Table of Contents

  • Pitfalls When Escaping The Rat Race
  • Golden Handcuffs
  • Don’t Let Internet Gurus Fool You
  • Filling The Void

The Banker

So, here I am, working in a bank (for a while). Seeing rat racers all around me. A diary from the rat race. More convinced than ever that spending 40 to 50 years of one’s life building someone else’s company is such a waste of time. Never been more eager to escape the rat race. Focusing more than ever on succeeding with our own business and my investments, so that some day, I will be able to escape. Receving that good old paycheck to cover monthly expenses, and moonlighting building businesses. The grind.

Every day I see these bankers, hearing them talk about stuff they wanna buy, how they’re going to improve their house soon or the one week vacation abroad they look forward to in the summer. Six months from now, they finally have a vacation. Living the dream.

Commuting, doing monotonous tasks, sitting at a computer all day, attending boring meetings. Every day. Except for the weekends. «Finally Friday bro, what are you going to do during the weekend bro?». And then every Monday asking «what did you do during the weekend bro?».

I worked on my business so that I will able to escape this rat race as soon as possible, that’s what I did. So that I won’t end up like The Fat Man In The BMW Convertible, just like you.

Society Trap

Think about it:

Why do people tend to have almost the same approach towards work as they had in the 1950s?

We’re living in the 21st century now, and we have different opportunities than they knew back then, yet most people tend to have a similar work-life balance to what they used to have.

Does sacrificing time with your friends and family, working 40-hour weeks or more, commuting almost every day to work, working for someone else on their terms, not having time to exercise enough because of work, being controlled by a boss or a company, having 5 weeks of vacation each year (and working 47 weeks), working with something that you’re not really passionate about, showing up to the same office/building almost every day, not being able to choose who you’re working with, waking up to an alarm on almost a daily basis, having to think about and prepare for work during your spare time, working for a wage that just covers basic expenses, potentially sacrificing your health due to stress, lack of sleep, and/or developing musculoskeletal problems because of working too much on similar tasks, sound like a good deal to you?

Many spend 35-45 years of their lives living like this, until they retire old and worn out.
Then what?
Eventually being free (for a while), but with a huge uncertainty that your health is still ok, and with a high probability that you will get bored after a few weeks into retirement because you are so used to being told by others what to do at the job that you had.

Is this the optimal way to live your life?
Did you ever question why you were taught to live like this?
What exactly are you doing it for, other than for money or trying to climb an ‘imaginary ladder’?

What’s the point of earning a lot of money, if you don’t have the freedom to enjoy your time anyway?

Times have changed, you don’t have to treat the way they used to live life in the 50’s like it’s a golden standard any more.

What used to provide a safe and stable income isn’t even that safe anymore because of the growth of automation, outsourcing, the amount of people getting a higher education is increasing and that the number of jobs available in many industries is decreasing.

It’s a dead-end.
It’s a trap, and if you don’t realize this now, you might spend almost your entire life in that trap.
If you disagree, then read the book Unscripted by MJ DeMarco.

It might change your view on things.

You might also realize this when you’re too old to change how you spend the majority of your life.
How you spend your prime health years, from age 18 to around age 60.

Your time is very limited, and it’s not even sure that you’ll make it until retirement at 65, so don’t spend most of your life doing something you dislike just for paychecks.

You don’t need to have a regular career.
You don’t need to climb the ‘imaginary ladder’.

When you’re old, almost no one will care about the career you had anyway.

There are better opportunities out there.
There are better ways to make an income. Find them.

A Dream Scenario

How would your ideal life look like?
If you could wave a magic wand, and all of sudden you had everything you wanted, what would that be?
Take a brief moment to think about this or write it down on a piece of paper.


My dream scenario would be to have freedom and to work on my own terms.
Freedom to live wherever I want, without having to worry about money.
To me, a well-established online business sounds like the solution to creating the life I want.
A business that is geographically independent and time independent.
Whenever you have an internet connection, you are able to run the business.

My goal is not to create this type of business on my own.
I am aiming to build a business with 1-3 other people, so that we can travel together while we are running an online business.
A small group of masterminds.

An online store is preferably the type of business I want to create.
Outsourcing some parts of the business is necessary to reduce costs.
The end goal is to have a stable online source of income, without having to work more than 20 hours a week.

Be willing to put in a lot of time and effort to create the life that you want.
It might take 3 years, 5 years or more to create an online business, and it probably won`t be easy.
That is why it is so important to be specific about what you are working for.

Remote Work Locations

From an article by Alo Lantin


There are people who bring the party with them anywhere they go. And there are people who bring their work, too.

Everything is portable these days. Phones fit in our pockets, computers in our bags, files in tiny microchips that take up no room at all. We can pick up anything, pack anything, and travel with anything to any part of the world.

Even our work.

This “portable” age has made it possible for us to stick our own careers into our pockets. We’re now in a world where you can work anywhere, at any time, at your own leisure, whether you are just avoiding the morning commute or skipping the city altogether. The working man as digital nomad.

Or, you know, just a workaholic, really. A workaholic who knows he needs a vacation badly but can’t abandon work altogether.

If the above especially resonates, there’s a special place in the world for you. In fact, we can think of seven. Seven destinations where you can happily beat the deadlines while a daiquiri is on your side, and the ocean awaits just in front. With excellent wi-fi access all around, of course. .


Canggu Beach, Bali, Indonesia

@dojobali in Instagram

This little sliver of beach on the island of Bali, Indonesia is a hotspot for digital nomads, their work tucked away in their backpacks as they soak in the sun. It’s a Bohemian beach town, with cafes and bars right up against the shore. Canggu Beach is where you can find the Dojo Bali, a two-storey open space a couple of blocks from the beach. Its business-grade WiFi and relaxed vibe are assurances that you’ll have a relaxed and productive time. It’s a bit of a quiet destination too, not as crowded as the other resort towns of Bali.


The Nest, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

@sergiosala on Instagram

The resort town of Playa del Carmen is widely recognized among the international digital nomad community as a great place to work. Comfortable cooperative open spaces like Nest Coworking are available for roaming nomads, with all the fixings that a mobile worker would need, such as WiFi and a noticeboard for events. Book here and you can expect sunny days spent exploring the reefs and sandy stretches of the Yucatan with a coconut in hand, the perfect way to unwind when the stress from your digital work starts getting to you. If you’ve hunkered down in the Nest for an extended period of time, you’ll probably be able to catch the occasional workshop or two to boost the successes of your own remote work.


Chiang Mai, Thailand

@snowbonheur on Instagram

This cultural alcove to the North of Thailand is often touted as the top destination in the world for remote workers and digital nomads. Chalk it up to a relaxing atmosphere – Chiang Mai, a mountainous and well-forested province, boasts temperatures far colder than most of Southeast Asia and a city life that is both quiet and cultured. The digital nomads that have set up shop in Chiang Mai swear by the coffee shops and healthy eateries that dot the city, most of which are cheap compared to the other sites on this list, making it the perfect place to readjust your system in order to get some good work done.


Siam Station, Bangkok, Thailand

@been hostel on Instagram

A trend among digital nomad destinations is the need for distraction, and the city of Bangkok has distraction in spades. The Bangkok Train System’s Siam Station is the beating heart of the metropolis, and everything from the stores of Chatuchak to the famous floating markets are accessible from here. Check in at the Been Hostel near the station if you need like-minded foreigners to work alongside with. Internet in Bangkok is omnipresent like the most metropolitan cities of Asia, perfect for the digital traveler. If you ever find yourself in a spot of trouble, Bangkok’s large expat community will be there to take care of you.


Hong Kong

This modern metropolis and hub of super connectivity is great for the digital nomad that needs constant access to the net. Hong Kong’s internet is among the fastest in the world, and its high-rise hotels offer stunning views of the metropolis between those Skype sessions with your boss. Whenever you start feeling cooped up, it’s easy to hit the streets for some market shopping, and the city is rife with bars and clubs for a good old Hong Kong night out. There’s a thriving digital nomad community here as well, so you’re bound to run into others just like you as you all eke out a good time in sparkling Hong Kong.


Stare Mesto, Prague, Czech Republic

@420oncz on Instagram

If so nomadic a digital nomad you are that you can’t even work in your own room, then make your way over to Stare Mesto in Prague. The Old Town, as it’s known in English, is rife with cafes and restaurants for you to set up shop in, and fantastic WiFi connection all throughout Prague will let you stay constantly connected no matter where you end up. There are countless cultural distractions as well, between bike tours and beer tours and the countless historical buildings scattered throughout the area, if ever you’re feeling cooped up from your work and are in need of intellectual stimulation.


La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain

@maimahecha on Instagram

The temperate climate that envelops the port city of Barcelona is perfect for the digital nomad looking to get a little outside work done, especially around the sun-baked lanes of La Rambla. Café terraces line the road, safe havens for laptop-toting workers, while all along the central island mimes and traders and buskers of all sorts ply their trade, perfect for an afternoon respite of casual flaneuring. There’s a big digital nomad community in Barcelona as well, so if you’re looking for like-minded souls, you can most probably meet them here. If you’re in need of a break between all the work you’ve got to do, close your laptop and go for a nice, sunny walk down La Rambla.


A Ten-Year Retrospective On The 4-Hour Workweek

A Ten-Year Retrospective on The 4-Hour Workweek : How Location-Independent Entrepreneurs Taught the World to Build Businesses from Anywhere post image

Ten years ago this month, I was spending a sunny Saturday morning in Barnes and Noble. In the business section, I noticed a book with a palm tree and a hammock on the cover. It boldly suggested that I could work less, earn more, and travel widely.

Four Hour Work Week Book Cover

Free time and travel sounded great, of course, but Tim Ferriss’ book also flirted with a far more seductive and powerful idea: that the very same technologies which were making our jobs increasingly intolerable – the constant connection, the all-time-zone hours, the all-night email-checking – might be used for our own benefit.

The implication was incendiary – what if our employers had inadvertently unlocked our prison cells? And what if leaving the traditional career path was actually the best route to financial and career success?

The 4HWW wasn’t just a guide to “hacking” life and working less; it was also a critique of the standard American lifestyle – everything from long hours and career stability to fancy cars, 30-year mortgages, and retirement savings accounts.

Essentially, Tim was helping us to see these constructs for what they were – arbitrary, confining, and unnecessary. He was also asking us to imagine what our lives might look like outside of these patterns. And, best of all, he wasn’t asking for much. Just give it a shot, he urged. What’s the worst that could happen?

When I encountered Tim’s book, I was working long hours for a small company. I was stressed all the time and I felt like I had no power over my future. In that situation, it wasn’t easy for me to imagine working four hours a week and lounging under palm trees – but it also wasn’t easy to imagine continuing with the life I was living.

By page 90, I decided that I was willing to risk what little career I had. I quit my job and founded a business within a year. I haven’t had a boss since.

Since founding our podcast in 2009, Ian and I have probably heard more 4HWW success stories than anybody but Tim himself. (We’ve seen the failures, too.) Essentially, we’ve run a ten-year experiment: what happens when you try to put Tim’s vision into practice? What challenges arise? What adaptations are required? And how has technology changed the opportunities available to entrepreneurs?

For the past eight years, TropicalMBA has been asking these questions and sharing the answers. Today, our podcast, blog, and community are home to thousands of hard-working entrepreneurs.

So what have we learned? In honor of the tenth anniversary of Tim’s book, here are ten observations from the TMBA laboratory.


Initially, the single biggest source of confusion was Tim’s DEAL system. If this doesn’t ring any bells, here’s a quick refresher:

  • Define. Tim encourages readers to define the future they want to build. (The first step? Creating a dreamlinehere’s an episode on that process). 4HWW-style thinking demands that we become the ‘dealmakers’ in our own lives; in order to create deals with reality, you have to understand what reality you’re trying to create.
  • Eliminate. Tim instructs us to delete distractions from our lives (especially media and meaningless email) in order to focus on our core goals of taking control over our time, income, and mobility.
  • Automate. We also need to remove ourselves from the trivial tasks of our business or job in order to focus on being effective (as opposed to just efficient).
  • Liberate. Finally, we release ourselves from society’s usual constraints – like working on the arbitrary schedules of jobs or clients – and focus on living the lives we’ve defined for ourselves.

In theory, it sounded great – but putting it into practice was a stumbling block for many readers.

This problem stems from a split in the book’s audience. Many of Tim’s principles are aimed at overworked business owners, or those who have lots of experience and career cachet. In other words, Tim is talking to people who have a lot of enterprising know-how (or other resources – like industry relationships – that allow them to make up for it).

But the book’s audience extended well beyond the well-heeled and gainfully employed. It also appealed to those of us who didn’t have businesses, established cash flows, or other traditional advantages.

In retrospect, it’s not hard to see that these two audiences – the well-educated California business owner, and his entry-level customer service rep – might hear Tim’s advice very differently. The book didn’t do enough to calibrate distinct strategies for each group.

This small oversight led to a lot of fear, frustration and criticism. It also inspired the most popular post on the TMBA blog – The 1,000 Day Principle, which argues that it usually takes three years of full-time effort to replace your professional salary with income from a business. For some, an “apprentice” phase is also necessary – the period of time when you put yourself in a position to launch your business and start your 1,000-day count. (During this phase, budding entrepreneurs often learn basic skills through formal apprenticeships, online courses, and experiments with platforms like Shopify, WordPress, and Amazon.)

In other words, it can take smart people the better part of a decade to apply Tim’s ideas. (The book could have been called The Ten-Year Career. That’s not as sexy as The 4-Hour Workweek, but it’s a much better message than most of us received growing up.)

Nonetheless, Tim still deserves credit, because he did two extremely important things: he got people to believe, and he got them started.


If you’ve read 4HWW, you’ll remember the chapter on “filling the void.” When automated income starts pouring into your bank account and you don’t have to sit behind a desk anymore, what should you do with your time? Tim talks about getting back to hobbies, taking trips to develop new skillsets, or devoting time to projects.

When I read this section, it seemed ridiculous. (What do you do with your free time? Anything you freaking want!)

Ten years later, I’m not laughing. When you aren’t working all day long, and when you don’t have to be in one place all day every day, what will your days look like? What will matter to you? How will you live? These are wide-open questions, and our community is answering them one experiment at a time.


The book suggested that readers build a cash-flow, find ways to automate it, and then help themselves to mini-retirements. What people actually did was different. They quit their jobs, began traveling, and built businesses along the way. They “baselined” in cheap locations, lowering their expenses and extending their runways. They hired remote staff in developing countries and met others who were doing the same. They leveraged business models like “productized services” so they weren’t strapped to their laptops all day. As their businesses grew, they made decisions about where to live based on time zones (and a dozen other factors that would have seemed unfathomable just a few years before).


Early 4HWW adherents assumed that their remote businesses needed to serve “real” businesses, and that being abroad (and making sales calls from resorts) was something to apologize for. Serving ‘lifestyle entrepreneurs’ as your target market was seen as small-time thinking.

This has changed. The success of Jungle ScoutAMZ TrackerEmpire Flippers, and many others have shown that there is enormous opportunity in serving the community itself.


2007: The book introduced a novel way of building a business and a life largely enabled by internet technologies, and coined it “lifestyle design.”

2017: Now, it simply looks like “a fun and strategic way to grow a profitable business.”


2007: People critiqued the book saying “it’s for single people who want to write blogs in Thailand.”

2017: For every blogger making money in Thailand, there are 100 other entrepreneurs succeeding in businesses you’ve never thought about. They are just less visible; they have no incentive to share their stories, so they don’t. (Unfortunately, the press has also done a terrible job of finding and profiling these folks.) I often wish we did a better job. Nonetheless, these entrepreneurs are out there by the thousands. I meet them all the time; they come to our events to meet and learn from each other.

More broadly, the power of the 4HWW lifestyle is still being unlocked. Families are joining the fray. So are people from developing countries (or countries whose passports restrict their travel).

What many had, in the early days, framed up as a book of tricks to take shortcuts in life has turned into a roadmap to interesting and dignified work for those who might not otherwise have access to it.

Over the coming years, we’re going to see many more people abandoning the corporate/career track and relying on their own entrepreneurial skills and ingenuity.


Service businesses and professional services (like lawyers and accountants) are starting to understand and serve the unique problems faced by ‘micro-multinationals’ – hyper-globalized <$10M businesses. It’s a massively growing marketplace that’s relatively easy to address.


When we started the TMBA blog, we were two broke kids with mediocre college degrees selling random ecommerce products (thank to Tim’s validation strategies and Ian’s obsession with cats). We were also perhaps the first location-independent physical goods business sharing its story via blogging and podcasting.

This felt risky. Why? Because with most business models, sharing your secret sauce doesn’t make sense. Our situation was really no different, but we did it anyway – it was fun, and we wanted to share. And it’s worked out – especially because we’ve met all of you!

When Tim’s book was published, conventionally successful people didn’t build or buy businesses like ours. But that’s changing, too. Our seven-figure business was bought by a former Hollywood executive. Why? Because she wanted to control her earnings into retirement.

That’s not unusual. People on traditional career paths have watched what Tim’s readers have accomplished, and they’re using their savings to buy in. Their motivations are as varied as ours: to spend more time with family; to live abroad; to create unlimited growth potential; and to control their own financial destinies.

Some of us boldly proclaimed that the 4HWW was a shortcut to retirement (forget mini-retirements). For many, it’s turning out that way.


Ten years on, 4HWW principles look less like a critique of the career system and more like the future of business.


As I’ve written previously, Tim’s book whispered something important to me: in addition to working less and living anywhere, I could also build wealth, take care of a family and retire well.

Now established industries and entrepreneurs are taking note. The VCs are coming. The PE firms are coming.

And why shouldn’t they? As Tim says, the four-hour workweek is about “valuing effectiveness over efficiency.” It’s about throwing out all the career nonsense and doing good work.

So if you’re reading this and wondering whether the four-hour workweek is still possible – whether there’s room for you at the table – here’s my answer:

It’s getting easier every day.



Letter From An Elderly Person


“The kind of life that makes one feel empty and shallow and superficial, that makes one dread to read and dread to think, can’t be good for one, can it?” asked literary legend Willa Cather when pondering the trade aspiring creatives must so often make between pursuing their creative passions and working to pay the bills. It is a question that deserves attention, particularly so at a time when working hours are increasing and worker’s rights diminishing.a

It’s also one we perhaps don’t ask ourselves enough: for at its heart is a difficult subject to face – the matter of whether we are a) brave enough to quit our soul sucking day jobs to do what we really want, and b) actually destined to be writers and artists.

Indeed, we must recognise the sentiment of acclaimed poet Charles Bukowski famous poem, So, you want to be a writer (Don’t do it) – “if it doesn’t come bursting out of you, in spite of everything, don’t do it”. And we must question whether or not we really possess within ourselves the burning desire to write, to create art, and whether we actually find some solace in the excuse our jobs give us not to act on our creative impulses. As though there were some fear that, should we in fact have the freedom to do so, we would end up just sitting around all day watching TV and eating toast in our pants.

Bukowski, of course, understood better than most the crippling effects of capitalist working structures. He is, after all, the man who asked: “How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”

It is the sort of question that can only ever be asked by someone who has lost years of his life to the mundanity, and creativity-stifling world of modern work. And before he became a full-time writer, Bukowski took a string of blue collar jobs, working as a fill-in mail man for the US Postal Service from his 30s right on into his 40s.

Like many creatives today, Bukowski also found himself stifled by working for the man. In 1969, the year before his 50th birthday, he was still working as a mail man, and pulling some gigs here and there on some small underground magazines. And it was from this position Bukowski found himself faced with the challenge we set out at the start of this article: to essentially “put up or shut up” – and quit his stifling job for the risky life of poet and writer.

Bukowski had caught the attention of Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, who offered the poet $100 a month to quit his job and dedicate himself solely to writing. While many creatives might dither here, adding up the costs of bills and thinking perhaps even of pensions; Bukowski was in no doubt about his decision. He took the chance gladly, and just two years later, Black Sparrow Press published his first novel, titled – appropriately – Post Office.

It was an opportunity Bukowski did not forget – although it did take him time to remember to thank his early champion; writing to Martin some 17 years later to express his gratitude. Belated the letter of thanks may be; but it nonetheless remains beautiful, and incredibly poignant today. The missive emanates Bukowski’s characteristic cynicism, but also his deep sensitivity, and a touch of self-conscious earnestness.

The letter is here below, in full;

“August 12, 1986

Hello John:

Thanks for the good letter. I don’t think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from. You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don’t get it right. They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’sovertime and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.

You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?

Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: “Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”

They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn’t want to enter their minds.

Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:

“I put in 35 years…”

“It ain’t right…”

“I don’t know what to do…”

They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?

I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I’m here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I’ve found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.

I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”

One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.

So, the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy, the jolly joy of the miracle. I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember (no matter how far I’m gone) how I’ve come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die.

To not to have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.

yr boy,


If Bukowski’s letter doesn’t convince you that it’s perhaps finally time to quit your soul sucking job and start working on that novel you’ve been working on; then perhaps try Neil Gaiman’s deceptively simple-sounding rules for writers. Consider, also, the way other aspects of our modern world may be affecting our creative urges – and how things like technology may be dampening our creativity.

One letter from Charles Bukowski will make you want to quit your job and become a writer

The 1000 Day Rule

From an article by Dan Andrews

Every so often I’ll stumble upon a blogger who is lamenting the impact of the lifestyle design trend. “Tim Ferriss makes it sound like it’s so easy to get started with your muse business and mini-retirements…”

Cry me a river.


One thing the 4HWW doesn’t do is give a clear idea of how the ideas have been implemented by entrepreneurs, and what their experience looks like when they do.

There are some huge misconceptions out there about muse businesses.

Less than 1%* of lifestyle designers make their money by selling eBooks and courses on how to be lifestyle designers, travelers, mobile business owners, or similar.

I only know a small handful of muse business owners who make their money this way. Contrast that with the 100s of mobile entrepreneurs I’ve met in the past few years and interact with daily. Most lifestyle designers are too busy with their business to blog about it. Be sure to thank the ones who do! Off the top of my head, I’d say less than 1% of 4HWW inspired businesses are in the business of “selling the lifestyle.”

So How Do You Pay for Your Rockstar Lifestyle?

So how are 4HWWers making money? Here are the 5 most popular ways I’ve seen:

  1. Software developers. They own a web app, a popular forum, do freelance database management, or similar. Developers are highly represented in the muse business world, and there is no question they are the most successful freelancers.
  2. Old school marketers. Long form sales letters? Yes. Affiliate marketing? Yes! Porn? Sheebang! These folks have been on the trail way before 4HWW. These were some of the few sources of online income available before Skype changed the game and made mobility a possibility for freelancers and people with virtual teams.
  3. Classic entrepreneurs. These are the deal cutters, the folks who have built something scalable. They have teams, they have processes, they have crazy ambition. They cut deals and make hay. They own valuable stuff. They rarely blog about it.
  4. Online gambling and trading. I suppose you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you tons of people living the lifestyle are making money grinding at online poker tables, day trading, or something similar. A lot of the guys who got involved building muse businesses got their feet wet in poker or trading first. Me included… another story for another day.
  5. ‘New’ marketing. The emerging crowd of social media oriented freelancers, often focused on PPC, SEO, copywriting, niche blogs, you name it. This crowd is newish and generally operating at lower levels of income, but this income can come fast since these markets are developing and scattered.

1000 Days

I was chatting with my friend David from Greenback Tax Services the other day about these misconceptions. He said: “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.

In my experience, here is what those 1000 days often looks like…

Before Your 1000 Days (the yearning**)

  • You are writing a blog about YOU. The reason you do it is “networking.”
  • You are hating your job.
  • You quit your job and travel on savings.
  • You are buying products from blogs that make a little money on how to make a little money with your blog.
  • You talk about this stuff with your family and friends.
  • You are failing at affiliate marketing.
  • You try to partner up with your best friend or girlfriend/boyfriend.
  • You are buying a bunch of domains, starting a bunch of projects, and stopping when competition shows up.
  • You love Zen Habits. You think you could probably do something similar.
  • You write bitter blog posts about 4HWW.

Day 1 to Day 333 (the great hope)

  • You stop playing around with your GoDaddy account and get to work on putting a buy now button on a website.
  • You start calling potential clients and customers.
  • You regularly use expressions like “margin pressure” and “QC.”
  • You stop talking to friends and family and start hanging with entrepreneurs and people who share your journey.
  • You work out some funky deal for cash runway. You start working during your lunch breaks.
  • You take on freelance work.
  • You negotiate a severance package.
  • You ask friends for money (like an idiot!)
  • You wonder what the FUCK you are doing.
  • Everyone thinks you should take a vacation and get back to your old self ASAP.
  • Most people quit here. You do not. You have the eye of the tiger.

Day 334 to Day 666 (the grind)

  • You have customers. You have clients.
  • You have too much work.
  • Your friends and family think you have gone mental.
  • You don’t visit your family even though you are “location independent.”
  • Your old friends think it’s a fraud. You are chasing a dream. “Get a real job!”
  • You have no money.
  • Your business gets written up in that thing you wanted to be mentioned in– no clients come from it.
  • Constant paranoia. What if my shit is hacked? My competition just made an update!? What did he say?!!?!
  • You get by with a lot of help and hustle. Stuff you could have never planned for starts working out.
  • Clothing and dinners on the town used to be your indulgences. Now you’d take an extra virtual assistant.
  • Your developers are totally fucking you over (you think, but you just don’t know about development yet).
  • You wasted a bunch of money on that one thing that you don’t want to talk about.
  • You are trying to cut some big deals. They’ll “think about your proposal.”

Day 664 to 1000 (the sunrise)

  • Your friends ask “so what does your business do again?”
  • Family is thankful for your extended vacation time.
  • Your VAs are doing good work, but still pulling the disappearing act.
  • You love to travel, but won’t spend 1 day away from your inbox. You don’t understand people who’d want to.
  • Meeting other entrepreneurs and learning from them becomes a huge priority.
  • You could make money, but instead you think you’ll hire somebody.
  • You have too many business ideas to act on.
  • You are thinking… this just might fucking work!
  • You are thankful.
  • You want more.
  • You’ve got a list of high quality problems.
  • Despite your intensity, you can still do all the Zen Habits stuff, if you so chose.