by Niall Doherty

A little over a year ago I posted an article on this here blog entitled My grand experiment in lifestyle design: the beginning, in which I announced that I’d soon be leaving 9-to-5 and striking out on my own. As I wrote then…

I’ll set up my own business. I’ll make money blogging, and I’ll also set up some systems to generate passive income. This will not take long, 3-4 months at the most.

And now here I am, past the four month mark of self-employment, and still trying to figure out that whole “making money” bit.


I’ve been here before

I moved to New Orleans back in December of 2007. Why? Because my favorite basketball team (the Hornets) played there. I had created a fan website about the team, and my plan was to score a media credential when I got into town so I could go to all the games for free, interview players and coaches, and do some kick-ass reporting for the site.

I figured it would be easy. I imagined the Hornets’ PR department calling me up as soon as I got off the plane, gushing at me, “Hey, you’re the Irish guy who’s moving to NOLA for the Hornets, right? That’s so great, man! We’ve got a credential here with your name on it. We’re sending the team bus and all the cheerleaders to pick you up. Hang tight!”

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

It actually took me a good year and a half to get that media credential. I faxed in numerous requests, made several phone calls, networked with the front-line staff, went through some contacts at ESPN… all to no avail. It was frustrating, but I kept on working, stayed focused, and continued to try different approaches.

In the end, I got that credential by inviting the gatekeeper out for lunch. He saw I was for real, flesh and blood, and decided to give me a shot. Probably didn’t hurt either that we had a mutual friend.

But yeah…

My point is that it took 18 months for that whole thing to really get rolling. I rode into town on a high, soon figured out that it wasn’t going to be a cake walk, then dug deep and kept working until I got what I wanted.

Methinks I’m on a similar trip with this whole self-employment dealio. I started out on a high, launching my manifesto and getting lots of attention and enjoyment from Random Acts of Courage. I’ll be honest: I thought I had it made back then. There I was nodding my head, thinking to myself, But of course, it’s all going exactly to plan! I’ll have this online entrepreneur shit figured out in no time!

But I’ve been humbled by these last few months. I feel like I’m still being humbled, still being tested to see how much I want it. I’m fighting through that dip.

Getting real

I see now how my expectations were skewed. I was following a lot of online entrepreneurs a year ago, but the one whose story I clung to most was Everett Bogue. That chap quit his job, started a blog, and a few short months later he was making more money than he ever did as a wage slave. I thought to myself, that could be me!

Of course, I was ignoring the fact that Ev’s story was exceptional. Pay close attention to most other online entrepreneurs and you’ll notice the difference:

  1. Corbett Barr failed at a start-up before succeeding at blogging.
  2. Chris Guillebeau spent almost a decade learning how to earn money online before he started the Art of Non-Comformity.
  3. Tim Ferriss had already built a lucrative (albeit time-consuming) company before he went to work on his 4-hour empire.
  4. Ashley Ambirge made it through 67 emotions before she started kicking virtual ass.
  5. Steve Pavlina went bankrupt as a video game developer before figuring out how to make ends meet.

No overnight successes there. Those folks spent years paying their dues and honing their skills before they broke through.

Is it possible to break through in just a few short months? Absolutely. You can’t discount that possibility, but you can’t count on it either.

Embracing the struggle

Robert Redford was asked recently what was the happiest time in his career. He responded…

“Before. Before it got easy. The struggle.”

I keep that in mind as I try to get my business off the ground. I just spent my first weekend in sunny Spain hunched over my laptop, working hard, setting things in motion. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a struggle right now, but it’s a struggle I’m embracing. This is me earning my freedom.

Taking the leap

I’ve pretty much put myself in a sink or swim position. I went ahead and moved to Spain, opting not to wait until I had sustainable income flowing. I took the leap. Methinks that’s the way it has to be. You have to jump, you have to keep moving towards your dream. Fake it til you make it and all that.

That’s essentially what I’m doing. If I can afford it now, even if it’s only because of my savings, why wait? I might as well go for it and see where I end up. No regrets.

What leap are you taking? Can you go for it right now instead of waiting? Yeah, maybe you’ll sink instead of swim, but sinking ain’t the same as drowning.

A better story

Know that, if nothing else, taking that leap gives you a better story.

I’m pretty sure nobody would care to hear about how I stayed home in Ireland, figuring out how to get my business working right, and then (and only then!) headed off to Spain. No, that’s not a good story.

But by taking that leap first, I have you guys, my readers (and myself), wondering how in the hell all this is going to turn out. And that, mis amigos, makes for good reading, not to mention good living.


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