I’m supposed to be a guest speaker in MMU (Multimedia University) tomorrow, and I’m thinking of what to say. Somehow I can foresee someone asking this question: “Do I regret leaving my job to be an entrepreneur?”
I always get this question from my friends who really can’t understand what I do for a living nowadays, and why I would leave a job that paid RM2,900 plus all the “perks” for an “uncertain future”.
Do I regret leaving my job?
I make twice as more, I wake up without an alarm clock, I only work with people I want to, I can take a vacation whenever I want, I can go swimming at 3.00pm, and I can blog at 5.50am
But those things are petty compared to this: For the first time in my life, I feel like I have something to look forward to. I feel like I have a purpose. I feel like I can do this every single day for the rest of my life and still want more.
You don’t get that feeling when you’re just working for money.
If you want my story, here it is.
I started working in Telekom Malaysia early July 2002 after I graduated from MMU . I resigned end of July 2005 and after serving a three month notice, I was free in November 2005. Since it was the festive season, nobody was around when I packed up my things on the last day as an employee. Perhaps it was for the better.
To tell you the truth, the first six months as an Account Executive in TM I worked hard. I was frustrated to be put in a technical division when I wanted to do something related to my degree, B.B.A Multimedia Marketing. However, since I had no choice I told myself I was going to learn it up anyway. I borrowed some books on telecomunications technology and I even referred to an “encyclopedia” of telecommunications terms. I often went home hours after everyone else simply because I wanted to overcome my disadvantage as soon as possible.
After six months I suddenly felt very lost. Somehow I didn’t quite feel like I found a career. I often found myself saying “There must be something more out there.” My mind was looking for answers in a place where the only answer was ‘work hard, get married and have kids’. I didn’t buy that concept.
I did some snooping around, and I found out that it would take me at least 6 years to become a manager. And when I did, I could expect to get a salary of about RM4,200+ and a whole lot more senseless work.
To be frank after that I didn’t look forward to work at all. I dreaded every single day. In my three years there I was put in four different jobs. One of those I actually liked, which was sales and marketing. But at the end of the day, it really didn’t matter what I want.
You see someone up there in HR decides that I should be doing something else. They call it manpower management. There are some people who seem to be ok with this, but not me. I couldn’t allow someone else to decide my future. This is what I think corporate life is all about:
To make a long story short, fast forward 3 years, and I’m on the verge of a breakdown. I had a job that I least cared for. I had a band which I wanted to go places with. I had a passion that I knew could be the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle of my life. Yet, I was spending 10 hours a day for what I cared the least.
I finally realized that I can’t go on like this.
When the decision came it was quick. I told myself I will quit. But the question was “When?”. I had credit card debt, an empty bank account, and a I was technically bonded to TM for 8 years for my education scholarship.
All I had was a plan. A masterplan, to be exact, consisting of Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. I worked for almost a week trying to figure if I can actually make it work. I set a target for myself to make USD5,000 by July 2006 and USD10,000 by December 2006. My plan revealed three things:
1) I had untapped sources of income
2) I could double whatever I was making if I was doing it full time
3) I had underutilized and underdeveloped skills
Satisfied, I sent in my resignation letter and slogged for the next three months. By the time my final day came I had already paid up most of my credit card bills and other short-term debt. I had also doubled whatever income I was getting from the Internet.
In my first month full-time, it was tough. TM witheld my final month’s salary for credit checking, and I realized on important lesson: cash flow is more important than revenue.
Sure, you can make a lot of money. But if you don’t get that money in time, you’re going to be stuck. Note that I had zero savings and was taking a huge leap of faith.
In my second and third months I started investing in several business opportunities including auto-surf programs, which went great for a while. While it lasted, I was making $1000 in referral commissions from one program alone. Suddenly my goal of making $5000 a month seemed a bit too easy, and I started getting a bit relaxed.
Then came the dreaded February, when all the autosurf programs came tumbling down. With them went most of my earnings and some of my faith. It was a depressing few weeks as I felt like I’m starting from day one again when I first laid out my Internet business masterplan.
It took me a few weeks to get out of my depression, and somehow I bounced back. I told myself I had too much to lose if I quit and found another J.O.B. After all I still had an e-book which I knew had potential but somehow managed to lose focus on. I still had a contract as a freelance writer. I still had a few projects which I havent even started working on, including one I’ve been putting off since January.
Most importantly, I still loved doing it. When I came to my senses I realized that the situation wasn’t that bad after all. It just seems that way when you get kicked while you’re down.
My new goal is to make $5000 a month by July 2006 and $15,000 a month by December 2006. Yes, I actually increased my target
Here’s what I found out: Anything can go wrong anytime, but as long as you have a masterplan things eventually even out.
I remember talking to TV Smith, who told me that when he quit his job he had a few hundred thousand in savings to cushion the impact. Yet by the end of a few years, just before his MyCen pet project really kicked off, he was near broke.
Savings is important if you’re considering to be a full-time Internet entrepreneur, but not a requirement.
To me, passion, determination to succeed and willingness to learn from failure are more important ingredients. It’s easy to lose focus, but with the help of friends who keep you on track and the inspiration from friends who show you the way, I believe it can be done.
So here I am at 7.27 am and I still haven’t a clue what I’m going to say later in MMU. I’m beginning to think this post wasn’t meant for that anyways. I think it was just meant for me to say out a couple of things I’ve been keeping to myself for a while.
I hope you don’t mind