Category Archive 'Career'

My Thoughts on Escaping the Rat Race

Business & entrepreneurship, Career

As you know, I’m a freelance writer focusing on personal finance related posts.  What you may not know–although I address it from time to time–is that I also recently quit my day job (I am a professional but I’ll never admit what kind) to start my own business/practice/firm.

The Financial Blogger recently completed the Rat Race, an epic e-book, an amazing e-book that is now for sale for only $27.00 and that just might change your life.

I want to write a little about this book.  Not because I have been told to–in fact I hope I don’t get in trouble with the boss for writing about it.  But rather because I feel it’s an important work.  I know it changed my life.

The Rat Race

I was hired by TFB and Company to proofread and edit the Rat Race.  That’s right–any typos or grammatical errors in there are largely my fault.  Usually when I’m proofreading something, I’m all business.  But this time I kept getting engrossed by the text.  I had to remind myself to stay focused as a professional reader rather than a reader for pleasure.   When it was all said and done, I refunded some of the money due for my services, because I thought it would be unfair to get paid to read such a great work.

Why I Responded to the Rat Race

The Rat Race is the tale of humanity.  We all walk around with hopes and dreams.  But few of us break through the red tape and strive for something better.   There’s always an excuse to “wait until later.”  To “delay action.”  And to “give up on our dreams.”  I know because I’ve been there.

My whole goal in life was to start my own business.  But I kept putting it off because the timing wasn’t right.

“I have too many student loans.”

“But we just bought a house.”

And a number of other excuses would always be my way out of following my dreams.  The strange thing–and the Rat Race notes this–is that our friends and family are often all too quick to advise us not to follow our dreams.

Dream-killers are all around us, many of them friends rather than enemies.

It’s Not Easy Breaking Out of the Rat Race

As I’ve indicated here in prior posts, it’s not easy “Escaping the Rat Race.”  There will be times where you feel like you don’t have a single friend in the world.  There will be moments of intense self-doubt.  But every success story has had elements of failure.  Go Google failure quotes from famous people and you’ll understand that this is so.  Even Ted Turner is quoted to have said: “My entire life people have been doubting me.”


If you’re serious about making a real change, the first thing you need to do is look inside and see if you’re ready for it.  If you are, then I would recommend shelling out the $27.00 to read Escaping the Rat Race Part 1.  If you do, it will be money well spent, and it could change your life forever.

And that’s just my objective opinion.

5 Tips for Networking on a Budget

Business & entrepreneurship, Career, Internet

Getting the word out about your new product or service is one of the most important parts of starting a new business/endeavor.  Networking is one of the most effective (and cost effective) methods of advertising both you and your business.  At the same time, you’ll have to be careful in planning your networking activities.  You will have a limited amount of time and money to accomplish your networking goals.  This post will discuss Networking on a Budget.  By budget, I mean budgeting both time and money–as we’re often short on at least one or the other.    

Networking on a Budget, Tip #1 – Plan in Advance

And make the planning part of your networking.  Call up important people in your industry, and see if you can take them to lunch.  While there, ask them what activities they find useful and who you should talk to.  At the same time, you’ll be letting an important figure in your industry know that you exist and have a business.

You would be surprised how willing people are to help you, even in a bad economy.   If not, then they’re not worth having on your side in the first place.

Once you have an idea of the types of activities, clubs, charities, and other networking possibilities, you can figure out their cost and the budget.

Networking on a Budget, Tip #2: Make Effective Use of the Internet

The internet can really level the playing field between you and the larger companies.  If you utilize an effective website, use the internet to communicate with people who might otherwise be outside your current social reach, or blog regularly, you may be surprised at the results.  The best part about the internet is that it can be effectively utilized even with the smallest of budgets.

Networking on a Budget, Tip #3: Make Use Of Your Own/Natural Network

(Hopefully) There is no easier sell than to the people who really care about you: your family and friends.  Even if they might not have a direct need for your product or services, you might be surprised at just who they know.  Having a solid team of unpaid yet committed “cheerleaders” is quite a privilege.

Before going out and trying to network with strangers, make sure your extended natural network of family and friends is aware of your latest endeavor, and how passionate you are about it.  Give them an elevator pitch just like everyone else, so they can parrot it later on to potential customers.

Networking on a Budget Tip #4, Decide on Whether You Have Money or “Sweat Equity” to Offer

There are some networks that you can buy your way into.  Other networks require “sweat equity” for positive results.  Determine which asset you have more of, time or money.

If you have more time then money, then you can try volunteering to take on roles within the organization that will put you into contact with a lot of different people.  If your greater asset is the almighty dollar, then see what types of memberships could be valuable in raising your profile and connecting with your target audience.

Networking on a Budget Tip #5 – Don’t Just Participate–Lead

Leadership roles require you to participate regularly in an organization.  They also, by their very nature, put you into contact with a lot more people (and in a much less forced setting).  There’s no easier way to network than by having people come to you.

Finally, a leadership position gives you instant credibility.  The more you take on leadership roles, the quicker your profile will increase.

More importantly for this blog post, it will increase the rate at which everyone knows who you are, and what you do/your company has to offer.


What are some of your additional tips for networking on a budget?  How long does it take for networking (if done correctly) to start developing consistent leads?  What are some of your networking success stories?

Is the Past Ruining Your Financial Future?

Business & entrepreneurship, Career

The other day I went over my parent’s house and told my mom about a serious career decision I had made.  My mother’s lips move: and an equal mix of negativity and concern spill out. I am transported to my youth, specifically, the time when I was eight years old and she told me not to climb the monkey bars. “They’re dangerous,” she said. I didn’t listen. But she was convinced I learned a lesson when just seconds later I fell and broke my wrist.

But even to this day, I’m not sure if I fell because they were dangerous, or if I failed because a kernel of doubt was planted in my brain.

The Past

I had a great childhood and wonderful parents. I was and am blessed. But even I can think of times, like the example above, where I was doubted. Where my dreams were met with negativity. Where a kernel of doubt was planted in my brain, making me question myself or my worth. I have no doubt these ancient memories affect who I am and how I react to different scenarios today.

The Present

Whether it be growing up with a negative parent, or being teased in the schoolyard,  these childhood memories were painful. But such dynamics still often exist well into adulthood. A friend who doesn’t believe in your dream project. A boss who tears you down or doubts your competency. A spouse who, in a moment of anger, points out one of your flaws.  And nothing is worse than thinking about the times you’ve been the one tearing down another’s dreams, even if you have the best of intentions.  At different times in our lives we are both victims and complicit.

How does your parent’s relationship with money affect your own? To what extent does your financial upbringing–usually learned on a subconcious rather than concious level–affect whether you will be a “spender” or a “saver?”

If your mother was entrepreneurial, to what extent will that provide freedom or confidence in your following a similar path? If your parents were pure 9 to 5ers, how will they react if you decide to quit your 9 to 5 and open your own business. Will they be supportive, or will they be planting a kernel of doubt–good natured though it may be–but still pushing you towards failure…

The Future

Our lives aren’t–even can’t–just be a snapshot. They must be a moving motion picture. I believe we carry our past with us, for better or worse, and that it colors are opportunities, financial patterns, and chance of success in pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.

At the same time, if we can learn to isolate negative memories–or at least accept their existence; then perhaps we are capable of moving beyond our subconscious limitations. The indelicate noise surrounding us and subtly attacking our hopes and dreams. I write often about the concept of “dream killers,” those that will speak or act for the purposes of making you not follow your dreams. I often define the concept as an exernal force or forces–usually in the form of those closest to us.

But of course, there is likely a bit of an internal dream killer inside all of us, lying in wait, and strengthened from the negative elements of our past.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t be afraid, because who hasn’t seen ambition lead to ruin. Every for sale or closing sign on a business started with a dream. Playing it safe is the default for most people for a reason. The fact that even the “safe” opportunities feel dangerous today may be besides the point.


Past failures and successes color our perception of ourselves and the world around us , but if they affect the outcome of our present or future, it is only because we allow them to.

Maybe you got “killed in the stock market” right out of college, and have since been afraid to invest. Perhaps your first business was a total failure. That’s alright, most people have a bad first experience with the stock market. Most people’s first businesses fail.

But in the end, it’s your ability to dust yourself off, and get back on the monkeybars, that really matters.

The above post was by Chris Thomas, owner of the online freelance writing and web-copy company, FreelancePF. Chris’s interest in personal finance stems from his leaving grad school with six figures in student loan debt. Aside from FreelancePF, Chris is working on a personal finance encyclopedia website/blog, called What Is Personal Finance? In his free time, Chris is an avid baseball fan.

Murphy’s Law When Starting a Business

Business & entrepreneurship, Career

As I wrote in a previous post, I recently left my job to start my own business.  The first few weeks have been exhilerating, liberating, and yes, often-times quite frightening.  I have also learned all about business-style Murphy’s Law.   Here is some advice from the first few weeks of my business, along with some personal anectodes to illustrate my experience thus far and what dangers lurk out there when starting a business.

You Will Underestimate the Expenses

Prior to starting my business, I had worked on my anticipated budget extensively.  I reviewed the anticipated start-up expenses over and over again.  I was convinced that the old adage “people always understimate startup costs” would not apply to my business.  Well…guess what…

I’m now $1,500 over-budget.  For a small business, with $5,000 startup costs overall, that’s significant.  Murphy’s Law came into play–and has hurt my ability to stick to a budget.  Here are some examples:

  • I was counting on being able to use my MacBook Pro as the company computer.  Unfortunately, one piece of important software that I need does not run on a Mac.  Therefore, I had spring for a new laptop.  Even though I bought the cheapest new laptop I could find (around $330.00 including tax), that’s still a big expense I was not anticipating. 
  • I destroyed some equipment while moving.
  • Some items that I thought I could borrow from others did not pan out as expected.

Other times, I simply failed to accurately estimate the costs associated with a specific purchase.  I never realized it would be $25.00 per month for an extra telephone line.  Even worse, I am beginning to think I may need to hire a receptionist to be taken seriously in my field. 

Also, it’s only natural that we forget to include small expenses in our budget.   My budget had just about all the big-ticket items listed.  But I forget small things such as a stapler, staples, tape, and a wireless router.  These “small/inexpensive” items add up, and before you know it, you have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than you initially expected to.

Things Will Go Wrong

My business is–like most professional businesses–very reliant on Word documents.  Which means the word processing (something to do with the formatting) issue that suddenly came about this week couldn’t have come at a worse time.  Spending hours on the telephone with”technical support’ is not how

 I invisioned spending my precious time during the start-up phase of my business.  Worst yet, the issue still isn’t fully resolved. 

Plenty of other issues have arisen as well.  Outside vendors have taken longer than anticipated or promised to help me get various systems in place.  Time sucks have occurred at almost every stage of the business.  Spending hours building furniture is a reality–but not something you think about when dreaming of your business.

Not Everyone Will Be Supportive

I understand that I am taking a huge risk in starting my own business.  I left a steady job, where I got paid a consistent paycheck each week and worked with fair and decent people.  That said, some people act as though I am questioning  their entire way of living.  Sometimes the digs will be focused on my relative youth.  Other times, the digs will be more general in nature.  Either way, the negativity from some friends, colleagues and family members is unexpected and not very helpful.  Although my network has overall been very supportive, stand ready for some unexpected neighsayers early on when starting a business. 

You’ll Be Your Own Worst Enemy

As you sit there, having turned your entire life upside down–and wondering if you made a huge mistake–you will likely start to doubt yourself.  You’ll become agitated over the telephone not ringing.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely envision yourself in a debtor’s prison or the like–or at the very least seen as a major failure.  Again, these negative thoughts are detrimental–and must be kept at bay before they negatively impact your business or chances of success. 


I can now say with great certainty that Murphy’s Law applies when starting a new business or company.  What else could one expect?  After all, it’s not easy to leave “The Rat Race.” 

Have you ever experience “Murphy’s Law”–Business Style?  How did you get through the initial start-up period–and all of its pitfalls? 





I Just Quit My Job


I just quit my job.

Wait…let’s elaborate further:

I just quit my job in one of the worst economies.  Ever.

But here’s the kicker: My new job is asking for 10-15 hours a day from me, with no guaranteed pay.  Plus, my new boss just might be the biggest jerk I’ve ever worked for.  I am, of course, referring to myself.

Going It Alone

After a long and drawn out game of internal ping-pong (or was it beer pong), I finally decided to quit my job.  My goals in life have always been entrepreneurial in nature, and I decided that if I didn’t go for it I might always regret it.

Here’s a brief list of what I’m facing:

1) No clients to start out with.

2) I have six-figure student loan debt.

3) I’ve only been in my field for one year.

4) I’m “only” 28 years old.  (man is my generation sort of limp–wrist-ed).

5) Did I mention I have no clients?

Here’s a list of what I have going for me:

1) A spouse with a currently secure job.

2) No children.

3) A freelance writing business to help me bring in some income.

4) Perhaps partial insanity (coin-flip as to whether that’s a benefit or a detriment to starting your own business).

Do I Believe I’ll Succeed?

I know there’s no guarantees in life.  Perhaps the odds are stacked against me.  Maybe I’ll wind up losing everything.  But something inside tells me it’s still the right decision.  That starting my own business is an itch I’d have to scratch one way or the other.

Sometimes people say that you can tell if a decision is right or wrong for you by imagining finality.

For instance, imagine you broke up with a significant other you’re on the fence about.  If you feel good with that finality, then it’s probably the best decision for you.

If, however, the thought of losing your significant other (with finality) hurts, then maybe the relationship is worth fighting for.

With this decision, I tried that exercise, but I still couldn’t figure it out.

But now that I’ve gone through with the decision to quit my job, I feel the happiest I’ve been in months. If I end up a failure then I’ll simply know not to trust my gut so much in the future.

Family and Friend Reactions

Reactions from family and friends have ranged from supportive to concerned.  Most people (who are still lucky enough to earn money), do so through a steady paycheck.

Having to eat what you hunt is a lot harder than being fed steadily, and (ideally) in proportion to your value.

The problem is, that always made me personally feel uncomfortable.  It made me feel like I was relying on somebody else.  As a confirmed and admitted control freak, that just wasn’t ideal for me.

Being the family dog might be preferable to the wolf, and you’re sure as hell a lot less likely to starve, but perhaps a lot of this really just comes down to individual personality.

Does Recession Make Self-Employment More or Less Risky?

I’ve had a difficult time wrapping my head around this concept.  I’m hoping in the comments that you’ll share your thoughts as to this issue.

We have all heard (ad nauseam), that “no job is secure in the current economy.”

So, does that mean we’re better off creating our own job rather than risk being laid off?  Alternatively, of course, does the present weak economy simultaneously makes it more difficult to create or sustain a profitable business?

Self-employed or “working for the man.”  Is this all just like asking if you’d rather be shot than poisoned?  Either way, there is a possibility you may die.

Sorry….That Was Morbid

Meanwhile, the optimistic part of me keeps making bold but unsubstantiated claims, like: “This is great timing; with the bad economy you—the new and inexpensive upstart–will be much more palatable.”  And I wish that was true.  I truly wish I was palatable.  But the truth is, that would be like arguing you were the highest jumper in Atlantis.  Eventually, if everything sinks….

Sorry…That Too Was Morbid

At the end of the day, perhaps the greatest lesson I can give about quitting one’s job is this:

Don’t blog about it.


About the Author: I am a twenty-something freelance writer and personal finance junkie.  Please check out my new online personal finance encyclopedia: What Is Personal Finance?