lifestyle you see on instagram of the rich and famous....

We could write a thread on this if enough people are interested, but here are some quick bullet points to get you thinking in the right direction:
  • 4% has been considered the relatively safe number for withdrawal in a retirement portfolio. This type of portfolio survives 95% of cases in history and only leaves a 5% risk of you running out of money.
  • Are you ok with retiring and having a 5% chance of needing to get a job at 75? If not, you are closer to 3%.
  • Are you OK with investing 100% of your net worth in stocks/bonds? No? Then you have to have even more set aside as padding.
  • Oh and 4% is considering a history that includes the worlds longest Bond Bull Market... Where through a majority of the time you could get 5%+ in your checking account!! That is not todays world. Since the time MJ wrote the first Millionaire Fastlane , living on 500k by holding 10mil in the bank is no longer an option. You may get AT BEST 50k to live on from that. You have to carry some decent risk just not to be underwater compared to inflation.
  • This only protects you against history. "The worst thing that has ever happened" has never happened, until one day it does. 70s inflation didn't happen till it did. We have never had the FED literally sending people checks and the govt locking down the country. This presents risk.
  • Notice the word risk over and over again. Risk has real world implications.
  • You will naturally spend more money as you make more money over a long period of time. We are VERY conservative with our spending (considering our past income). We keep lifestyle creep to a minimum.....But over the years it happens. Maybe you could live on 50k a year while having millions..... But I think you would more likely find similar minds on the Lean Fire type forums than these forums (or even compared to most normal people).
Obviously this assumes that you want to just never work again and you want to be guaranteed to be able to live your same lifestyle regardless of what happens in the economy. I think most people would adjust. But the point still stands.
 
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fastlane_dad

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Congrats!!! In your 10 years of experience, do you have any quick takes on what it takes to build something from nothing to something?
Sure - I got enough to fill a book (maybe soon!) - but to start here is what I can go with of the top of my head. Some of these again might sound redundant, and echo much of what the Millionaire Fastlane (and all other MJ books) describes, or sentiments passed around many threads on this forum.

- Before our Amazon business - we were able to build up several businesses to 100K/200K profit a year. In between any business taking off or catching ground we had to try a LOT of ideas that failed or gained no traction. Some of the ideas that succeeded died a slow death because of advertising costs and/or competition and were let go of by us in lieu of more lucrative opportunities at the time.

- 'Passion' was never in the equation. Providing Value / Earning a living was itself the passion and a 'hobby'

- Deliberate small actions day in and day out is what carried us. Learning to profit $1 was a stepping stone to profiting $10. We made a plan and executed / adjusted daily along the way.

- There has to be a 'rub' to the product or service you are selling. Value adds are important, and we try and choose fields with a large market size.

- Timing and where you are directing your effort can many times be important and more so then the idea itself (building ebay business in 2010s would of been a lot more challenging then getting on amazon at same time)

- You don't need to reinvent the wheel. None of the products or ideas we came up with did we have to make anything from scratch. We just improved a bit on what was already out there and put our own spin on it.

- Customer service FTW! One of the e-com businesses we ran - we had a phone number on the website and I picked up EVERY SINGLE PHONE CALL! The conversion rate on that was through the roof. And we probably got nearly 50% of sales through the phone. I knew the product inside out, was able to up-sell, and left many customers happy in the end. Yes customer service especially in the age of robots/automation/large chains taking over is still priceless.

- Our mode of operation has always been bootstrapping, and quick to fail. Nothing we started required a significant investment of money. We were always and constantly lean in our operation (we still use the same $99 walmart desks bought 15 years ago). The constant mentality was how can we test an idea/product in the market. We tested a lot of ideas out before having any sort of product made or figured out. In one way, this saved us countless potential headaches and investments that went nowhere - on the other hand it may have potentially robbed us of going 'all in' on the execution. There were several products we tossed around and experimented with - that were ahead of their time and would of been great sellers if only we stuck with them.

- Almost 0% of my net worth today has so far been made by any 'stock market investment' or a 'hot tip' of any sort. Sure there were revolutionary riches and gains made in crypto / markets / housing over the last decade - I missed out on nearly 95% of that gain.

- There was no one single home run 'event' occurring in any of our business. Much / many of the days were very uneventful - with many of them actually felt like they were 'wasted away' brainstorming, researching, reading and/or deliberately trying and executing on a mini plan we made.

I'm sure there are tons more lessons and reflections learned along the way and I will share those in the future.
 

Chris Sciora

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Most people that aren't in this situation don't actually realize how difficult it is to retire with a family at a young age.
I will counter your math with my reality of knowing several hundred millionaires ranging from single digit net worth to one centi-millionaire. The handful that are fearful about running out of money have always been fearful and will remain fearful until they stop breathing. The guy running the Financial Samurai blog is like that. Sam knows a lot about finance, but his grasp of personal fulfillment and life satisfaction is non-existent. No number in the bank will give them peace.

The rest of the millionaires I know have zero concerns. They learned about "enough" ages ago.
 

biophase

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I will counter your math with my reality of knowing several hundred millionaires ranging from single digit net worth to one centi-millionaire. The handful that are fearful about running out of money have always been fearful and will remain fearful until they stop breathing. The guy running the Financial Samurai blog is like that. Sam knows a lot about finance, but his grasp of personal fulfillment and life satisfaction is non-existent. No number in the bank will give them peace.

The rest of the millionaires I know have zero concerns. They learned about "enough" ages ago.
You know several hundred millionaires? ‍
 
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NeoDialectic

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I will counter your math with my reality of knowing several hundred millionaires ranging from single digit net worth to one centi-millionaire. The handful that are fearful about running out of money have always been fearful and will remain fearful until they stop breathing. The guy running the Financial Samurai blog is like that. Sam knows a lot about finance, but his grasp of personal fulfillment and life satisfaction is non-existent. No number in the bank will give them peace.

The rest of the millionaires I know have zero concerns. They learned about "enough" ages ago.

I understand what you are saying and I don't think we are using "fearful" the same way. I am fairly confident I won't run out of money. I was just addressing a commonly held belief that just because you have XX amount, you never have to think about or budget money again.
 
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biophase

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I will counter your math with my reality of knowing several hundred millionaires ranging from single digit net worth to one centi-millionaire. The handful that are fearful about running out of money have always been fearful and will remain fearful until they stop breathing. The guy running the Financial Samurai blog is like that. Sam knows a lot about finance, but his grasp of personal fulfillment and life satisfaction is non-existent. No number in the bank will give them peace.

The rest of the millionaires I know have zero concerns. They learned about "enough" ages ago.
I will counter you that I know about 10 high 7 figure and 8 figure millionaires very well and we all agree that $10M is just not enough to feel comfortable these days if you are in your 30’s and want to live a comfortable life for the next 50 years.

You just want a bigger cushion. How do you spend $10M in 50 years? I don’t know. But it’s quite possible that a McDonalds value meal will be $50 by that time and health insurance will be $5000/mo. You don’t want to regret taking your pedal off the gas too soon and then pay for it when you are 80 living in a shack.
 

Jeannen

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Thanks a lot for sharing your story, it's very valuable for beginners
There was no one single home run 'event' occurring in any of our business. Much / many of the days were very uneventful - with many of them actually felt like they were 'wasted away' brainstorming, researching, reading and/or deliberately trying and executing on a mini plan we made.
This one is a great insight.
I think we often feel unproductive during those days, and try to fill the gaps with "actual work" that isn't that useful. At least that's what I felt recently, always trying to do something, but not stepping back enough to think.

If you ever make a thread/book or anything about your experience, would be glad to read that, especially the parts about finding a product/market fit!
 

SC87Dominik

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Congrats on your achievements. I appreciate you giving back valuable knowledge and wisdom.

While I haven't hit all the tenets of CENTS with my last business (primarily control and entry) - the rest of them were hit right on the mark to make it a success.

Speaking about CENTS, how do you view relying only on Amazon? What made you confident about the barrier of entry?

The constant mentality was how can we test an idea/product in the market. We tested a lot of ideas out before having any sort of product made or figured out.

How did you test the products?


Do you feel that you focused on the needs or problems of the customers first--especially during the process of ideation and early stages of execution?

I assume you won't be creating another Amazon FBA business. Is there a less-mature mentality about business in general that you have grown out of during this process? In other words what kind of mindset shift have you experienced as a result of your journey so far?
 
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MJ DeMarco

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fastlane_dad

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Congrats on your achievements. I appreciate you giving back valuable knowledge and wisdom.



Speaking about CENTS, how do you view relying only on Amazon? What made you confident about the barrier of entry?



How did you test the products?


Do you feel that you focused on the needs or problems of the customers first--especially during the process of ideation and early stages of execution?

I assume you won't be creating another Amazon FBA business. Is there a less-mature mentality about business in general that you have grown out of during this process? In other words what kind of mindset shift have you experienced as a result of your journey so far?
I may have not been clear - control and entry were the parts of CENTS we didn't fully adhere to. The business started off on Amazon - and while the majority of the sales went through there, the sales were eventually expanded into our own shopify store, walmart (online), ebay, etc.

The goal was always to rely on amazon less and less as time went on. Having the bulk of our sales on amazon though (and the risk that comes with that) - was also one of the reasons we decided to sell when we did. Sometimes you need to sell when you're 'up' and take the profits of the table. The numbers also made sense at the time for getting us where we wanted to be for value of company and our 'net worth' objectives.

The way to test depends on what you are testing - the product, the marketing angle, marketplace etc. Will dive deeper into this on a follow up thread.

Yes - focusing on the needs and providing value to the customer will and always is #1 but bottom line you still will never know how the market will respond to your offer until you put it out there. You might think you are solving a 'large' pain point when in fact there are not that many people that need that issue solved.

Regarding mindset shift - we are now at a point figuring out whats next in terms of the 'why', the business and what kind of value can we provide. Money takes a backseat once you objectively hit 'enough', esp if you don't fancy constant 5 star meals every night, new lambos every year and four seasons hotels. I have experienced much of that the last decade while building up the business, and it no longer holds the awe it once did - especially when your value and priorities shift more towards growing a family.
 
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IsaacCP9

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Thanks for sharing this man! Absolute gold to read your story.

It's timely because I launched a content site last year, built it to 50,000 pageviews/mo through SEO, and started building an email list with hopes of launching an e-commerce product Q2 - Q3 this year.

The site is on a relatively niche topic (ownership and buying advice for Tesla Model 3 & Model Y owners).

I know I can sell aftermarket products that add value to this audience.

So, having the audience, is researching/selecting a product through a survey a good idea?

Also, the ideal CENTS business relies as little as possible on other businesses, would you launch on Amazon in my shoes? Or would you launch initially on your own site -- and then consider adding Amazon to the mix?

I've been tempted to sell the content site for low six-figures... but I know this has SO much more potential I can monetize the audience through my own products.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 

mr4ffe

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Congratulations!

You mention that you're considering mentoring entrepreneurs who are starting out.
Have you considered writing books or holding (non-scam) seminars?

I know I'll either do that or become an angel investor when I've become retirement-wealthy.
It sounds like YC and Shark Tank guys know what's up when they invest in and mentor young entrepreneurs (especially in emerging markets worldwide), as that's sort of a hedge against black swans.
 

fastlane_dad

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Thanks for sharing this man! Absolute gold to read your story.

It's timely because I launched a content site last year, built it to 50,000 pageviews/mo through SEO, and started building an email list with hopes of launching an e-commerce product Q2 - Q3 this year.

The site is on a relatively niche topic (ownership and buying advice for Tesla Model 3 & Model Y owners).

I know I can sell aftermarket products that add value to this audience.

So, having the audience, is researching/selecting a product through a survey a good idea?

Also, the ideal CENTS business relies as little as possible on other businesses, would you launch on Amazon in my shoes? Or would you launch initially on your own site -- and then consider adding Amazon to the mix?

I've been tempted to sell the content site for low six-figures... but I know this has SO much more potential I can monetize the audience through my own products.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
What a cool niche list / business that you are building!

Surveys work well for certain answers, but don't rely on them to gauge whether or not to release a product, or what the market will eventually 'buy'.

As far as the amazon business goes - there still IS and will be tons of opportunity on that platform. The current challenge is figuring out how to tap into a very crowded market with your product - that will be key moving forward. It is still an amazing , well built up 'trusted' marketplace, but its their land and not yours. If a product is compatible with that marketplace, should probably be on there. You can list / add products to either your own site or Amazon in whatever order you choose just be aware and realize the pros/cons that you have with an Amazon only marketplace.

Congratulations!

You mention that you're considering mentoring entrepreneurs who are starting out.
Have you considered writing books or holding (non-scam) seminars?

I know I'll either do that or become an angel investor when I've become retirement-wealthy.
It sounds like YC and Shark Tank guys know what's up when they invest in and mentor young entrepreneurs (especially in emerging markets worldwide), as that's sort of a hedge against black swans.

Some knowledge-based products might come in the future, right now the sole focus is helping / aiding / mentoring those who need a leg up and a hand in their journey. This is a long road, and not meant to be climbed solo.

Congratulations! It's always great to hear from those that have made it, gives the rest of us hope XD

Thanks and really appreciate it. The business sale just 'clenched' that chapter and freed up some time, ultimately I already had almost everything I needed and was living my dream life before that happened. It might be seen as an 'event', but the work, hours, sacrificies and constant thoughts surrounding it happened day in day out over the last 15+ years.

The funny part is it still feels like we're only getting 'started' --> and figuring out the next part of the journey from scratch once again.
 
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Crazy GG

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Hi there!

First of all, kudos to you growing your business to such a high level - really interesting that you put a phone number on your eCom site - I don't see a lot of people doing that.

I have recently turned my attention to eCom as well since I think it's a good business model to start if you have a full time job. I have tested a couple of products already from AliExpress and they have all failed, and ad costs on Facebook are very expensive, so even if I did make sales it would be pretty hard to be profitable.

Do you have any advice on someone starting out? Thanks!
 

fastlane_dad

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Hi there!

First of all, kudos to you growing your business to such a high level - really interesting that you put a phone number on your eCom site - I don't see a lot of people doing that.

I have recently turned my attention to eCom as well since I think it's a good business model to start if you have a full time job. I have tested a couple of products already from AliExpress and they have all failed, and ad costs on Facebook are very expensive, so even if I did make sales it would be pretty hard to be profitable.

Do you have any advice on someone starting out? Thanks!
This was nearly a decade ago, with a completely different business that had (shopify) as the only storefront and at the time we determined that personal customer attention could of been a value skew (and turned out to be a huge one at that time!). Being that every penny mattered starting off, I'd pick up and return phone calls almost no matter when they came in. It was also fun to interact directly with the customers and sell them, and then ship a product that we created!

Starting out - the most important tenets are to keep going, keep trying, and try to think of any ways to minimize your product testing / sourcing / marketing cost. Think of ways to generate low cost / free advertising (think social media) - to drive traffic, especially if you are starting out with nothing. Remember to put in work day in day out, research, and make small steps forward daily.
 
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NeoDialectic

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I assume you won't be creating another Amazon FBA business. Is there a less-mature mentality about business in general that you have grown out of during this process? In other words what kind of mindset shift have you experienced as a result of your journey so far?
Our mindset has definitely matured, but I would be careful in claiming that it has become better. Just better for our goals and current situation. Something I am really big on is that there is no optimum mindset. There are just optimum mindsets for a set of goals/values. I think that is where alot of online gurus, inadvertently, mislead their followers. They made their money taking advantage of certain mindsets. Then as they were becoming successful their mindset "matured". They then go on and teach those "matured" mindsets. But thats not what made them successful in the first place!

It's timely because I launched a content site last year, built it to 50,000 pageviews/mo through SEO, and started building an email list with hopes of launching an e-commerce product Q2 - Q3 this year.
Congrats on starting something that is showing signs of success. Now time to fan those flames!

List building is one of the things we realized we should have done a better job doing during our last venture. It can be very powerful, so definitely pay attention to it.
Have you considered writing books or holding (non-scam) seminars?
This is something we are interested in eventually doing but we don't think we are ready yet. We don't want to write something that will just be another rehashing other business books. Honestly, MJ does a fantastic job detailing the framework of starting a business. It's the book we recommend to anyone that asks for help.

We want to find how our unique perspective can help people in a unique way. So even though we are here to help the community, the community is helping us as well!
 

Ernman

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Awesome! Congrats! Now get back to work...OK, just joking, kind of. Take some time to celebrate and then get back to work.

I'm not going to dive into the conversation of how much is enough to ensure your family's security through retirement. But my sense from your comments is that you believe you need more AND that is what matters. However, you are in the enviable position of having both resources and experience.

One of the many things I liked about MJ's recent book, The Great Rat Race Escape , is what he calls the Escape Number. Have you done such an exercise? You might find it helpful as you contemplate your next moves.

I'm looking forward to learning all that you'll share with us and hope that will be A LOT! Also hoping you'll sign up as a presenter whenever we get around to another SUMMIT...hint, hint
 

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