A NEW (AD)VENTURE
Stories of the plucky kid with nothing but dreams are nice, but none of the successful entrepreneurs I know have that story.
WITH A SINGLE STEP
I started out 2018 on a new adventure that I've always wanted to try: working for myself. I think the picture painted by society in songs and television about the plucky young kid packing up the beater car and driving to California to strike out on his own sounds really romantic. Survivorship bias makes for a really nice story, but neither myself nor any of the other successful entrepreneurs I know have that story.
IT'S MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT...
There's both good and bad in this. I've got an amazing and loving wife, a comfortable house, and my son is a smart and capable teenager who is starting to have cool conversations with me about things like "How did you make the AI player in Tapestry?" On the other hand, I've got a lot less hair and a lot more belly than I had when I first started daydreaming 20 years ago about how fun it might be to make games for a living. Even though it seems like just yesterday I was going to college, now I'm starting to have to worry about things like cholesterol and high blood pressure, and we could've bought another house with the money we spent on 7-8 years of hospital visits and medical bills for my wife just to find, of all the tragically stupid reasons, that her years of suffering were caused by a simple wheat allergy.
I've got an amazing family, a comfortable house, but also a lot more bills, belly, and baldness.
...AND A LOT MORE INTERESTING
In the meantime though, I've had a successful industry career in software development, and other indie developer friends I've made online tell me my relative financial stability is the best single thing I could have going in my favor as a factor for eventual success. I have that stability because of a high salary I earned as the solo developer on some competitive software that was world-best-in-class for a few years in a niche industry that made my employer nearly 9 digits worth of revenue.
That financial stability cost me something: I was never able to successfully negotiate for profit sharing, and if I'd have had the right circumstances to strike out on my own with that project, I'd easily be a millionaire now. That journey was a much more interesting and gritty story than the one in the movies. It's a tale of hindsight bias instead; a story much more common in "real life".
The journey is not a cruise down an open road. It's a trek up a treacherous mountain. But I've climbed a mountain before...
THE STORIES GOT ONE THING RIGHT
Maybe my story so far isn't as romantic as the one the songs tell, but I've taken the time and effort to prepare base camp so I can set out on my own this time. I'm not traveling on blind faith like the ignorant kid grinning at the open road. I'm gazing at the treacherous climb up an imposing mountain, because I know one thing the movies get right. Once you finally manage to pack the beater and head down the road, it's bumpy and twisty and subject to all kinds of detours and construction delays. I've been elated and crestfallen on the same day. I've learned a lot, and the most important thing I've learned is how much there is left to still learn.
LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE?
I still have no idea how this journey will turn out in the end. I stress all the time about whether or not what I'm doing is crazy. That said, I wouldn't trade this adventure for anything. That mountain might look daunting, but my faith isn't blind - I've climbed a mountain before.