I share my financial hacks with my audience on my personal finance blog, saving me lakhs of rupees over the years.
Now, I earn more than ₹50,000 rupees from my online work. Of course, that cannot be achieved overnight, but imagine if that can happen in the next two-three years? Yes, this is absolutely possible in less than three years.
You probably won't be financially free until you're 60 years old. And what's the point of having a lot of money when you cannot enjoy it now?
Our goal is to become financially free but how many of us are able to do achieve that freedom? Saving into a retirement account will never make you financially free but a passive source of income can.
Think, where were you five years ago? How much have you achieved and now how much more work do you have to do to become financially free? And, if you continue doing what you are doing, where will you reach?
In my opinion, you probably won't be financially free until you're 60 years old. And what's the point of having a lot of money when you cannot enjoy it now?
I don't believe in retiring at the age of 60. I want to live a life of retirement every moment! I want to spend month-long vacations every year with my family (and indeed, I do so).
I didn't always think this way. A few years ago, I was stuck in the same kind of routine that most people are. I was working as the technical lead in a major IT company, busy with my onsite assignment in the US. The next promotion was due in a year. I was about to become a manager. A much higher salary would have come.
Don't you think that everything was perfect? But I was not happy. I was not happy at all with my lifestyle. I was doing work without any enjoyment. I was earning a decent amount but I was sacrificing my life. I sacrificed many family functions, parties with friends and even travel wasn't tension-free.
I looked at my manager. He was not happy either.
I looked at the lifestyle of the head of our department. I felt like his life was more miserable than mine. I did not want to become like my manager or the director of engineering. But if I stayed on in the same company, I feared I'd become just like them: yes, they were earning more than I was but they were neither happy nor rich.
What I saw in my future scared me. I knew I had to make a change and break the mould.
So, what was the first thing that needed to be changed? My job! My well-paying job, for which I studied and worked for 18 years.
I was earning a decent amount but I was sacrificing my life. I sacrificed many family functions, parties with friends and even travel wasn't tension-free.
The whole system of education was looking like an elaborate deception. I had sacrificed all my childhood and adolescence just so I could grow up to become an engineer.
Once I became an engineer, it all seemed like a waste.
But what would I do after leaving my job? Join another job? No way! Shuffling jobs was not going to be the kind of change I was looking for. The only option was to remove the job from my life.
Okay, but I did have to make money, so what could I do? Business, of course.
I decided to start a business without having any know-how (apart from selling groceries at my father's shop in my hometown).
It was a tough decision. But I did it. I left my job in 2013.
Life as a businessman was not easy. My first startup failed in the first year itself, and we lost ₹15,00,000 in less than one year.
My heart was broken and my life was shaken.
My logical mind was begging me to get back to the comfort of a job. But there was still hope somewhere in my heart. I still wanted to play with fire. I wanted to stay in the startup world.
I joined another startup as a marketing co-founder with only a few months of experience in online marketing under my belt.
We built a mobile app for students to learn science by playing word games. The students loved the concept.
We did a lot of experiments with content marketing in my second startup.
I learnt a lot of things about entrepreneurship, building businesses and content marketing. I fell in love with content writing and growth hacks.
We decided to stop working on our second startup — you call it my second failure — but it was a conscious decision to utilise our time in a better way.
There was no regret. I had discovered a storyteller, writer and a content marketer within me. Now, I knew what I had to do in my future.
A startup job
I worked on some freelance content writing projects and consulted with some startups for a few months before joining a startup job as the head of content marketing.
I earned more than ₹100,000 of revenue in the initial two months of our business. And it would not have been possible if I had not started my personal finance blog...
A startup job is totally different from a position in a big company.
It was like running my own content marketing startup within the startup. I had full freedom of doing experiments with marketing to achieve the business goals defined by the CEO.
It was great fun to work with an amazing team. You can do crazy things in a startup that no boss in a traditional setup will allow. I totally recommend experiencing a startup job at least once in your lifetime!
I did a lot of work and learned a lot of new things. I did video marketing for the first time and hit 1,000,000 views on the video in just three days.
I established the foundation of a blog to attract visitors from Google search.
I earned more than ₹100,000 of revenue in the initial two months of our business. And it would not have been possible if I had not started my personal finance blog the previous year.
Side business for full benefits
It took me more than three years, the loss of ₹15 lakh and an opportunity cost of three years of a job to reach my present position.
Yeah, it was costly and risky approach, but worth it for me. I think you can learn from my failures and success to make a better side business in less time.
You don't have to leave your job like I did to get started with your side business.
Start a small project, software, a blog, an e-commerce store or anything you have always wished for. You will learn a lot, whether you fail or succeed.
I'd advise that you also learn more about content marketing to attract customers to your business — it's the most powerful tool out there, especially if you are on a tight budget and need to get more with less money.
Blogging is perhaps the easiest way of making money online — it's risk-free and if you do it well, it can work as well for you as it did for me.
Keeping funds coming
The most important milestone should be funding your life from your passive income and online businesses.
Let's keep the target of generating your first ₹10,000 from your online business in six-eight months.
The fact is 99% companies fail to raise VC money and that does not mean those startup ideas are worthless... I believe in bootstrapped businesses...
Would you be able to work dedicatedly on building your online business for the next couple of months?
Depending upon your skillset and zeal to perform, you can achieve your ₹10,000 target in anything between four months to a year.
And, when that happens, I'm sure that you will never look back.
An online business is not like your garden variety job. When you start earning money from an online business, you will earn a certain amount every month, while also having enough time for leisure and long vacations. Of course, plan well in advance — you should have savings and investments to help tide over the initial lean months while building a full-time passive source of income.
Fund your business
You should not stop here.
I will tell you how you can conceptualise your self-funded startup. You might not even have to raise money from VCs.
Why should you raise external money if your own business can generate sufficient cash flow?
I know, it may take some time, but at least you won't have the headache of raising money — (Disclaimer: Obviously, this doesn't hold true for all businesses. If you're thinking of starting the next Flipkart or Ola or Zomato, you'll need VC money for success.)
The fact is 99% companies fail to raise VC money and that does not mean those startup ideas are worthless. There are so many issues to be fixed in the world and investors cannot fund every business.
I believe in bootstrapped businesses; this gives you more time to experiment and to take a risky approach. Also, you get more innovative when you have fewer resources.
There are thousands of successful non-funded businesses and tons of failed funded businesses. You are the best judge for your startup.
My approach to starting a business
Make the first attempt without worrying about success or failure. Launch a website and publish your first blog.
Learn a little bit of content marketing. Don't worry, if I can learn content marketing in less than three years, so can you. In that short span of time I was able to make an income from blogging and content marketing consulting, and also got a job as the head of content marketing at a funded startup.
Content marketing will be helpful for you whether you start a product or service company.
Get ideas from your audience. When you have visitors at your blog, you can ask for feedback on your product without writing a single line of code.
Your blog will be your minimum viable product.
If you want to make a blog your primary source of income then you can start monetising when you have monthly traffic of at least 10,000. So, think of ways to get people on to you website.
Leave your job once you start earning some money from your blog. Invest the money back to your business. Launch your product and make more money.
What are you waiting for?
Take the first step. Start something even if the first result is a failure.
This article was originally published on CashOverflow.
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