My ships are burned. I am an entrepreneur.

My ships have been burned – there is no turning back. I am an entrepreneur, there’s simply nothing else for me.

I recall that day in the train, hand-in-hand with the girlfriend. The leaflet she held in her hand was the burning torch that she would use to set alight my salary-man ships.

“Look,” she said, raising the torch in front of me, “they don’t have a website.” And with those words, the fire caught the sails of my ships, and burn they did.

I’m now available for freelancing gigs: online marketing (advertising and copywriting), website design & site maintenance. Your e-Marketing Partner – Coming Soon.

Do you really want that promotion?

Have you ever asked yourself if you really wanted to move up the career ladder? I had always thought I certainly did; that is, until I chanced upon some interesting commentary on moving up the corporate ladder in the book Everyone’s Business on Getting Ahead by Gorden Wells

You work will have become your Life. You get paid a lot more and you have a lot more interest and responsibility. But what about the “quality of your life”? You see less of your family, except at weekends. But you can now afford to have a much better time when you do all get it together. The decision is yours. but you must make it consciously.

In making the decision, think too about your wife. Is she content to see less of you? A busy manager’s life may mean loneliness for the wife. Can she accept this in exchange for a nicer house in better surroundings?

It reminded me of a seminar/talk during my polytechnic days when an entrepreneur opened up the floor for a little Q&A (question and answer) after a presentation related to entrepreneurship. Though highly averse to asking questions at such events (for fear of making everyone else look foolish with my highly intelligent questions), I asked him how his pursuit of entrepreneurial success impacted his family life.

Though I did not think it was significant at that time, it has now dawned on me that it probably revealed something about my personality, especially with regards to how I valued family life. I took a short quiz in the same book that was to show how suitable I was to move up the corporate ladder; apparently due to my inclination to put family ahead of my career, I’m not quite as suitable as I might otherwise be. I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

My Work Life

I suppose it hasn’t really been kosher for me to have avoided talk about my work life thus far. Most of you probably don’t even know what I’m working as or where I’m working at.

Well, I’m currently working as a business analyst for an electronic components distributor. The job largely entails the generation of reports, the maintenance of point of sales (POS) and customer relationship management (CRM) data, and occasionally acting as the middleman between the marketing and IT functions.

Though, like most jobs, it has its really mundane tasks (some reports have so little structure and require so much flexibility as to make automation nearly impossible, requiring plenty of manual intervention), many parts of this job have had me thinking if perhaps I should be paying them to do it (I never knew I would ever learn, and actually enjoy, programming in Visual Basic).

But even then, I can’t say I see myself doing this for the next five years. I’ve always been keen to go into freelance work or starting entrepreneurial ventures, and finding and landing this job hasn’t quite changed that. Though I’m getting used to wearing business attire (especially with the beautiful ties LiShya got me from Australia), I still don’t quite see myself as a salaryman, chained to the rigid rules of the corporate world.

On Financial Independence

I was reminded of the concept of retiring young but not necessarily rich while reading the book Your Money or Your Life (by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, one of the best books on personal finance I have read so far), and thought some of you who are into personal finance may find it interesting.

You may have heard of the term “financial independence” before. It’s one of the current buzzwords in personal finance literature. But though used so often, its meaning is not entirely clear to most people. Unseasoned journalists, for example, tend to use the term synonymously as “rich” or “wealthy”. But financial independence does not mean being rich or wealthy.

Rather, financial independence refers to having enough income apart from that obtained from paid work to be able to cover all your living expenses. In other words, if your expenses are $900 a month, and your investment income (say, through fixed deposits, stocks, bonds, unit trusts or the like) is $900 a month, then technically you’re financially independent, even if your assets do not typically classify you as rich or wealthy.

This concept of achieving financial independence early in life therefore means:

  • You do not have to have be a high-income individual to achieve financial independence;
  • You do not even need to have high-value assets under your name to achieve financial independence;
  • What is important is how much you are generating from investment income; and
  • How low your expenses are.

Personally, financial independence is more important to me than becoming rich or wealthy. I’d like to choose how I make my money and how I spend my time, and not let money concerns dictate what I have to do, and when I do it.

The Workaholic

He had always been to me – to a certain extent – the epitome of success at work. But though excellent at what he did – often earning top honours – he never appeared satisfied or genuinely happy with what he had. A smart strategist, he always chose his environment carefully, opting for where competition was less intense. I think this allowed him to consistently perform above his peers wherever he went; even if he always claimed he didn’t care much for it, you could see it in his eyes that he did.

I recalled the times I’d occasionally see that he really wished he didn’t care for it so much. He’d tell me that “this was it”, that he was going to let go of his strivings and finally relax for once. I’d sense the jaded man in him disappear. His eyes would light up, and he’d have this infectious, sincere smile as if all was well and good with the world. And I’d smile and think “finally!” along with him. It was unfortunate, however, that these episodes didn’t last long. Like a baby’s need for love, without his striving for success at work he never looked comfortable. And before long he’d return to it, often with a renewed fervour, perhaps making up for lost time spent letting go.