Growing A Business vs. Living Your Dream

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.

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