Its the Saturday of Christmas weekend. What the heck am I doing today? First, I don’t blog on Saturday. Second, this is a big holiday (duh). But my family is asleep and this is a great question, I consider it a mind-relaxing topic… its a blog post for the Hundred Dollar Business project. Here’s the question:
How did you decide to create your own job/business with JibberJobber instead of continuing a traditional job hunt?
To be clear, I did continue a traditional job hunt. Let me lay out the early part of this year. I was laid off on (around) January 15th. I was given one week to transition the new CEO (the board didn’t allow me to have that title because I was too young. Lame.), and then got a few weeks of severence. I busted my chops looking for a job – during the first six weeks I put in about 60 hours a week – and really got nowhere.
Around that time, with amazing frustration and emotions (I had no idea that a job search would be so emotional – but when you have a lot riding on the outcome (like being able to pay mortgage + cars, and having a pregnant wife, etc etc etc), emotional doesn’t seem to capture it), I realized that I needed to step back and re-evaluate. I re-evaluated two things: First, what was I doing wrong (or, why was I not getting the results I wanted), second, how could I prevent myself from ever being in this situation again.
The answers to the first question eventually led to JibberJobber – I won’t explain or discuss it here but recommend that anyone and everyone begin to take control of their own career management and get a free account now.
The answers to the second question was along the line of the book “Multiple Streams of Income.” The idea is simple – don’t rely on just one stream of income (like, a job), rather, create multiple streams. I had read through this book a few months earlier with the idea that I’d look for other streams — I’ve always wanted to own my own business but was too busy working long hours, commuting, travelling, etc. and never put enough time into my own financial welfare (I was working too much for my bosses financial welfare – and they are doing quite well, I might add!). When the severence paid off I realized what a disservice I had done to myself. All that hard work for a few weeks of severence? Give me a break.
Even though I was super-stressed I still had time to think about me and my future. I had come up with two very cool, fun internet businesses that I wanted to pursue. These would be business what would be self-sustaining so that when I got a job they could still continue, and perhaps grow into something bigger than my job would be. That was the goal. I set out to look for a highly talented programming team to develop my ideas, and started to put together business plans.
Note that during this time I was still not making much progress in a job search and all of the “failure” was wearing on me – it was very very healthy for me to work on this project where I could have some successes, keep my skills sharp, etc.
One morning had to log some activity with my job search into my tracking spreadsheet so I wouldn’t forget to do something later on. As I opened the spreadsheet it hit me like a ton of bricks: having this tracking ability online would be the bomb. I began to think of all the cool things that I could do with my spreadsheet if it where online… and this was the beginnings of JibberJobber. (It quickly grew much bigger than the spreadsheet.)
The interesting thing is that when we released the first version of JibberJobber my job search started to show results. I’m not sure if it was a function of how long I’d been doing the job search but on May 15, 2006 I started to get calls back. I think that its because I was able to substantiate who I was and what my skills were. I even wrote a post on how job seekers need to substantiate who they are… one of my more popular posts.
Eventually my wife and I decided to do JibberJobber full-time and not pursue a traditional job. Here’s why:
- Even though it was a “job seekers market” it didn’t mean that finding a job would be easy or fun. I went through months of hell, not getting replies, not getting any respect… I admit that I started off wrong but it was a discouraging process.
- I’ve always wanted to own my own business. JibberJobber wasn’t my first choice but when we thought about the potential, and how many lives we could affect for the better, it was a no-brainer.
- Things happened so fast, and we made so much progress, and got so much encouragement from career experts that it helped the momentum. That momentum continues on today, and will be a driving force during 2007.
- I have learned so much about website stuff, internet marketing, customer service, etc. This has been an awesome “laboratory” experience for me, and has really sharpened my skills in a number of areas. If I ever want to go back into the market again I’ll be much better for having done this.
- We could financially afford to do it. We have been contributing to 401k for quite a while, generously, and our parents are both in financial positions where they could contribute. Without our own money or the ability to tap OPM (other people’s money) there’s no way we could have done this.
- We knew that we could be committed. My wife had been amazingly supportive, which is the number one key. Our families have been supportive but they know that even if they pull back we’re still doing it. We have all of the emotional backing that we need between the two of us and our users. Their success stories in finding a job, or networking has been a significant amount of joy for us.
Aside from all of those reasons, and this may sound weird to some of the readers, I realized that JibberJobber was much bigger than me, or anything that I could become. The feedback I was getting from users and experts was so encouraging that I realized that if it grew to where I saw it could grow to, Jason Alba would be “just along for the ride.”
And I am along for the ride – and its funner than anything than I ever imagined.
(one final note – I was on the fast track in corporate IT. I loved it – it was fun, somewhat low pressure, and comfortable. But a few years ago I changed from cost center to profit center… I went to work in a capacity where I was involved in software sales and everything we did was working towards generating revenue/profit. And that was when I had said that “I had tasted the forbidden fruit” and was no longer interested in going back to comfortable corporate IT.)