Why I quit the corporate rat race and why you should too😉
Tomorrow is my last day at Samsung India, I worked there as a Senior Staff Engineer – Android for 9 years now.
From tomorrow, I go solo💪
I get into freelancing, consulting and working on my own projects.
I’ve been a full time corporate employee for the last 11 years.
And I’ve made a comfortable space for myself in my current company.
An NDA prevents me from disclosing my last drawn salary openly.
But I can safely say that I earned in the 95th percentile of the Indian salaried class.
To me and my family, that’s a lot of money💸
Enough that I’ve been told by some that I am living their dream life right now! (which is probably true)
Enough that I’ve been told that I will never be able to make as much without a job ever again (probably true)
Enough that I’ve been told I am crazy to give it up. (again, probably true!)
And yet, I’ve decided to end this chapter of my life.
Why is that?
Why am I doing this? And how will earn a living now?
Let’s talk about the big questions –
I am doing this for several reasons —
- Take back ownership of my time – Work at my own schedule with flexibility⌚
- Spend more time with family – My 6 year old son Neo, my wife Aditi, my parents, my parents in law.👨👩👧👦
- Spend more time working on my personal projects – They can help me generate passive income in the long term and satisfy my intellectual curiosity.🎨
- Focus on my mental and physical health.💪
- Focus on my son’s education and our parents’ health in the long term.👨👩👧👦
- To escape the corporate rat race, I feel its toxic, unhealthy and detrimental to my life overall. 🐀
I don’t see my corporate career adding to the quality of my life even if I made 2X of what I am making today.
Or even if I kept getting promoted every couple of years.🤷♂️
I look at my seniors, folks on this corporate staircase above me and I don’t envy them. Sure they have a lot of money, but they hardly have a life.
I wouldn’t trade my life for theirs. And so I am not going to!
Also, I am doing it because I CAN do this.
I have some savings by now, don’t have many expenses.
My wife has a job that she enjoys.
We recently moved into our own home, so don’t have to pay rent anymore.
All these factors enable me to even think of this move.
Yes, I am privileged, and I want to make the most of my privileges😅
With The Why out of the way, let’s look at The How, how am I planning to make a living as a solopreneur –
- First, I have a runway for 24 months as of now. So I have enough personal savings that I can survive even if I don’t make any money for the next 2 years. It’s not a lot, but its a start💰
- I signed a contract to be a consulting product manager at a super early stage startup. I’ve been meaning to get into Product Management for a while, I am enjoying the work I am doing for them, its interesting, and its impactful.💪 And I think being a consultant gives me the flexibility and freedom to work at my schedule. While not getting completely consumed by one company’s work. The money is not as much as full time job, but it pays the bills and gives me enough time to focus on my personal projects. 👨💻
- I have a couple of freelance writing gigs. They are short term and one-off. But they give me the confidence that I can monetize my writing skills. ✍
- I write 2 weekly newsletters. Both are free but I’ve spun out a few info products from them so far, and made some money. Essentially validating the assumption that there is merit in pursuing this route further. I plan to write 4-5 books/info products every year going forward.📝
- I have a few ideas for B2B SaaS and NoCode products that I can build. Will probably need to invest some time and effort to validate them, but they can be a small income stream as well.💲
Overall, I am looking to build a portfolio of small bets, few of which pay off in the long run.
All of them will need time and effort.
And fortunately, now I have that.😁
I realize that my life is not just about ME.
I have financial, moral, emotional liabilities that I must think of as well.
This is a good place to list them out –
- My Home Mortgage – it ends in 2027. That’s the biggest expense from my salary as of now. And I will make sure that my gigs are enough to pay it off.
- Family expenses – Son’s education, parents’ health. I and my wife share them, as of now I think I can keep chipping in, but the future is uncertain, so it’s good that she has a job she loves😍
- Unforeseen Accidents – Life is uncertain, death is the only constant. I can die tomorrow, or worse, become physically handicapped, unable to make a living. I have bought enough health and life insurance for those scenarios. 😅
Of course, all my plans have plenty of assumptions built into them.
I need a few things to work out –
- My health – I am of sound mind and body and I assume I will remain so in the future. I will fall back on insurance if this assumption fails.🙄
- I have enough time – I assume that 24 months runway is good enough to build any sort of internet business. And a portfolio of many bets is the right approach to follow in this period. I have no ego, so if I am running out of money, with no prospects in sight, then I will start applying for full time jobs again🤷♂️
- My abilities – My skills and abilities allow me to make a living without a full time job. Again, if I can’t then I will go back into the traditional workforce. But while I can, I will give it my full effort💪
Earlier I said I had privileges.
I am extremely lucky to be able to make this decision, I think this is a good place to count my blessings –
- I am at the prime of my career – I have the experience of the last 11 years in the tech industry to draw from, and also the curiosity to learn from every upcoming adventure – the Goldilocks zone of my career.
- My family – Aditi is the rock I stand on, financially, emotionally, spiritually💖 My son Neo is the sweetest kid in the world, with minimal expectations and maximal love. My parents and parents in law are also supportive of this unconventional approach. They don’t know anybody who has “left his stable job” to be a solopreneur. Yet they are happy with my decision.🤗
- My house – We moved in to our own home this year, which was an eye opening experience. It felt like in an instant we were able to wipe out a large recurring expense – the rent.
- My limited expenses – I don’t desire for much, not one for material possessions, or not even very much into travel and experiences. I care about people, want to spend time with people, and awesome people are free, thankfully 😇 I spend on books a bit, but can easily scale back that expense when needed📚
- My Friends – I have a very close knit group of friends that I go to for support whenever I feel down. And I have made some valuable friends online as well in the last 6 months. Mostly on Twitter. I am grateful for these friendships because they support me personally and professionally.🙏
Stuff I am giving up
Every decision is a trade-off.
With this decision I am taking back my time, but I am giving some stuff up as well.
A non-exhaustive list of stuff I am giving up.
- Money – A stable monthly paycheck. I come from a conservative Indian middle class family, a regular well paying salary is a big deal for us.
- Status – I will no longer be a middle and higher management employee in a large corporation again. The ideal career move for someone like me is joining Google, Microsoft or Amazon right now. I am saying good bye to that.
- Certainty – With a stable job, I knew even if I stop working for a couple of weeks the money is going to still come in. That surety is gone now.
So should you do it?
I think you should.
But I am sure you are at a different stage in your life than me, so it doesn’t matter what I think😅
With this post I have tried to outline a basic framework of how I have thought about this major decision, and may be it can help you make that decision for yourself.
Some broad points on who I think should and shouldn’t do it.
You shouldn’t quit your full time job if –
- You’re just starting out in your career – you need the experience, and the money right now.
- You’re the sole breadwinner of the family, and you don’t have enough savings or insurance.
- You haven’t made any internet money yet – Find a skill you can monetize, and make your first internet dollar on the side.
- You enjoy your corporate career. You like the work, you like the certainty that comes with it and you have so much fun that you would probably do it even if you didn’t get paid for it😀
You should quit your full time job if –
- You have a skill you can monetize – something you’re good at + the world cares about + you enjoy doing it.
- You have enough savings to last you a while. How much? will depend on your expenses, but 24 months of runway is a safe bet.
- You don’t mind giving up the stuff from the “stuff I am giving up” section above.
Finally, you should or shouldn’t do it based on what your irrational gut tells you and what your rational mind validates.
I had these plans on my mind for more than 3 years now.
My gut knew back then that I am “unemployable”
But my mind told me I wasn’t ready.
Even today, I am not 100% ready.
And I realize that I may never be.
But I have validated my assumptions enough that I feel confident in taking this decision.
And that’s what I think you should do as well😇
I am sure you have questions, comments, critiques.
I would love to hear from you, take your opinion and improve my decision.
And you would probably like to know how these plans work out in the long term.
I am a big believer in the #BuildInPublic movement, so I will be sharing my journey openly on Twitter.
Feel free to check it out.
And if you need any help, my DMs will always be open🤗
Thank you for reading🙏
If you liked this, do check out what I am working on currently on my “NOW” page.
I will keep that page updated with all my latest projects.
Also, I still have a few hours a week to spare. I want to spend them on solving interesting problems with interesting people.
Feel free to DM me on Twitter to discuss possible collaborations.
I posted my story on Twitter and received plenty of love on support, do check it out –
I would love to answer a few questions I’ve been getting since I wrote this post and the Twitter thread along with it –
- No I didn’t “hate” my job or my colleagues. I think all of them are beautiful humans, and many of them find their calling in the work they do. I just didn’t think it was the right trade-off for ME.
- This is not about finding happiness or purpose or passion. Honestly I am still figuring that stuff out, this decision and the new work does make me happy. But I think our happiness is a lot about the stories we tell ourselves in our minds. This decision is more about figuring out what’s best for my life in the long term. A full time corporate role just didn’t fit in the kind of life I wanted to live🤷♂️
- If you’re looking for help to quit your full time job and go solo, yes I would be happy to help, feel free to DM me on Twitter, my DMs are overflowing right now, so will take some time to reply, but I will get to you soon enough.