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NOTABLE! My Story Of Success, Escaping Rat Race (admist cushy job)

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Vick

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My Story Of Success

This thread is about my journey through entrepreneurship. Very soon I will cross the #1 goal off my dream list. Therefore to me, it's a success story, and means everything to me.

I decided to place this thread outside the "Insiders" section, so that newbies can read it. I know there are a lot of hopeful entrepreneurs on this forum who are in the exact same position I was. Stuck in the rat race, looking for a way out.

Hopefully this thread will motivate and help some of you to accomplish your dreams.

Just like I'm about to do.

Cheers,

Mark



PART 1:

"Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."

- Henry David Thoreau


In a few weeks time, one of my dreams comes true. I check off the most important goal on my dream list.

I free myself from the rat race.

I'm a little early in writing this, but I don't give a shit, I feel like writing it now. Rarely am I in a writing mood.

March 27th 2015 is the day I free myself from the rat race. Or as I like to call it... Hell.

Because that's exactly what it feels like to me.

And I will never return. Ever!

It's hard to describe how I feel right now. Nothing really compares.

This day means everything to me, It's #1 on my dream list. And hey, It only took me 4 F#%@ing years!

Sure it would be nice to have a Lambo one day, and I'm sure I'll be pretty damn happy when I buy one. But I know that the enjoyment will be fleeting.

Where as my freedom will not be.



"It always seems impossible until its done."

- Nelson Mandela


That's how I used to think. The impossible part.

I grew up thinking that it was impossible for me to become a millionaire. Although I am not one yet, and probably won’t be for a few more years, it no longer feels unfeasible. In fact it's quite the opposite, it feels quite feasible. Dare I say... Easy.

Now don't get me wrong, I've had some pretty rough times pursuing this goal, there have been many brain F*cks along the way,(the mental ones are the hardest) thankfully the joyful moments out weight those. So when I say easy, I'm comparing it to my previous goal in life. Which was finding a job in the field I choose. Which I'll get to later.

Also, I use the term millionaire, because for me the term millionaire, means freedom. And that's what my real journey is about.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where money is a necessity. If you don't have any, chances are you'll probably die. That is unless you live off the land and you hunt and kill your own food, then your respectfully exonerated from this conversation. I give you props.

It is true, there are more important things in life other then money, such as family, friends and life itself.

But to fully enjoy those aspects at 100% capacity, you need to free yourself from the shackles of the rat race.

And to do that, you need money.

I don't care what your number is, that's your business. My number is freedom. The freedom to enjoy life as much as possible.

I think this quote pretty much sums it up.

"Wealth is the ability to fully experience life."

- Henry David Thoreau

That's what money means to me now.

Period.




I Had No Choice


I started my journey into Entrepreneurship around 2011.

It was about 6 months after I started working for Ubisoft.

~Side Note: And I'm serious when I say this, I didn't even know what the word "Entrepreneur" meant at that time. I shit you not!

Anyway, I spent about 10 years focused on getting into a place like Ubisoft. It meant everything to me (at the time). I had to succeed, otherwise what would I do? It was the only way I knew of to use my talent to make a living. Or I should say, the only way I was told. It's not my parents or teachers fault, because that's the only way they knew. And I know they only wanted the best for me.

After many years of school and hard work, and busting my a$$ in my free time trying to get into the industry, I finally did it in October of 2010 (I was at a much smaller studio 1 year before Ubi, but that wasn't the goal). Keep in mind, I started Art college in 2000, f#%@ed up the first year and drank all my dads money away, then got my shit together the following year. Spent 4 years at Sheridan Art College then went to Full Sail in Orlando for Computer Animation for about 17-20 months, cant remember exactly. So ya, about 5-6 years of schooling. Then another year or so busting my a$$ on my own, because school wasn't enough, you need more then just schooling to make it, at least in my field.

So ya, I did it! It was 2010 and I finally got into the video game industry, and was working for one of the largest game developers in the world. Yay! A good goal to achieve... So I thought.

Then, out of nowhere, about 6 months in, everything started to change.

I began to dread going into work. As the days went by, more and more it became worse. Until the inevitable... I hated it. I couldn't envision a future where I was happy doing what I was doing. I felt the same way @biophase did, can’t remember what Bio said exactly, but it was something like this. "I didn't necessarily hate what I did, what I hated was the routine."

I hated what I built for myself. I felt that my life was wasting away.

In contrast, I thought I was building a great life for myself. But in reality, what I was really building, was a prison. One that is very difficult to escape from.

Sure, making video games is pretty damn cool. But in the end, It's still just a job, I'm still confined to a desk all day long taking orders 5 days a week, and all the other bullshit that comes with it. Which is kind of bad to say, because so many people out there just need jobs and people are lined out the front door for my position. But I had to set that mentality aside and focus on my life and make a change, otherwise I would be severely depressed.

Fortunately, I hated it so much, that I had no choice. It was either free myself from this hell OR spend the rest of my life being miserable.

When you look at your life is this perspective, the decision becomes pretty obvious.

Unfortunately, it's not as obvious to the people in your life that love you...For example, your family.

But you can ease there indecisiveness/confusion/WTF are you talking about mentality. Because they definitely won’t accept it with open arms, they may show it on the outside, but inside they'll think your stupid. It's very difficult for people to accept doing shit on your own, when all they know is what everyone else knows. They like to play it safe.

So your first task should be to convince them, because your going to need there support. This is also your first attempt at selling. You must sell them your dream.

So how do you do that? How do you convince your wife/her family/your family that you can create something that would be valuable to someone else?

Easy.

You don't! You don’t mention it at all. You create your idea before telling anyone.

Do it behind closed doors, before mentioning anything.

This is exactly what I did. Because I knew it would ease the blow. Because for me, it was a big blow, after all the hard work I did in school, etc.

Secretly I worked at night on creating the building blocks of my first business idea. Which was fairly easy for me because it was art related, so my wife thought I was just painting in the computer, therefore she was none the wiser. (This was my first business attempt, an online art business, I sold modern digital artwork on large canvases, the business was called Pixel Prints.)

I spent about 3 months secretly making paintings in the computer. Then when I had enough tangible goods to show her. I presented the idea to her.

When I showed her the idea, her eyes widened and she said something like... "I was wondering why you were always painting those stupid things, usually your making monsters."

After a quick explanation of the idea, she was all for it. Her next words were... "When can you start selling them?"

If I didn't have the business planned out and paintings made. She would've never been swayed so easily. I showed her that I could take action, before words. Which led to her being way more supportive.

So my advice. Keep your idea and dream to yourself until you can effectively showcase all the details.

It's also a good lesson on being proactive and learning to turn the TV off, taking action and being persistent. People will see that, and they respect it. You need to take action before mentioning your entrepreneur aspirations. Otherwise to them, you’re just a dreamer.

~Side Note: I should also mention, I was doing all this stuff before I read MJ's book, in fact it was before I read any business book. Only later once Pixel Prints was active for awhile did I venture into educating myself on business. At the time, I just knew what I needed to know...What do I sell, and how do I sell it! I also educated myself by watching a lot Youtube videos at work all day long(don't do this a lot, it's procrastinating, I did it only at my day job because I couldn't do anything else business related). Anyway, it was a huge benefit of having a job where I sit in front of the computer all day. My job was paying me to work, but it was also paying me to free myself from them. Ironically.

Anyway, I ran this business for about a year, but I eventually did what Kevin O'leary would've done. I took it out back and shot it. Why?

It wasn't selling.

I failed.


Part 2:

You Will Fail, So Get Use To It!

 

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Michał Kóska

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Man, this is really good, can't wait to read Part 2!
 

wilddog

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Dammit Vick. Start selling those aviators so I can come buy a pair and shake your hand!!
 
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Vick

Vick

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Dammit Vick. Start selling those aviators so I can come buy a pair and shake your hand!!
lol, They won't be ready until around September unfortunately. We decided to open a mold for one of the pieces, to further push the brand. So an additional 3 months is added to the production timeline.
 

Weaponize

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Thanks for sharing @Vick

I love reading about peoples process, starting with heart-ache and moving towards success over time. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Congrats @Vick !
 

Jake

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Great write up. I've been following you since the beginning and I'm a happy customer. I've witnessed the sweat and dare I say "passion" (to create) going into your product so I'll probably continue to be a customer. Keep kicking a$$, Vick. Whatever success you've experienced it's been well deserved. I remember the days of "Just ordered a 3D printer, guys"

<- Happy customer. I went golfing with your shades today in Bangkok, Thailand. How cool is that?

I enjoy every sale I make but an international sale from a country I've never been to always feels awesome.

Well deserved.
 

d.weglarz13

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Thanks man for posting this outside. I can't wait to read more!! This place never stops inspiring, thanks to all the great people here. I feel fortunate to be able to see your whole process, good and bad. Thanks

Dave


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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exclusives88

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Aw where is Part II?

My significant other is all for it so I don't have to worry about not having a product yet. My friends and family, now that is a different story!
 

joncrx

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I agree with MJ, definitely gold in the making, and I appreciate so much the perspective you shared about doing the work before making the dreams public.

Certainly seems in most cases the opposite is true with loud declarations that turn into all flash and no follow-up.

Hats off for your success and gratitude for sharing.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Ninjakid

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This is easily one of the best posts I've seen on this forum.

Congratulations to you and your success, and thanks for sharing.

Sometimes we all need a little nudge to get us on track, so I think this will be a great motivator for many.

Can't wait to see part two!
 
G

GuestUser159

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Great story. As for mine, I'm in the middle of writing it...

Expect a few years for it to become complete.
 

Hooked

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Thanks for sharing your story, great to see the hard work lead to success! Congrats!
 
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Vick

Vick

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PART 2:

You Will Fail, So Get Use To It!

This one is hard to hear, I always hated hearing this one, and you hear it a lot.

I mean who wants to fail? Failing sucks! But it's inevitable with entrepreneurship. So get used to it!

Very few entrepreneurs succeed with there 1st business. Chances are, you won’t succeed either, so prepare yourself for the blow. Because if your not prepared, you will become severely demoralized, and you will quit.

When I started Pixel Prints the thought of failing never really entered my mind to much, mostly because I didn't want it to. I kind of kept that thought at bay. I was very optimistic for my venture (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), I thought I'd be making millions very soon. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, and the business eventually withered away.

After I launched Pixel Prints I spent a year trying to push it forward, but it never gained any momentum. I sold a few paintings here and there, but It never generated any profit. It was a difficult year watching the business slowly fail.

It's not that the product was shitty, In fact I made some really sick paintings and the quality of the canvases were amazing. Here's some of the artwork, not all of it but most.

https://www.pinterest.com/pixelprints/pixel-prints-modern-contemporary-art/

So why did it fail?

There are a few reasons, but one of the main reasons was Control.

I lacked control over the product, it wasn't mine. I was basically an affiliate for CanvasPop.com, it was there product with my artwork on it. That was the model. In theory the model was great, because there was no inventory, I could sell this product from anywhere in the world with only my laptop and a internet connection. All I had to do was email a high-res image of the artwork to CanvasPop, they print it, package it, and ship it. Not too shabby.

The problem was, because I lacked control over the product, I lacked Control over the margins. My margins were shit. And the product was already very expensive, I couldn't simply just raise the prices, I had already done so and still the margins were shit. I got screwed on many occasions because my margins were shit. For example, flash sale sites like touchofmodern.com contacted me wanting to run a flash sale with us. Hearing from them was the small break I was waiting for, it can be somewhat difficult to get on these sites so I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, I couldn't work with there numbers and had to decline. If I excepted there numbers, I would lose money. No thanks... Fail!

So, make sure you have good control over your product/margins and make sure your margins are somewhat high, I would say 50% or higher. This is just my opinion.

The next big problem was my Customer Acquisition Cost. For me to get sales, I needed to dump a lot of money in advertising, too much money. I tried a lot of methods, I even did a small print ad in the back of Dwell Magazine for a few grand. Got me some sales, but never generated profit. Maybe if I kept advertising in the magazine eventually people would start to buy more, but my mind was already straying from the business at this point in time. I wasn't prepared to keep dumping thousands into a business that wasn't working. A year is more then enough time to test a business IMO. And like I said at that time, I was ready to move on.

Another small issue was Scale, my supplier couldn't handle massive production scales If need be in the future. I would've had to go to China and start dealing with inventory and crappier quality. This issue isn't necessarily a big problem, it was just an issue for me at the time. I didn't know better.

There were many other issues along way, like SEO bullshit for example, and wasting my time and money with that crap. But I'm not gonna get too much into that. If you want some advice, don't waste your time with SEO. Put your money where it matters, like advertising. Paid traffic works!

Now, the things mentioned above are not necessarily showstoppers, they are just things I couldn't make work, because I didn't know any better. There are many people out there who make this business work, (this site for example > md-canvas.com) I just didn't want to pursue it anymore. Hence, I was part of the failure as well... I myself, failed myself. I failed in believing I could make this business work, and lost all my ambition for it. I was no longer 100% in. Fail!

There is one last thing about this business that made it fail. And I believe it was the predominant factor above all others.

I was chasing money.


Don't do this. It won't end well. I wasn't aware I was chasing money at the time, only later did it become apparent to me. Which in turn ended up F*cking me with a business I wasn't ready to commit 100% too.

Therefore, the business failed because of that.

My failure with Pixel Prints was hard for awhile, but as the business was nearing it's end, something great was on the horizon.

A new idea.


PART 3:

"It's always darkest, just before the dawn."

- Rise Against
 

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Even Steven

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So my advice. Keep your idea and dream to yourself until you can effectively showcase all the details.
It's interesting that you say that, @Vick. I did the same thing when I bought my first rental property. I knew "I want to buy a rental property" wouldn't fly on it's own. I contacted a realtor, viewed some properties, crunched the numbers, and got all my ducks in a row. Then, and only then, did I approach her showing the costs and benefits. In the end, although somewhat reluctantly, she agreed to move forward on it.

Anyway, yours is a really inspiring story, man.

Wish you could have made the Meetup. I'd love to have met you.
 

AntEmpire

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Watching this thread. Can't wait to hear the rest!
 
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Vick

Vick

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It's interesting that you say that, @Vick. I did the same thing when I bought my first rental property. I knew "I want to buy a rental property" wouldn't fly on it's own. I contacted a realtor, viewed some properties, crunched the numbers, and got all my ducks in a row. Then, and only then, did I approach her showing the costs and benefits. In the end, although somewhat reluctantly, she agreed to move forward on it.

Anyway, yours is a really inspiring story, man.

Wish you could have made the Meetup. I'd love to have met you.
Next year ;)

and thanks
 

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