15 Jan 2009

Turning Off the Corporate Cruise-Control

Readers Caveat: This post will likely seem like a heretical rant to most readers, as the content is mainly focused on showing the flaws inherent in the corporate 8-5 model. That’s okay, it is meant to make you feel uncomfortable. It also is 100% my beliefs, and you don’t really have to agree with me if you don’t want to. All the same, give it a read and let me know what you think at the bottom.

I’ve never really felt like I fit into the corporate mold of an 8-to-5er. I just don’t like being told what I’m going to do all day long. I feel like I have more things that I can do with my life than be subservient to the whims of a boss or CEO. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked under some good (but some bad also) boss’s and CEO’s. For me, the problem isn’t the people, it’s the system. I loathe the system. I know that there are things to learn and gain from being an 8-2-5er, such as task responsibility, depending on others, learning to work closely with others for potentially greater gains, etc. In spite of that, I feel like it’s such a hindrance that people (read: me, myself, or I) use as a way to coast through life. Wake up (usually later than you’re supposed to), normal morning routine, drive the commute, punch-in a few minutes late, check emails, check youtube, do your best to get into the flow*, have a melt-down or two based on current project, check emails, punch-out, drive commute, etc. Due to this routine, family members generally do not get to see or interact with each other until around 5:38 pm. But what if my daughter is having her pre-school graduation today at 1? Or what if I need to be there when the internet guy comes to set stuff up at the house?

One thing I’ve realized over and over for the past 4 years: Corporate Cruise-Control (aka Coasting) is so easy, but it’s also brain numbing, and it robs you of your family and/or dreams.

I don’t want to be a Coaster.

You don’t either? GREAT! Now that you know you’re a sheep of a different color (like me), what are you supposed to do about it? How do we turn off the cruise-control? I have a secret formula that I’m not supposed to tell you: A Burning desire + Committed Action = Success. Step 1 is knowing that you don’t want to play by their rules, and also that you have to forge your own way. The Desire you create is to know that you can create a successful income for yourself (and family) without having to fit the corporate mold. There are other alternatives. This is the land of the free, the home of the brave. The committed action you take is to become a Learning Entrepreneur. I emphasize the word learning because you have got to be able to take your “failures” and learn from them. In speaking to my friend Tyler about this last night, he said something that I’ll never forget. In life (not just business), the word “Failure” and other derivatives is simply a synonym for “Learning Experience”. Failure isn’t the end of the road, it’s simply another bend in the S-curve of life. It can only ever be another step towards success, or simply termed “Incremental Success”, if you learn from the experience. If you choose to ignore the learning experience, 1) I feel sorry for you, 2) you will likely develop mental or emotional walls to convince yourself that you don’t have what it takes. So what’s the best part about breaking free, you ask? IT’S EASY. Oh ya, and it’s fun. Now don’t get all twisted up on this one. You’ve made it this far with me, just go a bit further. The National Wage Index reports that in 2007, the Average annual household wage in the US was $40,405.48. I’ll round that off to a nice even $40,400. So, you being the average Joe/Jane, it seems natural to suppose that in order to break free you would need to replace your annual income of $40,400 in order to break the mold. So, let’s break that down.

$40,400 yearly =

  • $20,200 bi-annually
  • $10,100 quarterly
  • $3,366.67 monthly
  • $1683.33 bi-monthly
  • $776.92 weekly

So far, that’s pretty impressive, but it’s also generic. As an employee or an entrepreneur, I know I need to accumulate appx. $777 a week in order to maintain an income of $40,400. Not bad when you break it down, but let’s get even more granular. Suppose that you are currently an employee of a large corporation that pays holidays and allows PTO and Sick Days. So, taking out weekends, but leaving all the holidays as paid, and assuming that you work an 8 hour shift, we arrive at income generating days per year = 261 (365 -2(52)), or 2088 hours of work. Given these numbers, working at an 8-5 job, in order to sustain $40,400 per year you need to make:

  • $154.79 daily
  • $19.35 hourly
  • $0.32 minute

Wow. Every minute you sit at your desk you are generating 32 cents. Which means that you probably made around $1.00 simply reading this article. Good Job! Okay but seriously, those numbers are pretty neat when you break them down. But what happened to the other 3752 waking hours in that year (an average 8-hour per night sleeper sleeps 2920 hours in a year)? It was likely spent with friends or family, doing what you would rather be doing when you’re at work. You’re forming new relationships, growing existing relationships, and learning a lot about life and yourself. Unfortunately, over half of the hours in a given year you are either working or asleep (57.2%). What’s worse, of all the amount of time that’s available each year including sleep hours (8760 hours), 76% of your time is spent during non-income generating hours. So you work a quarter of the year in order to live for the rest of it.

This model is very inefficient in my opinion. Why not create an automated business model that allows you to generate money at all times. No matter what hour of the day, people can give you their money through this new-fangled thing we call the interwebs. Let’s crunch those number one more time, but let’s assume that every hour, nay, every minute of the day is an income-generating moment in time. All of a sudden our granular numbers drop significantly:

  • $110.68 daily
  • $4.61 hourly
  • $0.08 / minute

Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that I cut my income per minute by 400%? No silly, I was telling YOU that. Anyways, it’s true. In order to generate the same income of $40,400 in a year through a normal 8-5 job, you need to make an average of 4 times more per minute than an entrepreneur who wants the same salary. The hourly and daily numbers aren’t at such a high factor simply because the amount of time you have to work with is different. An even crazier number is this: if the Entrepreneur in our example makes the same per-minute wage as the salary worker (32 cents per minute), his/her annual salary would be $168,192! If by the same token the Salary worker only earned the Entrepreneur’s per-minute wage, their annual salary would be $10,022.40! Time = Money.

Now most detractors at this point will say how hard it is to setup a business to deliver a consistent flow of income. “It takes some companies months or even years to get a positive cash flow, and some never even achieve that!”, or, “4 out of 5 startups fail within the first year”, etc. etc. (ad nauseam). I don’t really know what makes these people tick, that they feel it is their sworn duty to make sure no sane person enters the world of entrepreneurialism. By all means, use your brain, be smart with your decisions (and startup capital if any), learn how to adapt. But please, don’t lose sight of the pursuit of a path that excites you because you’re afraid of what may (or more likely, may not) happen to you if you do. You never know, you might end up getting it right the first time.

I plan to follow this post in a day or two with another on ways to form business ideas, how to get a website going, and the #1 rule of Business. Stay tuned.

I’ve heard of studies that say most employees waste 60-80% of their work day performing trivial or non-work related tasks, such as checking email, surfing the internet, making phone calls, taking long breaks, etc. Not you? I applaud you then. But take a look at most of your co-workers: I’d bet a nickel that most have found ways to appear fairly productive while accomplishing virtually nothing at all in an 8-hour span. The best part is that most of them don’t even realize it, which is another byproduct of the Corporate Cruise-Control.