Growing A Business vs. Living Your Dream

It’s hot and it’s sweaty. Everybody else is at work and the swimming pool is empty. Three months ago, before I moved to Thailand, I didn’t have to deal with this predicament. The only empty swimming pool was nextdoor’s Argos inflatable, and even that was ice-ravaged by winter. These days, it’s the question I have to answer every morning.

“Do I dedicate today to my business? Or do I just enjoy this crazy life?”

I was whinging at my girlfriend a few nights ago, frustrated over how wasteful I thought we’d been with money. I managed to spend close to £10,000 in January (That’s about $15,000 for you Yankiepops) which is quite a feat considering Thailand has this misguided reputation as the place for living on a shoestring budget. I’m sure it is, by the way. But if you don’t learn Thai – or at least date one – you’re going to find yourself existing in a different economy to the natives.

My ambition has always been to live a nomad lifestyle. To roam between countries, plant a laptop on a beach, get some work done, then jump on the next plane. I guess this is what we call “living the dream”. And for the last few months, I’ve been privileged enough to enjoy that luxury.

Understand though, this variety of “living the dream” makes it very difficult to grow a business. Nobody puts as many hours of thought in to their work on the beach as they do at their desk. Unless you’re Nick Throlson.

I’ve found myself wrestling between two states of mind. Firstly, the desire to knuckle down and spend every penny and every hour investing in my business, taking it as far as it can go and only then enjoying the fruits of my labour. After all, this is the very same drive and work ethic that got me this far. Why stop now?

Or I can listen to the other voice in my head. The voice saying, “Hey Finch, It’s 35 degrees out, why aren’t you in the pool? You’ve earnt this much”

Inevitably, after laying down ten grand in a month, the conservative side of me rose to the surface and argued with my girlfriend that as much as I can afford to live this life, it’s just not going to let me grow my business as fast as I want to.

But she raised a good point. Why even have this lifestyle, location independent albeit paying the premium, if I wasn’t going to enjoy it fully?

I think the reality is that I do enjoy it. And I do realize how lucky I am to be in a position at 23, that many people will work a whole lifetime to never have a hope of sharing. But after spending every hour of my life that came before preparing for this luxury, I’m not quite sure how to react now that I have it. Do I stand still and cherish the moment? Or do I put my foot down and stick to the same working patterns that have served me well?

Affiliate marketing is a fast-paced industry where the voices around you will constantly be telling you to push for the next dollar. If you’re not putting in the extra hour to attack a new offer, it’ll be money left on the table for somebody else. We all remember how it felt to not be making money, so we don’t want to fall back in to those trenches. Money left on the table is what we hate most.

When I look at my finances, I realize I don’t have to bite this bullshit and react to every movement in the industry. I don’t have to jump on every niche, split test every offer or open every email. But there’s so little substance to the work that we do, you could be forgiven for thinking it would all disappear in a heartbeat. Reacting becomes a natural instinct.

As much as I’d love to grow my business Zuckerberg-style and bypass millions to aim for billions, I’m slowly accepting that it doesn’t have to happen today or tomorrow. Most of us are very young and have the time on our hands to let our businesses grow naturally.

If you buy in to the affiliate marketing dream, you become convinced that scaling from hundreds to thousands of dollars per day has to happen overnight or it’ll never happen at all. This was the attitude I had back in my London bedroom, where everything about my life was focused on taking that next step.

Recently, I stumbled across a website called Kiva which I remember Bryn posted about last year. If you’re ever feeling that you’re not progressing with your goals, or that your riches aren’t accumulating fast enough, this is the website to visit for a shot of reality up the arse.

Entrepreneurs from poverty-stricken countries can use Kiva to ask for loans to launch businesses that would change their lives, and those of their families, for the better. Anybody can register to donate to their businesses and over time you will get the money back. It’s hard to read through some of the loan requests without your conversion rates fading in to insignificance.

While many of us would love to pitch a tower in Silicon Valley and claim the dominance of an industry, we shouldn’t dismiss simply providing a living for ourselves as anything less than amazing in the current economical climate. I’m trying to remind myself that Growing A Business vs Living My Dream doesn’t have to be an endless power struggle between two negative forces. They’re both great privileges and they should both be enjoyed.

I highly recommend you check out Kiva. It’s a great concept. What better way to give back as an entrepreneur than to help other entrepreneurs who have much greater challenges than ourselves? If you’re reading this and not making any money, it’s certainly not for a lack of opportunity. A lot of the entrepreneurs on Kiva have only one opportunity in life. It helps to keep that in perspective no matter how shitty you think your daily stats have been.

Recommended This Week:

  • My dashboard tells me this is the 100th post on Finch Sells. It’s taken me two years to notch them up, but I’d like to think it’s a fairly fluffless collection of posts. If you’re a new reader, please add me to your RSS. Love you long time. Thanks for reading.
  • If you’re working in the dating market, check out Adsimilis. Definitely one of the better networks with a wide range of dating offers, all on high payouts, including lots of stuff in Europe and South America. I think you’ll like them.

  • Feel free to add Finch to your Facebook. Yes, this is the right link. My real name is not actually Finch. Also follow me on Twitter

About the author


A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.


Leave a comment
  • Another good post, reeking of youthful drive and ambition.

    Do what makes you happy. Gotta love Kiva btw.

    One day you may come to realise that ‘things’ cannot make you happy or at least any happiness they bring will be transient in the extreme.

    So what’s left?

    As Marcus Aurelius said: ‘Having something is the same as not wanting it’.

    Poncey? Me?

  • I hear ya man. One thing I’ve been doing lately is working 1 week, then take 1 week off. That seems to really help me at least. Too much working and I lose focus and productivity. Work too little and it all slips away

  • Reminds me of when I first moved to Thailand.

    Too many lazy days around the pool really stunted my fledgling affiliate activities.

    I think for now I’d rather try and work rather than relax.

    Don’t want to be on plane home anytime soon


  • How about investing?

    My family always taught me to work hard now so I don’t have to do that later. I’ve evolved that mentality into work smart now so that I can reap the benefits later.

    So how’s Thailand? Bargaining with people is fun. However, I sometimes find myself overpaying out of sympathy. I can’t help myself when I know that their monthly income is only a tiny fraction of what I make.

  • A helpful wakeup call and reminder that when me and the famille get out to Thailand in April to keep focused for the time dedicated to my business but to also enjoy. Your g’friend is right – what’s the point if you can’t enjoy it.

    Kiva is top. Got a project on the cards to give back through kiva. Time to make it real!!

  • Great post Finch! It is tough to find that balance in any business, let alone one as fast paced as affiliate marketing. What works for one person isn’t necessarily the right fit for someone else.

  • Hey Fitch, I was introduced to Kiva back in school by a professor. Now that you bring it up again it really clicked in my head again. Definitely a great concept for a site to give back to those who are willing to work hard but just need a stepping stone.

  • Hey man, great post, and good recommendation on Kiva.

    $10k a month in Thailand though.. man.. seriously how?? You going to Bed Supperclub every night and eating at Sirocco daily LOL?

    I do agree about distractions. I myself just got to BKK after 2 months in Phuket, and because I have an instant social circle I do find myself distracted… out partying a little too much, and there’s just too much to do. But really, there’s no rush to do it all now, no rush to do build a billion dollar biz now… I often feel the same conflicts, like went out last night for 4 hours and I think I could’ve been working on business… but I think conflict/tension is just a good indicator that I don’t have things in balance, need more self discipline and need to organize my days better 🙂

    More hours IMO does not = more productive hours. After being in 38 countries in like the last 2-3 years with an internet business I can definitely say that it’s possible to integrate lifestyle into business. How productive are you tweaking campaigns all day anyway? What’s the 80/20?

    Speaking of which, we’re going to be having a pool party soon… drop me a line, would be cool to meet up while I’m here, I’m near the Siam / Phaya Thai area 🙂

  • Go to this website and see how rich you really are:
    Spoiler: the lower your income, the stronger the effect. Try putting your first salari in that field.

    As for Hard work Vs. Enjoying the money, I have a feeling you’re finding the right balance between good times and being responsible, Finch.

    If you work to hard, you’ll end up regretting it in the best case scenario, or compromising your health at some point (panic attacks, heart attacks, etc). Just read/watch “A Christmas Carol” for a reminder (It might sound stupid, but the truth is, the things they teach you in kindergarten are the most important things in life).

  • I completely agree with your post.

    Many affiliate marketers including myself debate over whether we should live life, or make money.

    The best answer is to do both.

    You could live life to the fullest, but if you do it carelessly, you’ll run out of money and you’ll be living on the streets. Not fun, eh?

    But if all you is spend your time making money, chances are you will have very few friends and 20 years from now you’ll look back and regret spending 95% of your time in front of a computer screen.

    Some of my best memories have nothing to do with money.

    It’s best to do both with balance. Remember, having the opportunity to make money online is a VERY good privilege. Don’t take it for granted. Then again, don’t become a slave to it. Set aside some time for family and friends.

  • I agre, it is hard to find that balance, but in the end, it has to be about enjoying it and living for the now instead of planning for a future that might never come. That is hard to combine with building up something longterm, at least I am struggeling with that!

  • Agree completely with Steve that more hours # more money.

    But comparing yourself with inferiors is a bad idea and a downward slope. Always be scaling…

  • Right now, I am working my tail off. I have a full time job that requires travel. I am also striving to make it with my business. So, I have very little free time.

    However, this is so I can live the dream. I do worry that when the time comes I may forget that dream and just continue with the hustle. Ultimately, both go hand in hand.

  • 1 Weird Trick to Being Rich:

    Browse Kiva for 10 minutes and then Have Dinner at McDonald’s. You’ve just experienced two luxuries that most will never know: the internet, and dinner.

    Seriously though, the whole idea of working hard now to be lazy later is a dangerous illusion. Hustlers hustle; people need something to keep them occupied. Otherwise they degenerate into amoebas of boredom. People that stop moving in later life are usually the first on the Grim Reaper’s route. So keep moving, people. Balance them rich livings with some brain function and physical movement and you should be okay.

  • “One day you may come to realise that ‘things’ cannot make you happy or at least any happiness they bring will be transient in the extreme.”

    this is true and he will have a hard downtime once he awakens to this. i hope he will have just 1 or 2 true mentors when this time comes.

  • Set aside time everyday for each other to unwind – this is important that each get time for him / herself, with no disturbance. Moreover, since my parents love to be with my boys so much, I would leave them to sleep over at grandparents place quite often.

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