The 24 Day Digital Business Challenge

Being a person of the personality type INTJ, folks like myself have an independent mind of our own, and we possess these very obvious traits: We live in a world of information and ideas, and love to analyse,strategise,organise, create systems, plan, and then execute those plans.

yup..even Bill Gates is an INTJ because the brilliant researchers at Good.co said so.

But PLANNING!?

Planning sounds sick to some people I know(no offences to those who prefer to dream and socialise), but I really do enjoy planning stuff, and then taking action on my plans.

In fact, it's become so second nature to me, that my desk is littered full of A4 paper scraps containing messy random scribbles of ideas and concepts that only I can understand.

I also thank God that He's blessed me with a rare and unique combination of Analytical, Achiever, and Activator strengths (AAA). (Again many thanks to StrengthsFinders coach Alex Wong for pointing this out to me. If you wanna know your strengths, check out his site:http://www.strengthsalchemy.com/)

I've realised over the past year running an online digital business that these AAA strengths have been very useful to me.

With the Analytical strength, I am able to quickly plan my goals.

With the Achiever strength, I am very determined to achieve my goals no matter the cost.

And luckily with the Activator strength (which I'm super thankful for), I am also a person of action, and am inclined to get things done immediately.

And I say I'm lucky because the Analytical and Activator strengths make me a balanced person. (If I was only analytical I would suffer from analysis paralysis and never execute on ideas)

Ok if you've read till here, I've to admit that the past 250 words don't seem to have any link with the post title: The 24 Day Business Challenge.

But allow me to explain the link.

It's a long one, so bear with my long-windedness.

The 7 year dream..

You see, since 1st July 2014, I've had the incredible privilege of quitting a full time job to pursue a long-time entrepreneurial dream I had been incubating on and off for the past 7 years: to build a passive income business.

A passive income business is a business that brings in money, even if I do not do any work.

With a passive income business, I imagined I did not ever need to clock a 9-6 job again, and the money would still continue to flow in.

With this new found freedom, I would do the things I've always wanted to do..like to go backpacking in the mountains of Israel again, or to volunteer on a humanitarian mission with my church.

That was the dream.

And it actually happened.

Fast forward almost a year later to this day 14 May 2015, my passive income building efforts have paid off pretty well.

Since I have done crowdfunding before, I built an entire digital empire centred around that niche. I've since written 6 crowdfunding books that are presently sold on Amazon, created a 8 hour Udemy course, and have built up an email list of 400+ subscribers to date.

I still remember the sweet feeling when I sold my very first $39 ebook on 5 Oct 2014.

I woke up that morning and saw Gumroad(a payments provider) send me an email saying "You made a sale!".

The feeling of making money from all the hard work you've built up at almost zero cost, over the course of 3 months...it's out of this world!

Over the following months, that very first sale spurred me on to continue hustling and building up the online business.

Here's my online revenues since Oct 2014(in SGD):

2014

Oct: $1165
Nov: $1201
Dec: $187

2015
Jan: $809
Feb: $567
Mar: $338
Apr: $925
May(as at 14/05): $425

Total: $5616

And reality strikes..

Making $5616 for the past 7 months might not seem like its worth the effort, because if you average it out, my passive income flow comes to about $800/mth.

Logically speaking, no sane person would give up a $3000/month job just to build a business that generates $800/month.

Furthermore as you can see in December and March, the earnings are really unpredictable and fluctuate wildly.

After all, working a day job would definitely earn much more(plus CPF if you're a Singaporean), right ?

The answer is yes...if you intend on working forever the rest of your life.

But I've learnt the hard truth that while we might earn alot more money in a day job, we are actually trading a far more important asset for money: time.

On the subject of time.

Time is the rarest of all resources on earth.

Time once spent is forever gone.

Forgive me for the morbidity here, but by the time you've read the end of this sentence, you are 5 more seconds closer to your grave.

No amount of money in this world can ever replace lost time.

Our kids will only be toddlers once; no amount of money in this world can teleport you back to that time when your teenage mutant monster was once a crawling toddler with irresistably cute cheeks. (If you ever invent a time-machine that can do that, be sure I'll gladly invest my entire life savings into your company.)

Our parents, whom we often tend to take for granted growing up, will one day be with us no more.

This truth struck me real hard, when Mr Lee Kuan Yew, my country's revered first Prime Minister and someone whom I greatly admire, passed away on 23 March.

As for me, I do not wish to wait until my folks are 80 years old and preparing for the life to come in the next world, to suddenly realise that I had squandered my opportunities to spend time with them while they were alive.

On the subject of money.

Money on the other hand can always be made back.

And if you believe in abundance, you'll realise that money literally abounds everywhere around us,especially so in wealthy Singapore.

Out of the blue, a huge inflow of cash can literally fall into your lap just like that.

It's not that 'impossible', seriously.

Because there are many people who have had that experience before.

It's a question of learning to see value in the obvious things of everyday life, and knowing how to extract that value and convert it into cash.

If you lose all your money today, you can always make it back, by finding a job, starting a business, or doing freelance work.

Especially so in Singapore where everything is in abundance..it's not as if you would starve to death on the streets for lack of money to buy food.

While its the reality that money is needed for survival, and can even buy experiences that make us temporarily happy, I've learnt to be prudent with how I deploy money, yet to hold money loosely at the same time.

After all, money is a social construct.

The $10 note in your wallet is worth $10, and is what is termed fiat currency.

That means the dollar retains its value only because of the trust that society bestows upon the government, and the soundness of our financial institutions.

Aside from that trust, it is backed by literally nothing else except air.

That means the inverse is also true...if society loses trust in the government, then that very same $10 note gets devalued.

And there are plenty of stories in history where a country's currency is so devalued (i.e hyperinflated), that the money is virtually worth nothing.

In Singapore, we saw that happen during the Japanese Occupation, where the Japanese issued banana notes became totally worthless after WW2.

Even if you had $1000000 in banana notes then, you would still be a bankrupt, because the money was worth nothing.

Fast forward to our present era, and we find that history repeats itself, albeit in different forms.

During the 2007 U.S financial crisis, customers of Lehmann Brothers (a major U.S bank) learnt the hard way when they had their life savings wiped out, simply because the bank went bankrupt and couldn't repay customers their deposits.

These were good hardworking people just like everyone else who gave their best at work, got a paycheck at month end, and then saved up their cash...and only to see it all disappear in one fell swoop.

While I'm not suggesting in anyway that this will happen in Singapore (I actually think the odds are close to zero given the sound financial foundations our country has built), I do not want to take any chances.

On the subject of work.

I value my time too much to work for the rest of my life.

Don't get me wrong here.

I'm in no way trying to condemn the importance of working in a job.

After all, without the awesome Ghost engineers who worked on the blogging software that allowed me to type my thoughts, this blog post would not have been possible.

Similarly, I would not have been able to achieve my goals of writing a crowdfunding book, if I had not first worked in a startup and gained experience from running one.

Even the Apostle Paul in the Bible gave this warning to the lazy : "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat (2 Thess 3:10)"

What I would like to advocate is for us to put work in its proper place in our lives, that it is not an end in itself.

I believe work is meant to be leveraged wisely.

There is work, and then there is also work that results in us having to work lesser down the road.

I call this smart work.

Smart Work.

Allow me to explain.

Work to most people looks like this:

Month 1: Work + Time = Paycheck
Month 2: Work + Time = Paycheck

Day in, day out, people go to work, put in their time, and look forward to a paycheck at month end.

Granted, you might get a pay raise.

If you work really your butt off, you can even work your way into the C-level.

And when you're a CEO, you've hit paydirt baby!

But is it really worth it?

Around the end of 2014, I had coffee with a retired 62 year old CEO who used to run a $800 million company.

Today, he's happily retired, and travels around the world with his wife.

He is also an active investor in early stage high growth startups, and does an average investment of $400,000 (and mind you he has at least 10 of such investments..so go figure).

Flabbergasted at his statement, I naively asked him if he's ever afraid he would lose his investments.

After all its well documented that 9 in 10 startups fail.

And I'll never forget his reply:

"Johnathan, you must understand that I'm at a different stage of life. I invest because its my hobby, and because I can afford it. But you'll never imagine the enormous demands and stress I had to experience for the past 12 years. The daily stress of managing a $800million company is...insane. Try doing that everyday for 12 years."

I guess being a CEO is not everyone's cup of tea.

High cortisol levels aren't exactly good for health.

What if...

work looked like this:

Work + Time + Smart Leverage of Money for business =

Paycheck + Passive Income=

More time + Less work

To illustrate with a scenario, let's assume Tom and Rachel both earn the same $2000 salary over three years without any pay raise, and that they both work equally hard and do not spend a single cent.

The only difference is that Rachel leverages some of her salary to build a passive income business at the end of year 1, while Tom simply saves everything in the bank.

Tom:
Year 1 income: $2000 * 12 = $24,000
Year 2 income: $2000 * 12 = $24,000
Year 3 income: $2000 * 12 = $24,000
Total income: $72,000

to keep the same level of income, Tom has to keep actively working.

Let's look at Rachel:

Rachel: Year 1 income: $2000 * 12 = $24,000

At the end of Year 1, Rachel then takes $1000 out as startup capital and spends time to start selling her line of digital ebooks, a relatively low cost business.

By January Year 2, her business is up and brings in $500 monthly in passive income, while she still continues to work.

Here's Rachel's income at the end of Yr 2:

Year 2 income: ($2000 * 12)+ ($500 * 12) -$1000 = $29,000

Let's assume her monthly business revenues grows 2X in Year 3...this is how Rachel's income looks like at the end of Yr 3:

Year 3 income: ($2000 * 12)+ ($1000 * 12) = $36,000

Total for rachel: Year 1 income: $24,000
Year 2 income: $29,000
Year 3 income: $36,000
Total income: $89,000

Difference= $89000-$72000 = $17,000

$17,000..that's a quite a difference for just a little bit of effort and sacrifice to build up the passive income business, and I'm only using a very conservative approach here.

It's not uncommon to hear of passive income businesses that triple or quadruple their yearly profits.

Can you imagine if Rachel had reinvested another $1000 at the end of Yr 2 into another digital business?

If she had done that, she would literally be able to quit her $2000/month job, as she would be earning far more than her salary.

With that newfound freedom, she can use it to spend time with her kids and family.

Ok back to The 24 Day Digital Business Challenge...

You see, Rachel is someone I hope to model after.

Even without a full-time job, I'm now seeing an average of $800 in passive income flow into my bank account monthly, even if I decided to only watch TV the entire month. (ok, actually I admit, its' only half true, because I spent a month and half writing my book, recording Udemy videos, and doing marketing..but it was a one-time effort and did very little maintenance after that.)

The only difference between Rachel and me, is that I intentionally chose not to work a job for the past one year as I had been working full-time on Crowdfunding Collective, my crowdfunding consultancy startup.

As I ran the startup, I discovered that the market is still very nascent, and that I still lacked a lot in terms of sales experience.

So from July onwards, I have thus decided to return to full-time work to pick up experience and build street cred (if I'm ever going to gain customers trust).

Which brings up another wise advice my mentor once told me:

"When you are young never work because the pay is good or the job is comfortable. Work because you want to learn. The skills you'll pick up will be priceless down the road"

You might ask..what then am I going to do from now till July 2015?

If you still have not guessed the answer after reading through my super long rambling:I'm on a personal challenge to create a profitable digital business in the ebook publishing niche in 24 days, with a $200 budget!

While I've successfully setup a monthly recurring income stream from sales of my crowdfunding digital products that does pretty well, to setup another digital revenue stream in 24 days is really going to challenge my focus, discipline, and endurance.

By the end of these 24 days, I've set myself the goal of winning at least 1 job contract, or one online sale as a result of this effort.

That would mean setting up a website, recording Udemy videos, setting up the processes, and marketing my services..which is actually the toughest and hardest part.

All these in 24 action packed days.

Excluding weekends and the entire week of 8th June(away on holiday the entire week),from 18 May up till 30 June I'll be working on this project, and blogging daily here about my progress.

I'm blogging because I want to hold myself accountable, and what better people to account to than all of you reading this, my blog readers.

At the end of this period, I (hopefully) shall have another profitable side income stream, and finally return to a full-time job.

And with a full-time job, I can also further leverage income to build even more sustainable, passive income businesses.

Because at the end of the day, work we will always have with us, but not time.

Stay tuned!

If you’d interested to know more about crowdfunding, I’ve put together a free report called “66 Answers To Your Crowdfunding Questions” The free report will introduce crowdfunding and answer some common questions, so feel free to check it out if you’ve got a special project in mind!

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