A New Entrepreneurial Leap of Faith

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by JT McGee

It was ten years ago that I took a leap of faith. Then 11 years old I had a stack of money freshly earned from many hours spent refereeing soccer games.

By 11-year old standards, I was loaded. I had it all. Depending on where I worked I could bring home anywhere from $8-30 per hour. I had more cash than I knew what to do with.

But I didn’t have enough. Over the winter months when the fields were closed I doubled-down. I started my first online business at the height of the internet bubble. I found an opportunity to buy very popular (at least then) popunder traffic for $.50 to $.55 per 1000 viewers to resell for anywhere from $.80 to $5, depending on volume.

I was hooked.

In the following years I expanded. At some point I had growing pains in being squeezed between school and work. I was reinvesting almost everything on the premise that I’d one day get my exit. All the while, I had to make a choice: school or no guarantee of success? I remember the words of Robert Frost’s poem telling me to take the path less traveled, just as they had years earlier when I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad for the first time.

School lost.

I had long stopped enjoying school. It was boring, incredibly topical, and having gone from a private school to public school (sidebar: I’ll eat dog food before I send my children to a public school) I wondered what value I was really getting out of it.

In the end, my wager paid off. I was rewarded with more recognition for my entrepreneurial endeavors than I could have ever imagined. A national scholarship, tons of college money, and some recently regained respect from the teachers whose classes I had bombed put me on cloud nine. I was happy doing what I loved, even if my ties to financial firms had cost me tons of revenue on top of heavy fixed expenses in 2008-2009.

I had “made it.”

Behind the Scenes Opportunities

On the backburner of the stove that is my business I’ve always had one very rare gem. I’ve filtered cash to it, and at times even abandoned it. I’ve sucked equity out of it to keep up other segments of my business during downturns. But now I want to go back to polish this gem.

A gem it really is. In the past few years I’ve let it mature. I purchased it for pennies, and it’s already over-delivered. I can compare it only to purchasing a whole run-down apartment complex at a tax-lien sale for $1,000. Over time I’ve spruced up the place, I’ve made it (slightly) more attractive and I’ve prepped it for the big move.

It’s ready for this big move.

I made a promise to myself to make it everything it could be this summer between semesters. I’ve delivered on that promise for the past two months, and I’ll do it for the next two.

From today until December 31 it will earn 70 hours each week of full-on hard work. It will get ten hours a day, each day, and I’ll make it everything it can be. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, and I can provide value-add only in a few pieces of the business. The best source of value-add will be in my work ethic. No plan is capable of making a successful business–I need to execute, and do it harder, faster, and bigger than anyone else.

This next leap of faith is quite the leap. I’ve abandoned almost everything else, automated virtually all other processes in my business and put people in place to make sure that the day-to-day of operating my business won’t get in the way of this new development. I’ve even found myself skipping meals to make this happen.

I’ve thinned out my life. This summer, I passed up what would have likely developed into an excellent internship in finance. I’ve cleared my schedule. I ditched out on summer classes. I’m all in once more, because there’s nothing I love more than an all-in wager.

My life is “lean” so this…startup, I guess you could call it, doesn’t have to be. This is the biggest leap I have ever taken. I’m ready for another plunge. Never have I put together a team so capable. We’re going to make this happen.

Why I posted this here

Money Mamba will be, in no way, affected by this decision. It has been, for me, an escape within an escape. In between work, I keep on top of finance and the world around me. Whereas some escape to the movies, I escape to the pink pages of Financial Times. Even the very long posts I tend to post here take only an hour or two at the most–I’m not much for dwelling over what I put up here. (Ahh…the benefits of blogging for experience, not for money.)

Recently, though, I’ve been less active. I’ve taken days to respond to comments. Now you know why.

You can expect your normal dose of (hopefully) thoughtful and interesting blog posts. In the future, I may even introduce you to my baby.

Additionally, I want to post this publicly to hold me to my new plans. I’ve slaved away for many weeks, and I’ll be doing it in the future. I love what I’m doing, and I think it will be an exceptional development, but I know that there are days where I don’t want to put in the time. I do, but I don’t want to some days.

So you’re going to hold me to it. While you can’t come here to wring my neck if I lazy out, knowing that my subscribers are reading this makes me know that I can’t be lazy. I’m going for it once more, just as I did a decade ago.

Hang on tight. This is going to be a wild ride. Don’t worry, I’ve stocked up on 36 cans of Coca-Cola to get me through the first week or two. 😉

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda L Grossman June 23, 2011 at 16:08

Good luck!

On a side note: I loved my public school! Then again, I never went to private, so I don’t have much to compare it with. But I turned out well:).

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Dave June 23, 2011 at 19:56

Sounds like you will be busy! Good luck!

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Ashley @ Money Talks June 23, 2011 at 21:11

Public schooler here too… so are my kids.

But good luck to you. You have me curious as hell about the details. email me!

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No Debt MBA June 24, 2011 at 08:27

My family would have killed me if I had taken your route. Academics and education were extremely important to them so I went the traditional route of internships and school. To pursue entrepreneurship is a huge decision to make as an 11 year old though I know it might not have been that explicit.

I’m finding that as I grow older I’ve become more independent thinking about my route in life and how I want to work. Entrepreneurship is appealing to me more, but I always get stuck on the idea part of it 😉 I’m fortunate to be in a place to really think hard over the next few months about what I want to pursue in my career and I have the opportunity through business school to make some big changes.

I also want to chime in that where I grew up the public schools were way better than the private schools (with one or two exceptions) and I feel like I had more opportunities in a big public school system than I would have in a small private school. That being said, the next district over had AWFUL public schools so I can see where you’re coming from. It’s super location dependent though.

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Robert @ The College Investor June 26, 2011 at 18:52

Good luck! Great idea posting it here. You will hold yourself more accountable for it!

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Kellen July 10, 2011 at 10:30

Oh the suspense! I hope you’ll announce what it is eventually 🙂

I went to public high school in Massachusetts, and then moved to Georgia for college, and I can say that my high school was far better than the ones around here. I was super prepared for college. Then again, if I’d gone to the private high school in our area, I would probably have been even BETTER prepared, but my parents probably wouldn’t be about to retire on the dream property they just bought either 😉

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