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This is a guest submission by Eric from My4hrWorkWeek.com

The Internet is full of entrepreneurs and “wanna-be” entrepreneurs suggesting that you quit your job and pursue your passion.  Some take a conservative approach and wait until they are earning a sufficient income outside of their “9 to 5” job, while others abruptly jump off the cliff and hope that there’s water below.

Both approaches sound exciting – hell, any advice that allows you to leave the job you hate and pursue your passion will always be enticing.

Unfortunately, life isn’t always that easy, and the path to freedom isn’t always so clear-cut.  Rather than filling this post with motivational fluff, I’ll just tell you my story.  Take from it whatever you want.

The “Early Days” and My First Taste of Passive Income Online

I’m 26 years old right now, so I consider myself to still be in the early stages of figuring out how I want to shape my “professional life.”  Ever since I was 15 or 16, I’ve considered myself to be an entrepreneur.

In high school, I played a popular Internet game – not just because I was a nerd, but because I found a way to make a business out of it.  I wrote a fairly brief strategy guide, and sold it on eBay for $10-15 a pop.

After that fizzled out, I sold various other informational products on eBay.   I probably made close to $5,000 selling it all, which may not seem like much, but I earned it over the span of a year or so.  For a 16 year-old, it was a lot of money, especially for the very little work it required.

This was probably where I first got a taste of “passive income.”

Flash Forward to College

Rather than take a job serving coffee or flipping burgers, I studied the game of poker, and proceeded to play it online for real money.

This was pretty popular among guys in college, so I don’t consider it to be anything special.  I wasn’t even that good at it, but I earned enough by playing 5-10 hours a week to pay for my rent and food.

This meant that I didn’t need to get a “real” job, which allowed me to have more fun while still being a good student.

One summer during college (after my sophomore year), I started an exterior house painting business in my home town.  I didn’t know how to paint, but I knew how to find customers and employees, so running the business was fairly easy.

For 3-4 months of work, I earned enough so that I didn’t need to work during the remaining two years of college.  I had stopped playing poker, so that was no longer a viable source of income.

Although I had great aspirations of running my own business and being self-sufficient as I had always been up to that point, I decided to start taking my career more seriously.

I studied accounting (receiving both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees) and became a licensed CPA.  I wasn’t passionate about accounting, but I knew this knowledge would be useful for any business I’d undertake in the future.

Entering the Real World: Great! Or Not…

real-world-house-san-deigo-2011

So in 2008, I started my career as a tax consultant with one of the world’s largest public accounting firms.  It started out well – I was doing challenging work, meeting lots of good people, and I felt like I was accomplishing something.

Unfortunately, that only lasted for a few months.  It wasn’t long before the work became dull and stressful, without a corresponding increase in the amount of reward or satisfaction I felt.  I knew I had to start crafting my exit strategy, but I wasn’t sure what that would be.

Blogging and Career Changes: Taking a Step in the Right Direction

In January of 2010, as I was entering my 2nd major tax season (also known as hell), I started a blog: My 4-Hour Workweek.  I didn’t have a game plan, but I had just finished reading Tim Ferriss’s “The 4-Hour Workweek” and wanted a place to document my escape.

From here, I naturally stumbled upon the world of Internet marketing and the allure of making money online – a reminder of what I once felt in high school and college.  It was addicting, to say the least.

Here’s the part of the story where you’re hoping I’ll tell you about how I went on to make thousands and thousands of dollars to allow me to quit my day job.  Unfortunately, that’s not how things went down.

The frustration with my job was accelerating much faster than the growth of my earnings online.  I knew I had to get out of public accounting, but I wasn’t earning enough outside of work to say goodbye to the “9 to 5 grind” completely.

Besides, even if I could replace most of my income with my Internet activities, would I be willing to risk relying on that income for my well-being?  In short, probably not.

So, I did something almost as drastic – In January of this year, I quit my job and jumped into an entirely new (yet somewhat related) career: executive recruiting for accounting and finance professionals.

Basically, I help companies find top talent in the fields of accounting and finance (and on the flip side, I help people find jobs).  I’m extremely happy with the move for a few reasons.  First of all, I’m now working a job with very stable hours – I’ll almost never work past 6 PM (which is a far cry from the 16-hour days I used to put in during tax season).

Second, I’m actually rewarded for my efforts – the better I do my job, the more money I make.  This was never the case in my previous job.  And finally, I actually enjoy what I’m doing.  I’m compensated for solving problems, and it’s rarely ever stressful.

Does this mean my dreams of the glamorous entrepreneurial lifestyle have gone down the drain?  Absolutely not.

The Future

I’m continuing to  do what I’ve been doing ever since I started my blog (you can read about my various projects there), and I’ve recently started an authority website that essentially fits with my current career.

I still hope to be completely independent one day, free from the shackles of the cubicle life.  I guess the moral of this post is that your path to entrepreneurial freedom isn’t always short and sweet.

Failure along the way, however large or small, is a necessary evil.  We learn and grow through failure.  The key to staying afloat is having a support system in place to get you through that failure.

In my case, I transitioned into a 9 to 5 job that I can tolerate (and somewhat enjoy) so that I have a ground to stand on while I build my online business and plan for future endeavors.

Yes, the stories about the people who leave their jobs suddenly (and find themselves with successful, six-figure businesses) are extremely motivational.  That may be your story one day.  If it is, congratulations, and keep up the good work.

For the rest of you who are like me and don’t find success so quickly, realize that it’s okay to work a regular job and build your business on the side.  That’s my plan, and I’m happy with where it’s heading.

 

Eric Gati is a blogger over at My 4-Hour Workweek where he documents his pursuit of building a full-time online passive income, including monthly reports that show his income progress.

While he’d love to focus on one project, he’s addicted to trying new things and running multiple projects simultaneously.  Check it out, follow along, and share your experiences.  You can also follow Eric on Twitter.

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