Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 11, 2012 1:55 PM

Want To Get Rich? Quit Your Day Job

"Don't quit your day job."

How often have you heard that line when you did any kind of public performance? What about the blank stares that come when you propose a business idea to people? Rejection is a hard thing to deal with. I saw the founder of Rovio talking about the success of Angry Birds at a Google event last year, and I think he said that the first eighty-plus versions of Angry Birds were not all that good and failed.

  • How much effort and how much dedication do we really put against our big ideas?
  • How deeply do we believe in them?
  • How realistic is our thinking?
  • How far are we willing to go?

These are the deep questions that many of us kick around (day and night).

Inc. Magazine ran an article titled, How The Rich Got Rich, in June of this past year. The article was based on an annual report by the IRS that provided data on the 400 individual income tax returns reporting the largest adjusted gross incomes and it was written by Jeff Haden. In this article, he deciphers the "watching paint dry"-boringness of this data to uncover some interesting kernels...

  • Working for a salary won't make you rich.
  • Neither will making only safe "income" investments.
  • Neither will investing only in large companies.
  • Owning a business or businesses, whether in part or partnership, could not only build a solid wealth foundation but could someday...
  • Generate a huge financial windfall.

Just remember, you are not everybody.

Odds are that these people are the exception and not the rule, so this type of data is sometimes very hard to swallow. It's like trying to figure out if there are any central themes in the top one hundred rock albums sold of all time. What you quickly realize is that there is no universal theme: each and every single one of them are the exception to the rule and that, in small part, is some of the secret sauce to their success. So, looking at all of this corporate data doesn't really provide any clear roadmap. That being said, it declares (beyond the shadow of doubt) that our understanding of what hard work brings is sometimes very far off from the gravity of earth. It also speaks to a trend that is, likely, not going to reverse course...

The future of business is small and entrepreneurial (don't tell the MBAs and consultants).

The workplace has changed. Economics are funky. The security of a steady job in a big, corporate company has all but dissolved. We've spent the better part of two decades watching these monstrous organizations crumble (some because of corruption, while others failed to innovate at pace). At the same time, we've seen instances where a company like Instagram comes along, plays by their own rules and - whether we like it or not - is able to be sold for a billion dollars to Facebook with not much more than a hope of future growth, expansion and revenue.

It's not all about the money.

I'll be the first one to raise my hand in admission that money is not the only driver for success in business and life. Being healthy, happy and doing important stuff that helps us develop at work needs to trump the income for our personal well-being, but wealth is (whether we like it or not) a leading key indicator as well. So, is it time to quit your job? That's your call. What I can tell you, as an entrepreneur, is that these five data points provided by Haden in the Inc. Magazine article are in-line with my reasoning for becoming an entrepreneur in the first place. I can best sum up my reasoning with this one line of thought: I wanted complete control and responsibility for my financial outcome in life. Was it easy? No. It's still hard - each and every day. But, I know that I have more control over my financial fate than when I was an employee and hoping that the next quarter's result would not have a negative impact on my employment status.

Safe investments. Large companies. Stable jobs. Who knew that those aren't the key factors for success?

By Mitch Joel