“Pa, I want to quit my job. SEO Hacker is doing well and it doesn’t make sense for me to work in an 8am – 5pm shift in Hewlett Packard anymore. The travel time is almost 3 hours back and forth, the commute is tiresome, I pay for lunch and sometimes for dinner when I need to stay for overtime. It just doesn’t make sense.”
It’s been 4 years since I said those words. I was naive, young and too caught up with the growth of my new passion. If I could go back in time and say 5 short words to myself back then it would be this: “It’s not easy starting up.”
A lot of people are asking me the question “How do you start a business?” Ultimately, what they’re really asking me is “What’s a good, profitable business to be in?”
There’s a paradox between those lines. You see, if I could tell you which businesses will be good and profitable, that means that other entrepreneurs out there are thinking of the same. And good businesses to be in means that there are already tons of competition (or soon to be competition) around that industry – because it’s KNOWN to be GOOD.
We all know what happens to a GOOD business when competition starts building around it. Supply and demand.
There’s the inverted U curve that dictates, “There can only be so many competitors before the industry turns bad.” Then the business won’t be as good anymore. Probably ever.
Only those who are really passionate about that industry will survive. And only those with enough creative juices to rework its monetization, user experience, product development, and JIT delivery, among other things will make it to the top – and stay there.
This is the lifeblood of a start-up: Passion. Without it, you’ll bleed dry under the heavy yoke of economy fluctuation, product/market fit movement, government policy changes, increasing taxes, inflation, competition, etc.
The thing is, 90% of start-ups fail. But you may not realize it in words so I’ll try to amplify it for you a little bit.
90 FRIKKIN’ PERCENT OF START UPS FAIL.
Statistically speaking, that means out of 10 tries in starting up, risking your money, time, effort and connections, you are going to FAIL. Time is the building blocks of life. So ultimately, you’ll waste a lot of your life before you can make one start up work.
I’m not saying that passion will make that statistic better for you. Passion takes you through the dip – it does not affect all the external factors you’ll have to deal with.
But let’s say you do succeed in the first year of starting up. What then? It’s almost 3 years since I registered SEO Hacker as an official sole proprietor business. By God’s grace, we’re under the process of incorporating it. I can’t really say that I’ve been there and done that. But I can share with you some thoughts that popped in my head somewhere along the way.
It’s Not Easy Starting Up
Starting up a business deals with finding a passion and making it real. It’s building on that dream and nurturing it with your life. It’s involving others along the way to help you make it big. It’s risking your money, years and life on sleepless nights trying to “float the boat”.
And at the end of it all, you can look back and relish every step of the way – but chances are, no one will be able to share the same fulfillment, the same joys, the same regrets as you may have.
Somewhere along the way, you may even encounter questions like, “What if I bail or sell out?”, or “What if I close down?”
After all, some companies pay huge amounts to a skilled worker.
I remember starting SEO Hacker up as a blog. I have not even registered it as an official business yet when I got my first job offer as an SEO Manager in a well known business process outsourcing company.
They were hiring me for 50,000php monthly salary plus some benefits. I turned it down. I thought I could earn more than that someday and I would be happier growing my own company.
A few months after that, another job offer. This time it was somewhere 80,000php/mo. I thought about it for a while. Asked around. Then turned it down.
A year after, another job offer, then another, then another. Somewhere in my second year of practice as an SEO specialist, I was being hired in Australia for somewhere around 600,000php/mo. It was admittedly huge – much more than what I was getting during the time.
When this opportunity presented itself, this verse came to my mind:
“Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.” – Proverbs 22:29
So I thought about it. Prayed about it. Asked around. Still, I turned it down. Why?
Because I looked at my team. And as I saw the faces of those people who stayed for me and who toiled and sweat and burned the night oil for me, I could not bear the thought of leaving them.
Plus, I knew I may earn that money here in the presence of my family, friends and my fiancee during that time. Perhaps.
So I stayed.
Almost 2 years have passed since that job offer. What I’m getting is still nowhere close to that. And that’s completely fine.
I realize that starting up is tough. It has ripped me apart more than once in my life.
It’s just that I know that it’s the same exact ‘dip‘ that will make my life worth looking back to someday. How I started up companies may well be one of the stories that I would proudly tell my children and my grand children. And, God willing, perhaps even the generation after that.
It’s not easy starting up. It’s a thousand times easier to just get a job.
But if it was easy, it’s that much less exciting, isn’t it?