You've done what you were supposed to do. You graduated high school. You may have gone to a great college and even graduated with decent grades. You landed your first job and were then promoted. Maybe even multiple times!
You now are making decent money—more money than you ever thought you'd make. You're married and now have responsibilities – kids, a mortgage, parents who may outlive their savings.
But you're not living the life that you envisioned. The great job that you worked so hard for years and years to put yourself in the position to get is now your jail.
What you didn't realize then you realize now. You shouldn't have done what you were supposed to do. You should have done what you wanted to do, what made you happy, and what would have provided you the freedom to live the life you wanted.
And THAT is start your own business.
Don't worry. It's not too late to start a company, which is your only hope to live the life you want. But if you fail to act now or soon, it may be too late. And getting off your current path onto a more fruitful one may be less risky than continuing to cash the regular safe paycheck and building for the long term.
If we can all agree on one thing (and it may be the only thing we can agree on), it is this: The "security" society is over. OVER! And it's never coming back.
Social security is bankrupt. We know that. The program, like many others in the US, is a GIANT PONZI SCHEME! The money I pay today for social security goes right out the door to pay for benefits of others.
Job security? Forget about it. Assume you will be laid off, no matter what industry you're in. Expect it to happen sooner than later.
Unemployment, COBRA, the EPA, FEMA, SEC, and most other government safety blankets and protectors are irrelevant. It's not that the good people (in most cases) who work there are all ignorant and don't mean well. We've seen over and over again that government protections don't work.
Government security is over. Job security is over. Financial security is over. Sit with it. Feel it. Be with it. And start acting.
Does your personal financial future look like China? Or are you Greece? The decisions you make today to build for your future will determine your fate.
Why does it make financial sense to start your own business? Even if you continue to get your paycheck, you're paying 40 percent to the local, state, and federal government. So the real opportunity cost is the after-tax money, the in-your-pocket money.
I'd argue that investing that money in your future is a better investment than investing 10 hours a day, and probably many weekends, trying to make someone else money, someone who may lay you off very soon.
Say you make $120,000 per year, a healthy salary for a college-educated professional. Of that, $48,000 goes right out the door. So your "in-your-pocket pay" is really $72,000, or $6,000/mo. That's the investment you'll be making in your future, it's your opportunity cost. It's a lot of money but definitely not enough to build any sort of real cushion or wealth, especially if you live in any city.
Now the old model was to slave away at a company earning enough to "survive" and support your family in hopes that you'd move up and make the big money in a decade (or two). Well, now that golden payday has been crushed and the only constant is change.
Entrepreneurs take advantage of change. Change is their muse, their catalyst, their lover and their protector.
Change chews up and spits out workers, employees, and the status quo of how things were done. Change looks at the above as inconvenient barriers to getting to a better place, temporary barriers that can be removed at any time.
So the question you need to ask is simple: Is your annual take-home pay, after taxes, really enough for you to justify the status albeit-potentially-fleeting quo? I'd argue for many of you that the answer is NO by a long shot. And you taking your paycheck and deluding yourself to think that this too will pass is dangerous and short-sighted.
Starting a company provides you two main benefits: flexibility and a prosperous future where you'll control your own destiny. You'll also have learned the financial survival skills necessary to thrive in any environment without sitting at your desk worrying about whether you're on the chopping block. What I love most about starting companies is being able to show up to see my kids at school whenever I want. I work harder than most people. But I do so more on my terms than anyone else's.
With this column, I want to take everything I have learned over the last 15 years starting four businesses and help you get yours off the ground. More importantly, I want to create a community of like-minded individuals here and provide a place for us to help each other out by saving each other time and energy by making better decisions. I want to share my many, many mistakes and get all of you talking about yours so we can all get to a better place.
I am a realist. I know that not everyone is capable of quitting their job and starting up. Bills need to be paid. Responsibilities don't go away. But for those of you who are in a position to invest in yourself and your future, let's make sure you're doing so in the most intelligent way so that you can reduce the time it takes you to start living the life you want to live.
Next post: How Do You Know When It's Time to Start a Company?