The past 3 months of being unemployed has been really good for me. I’ve been reading a lot of books that helped me with self-actualization. Knowing who I am, what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are. For example I know that a weakness of mine is that I’m really highly-strung and prone to making reflex actions sometimes out of emotions or anger.
I’ve learned to mentally remind myself of my nature and counter what would have otherwise been a bad reaction or decision. I’ve also really pinned down what I’m good at and what I’m not good at.
The next big decision is what I’m going to do next. What’s my career choice? What kind of business do I want to build?
I’ve come to these 3 thoughts.
1) Forget about paper wealth
In the past decade money has been cheap. Startups are raising money at all sorts of valuations, minting more young millionaires than ever before. The one thing we gotta realize though is that net worth calculated from a startup’s valuation is paper money. It’s not real until someone pays real money for it in the form of an exit or IPO and in this part of the world, there are few opportunities like that.
So I’m resolved to make sure I’m not distracted by paper valuations by playing the corporate finance game of raising money round after round for bragging rights till we achieve “unicorn status”. No.. I’m not.
What I am resolved to focus on is in my next point.
2) The business must be able to make an ENORMOUS amount of money in profits
The key word here really is ENORMOUS. There are a lot of SMEs that make good money. Maybe they make RM1-10 million a year in profit and this money gives them financial freedom and a very very comfortable (even luxurious life). They can buy big houses, have expensive cars parked in their driveways and travel business class when they go for holidays.
That’s a lot of money and heck RM10 million is more money than I have ever made in a year. But that’s not enormous.
ENORMOUS profits to me are companies that make profits of RM100 million a year and above. That’s when we’re really talking. That’s when it’s BIG. The problem with building a business like this though is that it totally goes against our startup culture.
Startup culture says build fast and fail fast. Look at the businesses that make RM100 million a year and above. Most of them have taken not years but decades to get where they are today. Decades of successes, failures, joy and hardship. If they lived with the “fail fast” mantra many of them wouldn’t have made it to what they are today.
I’m under no illusion of what I want to build. I don’t want to build something to be sold or IPO’ed in a few years. I want to build something that lasts. The only way businesses last is if they eventually make good profits.
Different businesses I do will require different amounts of capital, different people, different skill sets but they all require the same amount of time and commitment from me. So if I’m going to invest the same amount of time in a business, it better be something that could be BIG.
3) The business must be IMPACTFUL.
What I’m going to do next is not going to be in the media and advertising industry where I spent the past 10 years building experience and a network. That was a hard call for me because advertising is a great industry. The people there are awesome to work with and it’s a lucrative industry. Many many people build great and rewarding careers and businesses in the industry.
So why is it I don’t want to go back to advertising?
Because I don’t feel I really make a change in my work there. We spend a lot of time working on great campaign ideas for clients and sometimes we do a great job and meets their objectives: ie sell a lot of products as a result of our campaigns. Once that’s done though we start again and move on to the next campaign, and the next and the next.
Compare that to the other end of the spectrum where Elon Musk with SpaceX is taking gradual steps closer to his master plan of having a human colony on Mars. Allowing humans to be a multi-planetary species and save the species should our Earth eventually fail on us.
I’m not saying I’m gonna do something like that but heck maybe something just a little more impactful than what I’ve done in the past. If I’m going to do something or offer a service I’m going to ask myself, whose lives do I impact, whose lives do I improve as a result of the service or product I just sold?
Shorty and I have decided to work together on two different projects that we’ve shortlisted. One is more unconventional than the other. We’re not ready to announce it yet but when we do we’re going to need help.
We’re going to need to hire a great team with common values and a mission to do something greater than we already have right now. In the past few weeks I’ve been getting a number of emails from people who want to be part of whatever I’m doing next and I’m really flattered to get all that when I haven’t even asked anyone to reach out.
Today though I’m going to ask you guys to reach out to me if you guys want to be part of this journey with us. If you’re tired of your job, if you want to do something different, if you want to make an important impact on human life… drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do include your background, what you do for a living now, what you think you’re good at and what you think you’re not. 🙂