An honest blog about starting a business, building wealth and retiring early
Author: Nicholas Noone
At age 45, I recently hit my “number.” I’m now officially somewhat retired. I’m 100% debt-free with a net worth of over $7 million. While I still work part-time to help run the business I started 15 years ago, I have plenty of free time to enjoy with my family, and I travel for fun frequently. But it wasn’t always that way.
Hi, my name is Nicholas Noone. Actually, that’s not my real name. I’m an introvert by nature, and I cherish my anonymity. However, I am indeed a real person, I am somewhat rich, and I am somewhat retired.
I live in the United States, in the Pacific Northwest, to be somewhat more precise. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and I have two youngish children. I grew up in an ordinary working class neighborhood with two working parents who earned middle class incomes. I attended public school and a public university.
I worked in my chosen profession for a few years, but like many other Americans, I grew quickly disillusioned. Ironically, I got so disillusioned, in fact, that I have my disillusionment to thank for motivating me to start my own business. I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy. However, with hard work, persistence, and luck, it paid off in spades. I am living proof that the death of the American dream has been greatly exaggerated.
So why this blog? Honestly, I don’t know. A desire to share my experiences and to help guide others? Because I enjoy writing and find it to be cathartic? The side eyes from my wife when I’m parked on the couch, still in my PJ’s, at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday binge watching The Walking Dead on Netflix? Yeah, probably that one.
I’d like to leave you with one final thought. I’m an ordinary American, a regular guy, probably not much different from you. Through a bit of soul searching, hard work, and dedication, I not only achieved the American dream, but did so much faster than I thought possible.
In future blog posts, I’ll share with you how I achieved my goals and what lessons I learned along the way. Hopefully, you can learn from my successes and failures to reach your own goals. Most of all, I hope you come away motivated and inspired.
I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I quit my job sooner to start my new business. If you’ve read my blog’s About Me page, you know that I hung on to my day job for a couple of years as a way avoid going massively into debt and to hedge some of the risk associated with starting a new business.
I don’t think there’s one simple or correct answer to the question of whether you should quit your job to start a new business venture. It really depends on your financial and life circumstances at the time.
A question I get frequently from friends and colleagues is, “How did you invest your business profits?” The truth is, I didn’t think much about investing profits when I was running and growing my business. I simply didn’t have the time to do so, nor did I want to divert my focus away from the business.
Was this a good move? It’s hard to say, but I will say that a growing body of research indicates that human beings have a finite level of mental resources to devote to any task or pursuit. In other words, we can effectively focus on only a limited number of things at once.
As an avowed introvert, hiring my first employee didn’t come easily or naturally for me. I probably delayed it for too long, but in hindsight, hiring my first employee (and then additional ones) played a paramount role in my ability to accumulate wealth.
Early on in my entrepreneurial journey, a lot of my friends asked me, “What’s your exit strategy?” and “When do you plan on selling your business?”
To be honest, I never thought about an “exit strategy” because my goal was to create a profitable and sustainable business that would enable me to become financially independent. In hindsight, the fact that I didn’t focus on an “exit strategy” was one of the reasons I was able to accomplish my financial goals.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I harp a lot on the fact that most would-be entrepreneurs never even get started. My intent is not to be overly critical or negative, but to reinforce the point that for every real entrepreneur, there are dozens of aspiring entrepreneurs who never even take the first step.
Taking that first step is arguably the hardest hurdle you will have to clear as an entrepreneur. I understand all too well that doing so is easier said than done. However, I’ve discovered one simple trick to overcoming your fear, anxiety, and complacency.
One of the most frequent questions I get from friends and family is, “How much, and how hard, did you have to work to get rich and retire early?” I won’t sugarcoat this. The simple answer is, a lot. And very hard.
However, the truth is a little more nuanced than that. On the one hand, you will need to work more and harder than you ever did at your day job. On the other hand, you will be far more motivated and passionate about your ownbusiness than you ever were about working for someone else or for a corporation.
Business is full of counterintuitive axioms, and the 80/20 rule is no exception. In case you’re not already familiar with the 80/20 rule, it states that 20% of what you do is responsible for 80% of the results. The trick, of course, is to identify the important 20% and focus like a laser on that 20%.
One of the most frequent questions I get from friends and family is, “How did you decide on your number?” In other words, how much money do you really need to retire early? The vast majority of personal finance experts will give the same answer: “It depends.”
I agree with that answer but disagree with their rationale. Also, since I hate non-answers such as “it depends,” I’ll say about $1 million multiplied by the number of people in your household. In other words, get somewhat rich. More on that later.