one year into the journey

In building a business, inspiration, stories, Unreal Collective by Jay Clouse

A year ago today, I walked into the office of my job, poured a coffee, and asked the COO if we could sit down and talk. We both knew what was coming next, but it was still tough.

I put in my two weeks notice that morning, for reasons that I’ve written about before. (Actually, this post is one of the most read articles on my blog of all time).

I knew it was time for me to go back out onto my own, but I had no idea what it was that I was going to do. At the time, I thought I was getting into the events business.

Bill Gates once said, “People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten.” I think that’s true, and it applies on an even smaller scale.

Month to month, I feel like I’m behind and not moving as quickly as I’d like. But as I look back now just a year since taking the jump, it’s pretty crazy what I’ve accomplished.

Some highlights:

  • 35 members of Unreal Collective
  • 15 coaching clients
  • Close to 10 websites built
  • A small handful of freelance marketing projects
  • Completed a full Linkedin Learning Course
  • (Almost) launched a podcast

…I’m missing some things I’m sure, but you get the point.

None of this is to brag, but to show you what’s possible in a small amount of time. (OK, and also a little self-reflection. It’s important!)

I’m sure a more capable person would have even more highlights to share.

One of my favorite podcasts, TropicalMBA, coined the concept of the 1000 day rule (written about here too). Basically, the idea is that if you’re starting a business, you need time to get back up to the level of income you had at a job.

People don’t understand they need to be poor for 1000 days.

Our basic hypothesis: you’ll be doing worse than you were at your job for 1000 days after you start your muse business. I’ve seen it happen a bunch of times.

For many of us it’s been almost exactly those 1000 days it took for us to get back to the level of income we enjoyed in our corporate days.

Implicit here is the difference between “entrepreneur” and “freelancer” as defined by Seth Godin (entrepreneurs build businesses that are bigger than themselves — they are not completely dependent on time worked to create value and income). Whether you agree with that difference or not, the 1000 day rule is speaking to it.

But 1/3 of my 1000 days in, I think I’m ahead of schedule. My goal is to break through that threshold in the next 365 days, and it doesn’t look so far-fetched.

I can’t imagine a more fulfilling life than the one I have right now. On a day to day basis, I am only doing work that I’ve elected to do and that I enjoy. I control who I work with, when I work with them, and where I’m working from.

But it’s really hard and requires a ton of self-regulation. Without self-regulation or the ability to build some external regulation around you, it would be difficult to live this way.

But if this is something you aspire to, and you have the ability to self-regulate and manage your resources effectively, then I can’t recommend it highly enough.


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