Discover more from The Early Exit Club
Early Exit #11: Playing To Win
Are you playing a career game you actually want to win?
You’re reading Early Exit Club — a newsletter about leaving the 9-5 workforce to build a $20k/month solo business by Nick Lafferty.
Thank you all for the great feedback on my newsletter last week. If you missed it, well, you missed a delicious brisket metaphor.
A few house keeping items before we get started.
1) Who are you people?
I want to make sure this newsletter is providing the most value possible and to do that I need to know who I’m talking to.
I have some ideas based on the 20 or so people I’ve had Zoom calls with and the probably hundreds of LinkedIn comments I’ve received over the last 3 months, but if you could quickly tap one of these options below that would really help me out.
2) I made a free thing
Last week on LinkedIn I soft-launched a rate calculator for freelancers.
People that work for themselves, myself included, are generally pretty bad at valuing their time.
One of my friends created a rate calculator for freelance writers that I took some inspiration from (thanks, Rachel!) to build a rate calculator for hourly and retainer-based work.
It’s a simple Google Sheet that you input some financials into, like:
Your desired annual salary
Your monthly expenses
How many hours you want to work each week
It outputs a few different values that you can use to set your rates to better achieve your financial goals.
Check it out below and reply with any feedback you have.
3) I had my first collab
Two weeks ago I had my first collaboration with Charlie Rogers who writes a newsletter called Mastery in Your 20s.
I randomly found Charlie’s content on Substack, we connected over a quick call, and a week later we’d wrapped up a collaborative post about how to quit your job.
You can read it below (maybe after you finish this? 😉)
Now onto the main attraction.
It wasn’t always this way
My solopreneur journey is pretty rosy right now:
I’m signing new clients
My income continues to increase every month
I’m getting so much positive feedback on this newsletter
I’m working less than 40+ hours a week
But I wanted to step back and share some things that weren’t going well, specifically before I quit my job.
2022 was a rough year for me and many other tech workers as we saw the labor market in our industry contract for the first time in our careers.
While I was gratefully not impacted by a layoff that year, I had to layoff two people on my team.
I watched as the morale of a company and product I loved sank to an all time low.
The marketing team I was on, which was hands down the strongest and most diverse group of people I’ve ever worked with, imploded due to decisions totally outside our control.
But now that I’m 9 months removed from that situation I have a lot more perspective and I keep asking myself one question.
Why was I putting myself through that?
The answer is a common one: I had the very definition of golden handcuffs.
I was paid well and given a nice chunk of equity that could quickly see me into early retirement if someone (dear god, anyone) would acquire us.
And at the time I was scared to risk it all by betting on myself. I spent months waffling between a decision that in hindsight is a NO BRAINER.
And here’s why.
I’m building the future I want
For my entire career I was chasing the next rung on the corporate ladder.
More money, more equity, and more responsibilities, despite knowing deep down that I didn’t want any of that stuff.
I never actually wanted to manage a team, it just seemed like the only way to keep getting promoted.
And now, 10 years later, I’m finally chasing what I really wanted the whole time.
Freedom to build my own schedule and to travel whenever and wherever I wanted.
The freedom to say no to things (try saying no to building the slides for the next board meeting).
Freedom to do more of the activities that bring me joy and the freedom to do less of the things that don’t.
There was a great quote by Simon Stolzoff, author of the new book The Good Enough Job, in a newsletter today that resonated with me:
The greatest benefit of a nontraditional path is that you have to figure out what you care about. Rather than an employer telling you what you should value, you have to do the hard work of determining what you value for yourself. This may sound self-evident, but in a world where the pressure to chase prestige, status, and money is ever present, it can be difficult to ask whether you are playing a career game you actually want to win
And for the first time in my career I can confidently say I’m playing the game I want to win.
So while I’m fortunate enough to paint a picture of a successful early solopreneur, I wanted you all to know that it didn’t come without struggles.
It didn’t come without many moments of questioning my decisions, up until and a little beyond the exact moment I quit my job.
And I’m sure I’ll have more moments of struggle in the future.
So if you’re currently struggling with a decision, reply and tell me about it.
I genuinely want to help as many people as possible. Maybe the only thing I can offer you is a 30 minute call just to empathize with you, or maybe there’s a way we can work together to get you on the next step in your journey.
You’ll never know if you never reach out.
See you all next week.
p.s: I’m skipping solopreneur of the week this week because I ran out of room 😢
Did someone send this to you? First, tell them thanks. Second, maybe you should subscribe too?