A person earning one million dollars a year doesn’t work ten times harder than someone making one hundred thousand dollars per year. Hard work is an important success factor, but it is clear that it is not the only ingredient. Some occupations pay more just because of the specialized nature of the work. It is not surprising that a doctor earns more than a bus driver. High skill, high risk work deserves higher returns. Luck can also play a large role in income opportunities but it is important not to underestimate the benefits of working smart, and not just working hard.
I Don’t Want a Job
In my one year plan to change careers and move to another country, I need to find a way to make money. An important deciding factor for any type of work I do is whether it is a ‘business’ or a ‘job’. A ‘job’ pays you when you work. The more you work, the more you get paid. Jobs are relatively secure and the income is predictable but there is a constraint on earnings potential, and that is time. You need to work more to make more money. Anyone can find or create a job for themselves. Some of these will be low paying, low status jobs and others will offer great income possibilities and growth opportunities. There is nothing wrong with having a job. Most people are probably more suited to being employees or self-employed in their own job. However, I know I am not one of those people. My previous experiences working for other people rarely lasted longer than a few months. I have to be in charge of my future and whatever rewards I do or do not receive.
I Want a Business
A ‘business’ is different. A business involves creating systems and processes that basically run themselves with minimal oversight and management. Businesses offer opportunties for disproportionate returns on time investments. By ‘business’ I do not necessarily mean owning your own company, although that is generally a part of it. Most small businesses are little more than ‘jobs’ for their owners; my own small business included. The more I work the more I make. The less I work the less I make. Also, it is highly unlikely I could ever leave it self-running and earn an income. My small business only exists as long as I continue to work in it. It is a well-paying job and I get to make all the decisions and have great flexibility in vacations, work hours and what I want to work on, but it is still a job. As I explore future ‘business’ opportunities I want to make sure I choose something that gets me excited to wake up and work. I want everyone I talk to to feel my passion and love for what I do. I would much rather struggle with something I love, than live comfortably in a ‘job’ that is slowly eating away at my soul. If my business ideas fail, I may have to fall back on various ‘job’ income opportunities like freelancing or other online opportunities, but to have to focus my efforts on something bigger, more challenging and with more potential. Here are the criterion I consider prior to dedicating my working life to something I will strive to succeed.
What are the Barriers to Entry?
I am not interested in get rich quick schemes. I am sure there is money to be made from a variety of sources, but commonsense tells me to focus on creating unique online resources with valuable content that is difficult to duplicate. I know that every idea will have thousands of imitators often from lower income countries, so I do not want to be competing in areas with low start up costs and barriers to entry. Anything that is easy for me to do, is easy for the world to do. In fact, if I have thought of a great idea, I know that thousands of others will have, too. People who are overly protective of their ideas and income sources generally do not have a defensible business. Niche websites capitalizing on Google Adsense revenues or affiliate sales are prime examples. Anyone can set up simple websites for expensive search terms. Sure you may be able to make a little or even a lot of money if traffic starts coming, but that is not a ‘business’ with a future. Nor is it something to get excited about. By all means, have a few of those projects on the go at all times. Easy money is great if you can find it and at the very least you will learn about online advertising and search engine optimization, but don’t dedicate your life to something so banal.
What’s My Advantage?
There are millions of people that are smarter and have more experience than me in every industry imaginable. I don’t want to be competing in areas that I am weak. Success will come only if I leverage my skills and experience. My background is entrepreneurship, business, project management and English teaching. I need to focus on my strengths. Like everyone else in the world, I have dozens of decent ideas with the potential to make money, but I want to limit my choices to areas where my work history can offer a definitive competitive advantage. Of course, new skills can be learned and experience gained with dedication and effort. Nothing is out of reach, but I do not want to start from the beginning in any field, just yet. There are many cool things I would love to do in the future, time and income permitting, but my first concern is making enough monthly income to survive after I give up my current income source.
Will I Enjoy it?
There are many opportunities in a variety of industries. Certainly anyone spending a little time online will soon start to discover an on-going stream of great ideas to make money online. The key is focus. Topics like cancer or dentistry may have the most expensive search terms and therefore offer the greatest income potential, but I am not interested in those types of topics. I want to work in areas that I am excited about. Success is the result of a lot of hard work and months or maybe years of dedication. I want to find something that I am going to be passionate about for the foreseeable future. It is much easier to motivate yourself if you love what you are doing. It has to be a topic that I will be excited enough to write hundreds of articles and chase down links and resources for years to come. JetSetCitizen.com is one of those topics but I don’t expect this to be my primary income source.
Can I Change the World?
There is no shortage of income opportunities for skilled and talented people. There are many ways to earn money, so that shouldn’t be the goal. Money is the means to make a difference in the world, not an end in itself. I want to start businesses that improves the lives of my fellow citizens. That is what all businesses are really about. Business exist because they create value for customers. If they don’t create value, people won’t buy the products or services. Period. I want to meet a real need in the market and offer a marked improvement over what others are doing. Fortunately, most internet businesses do a terrible job of delivering quality services so there are always going to be great income opportunities. Most people online are looking for quick and easy profits. Consistent quality for the long term will trump all those quick money schemes. Hopefully, this current financial mess will start to show that businesses shouldn’t be optimized by accountants and MBA types. You can’t cut your way to business greatness. Entrepreneurs strive to change the world, not keep labor costs within narrow margins. The people you work with are not costs to be minimized. They are assets to be invested in, nurtured and developed. Not every transaction should be measured in monetary terms. We are people living on a fragile planet, there have to be better metrics for success. How about measuring hours spent with family and friends instead of GDP growth? Why don’t we leave a planet with clean water and breathable air, rather than striving to cut costs and increase consumption. I know the businesses I want to work on and I will be sharing my ideas and progress in future posts. Using evaluation methods like I described above, it is difficult NOT to find great opportunities to pursue. We all know what we really want to do, society has convinced too many of us to stop dreaming and live in the “real world.” The “real world” is whatever you want it to be. Lifestyle design, is exactly that: designing the life you want. Quit your ‘job’ and create the ‘business’ of your dreams. We live in amazing times with unlimited opportunities. I am ecstatic about the potential for the future.
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