In 2003 I had had enough with working at a job where the managing partner of the CPA firm would berate us on a regular basis.
I’ll never forget the day I was driving home from the Santa Monica based CPA firm to my small apartment in Hollywood, and I was balling.
At the time, I was three years sober and I was beginning to wonder why I had bothered getting sober at all. My life wasn’t feeling any better than it had felt the day before I cleaned up. But at least then I could get high.
I would wake up in the morning dreading the drive to work. And I couldn’t wait to come home. I also couldn’t wait for the weekends.
I had built a very solid support system. I had a sponsor, a loving girlfriend (now my wife), and a really good therapist.
It was my therapist who gave me the best career advice I’ve gotten to date. He told me to go home and work on something I really enjoyed doing every day. That would give me something to look forward to.
This was 2002. By early 2003 I had my original NerdEnterprises.com website up. I had designed it myself in Microsoft Front Page.
I would have loved to quit my job, but I had to be practical. Having only been sober a short time I had no savings to speak of.
I don’t hear a lot of people talk about this next part, so I often wonder if I’m alone in this.
I was petrified that I wasn’t going to be able to pay my bills.
Before I went out on my own I did a lot of planning. All of it in spreadsheets.
First I had to see what it was really costing me to live. I started listing my personal expenses. My rent, utilities, car payment, groceries. I needed to know how much I needed to bring in, to make ends meet. Health insurance wasn’t even factored in.
Next I had to ask myself what rate could I charge, and based on that, how many hours did I know for sure I could bill, without even trying.
While I was employed I could get away with charging $25/hour because it was extra money, over and above my salary from the CPA firm.
I figured I could easily get business charging $35/hour posting ads on Craigslist.
35 x 40 x 4 = 5,600
5,600 x 12 = 67,200.
Coming From a salary of $40K this seemed like a no brainer.
But Wait. I can’t expect to bill 40 hours per week, because I would need some admin time. This is where I got my hustle on. I figured I would make up the difference on the weekends, and I did.
This was my second real world lesson in cash flow. I needed to know that going into business for myself I could bring in enough cash to pay my personal bills. In order to do that, I needed the business to NET more than that amount. I needed enough to cover and then some. Later I learned I needed a lot more.
I still have some of the spreadsheets I created back then. Every now and then I dig them up and open them. Sometimes it brings on a smile. Sometimes a tear or two. It reminds me of how far I’ve come, and most importantly it reminds me of where I came from. That’s important. So I never go back there.
How about you? Where did you start? Or are you just starting now? What are our were your struggles? Maybe we can help each other? Maybe next time I’ll tell you about my first real world struggle with cash flow.