Self-Employment is weird
by Joe Kalis
As I sit here on July 7th, 2015, I’m in a strange place, mentally and emotionally. Back in October 2013 when I decided to partner with my brother Dan in a business venture (although it seemed much less formal than that at the time…simply another “something on the side”), I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t think anyone who is pursuing self-employment really does, and that’s part of the excitement.
In my experience, full-time day jobs can get boring, include serious advancement or financial limitations, and simply squelch overall creativity. I completely understand that there are jobs people perform simply because they love it and are making a difference, and don’t care what the pay is. I personally just never found that passion in a corporate career vs. business ownership. I have the confidence in myself to know I’m way more talented and ambitious than to submit myself to someone else’s business gameplan for my entire lifetime.
For me, as an entrepreneurial-minded person, I’ve always craved the freedom of being able to call the shots and exercise creativity in deciding which direction to go professionally, versus being told what to do at a job in a corporate arena that I may not have been passionate about and just needed a paycheck. However, along with this freedom of self-employment comes a never-ended feeling of needing to perform. If you don’t have a “guaranteed” paycheck coming every week (I put quotes around guaranteed because no job ever comes with a guarantee. See also: employment-at-will), there is a completely different type of stress that is introduced…one that keeps you up late at night, wakes you up early in the morning and occupies your mind during the evening when you’re trying desperately to focus on your precious family time.
It’s a battle I’ve come to love, and I understand that not everyone will understand.
I quit my full-time, good-paying corporate job in August 2014 to pursue full-time self-employment with my brother. The timing seemed right, as there were some pressures and changes at my job I didn’t like, and Dan had just moved back from Florida. But man, that was a tough decision. Mostly because my only real job in this life is to provide stability & re-assurance for my wife. I couldn’t guarantee that to her with this decision, and appreciate the trust she’s put in me more than words will ever express.
So here we are, almost a year after, quite possibly, the most important decision of my life, and I don’t know what to feel.
For these past 12 months, we’ve been building, tweaking, adjusting, turning, re-building, re-branding, gameplanning, writing, studying, re-branding, re-building…you get the point. Lots of friends think we’re stupid, and I understand why. It probably makes no sense at the surface, but there’s been an underlying plan all along. We had a base premise that we were going to pursue the arena of “business funding” and specifically targeting real estate investors. How we got to this point would take another 2000 word blog post, but that’s where we started. For me, it actually started back in October 2013, and for Dan, it started years before that. But here we were…at a crossroads of what to do with this silly thing called “unsecured credit”. Not sexy, but a viable product for people in a viable industry, so we slapped down the name “Funding For Flipping” (not before buying 10 other domains with other possible names) and went to work.
It’s pretty amazing what happens (the people met, connections made, opportunities presented, etc) when you just roll up your sleeves and get to work, going on faith towards something you think is going to work. From August through the rest of 2014, we built a fairly respectable marketing funnel (by our standards) with which we would target people on Facebook, and got a few clients here and there along the way almost by accident, not really knowing what we were doing.
In January 2015, we launched our much-anticipated Facebook ad campaign. And it did well. REALLY well. We were actually kind of surprised. Great, we made it!!!
Ha, I wish.
Two months later, on March 3rd, we got an email from Facebook saying that our ad account had been suspended. No explanation, nobody to contact. We found out that’s how Facebook rolls…they don’t have to care or explain. For a few days we sat, bewildered, posting all kinds of questions in Facebook marketing groups, and asking anyone we could find what we did and what we could do. No answers, lots of assumptions, and lots of people who were experiencing the same issue.
We were fortunate to be able to ride the wave of the leads we HAD collected in those two months to make some money over the next few months to keep us afloat, and as the summer approached, we were introduced to someone who offered online advertising consulting, and he brought to light several things we could be improving (many of which we had assumed after mulling over our whole campaign for the last 2 months and what we could have possibly done wrong).
Enter Luis, our (now) buddy, and marketing “coach”, if you will (check him out if you need marketing assistance!). We changed up a few key things, made a few more missteps, but finally got our original ad back up and running on June 7th. Today, a month later, we’re still going, and going strong. REALLY strong. Strangely, our conversions are not even as good as they were in Jan-Feb, but good enough to make us profitable. EXTREMELY profitable. Like, so profitable that I was inspired to write this post as a way to capture my thoughts today as I don’t even believe the projections we have lined up. Seriously baller status, especially as it relates to the amount of work we need to contribute at this point (close to nothing, if we don’t want). Which is why I refuse to believe it until it’s in our bank account and no longer just projections.
It’s the weirdest thing…we’ve collected thousands of leads to this point (which are handled 100% by another company), will continue to scale that, and we know from past experience how many will close. We know the profit per deal, and we know the company we’re marketing for will pay us. We’ve already cleared several 10s of 1000s of dollars in revenues, and they’ve paid on time. I should believe the numbers, but they’re just stupid ridiculous at the rate we’re funding the marketing campaign and I can’t make myself believe it until I see it.
The projections (based on deals we actually closed in early 2015) suggest that our ROI is 13x, and we’re funding the campaign at $6,000/month right now, and scaling to $15,000/month as fast as Facebook will let us (while also diversifying into Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, organic SEO stuff, print ads, etc).
I imagine you can multiply 13 x $6,000 and then divide that by 2 (Dan and I) to see how much we’ll be making every month. Hence why I don’t believe it. Not yet, at least. Perhaps that’s not baller for some people, but that changes my life entirely. To think about what $15K/mo marketing spend would produce…we’re looking at million dollar annual incomes, each of us.
To think about a life where I SERIOUSLY don’t even think about money, or what I NEED to do on any given day. To think that this is simply the beginning of what we can do with all that we’ve learned since October 2013. It’s just crazy.
The craziest part? What we did isn’t even that difficult (in hindsight), and not even something sexy. It’s an avenue to leverage the internet to create income on our own terms, and we can use this same process with any other product or any other industry. I get so excited knowing that I’ll soon be able to spend my time helping other people learn how to do what we did, if they want to take the same leap we did. Not many do, and that’s OK.
I look forward to following up on this post in 2-3 months to see how much of this has come to fruition, or what areas we need to improve to make sure it does.
For now, I sit in anticipation of what the last month of this funnel will convert into, but still refuse to count my chickens until they do hatch. 🙂
November 30, 2016
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