How Entrepreneurship Can Lead to Financial Independence

Michael QuanEducation, FI / FIRE, How to, Misc, Side Hustles4 Comments

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Entrepreneurship is near and dear to my heart.  I love it because it can be a strong accelerator of FIRE, and gives you countless opportunities to grow.  Success is only one failure away!

Today, I’ve got a special guest, Jaren, who started Zipbooks with his buddy, Tim.  He’ll discuss the opportunities for FI via entrepreneurship, as well as discuss the thought process behind “risk”.  Jaren, take it away…

Financial independence is arguably one of the biggest goals for anyone considering their future. For many, it’s the brass ring of financial dreams – living a comfortable life without having to worry about money for the rest of your life. The good news is, there are several ways that you can work toward this, some more rewarding than others.

The Way Most People Gain Financial Independence

The majority of people pursue financial independence in the traditional way:

  • Graduate from university and get a good job in your 20’s
  • Create a budget that squirrels away a portion of your monthly earnings
  • Increase your skills and knowledge within your chosen industry
  • Climb the corporate ladder, jostle for better positions, and outmaneuver the competition
  • Achieve and maintain a notable level of success
  • Wait for your investments to mature

It’s a noble pursuit that is the bedrock for many economies: billions of people do it every day. And while it may arguably be bookish, it is also highly effective with most people achieving some form of independence by their early 60’s.

The downside to this path, however, is that there are very few ways to refine or improve the pace towards your intended goal. Apart from making riskier investments or gutting lifestyle expenses, there isn’t much wiggle room to grow your bank account in the short term.

Or is there?

What if there was another way? A way that could allow you to achieve the same benefits, in a shorter period of time, with greater job satisfaction?

The Rewards and Risks Of Entrepreneurship

Just out of college, and having completed a masters degree in accounting, I took the path into management consulting.  My first job at Accenture was great for me — I saw tons of different businesses, learned to apply my technical knowledge in a practical setting, and even got to travel the world.

After a few years, I got an offer to be a Product Manager at Google and left Accenture to take that opportunity.  Google was everything you imagine it to be —- the brilliant colleagues, the cutting-edge technology, and yes, the delicious (free) meals.  It was an inspiring and wonderful place to work. And at the rate I was earning, I’d be more than able to save up for a fantastic retirement.  But I still wondered — if I’ve been able to succeed in some of the most competitive environments in the world, how would I perform in a true meritocracy  — the wild west of entrepreneurship?

I ended up in wrapping up my time at Google after a few years to attend business school, with those thoughts never leaving the back of my mind.  The other thing I knew was that while there was no question I could make a great living climbing the corporate ladder, unusual financial success would most likely come from starting something.

After graduating and one more brief stint at a late-stage startup, I knew it was time.  I not only wanted to test my skills, I wanted to experience that potential upside — and the two went hand in hand.  If I had the talent and work ethic that I thought I did, that should lead to financial success beyond what I could have working for someone else.  

And that’s what led me to my own startup Zipbooks  — an accounting app for small businesses that suits my background perfectly.  I’m playing in a no-limits (and no guard rails) environment. While the risks are high, so are the rewards!  And despite the fact that there’s no safety net, because I believe in myself, I find a lot of comfort in the fact that I’m in control of my own destiny.

Is Entrepreneurship Right For You?

The only person who can answer that question is you. The risks that come with being your own boss are real – but so are the rewards. While you don’t need to wait for a “perfect” opportunity — because there’s no such thing — you should be ready to embrace 100% accountability, because success or failure will all come back to you.

There’s nothing quite like seeing a business you’ve built from the ground up find its place in the world. And if that idea strikes at the core of who you are and makes you want to get up and start something right now — you might just be an entrepreneur.


Jaren Nichols

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Jaren Nichols is Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.


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4 Comments on “How Entrepreneurship Can Lead to Financial Independence”

  1. Thank of the article Michael.

    Jaren, you killed it. I think the hardest part with pursuing an entrepreneurial venture is just getting started. The fear of the unknown can be so paralyzing. I struggle here at times, but getting more educated and hear stories like yours (plus having a great support group) is incredibly motivating. Thanks for the post!

    1. Agree, Cooper… fear of the unknown can be paralyzing to some. That’s the great thing about entrepreneurship, it forces you to face your fears directly. That’s success in my book an any day – to grow closer and closer to your full potential.

  2. I actually think it’s the entrepreneur path is the one that’s sold to people as the way to become financially independent, not so much the “work-save-invest” path.

    I’ve seen many of my colleagues over the years try it. Most failed in a couple of years and are now back at work. One achieved a decent level of success that supplements his job income, and one really hit the jackpot — he sold his tech-healthcare startup for $40 million.

    All were very smart, hardworking people. Why did one achieve incredible success where the others failed? I have my theories, but it’s hard to say for certain.

    I will say this though — None of the ended-up on the street or destitute. Most had to fall back on the “work-save-invest” plan. Some used most of their savings to fund their startups and now their retirement date is a little delayed. Other’s didn’t spend their retirement savings and are in much better shape.

    1. Great comment, Mr. Tako. You are right that the entrepreneur’s path isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes persistence beyond what most people think and then some! Like you say though, the rewards can be unmatched if seen through to the end.

      Glad to hear your colleagues are all okay despite some “failings”.

      For me, I never put all my eggs into my company. I kept a work-save-invest strategy even while I grew my business. This served me well and should others if they are diligent.

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