A lot of times we feel that people (including family and friends) don’t really know what we do – what’s this online business that they’re working on? At times, some people will understand how hard it is, and other times, some just think we’re on permanent vacation and retired because we no longer have typical office jobs.
It’s not their fault though, as we probably did a pretty crappy job at explaining ourselves. This is why we decided to blog about… well, what we do, what we’ve learned along the way, our journey in life and business.
We both grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but met while we were working abroad in Hong Kong (HK). We found a lot of commonalities between us, fell in love, and moved back to Vancouver after living 4 years in Asia to get married and start our new lives (plus we love snowboarding so it’s nice to have Whistler and other local ski mountains in our “backyard”).
It all started when we went on a vacation trip to Tokyo and Seoul for a couple of weeks straddling December 2009 and January 2010. Jeremy was browsing around the book store in the airport and this unusual book caught his attention. The title of the book was so outrageous he had to pick it up right away.
The book was titled “The 4-Hour Work Week”, by Tim Ferriss. We picked up the book when we returned to HK , and the rest was history.
What Were We Doing?
At that time, Jeremy was an investment banker and Connie was a hedge fund recruiter. Talk about going from those to living off a website design business online.
We were working anywhere from 60 – 100 hours per week (well, more so Jeremy was) and trying to build a sustainable side business was tough. We’ve had a few failed ventures, but learned a lot a long the way.
Those weren’t really failures per se, as we learned so much from our mistakes. Those initial failed ventures helped mold the cornerstones of what we’ve accomplished to date.
2010 – A Year Filled with Failed Ventures and Silly Ideas
Coming up with ideas and testing them while working 60 – 100 hours a week was tough. For almost the entire 2010, every single day after we got off work, we dedicated all our off-work hours to trying new business ideas, testing concepts, trying to build and sell “stuff”. Weekends were not spared.
Most of our friends and families didn’t know this, but during that time, we would get off our day jobs at 9pm (or later), and work on building this side business until 2 – 3am. Sleep, get up, and do it all over again.
Weekends? What weekends? We were so determined to make this happen and create our own futures rather than allowing our employers to control our destinies. That was our lives for most of 2010 and 2011.
We tried a bunch of different ideas and they all sucked in retrospect. Not that they wouldn’t have worked, but we just didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We just threw anything against the wall and hoped something would stick. But we learned and got better and making things work.
Life was tough back then (still is, but much tougher back then), tiring but we both shared a dream we were determined to pursue a better life.
2011 – Something Stuck
After getting our asses handed to us a few times (aka failed ventures), we finally gained some traction. This idea turned into a real business and it’s still the same business that we’re growing today.
It’s funny how things come about. Our current business, which relates to website designs, came about when we were both building websites to test our random business ideas. We (or more so, Connie) hated the fact that the websites we built were ugly. We couldn’t find any website templates out there that were compatible with the platform that we used to build websites, to make our websites pretty.
So we thought, if we had this problem, maybe others were experiencing the same problem as well? Hmmm…
So we got busy. Connie started learning how to code simple designs, and Jeremy started marketing and getting traffic / visitors to our test website. Our first sale for this test business came a few weeks later on February 9, 2011. It was a template we created called “Muse” and someone actually paid us US$18.99 for it.
So we built a few more template designs, scrapped hard to get more people to visit our website, marketed to them, and people were buying. Oh-my-gosh….
Months later, after investing thousands of hours into this new idea (that was on top of working our regular jobs that required a ton of OT), it gained enough traction where we were able to quit our corporate jobs to grow our business full time.
We crossed that line when we were able to cover some basic living expenses with the side income. We had to be frugal, very frugal… but the trade off was a no-brainer.
We quit our jobs in September 2011 (coincidentally, 10 years after Jeremy started his first real job after university), and begin the next phase of our lives as full time, location independent entrepreneurs. It took us almost 2 years of almost killing ourselves to get to this stage, and it was all worth it.
We’ll share more of our journey and lessons we learned along the way in future posts. But for now, we’ll leave you with 2 final thoughts….
- The “4-Hour Work Week” book totally lied. There were NO 4-hour work weeks, ever (for us anyway). Even after quitting our jobs and pouring all our efforts into the business, we each experienced closer to 100 hour work weeks. Then it got better, and now, we’re doing about 50 – 60 hours each, per week. The point of the book really isn’t about working 4 hours a week – truth be told, we would be pretty bored if that was the case. Our biggest takeaway from the book is that we don’t have to be Lemmings in life. Just because 99% of the world is following the same path in life, doesn’t mean we have to. If we put our minds and focus to things, we can accomplish almost anything (Jeremy: I knew George McFly was right!)
- Anything good in life takes a lot of hard work, audacity, and a lot of hard work. Nothing good ever comes easy. If life was easy, we would have won the lottery 50 times over. The universe has a strange way of toying with us. The easier it is, the less we appreciate it. The harder it is, the more we appreciate, and the more we grow as persons. We were disappointed over and over again during the early stages of our journey, and they took so much out of the both of us (time, money & confidence). It was tough to get beat down, and crawl back up to keep going, just to risk getting beaten down again. Even till this day, in our business this still holds true (We’ll get into more of that in future posts). Life isn’t easy, but if you put your minds to it, you can accomplish almost anything.