I read Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad's Cashflow Quadrant, another book in his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series. While I'm generally not a big fan of the other books in the series, the book drove home the difference between income sources that force you to keep working (employee / self-employed) and income sources that make money for you even while you're asleep (business, investment). It also emphasized the difference between taking risks _and_ paying for it versus taking risks and being paid for it. I think its glowing recommendation of small- to medium-size house/apartment renting needs to be taken with a grain of salt, and I don't have the cash or confidence to play the real-estate games the authors are so fond of, but the book has many insights anyone can use.
My dad is self-employed, but it's the kind of self-employed that means he has to keep working. My mom is working on the business system so that it'll function smoothly even if she's not on-site. The other people in the business are employees, and they'll likely stay employees unless they're taking care of their own well-being. My mom's been trying to help them get the idea of stocks, though, and they hold shares in the company. My mom's also quite savvy, and I have much to learn from her.
I want to go further. I want to learn how to build a good business system. I want to learn how to do that from the beginning instead of trying to fit a good business system in afterwards. I want to create opportunities. I know what I want to be, and I know that just working normal jobs isn't going to cut it. I need to take risks.
Let's take teaching for example. I love teaching, and I would like to help more people enjoy computing. I can teach in one university and hope to inspire other people by my example either horizontally (other teachers picking up good ideas) or vertically (students becoming teachers). Horizontal propagation takes time. Vertical propagation takes even more time. I could focus on teacher training, but even then, control is difficult and turnaround is slow. If I set up a company for teaching and differentiate the company through philosophy, techniques and strengths, then we can move much faster. There's more risk and I'd have to work outside the school system, but I just might reach more people that way: tutors who go through the training, people who learn, teachers who get inspired... There's nothing stopping the company from offering free training, either. This idea is an example of how something like teaching can be more than just an employee kind of thing. Of course, there's a lot of risk (saturated market? what about quality control?). It'll be more challenging than a safe and steady professorship dependent only on publications (and that only until tenure), but challenges are fun.
I want to go out there and learn how businesses work. I want to learn why and how they fail and how to recover from those things. I want to learn how to sell ideas, business plans, work... I need to start small: baby steps forward. I need to be able to make mistakes, although of course I'll try to avoid repeating mistakes.
I think I can hack this. =)