Name Your Price: What Does Your Dream Cost?

I’ve been self-employed for nearly two years now, and it would be an understatement to say I’ve enjoyed it. It’s seriously been the best professional decision I’ve ever made! The perks that come with self-employment are truly amazing:

  • Unlimited income potential
  • Possibility for great success
  • No limit on vacation time
  • Create your own work schedule
  • You’re in charge of your success
  • No boss
  • Freedom

However, that’s not to say that self-employment is void of risks, because there are certainly some risks that may scare many away from the dream of being their own boss. But for some people, self employment is simply a risk worth taking. I know it is for me.

The “stable” job

Throughout my journey, there’s been a question that has crossed my mind every now and then:

“What would you do if somebody offered you a great full-time job?”

For me, the answer has simply been “I’d politely decline.”

But, wait a minute. Let’s clarify something:

  1. What is a “great” full-time job?
  2. Does it have benefits?
  3. How much does it pay?
  4. How much vacation time?

Well, the answers to these questions will be different for everybody, but for me, the answers look something like this:

  1. The one I have now
  2. Yes, very many. See above list.
  3. As much as I can earn.
  4. As much as I need.

Interesting. That sounds like my current self-employment situation.

Let’s take it a step further. Try this question on for size:

What is your price?

Let’s say you have a great business idea, or a lifestyle you’re striving for, maybe you’re already living your dream. How much would it cost for somebody to buy it and take it away from you?

Let me clarify what I mean by using myself as an example: I feel as though I’m living my dream. How “good” of a job offer do I need in order to give up on my dream, totally quit what I’m doing and take the offer? Is it $100k a year? $200k a year? 2-months vacation time? Job security?

To put it simply: I’m not sure there is a company willing to pay my price. I love what I do, and and I’m not willing to sell it for a “stable job”.

The guy who traded his dream for a vacuum

About 6 years ago, I didn’t really know what I was doing with my life, I had no real direction, and had a hard time finding a job to pay the rent. I found myself applying for jobs, such as:

“Cow hand”

“Painter’s assistant”

“Potato chip delivery driver”

“Vacuum salesman”

Needless to say, there were slim pickings, and I ended up landing a gig as a “vacuum salesman” for a single day. Aside from learning that there are some impressive vacuums out there, I also learned:

  • The job was for a multi-level marketing company
  • They were offering riches of all sorts if you worked hard tricked enough people
  • The thought of tricking people to buy something makes me want to vomit
  • I wasn’t the only one being fooled

After practicing the “script” and learning the art of “vacuum twirling”, it was time for lunch. Myself and the only other guy who applied for the job were walking across the parking lot towards our vehicles, and I asked him, “what do you think of this?”

He told me, “well, my dream has always been to be a Sports Announcer, but I’d rather do this if there’s good money in it, you know?”

It’s worth mentioning that this guy’s dream wasn’t “self employment”, it was simply a career path that he’d dreamed of being a part of. Your dream may not necessarily be self employment, either. It could be a dream job, a business idea you’ve been pursuing, or a hobby you’re passionate about.

So, what about you?

What’s your price? Would you be willing to trade your dream life for a “stable” job with a great salary? Or, is your dream life priceless?

I’d love to know your thoughts. Please share πŸ™‚

Vivir la vida loca,
Brad

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  • Ben

    I hear you. I’d love self-employment but my biggest worry is the Dream Job I have – 3DModelling, Animation and VFX – is such a competitive one that I’m afraid I’d be lost in the background trying to compete against Indian Freelancers who do the same (and, I’m not afraid to say it, sometimes better) job, for pittance. (No dis-respect meant towards Indians, it’s just the most common Freelancer I’ve come across). Also, getting contracts is much harder when you’re an unknown factor, Demo-reel be damned.

    I feel like I’m in the same boat as you were Brad. I’m currently employed as a QA tester for a Berlin Startup. Before this I was a bartender. I (you) taught myself (taught me) all I know about coding and web creation, and the QA skills I picked up over the last couple of years here are great… for THIS job. But I only took this job as a stepping-stone towards working for QA in a game studio,and THAT idea was a stepping-stone to get my foot in the door and learn from professionals about the stuff I WANT to learn – the previously mentioned 3D modelling and Animation.

    …and yet I’m still here. QA-ing my life away. Sure, I’ve been teaching myself Maya and AE and NUKE and all the other tools in my free time, but working towards, what seems to now be, simply a hobby that I’m really good at.

    I learnt Python, Ruby, Rails… Hell I learnt Python so I could write MEL scripts and build tools in Maya, and I have done, and it’s a great feeling CREATING something that other people can then use. I just feel overwhelmed about the future and too scared to actually change anything that might make me financially vulnerable, whether or not I’m happier with the outcome.

    ‘scuse the rambling. You hit a nerve πŸ˜€

    Thanks for being awesome, an inspiration, and Canadian.

    Thoughts on where to go from here would be well regarded.

    Cheers

    • Hey Ben,

      Thanks for taking the time to read & share your story.

      I definitely understand your concerns, especially with the popularity of outsourcing work to incredibly cheap, and sometimes very talented freelancers. It’s a difficult position to be in, and it can be worrisome. The work I do (web design, web development, etc.) is easily, and often outsourced to overseas workers in India, Bangladesh, Africa and the Philippines. However, what I’d like to say is this: there’s always room for another great [insert your profession here]. Sure, what you do is very specific, and not quite the same as being a front-end web developer, but if you’re great at what you do, there’s somebody willing to pay for it.

      Here are some suggestions, off the top of my head:

      • Continue working full-time while you build connections & clients
      • Share your skills: Create a YouTube channel, create an online course, your knowledge is worth money!
      • Try freelancing sites, like oDesk, Freelancer.com, Fiverr, etc. You can make side money, and perhaps build a client list.
      • Network. Go to networking events, conferences, etc. You might meet a potential client, or business partner.
      • Diversify your income sources. Perhaps you can do some web development on the side, create a couple courses, work P/T and do 3D animation.

      Obviously, these things are easier said than done, but you know what’s even easier? Not taking any risk at all! No risk, no reward.

      Now, I’m not saying (and I never will say), “hey, quit your job and just do what you love!”, because that’s quite possibly the worst advice one could ever receive. You need to formulate a plan and take small steps one day at a time. Have a goal, make a plan, and execute that plan every single day. Eventually, you will look back and clearly see how you did it, but looking forward is much harder, much more scary.

      “Hindsight is 20/20”.

      Hope that helps, friend.

      Cheers and best of luck!
      Brad

  • Hi, Brad. I absolutely agreed with you. NO employer nor “stable”job can give one that immerse amount of self satisfaction, freedom and fulfillment! I admire you for taking that bold step of faith. I have tried that a few years ago, and I failed miserably. However, I enjoy every second of it; only thing I left with is very little pocket money at the end of each month…sigh….very sad. In the end I went back to that hateful state of full time employment; it was hell… Anyway, I will keep on trying until I achieve wealth and freedom to do what I really like for the reminder time on earth. Your post here is very inspiring and positive. I am happy to know that I have someone like you who can share that dream to be independently self-sufficient and having that entrepreneurial and fighting spirit. Hey, let’s keep it going forever!

    Cheers,
    Brian

    • Hey Brian,

      You know what, though? Failing is part of the journey! You learn the most from your failures. Perhaps it didn’t work this time, perhaps you need to try a different approach, but the best thing to do is get up, dust yourself off, and try again β€” or at least, try something different!

      Good for you for giving it a shot! Perhaps a good plan for you is to keep working F/T while you build a client list, and get more work. Eventually, you might just get so busy doing Freelance work that you can’t do both a F/T job and your own Freelance work.

      A good life isn’t just about work. Even if you have a F/T job, that’s only a small part of your awesome life! I wish you the best of luck.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

      Cheers,
      Brad

      • Brad, thank you for your kind comments and encouragement. Appreciated!

        Brian

  • I have many ideas, but the problem is usually where to start. Another problem is resources (mainly financial). So I am thinking of making myself work for a company for couple of years and then, when time is on, going on my own. What do you think?

    • Hey Michael,

      That’s an excellent start! Something I always recommend. Work F/T, and build your business on the side. That way, you have the security of a regular income, and your business will grow, making you extra money on the side. Eventually, your side business might become too large to work a F/T job at the same time. That’s when you can either: 1) Negotiate a part-time arrangement with your employer, and continue building your business, or 2) Jump ship and go for it! (as long as you are confident you will land in a lifeboat and not the sea, if you know what I mean!)

      I’m all for taking risks, and encouraging others to do the same, however, being smart about your choices is very important. There’s “safe” choices, and there’s “smart” choices β€” the two aren’t necessarily the same thing.

      Hope that helps πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading!
      Brad

      • Hi Brad,

        thanks for fast reply. My current situation is like that: I am currently working part-time in China as software engineer plus I am also teaching English (which is, as you maybe know, a very good source of money in that country). By doing that, I keep myself flexible (3 working days) what gives me an opportunity to travel Asia.

        As you also mentioned in other posts, an important thing is networking, and that’s why I join some expat communities and I am planning to take part in regular meetings.

        Regarding the business ideas, I am planning to find some people suitable for my project and with minimal resources come up with something and join some start-up competition, which could be a good idea, what do you think?

        Lastly, I totally agree with many things in your post, it is basically as if I was writing it :-).
        1. Materialism is a horrible disease that many people suffer from.
        2. It is important to find a balance between career and a personal life.

        Keep up the good work!

        P.S. I am 25 as well πŸ™‚

      • Hey Michael,

        That sounds awesome! You have a great setup. Travelling Asia would be amazing.

        Your idea sounds great, sounds like it’s worth a shot!

        It’s great to hear about your situation, thanks for the discussion πŸ™‚

        Cheers, fellow 25’er.
        Brad

  • Elic

    You need to be disciplined to work at home, I cannot even make myself get out of bed sometimes. At work at least I have my boss keeping an eye on me. At home – not that much motivation, only distractions…

    • Amen, Elic! I’m not gonna lie, when it’s nice outside, I can hardly resist the temptation to drop everything and just go stand-up paddleboarding :p

      However, I’m also very disciplined and understand how important it is for me to get my work done.

      Cheers!
      Brad

  • Christophe

    great post, difficult for me to speak about my feeling because english is not easy, but thanks for the inspiration Brad

    • Hey Christophe β€” thanks for reading! I’m happy to provide inspiration.

      Your English is excellent πŸ™‚
      Brad

  • Eche

    Am faced with two major decision, one is deciding if I should keep my current job to gain more experience that MIGHT eventually help guide me in the future through the path of been self employed which is my dream, or (2) if I should quit my job now, then purse my dream and gain the experience while pursing my dream.

    • Ah, this one’s a classic conundrum!

      May I suggest an Option C?

      A) Keep working F/T
      B) Quit your job
      C) Keep working F/T, build your business on the side & jump ship when you’ve built your lifeboat

      Take calculated risks. Enjoy the safety of F/T work while you build your business on the side. Eventually, the only option will be to take the leap πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading!
      Brad

  • Thoughts on a full time job
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-rEb0KuopI

    I’ve been freelancing since the late 80’s. I was an illustrator, drew by hand, moved to San Francisco, did well.
    Then things changed. I had to learn all new skills. It has been up and down but the open source community is the best thing to come along. I’ve Googled and YouTubed my way into a new career thanks to people like you who offer instruction. I’ve done as well as could be expected, still a nice steady gig would be nice at this point.

    • Hi Scott β€” thanks for sharing that animation! Wow, thought-provoking, eh? One life, right?

      Anyway, neat to hear from somebody who’s been freelancing for quite some time! I understand how the ups-and-downs can become tiring, and the appeal of a steady gig. You probably have some amazing skills and knowledge you can share. Perhaps a YouTube channel, or online course is in order?

      Cheers,
      Brad

  • I want to love Mondays again. Actually, I want to love everyday. And yes, after this “good job” gig, there is no going back.

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START A FREELANCING BUSINESS. GET MORE CLIENTS. BUILD A LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS.

  • Daily actionable lessons
  • Define your freelance niche
  • How to start from scratch
  • How to charge higer rates
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