When I walked out of my job for the last time I wondered if I’d have a cinematic moment that encapsulated all the emotion of the situation in one suspenseful scene. That would make an easy blog post.
As I write some 3 months hence such scenes have been so numerous it’s hard to know which to choose.
Today I checked my Paypal balance and discovered it’s lower-than-expected. And it’s the first of the month. I’m expecting a mid-four-figure payment from a new client, but not until the 18th.
I check my email. Great. A client I emailed yesterday is finally sending the last payment of a performance-based contract. But it turns out he’s probably not renewing.
I dash off a quick follow up: “Has anything changed since May, when you said you were interested in ongoing service?”
Ten minutes later, the vulnerability hits. “Shit. Did I push too hard? Am I going to get a ‘BRO – let it GO already’ response?”
But I’m getting the money.
So that’s the gist.
Quitting your job to be a full time entrepreneur/consultant is like becoming a professional gambler and a porn star all-at-once. It’s quitting your medication. It’s having kids.
And that’s not hyperbole. There are two extremely specific emotional components. The first is the introduction of multiple dopamine loops into every day. Like when you’re hoping for that promotion, and it happens. Or it doesn’t, then you learn your buddy got one. In your day job, loops like this happened once-a-season.
As an entrepreneur/consultant, they happen multiple times-a-day.
That’s the pro-gambler angle. The slot machines.
The second effect is that of feeling naked or, more accurately, waking up and knowing you did some crazy sexual shit the night before, but not being able to remember exactly what.
That’s because of all the risking rejection. And that’s what selling is. Risking rejection, in a small way, every time. Every sales call. Every follow-up email. Every time you ask a mentor for a hookup.
Veterans call it “moving toward resistance”, borrowing the term “resistance” from War of Art author Stephen Pressfield. Resistance is the peculiar species of excuse-making that seems to arise whenever something scary is the shortest path to a goal. “Moving toward” it means doing that scary thing.
I had that feeling precisely three times at my day job: asking for a promotion, asking for a raise, and quitting. Now, it’s a daily occurrence.
Why is overcoming “resistance” scary? Because it can backfire.
If there were zero risk of being told-off after asking for a guest-post (a common strategy to get website traffic for a fledgling business), everybody would do it.
If needing to justify your value under heated questioning wasn’t harrowing, consultants wouldn’t make more money than freelancers.
One thing I expected to worry about, but haven’t, however, is money.
I worried more about money when I was employed. The stressful thing about money isn’t needing it – it’s not being able to produce it.
That’s not to say it will never be a concern, but what runs through my head when I wake up at 3am isn’t “how am I going to pay my bills.” It’s “did I push too hard on this sales call”, or “did I come across as too aggressive to a mentor when I asked for a guest post”.
Paying the bills when you’re a consultant/entrepreneur is like knowing you need to bring home the big game, but you know how to hunt, and you have a pretty good idea where the really choice game is, and, barring that, you know where to find the odd rabbit or muskrat you have an 85% chance of bagging.
As an employee, it’s more like expecting somebody to deliver the kill to your front door, but you’re not allowed to own a spear. And the kill is the same size every day, unless you convince them to bring you more. And one day it could just stop.
There’s one more angle: hunting is a lot fucking more fun than waiting for a carcass.
Of course I don’t expect to be out hunting for the rest of my life, nor even any longer than I need to. Consulting is always a means-to-an-end of starting another automated business. 80/20 Drummer reached its point-of-diminishing-returns just as people were starting to hit me up for help with their sales funnels, so cutting 80/20 Drummer loose to earn under its own power (another thing lessening my anxiety about money) while I started consulting as a marketer made sense. My broad-strokes goal is to do for marketing what I did for drumming.
And just as a drum teacher starts with students, I’m starting with consulting clients. Get cash-flow and market intelligence, all as you build your list.
I’m also interested in the meta-skill of starting businesses. If growing 80/20 Drummer to a decent size was finding one lucky fishing hole, starting a new business is learning how to find fishing holes, and what bait to use. It’s that “never go hungry again” shit.
As I write this, another payment lands in the Paypal. And I’m talking to my travel agent about my trip to Asia in late September. But the flight I thought I was going to take wasn’t available anymore.
So it’s ups-and-downs. But it’s really difficult to complain.