I rejected these 3 tips and built a $250,000 project from scratch

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You did the thing your social media dreams were made of.

After nearly a decade of institutional misery, I quit my full-time job and became an entrepreneur. I started a local clothing store based on an idea I had in business school, and my clientele grew rapidly. I even appeared on local news and TV.

After three years of running this business, I closed it. I was on the path to profitability, but I was exhausted and working at an unsustainable pace. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. After it seemed like a success, now everyone thinks I was a failure. What will I do next? Do I have to go back to normal work from nine to five again?

I am determined to launch my second business, and this business will surely be a success. This all-new business will be based on traveling as a speaker in front of huge audiences to teach others how to pay off debt, in the same way that I paid off $300,000 in debt in three years. What could possibly go wrong?

That’s what I thought in January 2020. With the pandemic, I had to quickly learn how to switch to a completely hypothetical model.

After a little more than two years, Your money crush goals I generated over $250,000 in net income with over 2,500 students participating in my programs. This small business has helped me reach my financial independence goals much faster than I had planned, while I’ve seen many of my colleagues sink into debt or close their businesses during the pandemic.

Like I’ve shared in other articles for this column Mess for a MillionI’ve gone against some conventional financial advice. However, I was able to build a six-figure company from scratch during the pandemic.

professional advice

This is the fourth column in a 5-part series by Bernadette Joy. In “Mess to Million,” she shows that you don’t have to be perfect to get rich. Follow nextadvisor on Instagram For updates and direct questions and answers with Bernadette.

#1: I’ve never written a formal business plan

I have an undergraduate degree and an MBA degree, and the first thing I learned about starting a business is that you have to write a business plan. One of those spiral-sized, phonebook-sized documents filled with charts and calculations about how you go about your marketing, operations, finances, and technology.

You may need to show this business plan to a bank or investor to get approval for a loan or start-up capital. And certainly, if you are going to leave a current, stable job, you should have a documented plan in place. But many of the aspiring business owners I’ve taught over the years hear this and never start this business, because building such a comprehensive plan can be incredibly intimidating.

Well, I’ve never done that.

But I waited until my personal finances were arranged and my debts paid off before setting off.

A lot of people are surprised that I haven’t actually written a business plan for any of my business projects. I was determined to always be my own investor, and so I never had to take out a loan.

Being free of debt was probably the most important business lesson I ever learned that allowed me to start a business without a complete plan. First, paying off my $72,000 student loans took a huge amount of pressure off the amount I would need to earn each month just to cover the loan payments. Second, budgeting consistently over the years has trained me to think more creatively for business expenses, in the same ways that I have been creative with my personal expenses to pay off debt.

Looking back at how 2020 unfolded, any business plan you wrote would have gone out the window anyway!

I attribute this financial decision to establishing my business plan

The best thing I ever did to prepare myself to start a new business in 2020 was to pay off my house money in 2019 – a decision that most of my family and friends wouldn’t agree with.

With no more student loans, car loans, credit card debt, not even a mortgage, my personal expenses were low enough to manage if I had to do a low paying job to get by while I figured out how to grow my business over time.

Now, obviously, paying off your home in full is a tricky business, and I’m not suggesting that you do this before you start a business. But I highly encourage those starting a business to pay off as much consumer debt as possible, as it provides much more breathing room and inevitable mistakes along the way when starting a new venture.

#2: I didn’t follow my passion

The number one piece of advice I’ve heard over and over, whether it’s from Oprah Winfrey or the local entrepreneurs featured in my town newspaper, is: “Follow your passion! Do what you love and the money will follow.”

I mean, if Oprah says it, it must be good advice. And with my first job, I did. I started a ladies business renting dresses for special occasions because I loved fashion, shopping and parties. I’ve always loved how clothes can build confidence in the people who wear them, even when I was a little girl.

It was great for the first year after being stuck in a closet for so many years. I couldn’t believe I had to play dress up for fun. But here’s what I didn’t expect: trying to monetize something that was just for fun brought on pressures that made it seem like a chore. Over time, what used to be a creative and social outlet for me turned into something I had to do almost every day, even on the days when I wasn’t feeling like it.

Instead, I found a valuable problem that I enjoy solving, and left my passion alone

Now that I’ve run a business teaching financial education, people tell me “Wow! You’re so lucky to have found your passion!”

But the truth is, money is not my passion at all. I see money as a tool to help me explore fact Passion: Traveling and finding breathtaking scenery, watching live music from country to K-pop, and engaging in hour-long conversations with the people I deeply care about. These are things that refresh me and make life worth living, and no, I don’t need to know how to monetize them

However, I really enjoy helping my students learn how to manage money better, and I’ve found ways to make it fun and valuable to me and my clients. Finding your passion is a wonderful thing and an important part of who you are, but I’ve spent many years confusing what I do for money with who I am as a person. When I worked in corporate human resources for many years, only to realize I didn’t like it, I thought that meant I was lazy.

When my first job failed, I thought that meant I was also a failure and less valuable to a human being. This time I decided to separate my passions and income streams, in the same way I now practice keeping my net worth and self-worth measured separately.

#3: I haven’t tried to “expand” a multi-million dollar business

An entrepreneur I worked with often told me that sleep is when you die. And for a long time, I internalized this mindset, especially when I was working a full-time job, going to graduate school on the side, and trying to grow my own clothing rental store on nights and weekends. This is what actually led to the eventual demise of my first business: I was totally exhausted and decided to shut it down, even when I was on the path to profitability. Business that requires you to work around the clock is not sustainable or healthy.

My revenue goals align with what I really need to retire

A wonderful side effect of growing such an online business Your money crush goals is that people have been incredibly supportive and excited about the value you can bring. Even complete strangers will send me messages and offer ideas and suggestions on how I can grow it into a multimillion dollar company. Expand, Grow and Become a Billionaire: Isn’t that the point of becoming an entrepreneur in America?

But the truth is that I never set my sights on growing my individual business into a large corporate entity with a large number of employees. I have worked for those companies for many years, and have no intention of returning to them, even if it means that I am at the top of the organizational chart. My goal in growing this business, apart from helping others on their own financial journeys, is to ultimately end my journey to financial independence.

And for me, that means hitting my FIRE number (financial independence, early retirement), pursuing the passions I mentioned earlier — or maybe exploring some new passions. This started with calculating my FIRE number, and keeping my current living expenses relatively low, despite the huge jump in income over the past two years, so that I can invest over the long term to achieve my FIRE goals.

In the last installment of Mess for a MillionI’ll share how I hit this FIRE number recently and what happens next.

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