• The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success
  1. Join 40,000+ entrepreneurs
    who are kicking butt and
    winning their dream life.

    Unscripted™ Entrepreneurship:
    A Business That Pays More Than Money, It Pays Time.

    "Fastlane" is an entrepreneur discussion forum based on The Unscripted Entrepreneurial Framework (TUNEF) outlined in the two best-selling books by MJ DeMarco (The Millionaire Fastlane and UNSCRIPTED™). From multimillionaires to digital nomads, the forum features real entrepreneurs creating real businesses.

    Download (Unscripted) Download (Millionaire Fastlane)  Register
    Registering for the forum removes this block!

EXECUTION From Cube Hell to Hawaii Heaven

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by smmirza, Sep 7, 2018.

  1. smmirza
    Offline

    smmirza New Contributor

    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    12
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Rep Bank:
    $69
    Hey Guys,
    Like many of you here, I got exposed to the fastlane idea after stumbling onto this forum many years ago. Seems like a lifetime ago now! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy my story!

    Part One - Is this it?
    It all started with my hopes and dreams being smashed by the sledgehammer of reality. I graduated in 2006 with a degree in Computer Science. I come from a middle class family and all the people I have known worked 9-5 jobs. Starting your own business was considered a very risky move by Uncle Tom, Dick and Harry. My father had tried starting a couple of businesses (slowlane ofcouse) but failed and had settled with a J.O.B. and the regular low paycheck that came along with it. I was always brainwashed into thinking that working hard and pleasing your employer was the only way to achieve success. Whatever that meant. So, when I got accepted into college, I diligently started pursuing a Computer Science degree since I had read that it was a booming field and jobs were aplenty. I worked 40+ hours/week in addition to going to school as I did not want to burden my dad with extra college expenses. He helped me out as much as he could but I knew it was hard for him. Anyway, I graduated college in 3.5 years and then promptly started looking for jobs. I got a job as a software developer in a financial services company. The job was very boring and consisted of 8 hours/day sitting in front of the computer and debugging COBOL programs written before I was born. I got very disillusioned with this work. The cube life was slowly strangling me and I could not fathom doing this for the next 40 years. Many days while driving to work I thought about swerving my car into oncoming traffic just so I could be done with this torture once and for all.

    Anyway, after working at this job for 4 years, I decided I had had enough. I switched fields to a Business Analyst position and quickly realized that this was the same crappy job with a different title and surroundings. Everything started wearing on me and I really got depressed. It was around this time that I started looking to start my own business/be an entrepreneur. I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was, all I knew was that if I stayed in a cube I would end up killing myself. I stumbled onto this forum and quickly realized that there were many guys in the same situation as myself. I ordered The Millionare Fastlane book and read it cover to cover multiple times. I was struck with the simplicity of the model and it made logical sense to me. I decided I had to act or be stuck in this sad existence for the rest of my life. Incidentally, I was in Chicago working for a bank during this time. So, like MJ DeMarco, I decided to sell all off my stuff on Craiglist, quit my job and packed everything in my car to drive to Phoenix. Family and friends warned me that I was making a very stupid decision and I would regret it for the rest of my life. But I did not care. I tried telling them I hated working a 9-5 job and that there was another way, a better way, to make money. But, to no avail. I had to do what I had to do. It took a lot of guts to quit a job and move to a different city altogether, but in retrospect it was the right decision. It gave me the impetus to move forward and forge a different path, a path to being an entrepreneur.

    Part Two - Find The Need

    After arriving in Phoenix and having the rush of adrenaline wear off I quickly realized that I had to start working on a plan to make money. I knew the basic principles of the fastlane business but honestly knowing something and actually doing it are two completely different animals. I was still a brainwashed chump and decided to work on what I already knew. I knew how to program and build websites. So, against all the teachings of the great teacher Mr. DeMarco, I started a web design business called Helox Web Solutions. I went and splurged on business cards, built an amazing site and also started a contest for the logo on some freelancing website. I burned through some of my savings even before I had a trickle of money coming in. The business failed spectacularly in that I did not have a single client show interest. The problem was, as is the case with any business that fails, that I was a fish among many other fishes in the same pond. Web design firms are a dime a dozen and I did not have a compelling USP. I also realized that I was simply trading a job where I worked for someone for another job where I worked for someone else. If that makes any sense. Indeed, one of the fundamentals of a fastlane business is that it MUST run without you being present. If a business requires you to put in time day in and day out then it is not fastlane. I honestly did not want to be sitting and making cookie cutter websites in WordPress or whatever flavor of the month platform was hip. I had to think differently. I was now 6 months into my adventure and my bank account was going into famine mode. As a side gig, until I came up with a great idea, I decided to tutor international students going to a university. I came across a guy posting he needed homework help on Craigslist and thought hey this isn’t such a bad idea. The going rate was around $25/hr and the guy seemed pretty desperate. Long story short, I realized that there was a huge market for tutors helping international students. I was getting calls left and right with students wanting me to tutor them in Math, Physics or proofread essays. I quickly realized that if I could build a freelancing site where I could connect tutors with students, I would have a fastlane business.

    Part Three - Failure Is The Price To Be Paid

    I had built websites before, but the scale and complexity required to develop a website of this magnitude was beyond me. However, I was determined to not go back to the hell hole which was the 9-5 job working for the man churning out code to screw over people on HELOC loans or whatever shady scheme cooked up by a bank vice president. I had zero knowledge about databases and PHP. I started downloading PHP login tutorials and messing with them. I finally had the login and registration page done. Within a month, I had a basic website done that would allow people to register as tutors/students and post tutorial requests. I was finally ready to launch in December 2011. AceThatClass.com was launched and I started spamming Craigslist to drum up business. Finally after spamming and getting blocked and creating new accounts and spamming again, I had my first sale through PayPal. I still remember that day when I got an email from PayPal that someone had paid. I was ecstatic. I now had full confidence that this site would be huge and I would be sipping margaritas on the beach in a couple of months :). Right after that initial email, I got an email from the customer complaining that the payment went through but the confirmation page was not working. So, I jumped into the code to figure out the problem and fixed it. Finally, I had a fastlane business and could smell the green! I need to back up a bit, as the site was starting to gain traction, my bank account was depleting faster and it seemed clear to me that I had to go back into 9-5 job for a while to replenish my bank account. I abhorred the thought of sitting in a cubicle again after 8 months of freedom but I had to go back into hell one more time. So, I applied for a Business Analyst position and got a job at an insurance company in Phoenix. I would go to work and when I would come back I would jump into coding, trying new things out and adding features. I also started reading voraciously into split testing, email marketing and SEO marketing. It was a great time as my mind was basically a sponge gathering all the intel it could. The 9-5 job further stoked my entrepreneurial fire and I was determined that this would be the last time I would see the insides of a cubicle. I worked the job for 18 months all the while working feverishly on marketing and optimizing AceThatClass. I quit once the site was making more than my monthly paycheck.

    Part Four - Sipping Margaritas in Hawaii

    AceThatClass was making some serious bank and I was doing some real crazy SEO marketing. I was #1 for college homework help for a while. Things were going great until Google started rolling out their Panda update (or was it Giraffe? I forget). Anyway, my site got penalized pretty bad. It is a strange thing to have an obsession. Looking back I sometimes wonder if someone asked me to do what I did all over; would I be able to do it? The obsession caused me to steamroll through any road block thrown in my way. I changed the name of the site to AceMyHomework.com and decided to build whitehat links. Anyway, that worked for a while until Google rolled out another animal and I was down in the tubes for my SEO ranking. I then realized that just using SEO was not smart. I then read up on Facebook marketing, Bing and Adwords marketing. I targeted all these platforms and stopped worrying about SEO. I focused on building the business organically and making sure the customer was happy. Always treat your customer as KING. Word of mouth is the best way to grow your business. So, finally I had a fastlane business and let me tell you it is sweeter than you can imagine. I wake up when I want, work when I want. I have travelled to Italy, Hawaii and pretty much all over the U.S. My lifestyle hasn’t changed much as I believe in living modestly. But to each his own. Time is what I value most and I am blessed to have a lot of it. The freeing up of time has also allowed me to pursue other business ventures and to invest in other opportunities. Each business has a life cycle and I think AceMyHomework has reached its pinnacle. Competition is growing and honestly I am getting bored of it. So now, I decided to repurpose the code and launch a website in the freelancing domain. As we all are aware, freelancing sites suck and they charge fees for basically doing nothing. I came up with the idea of having a freelancing site that charges zero fees (imagine that!) and allows people to exchange contact info. Monetizing it will be something I will think of in the future but right now, I feel that this will be a great USP against the old dinosaurs out there. Feel free to check it out: Darnova.com

    Anyway, this has been a long and tedious read but I do hope you get something out of it. If I had to leave you with a bit of advice it would be to sell people what they want to buy. And to follow MJ DeMarco’s guide to the letter. He is a smart and honest man. Good luck!
     

Share This Page