For some people, replacing your full-time income with a side business is a long journey. For others, like my guest today (Jan Koch), it was a matter of only 7 months.
There are a lot of strategies for leaving behind a job that you really hate, and in this interview, Jan talks about some of the things he did to free himself. Starting a business is scary, but if you can do it without risking your financial stability, you’ll be in a much better position.
I’ll let Jan explain the rest.
Jan, when I came across your site at JKoch.me, I found your content to be pretty intriguing, which is why I wanted to interview you and learn more about you. Tell us a bit about your background and journey – where did your career begin? What does your online business currently do, and what led to you starting it?
First, I’d like to thank you for having me Eric!
It all started with me studying for a Masters Degree in IT Security while working as a full- time IT consultant. I was working 70 hours a week, in two fields that just didn’t feel right. I quit the studies and started a business on the side, because it couldn’t be worse than working 70 hours a week. This led to running a side web design business for 1.5 years before I switched to internet business.
When I decided to give Internet business a shot, I had no idea whether the whole thing was a scam or not, I just wanted to try it – and 7 months later, my internet business replaced my job. The side business helped me to smoothly transition to self-employment, since I had already made enough money to support my lifestyle when I quit my job.
What has been your greatest success (or successes) so far with your online business?
The greatest success with my online business was the moment when I actually was able to quit my job. In March 2013, I created a vision for my perfect lifestyle. Working only on projects I’m interested in, being location independent, earning enough money to afford some luxurious stuff, spending time with my family and friends – pretty much the “lifestyle business” dream.
However, when I realized that my online income could replace my paycheck, I knew that I was close to achieving my goals. Looking at my income stats for November 2013, I closed my eyes and just sat there for a few minutes. All the hard work at night, all the doubts and fears – everything was just gone. I knew that I could make a living on my own and the next day I handed in my resignation at work.
Being responsible for your money and not living with the “security” of a job adds more pressure on your shoulders, but it also gives you more freedom than you’ll ever have working in a job.
The last day at work was the happiest day in my life so far. I’m still working as a freelancer for my former employer from time to time, because we maintained a good relationship. But being able to choose how I spend my days and working only on interesting projects made a dream come true.
All successful people stumble along the way – what do you consider to be your biggest failure with respect to your blog or business, and what did you learn from it?
Probably the biggest failure was a web design project that I did in 2012. The customer went bankrupt, and I didn’t see a cent for the website that I created. My fault was not to take business seriously. I was interacting with my clients like we were friends, but there are no friends when it comes to money. We all need to respect each other and respect the fact, that services aren’t free (usually). I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Nowadays, I treat my customers / coaching students friendly, but not like friends.
Failure is a part of the game. I’m failing everyday, because I try to learn something new each day and I usually screw up the first time. I try not to think about failure as a negative result, but as a sign that I’m on the right track.
A statement by Gary Vaynerchuk resonates very well with me: He said that entrepreneurship sucks, because entrepreneurs experience (expensive) failures over and over again. But failure is also his opportunity to shine.
On your blog, you talk a lot about “The Restart” in the context of being an entrepreneur and starting your own business. What’s The Restart all about? How can someone use this framework or mindset to help them start their own business?
The Restart concept describes the smooth transition from employment to entrepreneurship. Before I started my side business, I had a physical break down. I just couldn’t stand my job anymore. This situation made me realize that I needed to restart my career and my life.
People can use the concept to start a business on the side, just like I did. It reduces the pressure to succeed immensely, because you still have the security from your paycheck. Growing a business on the side requires determination and passion, because you’ll do it during late evenings or at night, when you’re home from work and done with housekeeping or spending time with family.
What I learned though, is that building a business is scary for most people. Those fears can be overcome by not risking your financial stability. When you can grow your business slowly but steadily on the side, you can wait for the moment where it can replace your paycheck.
To get people started, I founded the Restart Academy. There’s currently one course about Self Empowerment, which guides people from uncovering their natural skills and talents to turning those into a profitable business idea. I’ll release more courses in the future, so that people get step-by-step guidance through the whole process of transitioning from employment to entrepreneurship.
I know that you’ve recently gotten into e-commerce and drop shipping – what has your experience with this been like so far? This probably isn’t something where you can succeed “instantly,” so what challenges have you seen thus far, and how do you plan to overcome them?
That’s right; I started drop shipping ergonomic office chairs. I chose the products because I thought that I’d be able to rank a store for the respective keywords in Google. However, it turned out that drop shipping isn’t as easy as getting targeted traffic to your shop. I played around with the shop for two months, making just 5 sales. I ended up pausing that project (maybe another failure?) and focusing on launching my course.
The drop shipping experiment taught me several important lessons in branding and marketing, which my upcoming projects benefit from. I think this is a good example for how I see business. The only thing that counts is real world experience. Only getting your hands dirty and experimenting leads to more knowledge and skills.
Reading or consuming content is important too, but you need to put things into action to acquire new skill sets. Most likely I’ll try to reactivate the shop in the future, but we’ll see how that goes. 😉
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at running an online business: If you had to take your best advice or inspirational thought and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Restarting your life by building a side business isn’t easy, but makes your life so much better! [Click here to tweet this]
What are your favorite online resources?
Wow, there’s so much great info available nowadays. I’m just naming a few that come right into my head and I’m sure that I’m missing other valuable resources. Usually I use Google to find blogs, books, podcasts, etc. about topics I`m interested in.
My favorite paid resources are:
- Internet Business Mastery Academy
My favorite free resources are:
- The Fizzle Show Podcast
- The Youtube Channel of Gary Vaynerchuk
Finally, where can people find you online?
I just recently launched the Restart Academy, the go-to place for those who want to start an internet business on the side. This is my main focus for the next months, so it’s definitely going to grow! Besides that, I’m blogging at jkoch.me and you can find me on Facebook or Twitter.
Thanks Jan for sharing with us your story and online business!
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