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INTRO My story after years of hustling...

Discussion in 'Forum Introductions (Who are you!?)' started by rybanez, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. rybanez
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    rybanez Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Hi, my name’s Ryan and I’m 36 years old. Here’s a little bit about me:

    2000: Early beginnings.

    I started an indie record label with a friend and we released albums for some friend’s bands and did a few sub-genre compilation CDs that we sold over the internet. Did this as a side hustle till about 2006.

    2004: Stock market investing 101.

    I started to learn about the market during this time and bought Netflix as my 2nd stock ever at a split-adjusted price of $1.57/share. I was a customer and loved their service. Unfortunately, I got spooked by some downward movement and sold out at a small loss, and never bought it back. I hear I missed out on some upside ;-)

    2005: Rock star phase.

    Put in my two-week notice at my job and went on tour with a band I was in. Bought a van, invested in merch, and saved 1 year’s living expenses so I could be a rock star for a while. I booked nearly all the shows myself and handled all logistics. After ONE MONTH, my bandmates whined about needing to get back to their day jobs (they’d run out of funds). They returned to their day jobs while I did odd-jobs, continued my independent studies, and lived in my parent’s basement. At 23, I knew I didn’t want to be a loafer—I paid them rent and sold some belongings, such as video games, on Ebay to get by.

    2006: The hustle begins.

    Started teaching guitar lessons and worked at a music store part-time. I built up a roster of about 65 private students per week. Worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Meanwhile, I wanted to move out of my rent’s place and buy a house. In about a year and a half from getting my 1st guitar student, I saved $40k for a downpayment, then started searching for a house, which were selling for outrageous prices at the time. I decided to hold off on buying any real estate and kept most of my money in the stock market instead.

    2008: Went bricks and mortar.

    I sold all my stock holdings in Feb 2008 (got lucky there), and opened a bricks and mortar music store and lesson studio. Classic case of “do what you love,” but what can I say… I was still operating under the Script doctrine. Needless to say, while business started off well in early 2008, we lost half of our revenue by 2009.

    2011: Rock bottom housing.

    After slogging through the Great Recession, I managed to get my music store back on solid ground without taking on any debt. Once things turned around, I rented an apartment above my store in 2010 to reduce my travel time to 30 steps. One problem: the intersection was busy (good for business, not so good for sleep). Around early 2011, I decided to finally buy a house (a foreclosure at a hefty discount). I spent several months fixing it up before moving in.

    2012: Closing in on my FTE.

    My store’s manager left after 4 years working for me to become a music teacher at a school district. I decided to replace her with myself. Now my time was further tied to running the store while I tried to “do what I love” (teaching guitar). Free time eluded me.

    2014: My FTE arrives in full force.

    I was a hamster on a wheel and I knew it. I continued to read every book I could (including TMF). The more I learned, the more I realized my business was no more than a job I created for myself. I’m sure everyone here has heard the story a million times. It’s not that I wasn’t making enough money—I was making double what I needed to live. The issue was that not much living was going on. I was trapped and ready to break free.

    2015: The year I took action.

    I hired several teachers to take on new guitar students (and some of my least favorite students) while I let churn gradually reduce the rest of my workload. I made a “not-to-do” list and hired a few part-timers to handle most of those tasks. I also set up a home office and used software to be able to access our POS computer at the store (so I could do all inventory work, payroll, etc from home without distraction). Business hummed along nicely, though my pay was decimated. I cashed out most of an IRA, tightened my belt, and forged on. I finally had my time back, now I needed more money. I also needed to get started on a new road (the one I was traveling was fraught with potholes). Long story short, I spent 3 days at my store per week, and with everything running on its own otherwise, spent 4 days at home. I focused on creating new projects, one fail after another. With each failure, I learned a crucial piece of info that helped the next project a little. At the end of the year, I was running low on cash. I doubled down on my efforts and 12-hour days turned into 16. Eventually, I found an underserved niche, figured out what the market wanted that wasn’t being provided (with the help of online reviews), and set out to deliver. By the end of 2015, instead of continuing to hire local W2 and 1099 workers, I set my sights to online talent for help. While slowly going broke, I didn’t even know that my whole world was about to change.

    2016: The year that everything changed.

    The last project I started in December of 2015 launched two months later and sales started coming in. Within a few months, I made more than my best year at the music store. Over the next several months, I was profiting 7-8x what I needed to live. The money kept coming in as I continued to rebuild my savings while working on my new project. But I had a tough decision to make: continue to split my time between my online business and my music store or focus exclusively on my new venture. I opted for the latter, and subsequently closed my store at the end of the year.

    2017: Winding Down

    It was a tough process to close down a retail store and lesson studio that had instrument rental contracts with school districts. Not only did we have several employees, but we had about 8 teachers and many people in the area who loved what we did. I focused on helping the teachers transition to a nearby church where they could continue to teach their students, so my business decision wouldn’t disrupt their income or their student’s progress in learning. As hard as this period in my life was, I have no regrets. By mid-2017, I also winded down the instrument rental business and gave the rest of my remaining guitar students away to trusted teachers who either worked with me at my store or who I’d known for years.

    Present: Just getting started.

    I currently work from home and finally have my life back. I only teach guitar occasionally for fun (I have 1 student now, one of my neighbors). I wake up each day with the mission of providing value for others. I’m happy to say I don’t chase dollars anymore; I chase problems to solve. But I have a lot more to learn, and welcome the challenges that will inevitably pop up. And all the while, I still read up on things that interest me, such as investing (though I’m mostly in cash now). I plan on learning more about options soon, particularly the sell-side part of it.

    I’m grateful to have stumbled on TMF and Unscripted at a crucial moment in my life—both books made all the difference. And as a life-long learner, this forum is a true gift. I’m excited to provide as much value as I can here. Thanks!
     
  2. SROWE85
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    SROWE85 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Hi Ryan,

    Love the last paragraph. I'm on the same path - trying to find ways to add value rather than chasing the cash. One of the most rewarding things in life is to give back and help others, and with a CENTS based business i believe the outcome is inevitable.

    I'm glad to see a fellow ex-guitar teacher on the forum, this post struck a chord (pun fully intended!)

    I'm guessing your are an Ibanez fan too.. ;)

    All the best in your endeavours, sir.

     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  3. CPisHere
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    CPisHere Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Tell us more about the last project you are now doing. Is it related to music? How did you get into it?
     
  4. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Freaking incredible introduction. Rep+

    Welcome aboard my friend, great to have you.
     
    Caroleen M and juggler619 like this.
  5. rybanez
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    rybanez Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Thanks! You're right that it's all about the value added. A shifted view of money--considering them value vouchers, instead--is one of the best ways I've found to stay on track and not slip back into money-chasing habits.

    I am indeed an Ibanez fan (particularly the MIJ ones with the wizard necks). I was wondering how long it would take someone to catch that reference... :smile2: How long were you teaching guitar?

    I hope to bump into you on here often. Cheers!
     
  6. rybanez
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    rybanez Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Hi, thanks for your question! The last project I mentioned is in the publishing space. It was something I was interested in other than music and was another lever I pulled in 2015. Though I believe it's far from Fastlane, it was a better road than I was on back then so I took it. It had better scalability, easily determinable needs (through reading "pain-point-filled" marketplace reviews). The issues I've found is that the barrier to entry is super low, it's time intensive, and depending on the sales channels used and how one sets things up, control is continually dwindling.

    As I said, I'm just getting started - I'll be grinding out a new road over the next few years that I believe can provide more longterm viability. In fact, I have already started that project on the side, and it meets all of the CENTS commandments. It's a local service business in the waste management niche (can't get less sexy than that). I plan on posting a progress thread soon for that.
     
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  7. rybanez
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    rybanez Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Thank you for the warm welcome, MJ. I'm glad to be here.
     
  8. CPisHere
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    CPisHere Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Medical Waste disposal is a hell of a business if you can get into it.
     
    rybanez likes this.
  9. rybanez
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    rybanez Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I've heard that it is. I believe most anything waste-related can be lucrative simply since it's always needed (no matter how the economy is) and nobody wants to do it.
     
  10. rollerskates
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    rollerskates Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Great intro! Welcome. :)
     
    rybanez likes this.
  11. SROWE85
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    SROWE85 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    I wasn't teaching for too long and i certainly wasn't prolific as you. I could feel the love for it dwindling very early on as I found that i no longer had time to focus on my own development. I did the same with Martial arts and taught professionally for years. Until reading TMF i spouted the classic "do what you love" BS. As i am sure you are aware, the book points out why this isn't such a good idea in more ways than one..

    I'm looking forward to witnessing your progress - By the sound of things you are already exploring industries outside of your comfort zone.

    I am hoping to develop a CENTS business that will eventually give me plenty of time to play those wizard necks as much as i want...
     
    rybanez likes this.
  12. rybanez
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    rybanez Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    I see it all the time now - "do what you love" gradually erodes the original love, if not completely jeopardizes it. For most, it's not if but when it happens. The more I taught guitar, the less I played for me, and it's something I hear echoed by nearly all the guitar teachers I know. Most just shrug it off as part of "the business," but personally, I couldn't continue on that path.

    We're among the lucky ones. We've seen the light, and while others focus on the short term (doing what they love, consuming more than they produce, existing in a lulled state of comfort), we can take focused action each and every day to create long-lasting value.

    Where are you at currently in developing your CENTS business?
     
  13. SROWE85
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    SROWE85 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Right at the beginning..

    I'm in the "research" phase, trying to find a way to add value to the world. I have had several ideas, one of which i am making a prototype for.

    Up until now i've been the classic "wantrepreneur" and have lacked meaning and purpose, which has kept me from taking action. I had my FTE event and now spend every second either on this forum or doing my research. I get lost on this forum. There is a vast amount of knowledge so i'm trying to make sure that everything that i read is relevant to taking the next step. I don't feel that i am action faking but i am cautious of becoming a busy fool.

    My current goal is to identify a need that can fit a CENTS framework (duh, who on here isn't doing that!?).

    I have been on this forum for the best part of three days and my mindset has already significantly shifted, so i am certainly enjoying the process.
     
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  14. rybanez
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    rybanez Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Glad to hear you're taking action and making a prototype.

    Becoming a "busy fool" is something I've done more than I'd like to admit. You are wise to only seek out relevant information. Learning to focus only on the information that's applicable to the problem at hand is crucial.

    And the mindset shift is key. The more you learn, the more it shifts. Personally, I like it when I think back to my prior-week self and think, "That guy had a lot to learn."

    Always keep learning, always keep improving, and always keep pulling the lever.
     
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