I was 26 years old, living in Chicago with my wife, and I was working what I believe some people might have considered a dream job.
I could come and go as I'd like as long as the work got done. There was all the free craft beer and coffee I could drink on any given day. If I needed an entertainment break, I could play any one of the ten pinball machines at any point, or get matched up with an opponent on the ping-pong table. I was working alongside some of my best friends.
I could take vacation days whenever I saw fit. I could choose whatever album I wanted to play over the studio speakers. I could walk to lunch or have it delivered whenever I needed to grab a bite to eat. I could climb up onto the rooftop and watch the sunset reflect off of the Chicago skyline.
I could speak out with my own opinions and beliefs, take ownership of my choice of a variety of projects, and provide meaningful input to leave my mark on the outcome of our collaborative work.
But, I decided to quit it anyway.
I wanted more out of life than sitting predictably at my office desk every day. I wanted to travel. I wanted to make my own decisions of what to work on for the day.
I never wanted to deal with a wishy-washy client ever again. I wanted to call the shots. I wanted to stamp my name on the things that I created, not the name of the company who hired me. I wanted to apply all of the ideas and inspiration that surrounded me to a product of my own.
I wanted to listen to my body and my mind. If I wasn't feeling like working at the time, I wanted to be able to stop working. I didn't want to feel bad for taking days off when I had no reason other than I didn't feel like being there. Some days I wanted to work at a friend's house. Some days I wanted to work from my bed.
I wanted to keep learning about the things that I cared about the most. I wanted to build tools that helped others achieve their goals. I wanted to help others discover the creativity inside themselves.
I wanted to be paid what I thought that I was worth, not what my client thought that I deserved. I didn't want my pay to be directly related to the number of hours that I put in for the day.
So, I set off on my own, determined to use the skills and experience that I had developed over the past few years to start my own business.
My mission: to create a product to sell online that would allow me to free up my time and achieve all of the things that I had felt I'd been missing out on.
Let's define "passive."
Generating online revenue means something different to everyone. If you really hit the jackpot, you might create something that rakes in tens of thousands of dollars every day, allowing you to hire other people to manage your business while you spend your time sipping margaritas on the beach.
For most, however, the reality is much different. For every app that brings in massive amounts of income, there are thousands more that never see the light of day. All of these vie for your attention at once, chasing an elusive, prominent spot in the marketplace.
Even so, some of the folks that I know that do have a successful online business still struggle with finding ways to separate themselves from the daily operations. There is still the customer support. There's the executive decision-making. There might be product maintenance to ensure it stays compatible with the latest tech.
This is why it is so valuable to build things that you'll find yourself using, create tools that help enhance your day-to-day workflow, and, since you'll be spending so much time with it – work only on the things that you are most passionate about.
First things First
Consider this first: what is your ultimate goal?
Are you interested in working for yourself, or are you just in it to make a million dollars? Both endpoints will have an effect on how you feel about the journey along the way. Create your own list of all of the things that you hope to gain from a sustainable online revenue stream.
The most important actionable first-step is to stop wasting time relying on others to get you to the place that you want to be.
Instead, realize that you can get to where you want to be on your own by directing your efforts towards doing your own work that defines who you are instead of further defining someone else and their business.
Stop working to make someone else's dreams come true and starting working on making your own.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing about how I was able to grow my side project into a full-time endeavor that covers my monthly bills. This will include strategies, numbers, and other challenges that most people are afraid to talk about and others are too intimidated to ask.
Hopefully others that are smarter than me can chime in and help all of us understand how to create and grow a business doing what you love. I encourage you to participate in the discussion by posting your thoughts and questions in the comments below.