It’s been a whirlwind week.
On the 7th of September I decided to start looking for a job. This wasn’t the easiest decision to make. After all, I had high hopes for my web business, and liked to think of myself at least as capable as those internet superstars who managed to make a comfortable living from a great idea and a whole lot of passion.
Driven by these hopes, I spent the better portion of this past year creating the social donations site GoldHat, teaching myself everything I needed to learn and building the app feature by feature until it was done. When I began the project I had no clue if I could pull it off, but I did it anyway. Seven months later, I launched the website. I couldn’t have been more proud of that achievement.
A couple months after my “big launch”, however, I realized GoldHat had a little problem: no one was signing up. Every time I looked at my Google Analytics page, I swear I could hear the crickets chirp. This was a difficult reality to come to terms with, and I spent a lot of my time ruminating about whether I should continue with the project or hit the pause button and look for a J-O-B.
I knew that GoldHat still had the potential to succeed, but what it needed was more time and more money. Not having a job gave me a lot of time, but my bank account balance was reaching zero fast. I knew I could borrow some cash from my folks to keep the site afloat but I was loathe to do so. Let’s just say that they’re not exactly independently wealthy, and my living at home certainly didn’t help.
I felt that I had to make a change when I (celebrated?) my one year anniversary living with my parents, and when GoldHat showed no prospects of becoming popular in the near future. I resisted starting the job search because it felt a lot like “giving up,” but the prospect of pouring another year of effort into a project without knowing whether or not I was on the right track was far from appealing.
Should I stay or should I go? That was the question.
I wrestled with this question for the better part of a month. My main worry was that I would get so busy at my job that I would abandon GoldHat, and I certainly didn’t want all that work to go to waste. I had abandoned other projects in the past because I did little else but spend the day working as hard as I could and the evening drinking beer and watching TV. Who was to say that I wouldn’t do the same this time around?
I eventually came the to conclusion that I could keep a day job and keep GoldHat alive. First of all, I had invested a considerable amount of time in GoldHat. I certainly wasn’t going to stand by and let all that effort go waste. Secondly, I feel that I’ve grown as a person, and I have a better understanding of my strengths, weaknesses, and the direction I want to take my life. This elevated level of self-understanding has helped me tap into a store of energy that I hadn’t known was there.
I realized that staying vs. going wasn’t an either/or decision. I could easily do both, and that’s what I resolved to do.
After I made this decision I formulated my master plan: I’d work for a web startup, get a good feel for the business, save a little money, and maybe hire some people to help make GoldHat better. I could also network with startup folks while on the job, and perhaps get a business partner on board who’d be willing to work with me.
The decision was the hard part. The rest was relatively easy. My experience as a headhunter helped make the job hunt quick and painless. I found a list of Seattle tech startups and I sent a whole bunch of introductory emails out to hiring managers and CEOs, regardless of whether they appeared to be hiring or not. The day after I sent my first round of emails I got a response from Dave Schappelle, the CEO of Teachstreet.com. He didn’t mention any open positions but offered to meet me for coffee.
The meeting went well. I got a call the next day from Dave and he offered me a job. I accepted and a draft of my offer came by email later that day. I never expected to get a job with a startup so soon, but I think the folks at TeachStreet were impressed with the work I had done with GoldHat and were willing to take me on because of it.
I’m grateful to my parents for supporting me during this past year. Although they didn’t complain, I know that it hasn’t been easy for them. I’m just happy that they believed in me enough to let me learn and grow (and eat their food!). Although I didn’t make more than about $400 for all my web businesses combined, in terms of personal growth I feel that this has been one of the most productive years of my life.
Some readers may ask, “Is this the end of unreadyandwilling.com?” After all, the tagline is “Adventures in Self-Employment.” My short answer to this is “no.” As I’ve said before, everyone is self-employed, but very few have that self-employed mindset. At times I too lose sight of the fact that I’m self-employed as well. That’s why I feel that it’s important to continue with this blog.
Note: As I write this I’m already well into my first week at TeachStreet.com. I’m loving it so far and promise to write a blog post about my experience either this week or next.
Some people might be interested about the methods I used to find this job. I’ll be sure to write about that as well. Stay tuned!