Two years ago I quit my own business to work for someone else, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
I was 26 years old when I “retired” from a terrible desk job at a local bank and set out to become self-employed. As with most modern entrepreneurs, I had read The 4-Hour Workweek and was convinced I could create a lifestyle business on my own that could pay my bills while I enjoyed a life of freedom.
Between my rental properties and my growing real estate investing blog, I had built up enough semi-passive cash flow to pay the bills. I was financially free.
Only … it wasn’t free.
Within a year I quit the real estate investing blog and jumped back into a day job as vice president of growth at BiggerPockets.com, and although it was agonizing to make, it was perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made.
1. Paid education
When I look back at the year I spent trying to build my own online business, I laugh.
I had no idea what I was doing.
Sure, I got the basics: start a blog, build an email list, monetize that list. But I knew nothing, Jon Snow.
When I joined BiggerPockets.com, a niche-dominating startup in the real estate education space, my knowledge on growing a company grew at an astonishing rate. In fact, to this day I probably spend 50 percent of my time just learning and testing new ideas, and I get paid for every minute of it.
Yes, I could have figured this stuff out on my own, but it would have been a much slower process, and I would have paid dearly to learn it. I would have had to focus on trying to do 50 different tasks at once rather than learning the things that are going to benefit me the most.
I don’t have to deal with bookkeeping. I don’t have to deal with hiring and firing. I just to focus on growth, both personal and business.
While working under a boss, I am held accountable for making progress.
I am paid to drive the company forward (and incentivized well for doing so), and as such, I am not tempted to simply relax and “take the day off” as I did during my self-employment time. Instead, I am able to produce incredible results.
People often ask me how BiggerPockets is able to accomplish so much with so few people in the company (I was the very first employee, and we are now up to around 10).
The answer is simple: accountability.
Sure, we all hate having a boss. But having a leader consistently drive you to be the best you can be is not a liability — it’s an incredible asset.
3. Play a bigger game
Deciding to take a job again was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. The internal argument that finally won me over, however, was this: I could play a much bigger game.
When I was growing my own business, I could work for days to create some incredible new lead magnet to attract more subscribers, but in the end, the results were hard to see. After all, if I’m converting 10 percent of my readers into email subscribers and I’m able to move that needle to a 15 percent conversion rate, it’s not all that impressive to the bottom line when I have only a few hundred unique visitors.
However, by jumping on board a larger company, I’m able to leverage myself into a much larger sandbox and have a lot more fun with the results. A conversion increase of a few percentage points could result in thousands of dollars (or hundreds of thousands) in new revenue. The results of a split test could be seen in days rather than weeks. Writing a blog post can help tens of thousands of people, rather than just a few.
To emphasize this point, in the past year I’ve published a book, spoken at Google, maintained one of the most popular business podcasts on iTunes, and am having serious conversations about creating a television show about my life.
I simply couldn’t play that game on my own — at least not this quickly.
4. Meaningful relationships
Let’s be honest: being self employed can be lonely at the start.
Working in my pajamas at the kitchen table seems like the ideal life for those stuck in a cubicle, but it’s not the answer I was seeking.
By working with a company, I am able to build meaningful relationships that help both personally and professionally. I am able to learn from an incredible serial entrepreneur (my boss, Joshua Dorkin) who bootstrapped a real estate forum into a 250,000-member niche social network. I am able to brainstorm new ideas with my coworkers for hours and work together to achieve something great. I am able to sit down with major influencers in the business world as equals, not as a super fan.
The relationships I’m building today will extend much farther than just my current job.
They’ll positively impact my life forever.