The 5-year Experiment1 Comment »
I’ve been setting aside part of my budget for an “opportunity fund” ever since I graduated with a master’s degree and started working at IBM. On February 17, 2012, after four wonderful years of web development and consulting, I turned over all of my projects and started on my own adventure. Two days later, I had a federal corporation that could be the umbrella for various experiments. By March, I had my first paying clients for consulting, and I was off and running.
Why this experiment?
Not many people have the time or space to find out what can happen if you don’t have to worry so much about making money. I wanted to see what could happen if you created
Why five years?
Statistically speaking, most businesses struggle within the first five years. People have to learn how to run businesses. People have to find product-market fit. People have to figure things out. If I prepare for those challenges by remembering that it’s normal to struggle and telling myself that I won’t consider going back to employment until at least five years have passed, then I can hang in there even when times are tough. And if times are really tough, knowing that the experiment is time-bound will also help me stay sane.
I’m open to considering employment if our circumstances change drastically, but so far, I’m still on track.
What have you learned so far?
While it can be stressful learning about things like sales, marketing, and accounting — all the things you’re insulated from in a corporate environment — I also really like learning how to build a business. Lots of people are happy to help you out along the way, too.
In addition to learning more about business, I also want to use this time to learn more about life. I exercise more now.
How is the money working out?
W- and I are frugal, and that’s been a key factor in making this experiment possible. We keep our expenses low through cooking, simple leisure activities, and self-discipline. My personal finances are approximately where I projected they would be. In terms of business income, I’m ahead of where I expected to be (thanks to people taking a chance on a business that’s starting up, hooray!), but I’ve left all the money in the business so that it can build its own emergency fund. (And to simplify paperwork…)
How’s W- dealing with it?
Wonderfully. We think it’s a great idea for me to be learning entrepreneurial skills. It’s the new job security, after all. This would be much more difficult without his support.
What are you up to now?
I share what I learn on my personal blog, and I’ve been writing up processes and ideas in a business/experiment blog. One of my experiments has graduated into a business that I’m learning how to sell and market (Experivis: turning experiences into visual summaries). Looking forward to learning even more!