For the longest time, I thought about business all wrong. I would get these cool-at-the-time ideas in my head about the next big website to build and would set out to build them. I’d sink hours into it, dedicate my entire life to it. And eventually, it would fall flat on its face.
Each and every idea stemmed from a desire to make something useful. To get pageviews. To make an impact. And, if I was lucky, maybe generate some passive income money. In my head, it was a win-win. I’d get to do something I wanted to do, AND it was in support of a worthy mission.
There was a huge problem with all this, though.
I would get so excited about the thing that I wanted to build that I never took the time to figure out whether or not it should be built.
I convinced myself that whatever I was building would be something useful. It would add value. It was the perfect solution. Trust me, my intentions were great. Sound, even. I wanted to provide value with the solution I was hell-bent on designing.
But, very often I didn’t understand the “why”. I went from idea to implementation in a matter of hours. Sometimes, even minutes.
The perfect solution to a problem that I didn’t understand.
A business needs a specific problem
The point of a business is to solve a problem. Without a problem to solve, there is no reason why anybody would spend good money on it.
We buy cars to solve a problem of getting from point A to point B.
We spend money on televisions and service plans to solve our need for mindless entertainment and keeping up with sports.
Microsoft’s Office suite is here to provide a comprehensive solution to office productivity through a powerful word processor, spreadsheets and presentation capabilities.
These products and services are designed to solve a problem, and they’ve stood the test of time. They work, and therefore, we use them.
But, let’s come back to the truth of the matter…
Without a problem to solve, a business fails.
And, that was my problem with each and every one of my proposed business/website ventures. Specifically, I had a solution that I wanted to design. But, I didn’t have a good idea about why someone would actually use it. Why someone would give this thing two seconds of their attention.
I’ll say it once again – without a problem to solve, a business fails.
What’s your problem?
Treading dangerously close to TMI (Too Much Information), I was in the shower the other day and thinking about how the same philosophy applies to financial independence and early retirement.
But truthfully, it’s more than that. It applies to any major life change. And more importantly, any significant life decision.
Just like businesses need a clear and specific problem to solve, so too does each and every one of our major decisions – like up and quitting our job and retiring early, for example.
Obviously, early retirement contains built-in implications. Huge implications…
Think of the problem that you’re solving to be your life’s purpose. The reason that you’re getting up each and every morning.
If you are as emotional as I was with my next big website project, you’ll find yourself without a whole lot of purpose.
“Why did I quit early? I had a dependable income. I had the community of my coworkers. I had health insurance. Okay, why the F did I leave?!?“
If you can’t answer that question, then you have a solution in search of a problem. And, your new business of early retirement will probably fail.
Before quitting your job (or making any major life decision), find the problem that you’re trying to solve
For most of my career, I enjoyed information technology and the work that I did. But, I didn’t enjoy doing that work for a company.
My passion is the work, but the job was like this annoying little squirrel nibbling away at the bottom of my shoes until, one day, that vermin devours the whole damn thing, and I was walking on bare pavement.
For me, early retirement was the solution to a very specific problem: I hate jobs. I hate everything about jobs. I hate unrealistic schedules. I hate meetings for the sake of meetings. I hate performance reviews and pretending to care about mission statements and B.S. company priorities.
I understood the problem, and that problem spent many years manifesting itself inside me. Over the years, I took great pains to ignore it. To push it further and further down into my gut, but it never went away.
It was always there, and with time, that sucker only got stronger. The problem was growing with intensity until, eventually, I just couldn’t hold it down any longer.
My solution isn’t some cure-all, though. I understand that.
Let’s face it: I’m not on vacation, here. I blog like crazy. I do a lot of work over at Rockstar Finance. I contribute to CNBC and CBS MarketWatch. I’ve released an e-book about blogging and my wife and I just released a course about planning your RV trip. In other words, I’m doing stuff, but
I’m finally getting to pursue my passions without the constraints of full-time work. That’s the solution.
But more importantly, it’s a solution to a problem that I’m well aware of and understand clearly enough to explain in 15 seconds or less. The things I’m doing now have become my life’s purpose.
- Traveling the country in our 200 square foot Airstream
- Writing hundreds of thousands of words for this blog
- Filming, editing and uploading adventure videos to YouTube
- Designing in-depth online courses, like this one about trip planning
Are you working toward early retirement? If so, can you clearly and effortlessly explain the problem that early retirement will solve?
Oh, and before you go! I’m starting a new project that I’m releasing in January 2019. If you run a blog, you’re probably in tune with Digital Marketing for your blog. Email lists. Writing styles. Content management.
I’m designing the resource that you’re probably looking for without all the “Hire me to improve your site!” stuff that’s way too common.
I’d be honored if you’d sign up to be notified when the site officially goes live!