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Taking a ride in the slow lane -- and it's been great!

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Beijing

Contributor
Mar 8, 2017
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Beijing, China
After spending several years living a very budgeted existence, last summer I found myself at a crossroads. I'd returned to my country of birth (I normally live in China) to help with a family crisis and although in retrospect, I definitely made the right choice, the decision to come back to Canada for half a year left me with very little start-up capital for a return to what I'd been doing in Beijing. Return to my usual routine (working a few days a week to cover the basic costs of life and spending the rest of my time working on my own business) would have required about $4000 that I didn't have, so I decided to return to full-time work for a little while, just out of necessity.

I put my name out in the right circles and made some people aware that I was willing to accept full-time employment offers. This would have still left me with some time each week to work on my own business and allowed me to build up a little extra cash as well. I knew that getting a fulltime job that paid $50K in Beijing would be easy for me, but what I wasn't expecting was to get several six figure job offers. In the process of working on the development of products for my own business, I'd learned some unusual skills and put together a very creative portfolio and that was exactly what several niche employers were looking for.

I accepted one of the offers and after waiting three months for my work visa to come through, I returned to Beijing in November.

Previous to this new experience, I'd done a good job of scraping by financially. Employers didn't value me especially highly (at least in what they were willing to pay me), so I had to accept the jobs I could get. I'd started working on my own entrepreneurial ideas out of a feeling of necessity. I figured that if no one was going to give me any opportunities, I'd just create my own. This didn't lead immediately to having a thriving business, but it did lead to doing more interesting (and better paying) freelance work for a couple of years and brought me 75% of the way to having my own products to sell.

I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to entrepreneurship at some point in the future, but for the moment, I'm really enjoying life in the slow lane. My job comes with only 7 personal vacation days a year, but with national holidays in China, I get a total of about 4 or 5 weeks off each year. Not very useful during a global pandemic, but I'm finding other ways to make use of this time off, besides travel.

While the job can be a bit tiring and there's some natural irritations that come with working in an office with other people, for the most part, I work with really talented team-members and what we do is really interesting. I don't have the energy to go out every night, but I do something a lot of nights and every weekend is a blast. And I'm always happy to return to work on Mondays, rather than dreading it. When I was working for myself before, I really didn't have much of a social life and was living in a small place that made it really tough to host more than on person at a time, so my passion for hosting house-parties took a hit. The corporate office worker lifestyle has been way better and with a six-figure income, I never need to worry about money.

Of course, as I mentioned, I'm eager to return to developing my own business at some point, but I'm not sure how soon that will be. I'm still carrying some student debt from university, so priority number one is paying that down so that I'll be more free to follow my entrepreneurial dreams in the future. I've paid down $15,000 of debt in the last five months and I'm on course to have it all paid off by April next year. After that, I'll start building a nest egg. If I save half my income for a year (which is no problem, because I can live well on have off what I'm making), I'll have enough money to last me for three years on a budget if I live somewhere affordable, such as south-east Asia. I can't work on my own projects for the moment, since my current job comes with an iron-tight non-compete clause, but that's not stopping me from learning a lot that will be useful for my own products in the future.

Until then, though, I'm really enjoy life in the slow lane. It's been amazing to have a work schedule that allows me to have time for friends and dating and live a comfortable existence in an awesome bachelor pad. Of course, this experience may affect my long term goals. After just several months of work, my division manager surprised me this week with an unexpected 9% raise, so it's also possible that if my salary continues to rise and the right promotion opportunity (or better job offer somewhere else) comes along, I might just opt for a corporate career instead.

Question for the other forum members here: What would a prospective employer need to offer you to make you put your entrepreneurial dreams aside for a while?
 

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kleine2

Bronze Contributor
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Sep 15, 2013
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Great story. It sounds like a great plan for you to be able to save money and to enjoy your time as well.

I've been in the software industry for 20 years and 10 years as a manager.
Recently certified, my goal now is to build a coaching business which I am really passionate about.

I am now in a process which may lead to a full time offer as a business coach. I will seriously consider that option because it will allow me to gain more coaching experience and to earn a living doing coaching instead of software.
 

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