From Corporate to Freedom

The Mission

This is my journey from quitting my corporate day job to financial independence. Working on the types of businesses that I want to put my time into. I'm on a mission to better the life and opportunity for my family. I will go from surviving the day job grind...to thriving and doing work that matters to me. 2022 will be about health and setting the foundation for actual wealth potential.

I'd like to invite you...

To go along this journey with me. It's a lonely road, but it doesn't have to be that way. I'll be sharing about how I got to this point, the plan to provide income for my family and the things learned along the way. I'd love to get to know you and your journey. If you're dreaming of the same path, come say hi and let's get there together. I'll answer any questions that you have about what I am going through and documenting here to help as a guide.

January 5, 2022

I quit my job. Quite honestly I didn't think many would care. But then this happened:

It was dramatic. I did not intend for this.  

So thankful for the support.

January 20, 2022

The first day. Overwhelmed. Excited. Really, I've put so much pressure on myself to earn enough income right out of the gate that I haven't really let myself enjoy the moment. It's time to get to work.

And to make matters worse...I just had covid the week before. I was planning on launching the new redesign of Side Project Stack. But that will have to wait. I am about a week behind on everything that I had planned. Not off to the start that I imagined. But you know what they say:

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

What's the plan?

First, backstory. I spent 2.5 years working towards this opportunity. I started Side Project Stack as a way to help myself learn what was the best way to build and launch a startup. Turns out many of the things that I was looking for also were of interested from folks looking to create a Startup, Side Project, SaaS or experiment.

The problem was I had launched a startup a few years earlier and failed. Some might say just learned something, but truth is I had not idea what I was doing. Right soon after that I had discovered Pieter Levels. He could code and created his own micro startups that generated a ton of interest because he was building in the open. Before it became popular.

I thought there wasn't really a way that I could do that. I can't code. Then I discovered no-code tools. Although back then we didn't really call it that. There was no community. There was nothing. But I happened to find on twitter a few folks building with no-code tools. They would randomly put out the tools they used to create an actual application. I was blown away.

So I started collecting them and tweeting out tech stacks of products built without writing code. And that's how Side Project Stack was born.

Fast forward 2.5 years later to January 20, 2022

Making the jump is terrifying. And I am doing it build in public style. Yeesh... Man I hope that I don't fail. I'll never be able to live that down. I cannot fail. I have to make it.

What's my plan for income?

The absolute last thing I wanted to do was "figure it out" and find a way to generate income. So I spent many months prior in Q4 of 2021 validating as much as I could.

Context: Truth is it was really about 2.5 years of working to set the foundation for income that I am now on track for.

There were 7 things that I have plans to do. Here they are:

1

What is it: Side Project Stack Partnership Program

  • Officially launch a partner program with no-code tools and services hosted on this site Side Project Stack. This will be a monthly recurring partnership of 3-6 months. It will include elevated presence on the site and I'll be creating content to help show how to be successful with the tool. Distribution includes my twitter account of ~5000 and my newsletter community of ~3000 as well as the Side Project Stack website. All totaling hundreds of thousands if not millions of views/impressions per month.
2

What is it: Product Consulting

  • Officially I am contracted working with two startups for product development as well as side product growth marketing.  
    (1) Side Product Growth Marketing: I helped create and colab with team at Threado a notion dashboard called CommunityOS. This product served as side product growth marketing for their core audience and grew their subscriber base by 5x in a matter of days after launch. As a result I have continued to help develop a roadmap of more side products that are like product drops to attract major attention to their Startup and grow it. These side products can be high utility or fun depending on goals of the startup. Here is an example here and here. I can help come up with a roadmap, execute and build it as well as advise your go to market strategy. Also I can introduce you to the founder of Threado as a referral for my work.
    (2) Product management tasks like talking with customers, writing requirements, designing interfaces and working directly with developers to build a successful product. My sweet spot is helping Founders who are not yet ready or in the process of making their first product hire. I have 5+ years of product development experience and love to build from zero to 1. Both of my current consulting gigs are for startups in private beta.

3

What is it: Side Product Growth Studio

  • Build side products and MVP's for startups.
  • More to come on this official launch Feb 10.

4

What is it: Sponsorships

  • I am working with companies like Zoho CRM to try out their products like Bigin and show how I use. I recommend to my newsletter community (~3000) and twitter audience of (~5000) of how they can benefit from it. Saving them time by trying out the product for them and answering questions so that you can understand if the product is for you.

5

What is it: Many Small Bets

  • Every month I'll be launching a new Micro SaaS Experiment. Goal is to launch 10 this year in 2022. One per month. Reason is I would like to keep myself accountable to validate a product or service within 30 days. So that I do not fall into the trap of building something too large or skipping strong validation signals with minimally created product. The more minimal the better.

6

What is it: Bubble Bootcamp Instructor

  • Bubble reached out to me about becoming a bootcamp instructor. I would like to pursue this but I just have not found the time to get started. If some of my revenue streams fall through this will likely be something that I could quickly jump into within 30 days and provide supplemental income.

7

What is it: Digital Info Product Sales

  • I actually have not officially launched The Lean Side Project yet. I am currently prepping to launch this officially but have been backlogged working to get other revenue streams going. Now is the best time to still get pre-order pricing even though the product is finished.

Accountability

Every month I will post how I am tracking towards my financial goals. Since it is Feb 1, Ill start by giving a forecast of expected income that I already have invoices and agreements in place.

February Forecast:

I am forecasting being 143% funded of my baseline amount for February. This is great. However, over the next 4 months I am only forecasting of 90% of my baseline. Additionally, this is far off from my goal amount of being 200% funded. I've got some work to do to get revenue going. I hope that you'll follow along here or sign up for my newsletter. Would love your feedback! (more metrics and notes below).

Key:
(1) % Fully Funded is compared to a baseline of what my income was previously with my corporate job. 100% means I have met my previous income amount.
(2) The goal of this chart will be two things every month. Track forecasted income and actual income and compare to my previous income amount.

Goal:
This year I would like to reach an average monthly income that is 3x what I was making previously (200%). When I hit my first month > 200%, my reward will be to buy a new Macbook Pro.

Current Forecast:
February: 143% FundedMarch: 83% FundedApril: 83% FundedMay: 50% Funded
(Goal: 200% Funded)

My Notes:
I have products not yet launched that I need to get going to tap into revenue. I am behind in launching those revenue streams. For both I was targeting to launch by Feb 1. Both are on track to launch by Feb 10. The pressure is on to get those products/services in the marketplace to start broadcasting for inbound deal flow and start doing outbound sales. So that I can be >100% fully funded for March and beyond.

February Actuals and March Forecast:

February ended up being 120% of my baseline needed for revenue. This falls short of the 143% I was forecasting at the beginning of February. Why did actuals fall short of forecast?

(1) I learned a hard lesson: We won a proposal I sent to a Founder of a startup to build their MVP. I was ecstatic. But one big problem. It was a startup in the healthcare space and we ran into some red tape. The client's budget was for building in Bubble. However, because Bubble is not HIPAA compliant, this expanded scope to building in Xano. Adding a lot of complexity. This ballooned the project cost. The client was still looking to move forward however, we mutually decided this project was not going to be a fit. I became especially weary talking with other friends in the agency world about risk in building a healthcare app because of liability in handling patient data.

Ouch. I put in many hours to go above and beyond to win the client's trust, won the job and all to arrive at not pursuing. This hurt. No more health care startups. The price point we are at just isn't worth the hassle and risk.

(2) A sponsor fell through when the person I was working with left the company. So even after getting a commitment, I had to resell the space back to the same client. More time and energy wasted. Fortunately we reached an agreement and will move this revenue into March.

Revenue Summary
What segments were my top revenue drivers for February?
(1) Side Product Growth Studio and product consulting made up 80% of revenue
(2) Sponsorship for Side Project Stack made up the other 20% of revenue


March Forecast
I am forecasting being 89% funded of my baseline amount for March. This is not good. I will miss my 100% baseline. 100% means I earned equal amount to what I earned at my previous corporate role.

To make matters more worse I am moving in the wrong direction. This is far off from my goal amount of being 200% funded.

What's the Plan?
(1) Product Consulting: My current two product consulting gigs are steady for March and April. These are generally fixed. Not ideal for upwards potential but it gives me a steady base. I'll continue work for these two.
(2) Side Product Growth Studio: Win a proposal. I've quietly pitched three startups some side product growth opportunities like what I've done with Threado. I've got 1 very warm lead and 2 introduction calls planned. My plan is to go all in on this approach. Stay tuned for announcement soon.
(3) Site Partnership: Build out my partnership plan for Side Project Stack. I've got 2 leads for this that I need to close these deals. These are no-code tools that want to grow their sign ups.
(4) Site sponsorship: Because I have been delayed in getting my newsletters out, I've only shipped one newsletter in February. My plan was to do one per week. But I just haven't had the bandwidth to produce more. I've got to change this so that I can turn out more newsletters and free up more space for advertising revenue.
(5) Digital Info Product: I have picked up a few sales. However, I haven't had the time to do a full product launch for this. This has gotten deprioritized.
(6) Bubble Bootcamp instructor: This has been deprioritized for now. Due to time commitment involved and my lack of time.
(7) Micro SaaS: My partner and I Marc Fletcher have developed a product. However can we turn it into a business? We felt enough validation to create the beta version of this product to see if we can. This product is a long term approach.

My ask:
What I am looking for is a couple of startups who would be interested in brainstorming around how we can grow their startup. I want to show them how we might grow their startup like I helped Threado grow 5x with the strategy of side product growth marketing. I build single feature apps or services then help with the go to market strategy.

Could you provide any startups that might be a good fit?

Here is a sample of our recent roadmap:


The idea is creating small single feature apps or products to your audience that converts them into users and customers of your startup. I am executing that now. We just launched a new product yesterday that ended up #3 product of the day. It's driven a significant amount of sign ups, and branded awareness for Threado. So much so that we have developed an entire roadmap based on this to grow signups.

Reach me on Twitter. Or by Email: michael@sideprojectstack.com

March Actuals and April Forecast:

March ended up being 112% of my baseline needed for revenue. I'm ecstatic. The reason is I originally forecasted only being 89% of my baseline 'aka' ramen profitability (My baseline is 1x what I made at my corporate job).

(1) Lessons learned: Working for yourself is unpredictable. Even when you make a forecast just days before the start of a new month. This is stressful. Even though I have saved income as a fall back, I have so much anxiety around providing for my family. That even a low month stresses me out. Too many times this month my anxiety would wake me in the middle of the night, or I'd wake early and couldn't fall back asleep. Instantly thinking about generating revenue. Even though I'm cashflow positive, I'm having a hard time dealing with the stress.

So I'm working on dealing with this. For me that means spending more time in prayer with God (1 Peter 5:7, Phillipians 4:4-8 I would highly encourage you to check out). Talking more about it in my weekly standup group and with my family. Sharing on here and on twitter has been incredibly encouraging. I do not know how I could do this without your support. It means a lot to me. Thank you!

(2) Sharing my journey, the universe responded. People that you've helped will think of ways to help you. Truth is my current side project marketing work and product consulting with Threado and v.one has been a gamechanger for me. Something amazing happened. The Founder of Threado extended and actually increased the scope of work for me based on the good work we had been doing.

I learned first hand what happens when you do good work, good things happen. In the form of more quality opportunities, good people to work with and more.

Revenue Summary
What segments were my top revenue drivers for March?
(1) I've officially created the place where I am communicating about my startup studio: ProductandBuild.com. We do two things. Create MVP for your startup and build side project marketing to grow your startup. I'm doing this for two startups in March and this made up for 100% of my revenue earned.



April Forecast
I am forecasting being 147% funded of my baseline amount for April. I know what you might be thinking. The last time I did that much, February, and I failed to meet my forecast. This could very well happen, but as I am learning working for yourself, until you get recurring revenue it's the nature of it. Something I am going to have to adjust to.

(Note: 100% means I earned 1x to what I earned at my previous corporate role. My goal is to be 3x each month.)

What's the Plan?
(1) Side Project Marketing and Product Consulting are merging: I'm preparing to launch Product and Build Co. The reason is this is where my heart is at. And it's where my gut is at. And it's where I am getting paid at. Everything is aligning.

What I' bring to the table boils down to three things:

(1) Product management experience. I am not just a hired builder. I expect to bring more value in not just building something but pushing towards achieving Tribe's goals and offer recommendations along the way. Using my product experience and expertise in the space of launching side project led marketing to help you achieve your goals.

(2) Building the startup MVP or side project marketing app (with no-code or limited code), app, website etc
Productize it
Package it

(3) Go to market strategy, customized plan for each tool/app and actual execution of launching it.

My bet is that I'll be able to create a no brainer combo for startups to work with me. Fingers crossed.

Problem is what educating around what the main concept of my studio will be. I've called it Growth tools, engineering as marketing, side product marketing, side product led marketing, side project marketing. wheewww...

Even when I polled twitter, it was split. Then I started to put together some recent tweets from respected founders that I follow. And it became clear to me. Side Project Marketing.



However, how sustainable is this?


(2) Side Product Growth Studio: Won a proposal. I've now got 3 concurrent opportunities that I am going to be working on in April. Can I handle the extra work load? 
(3) Site Partnership: Build out my partnership plan for Side Project Stack. I've got 2 leads that I have closed and will be starting in April. These are no-code tools that want to grow their sign ups.
(4) Site sponsorship: Because I have been delayed in getting my newsletters out, I've only shipped one newsletter in February. My plan was to do one per week. But I just haven't had the bandwidth to produce more. I've got to change this so that I can turn out more newsletters and free up more space for advertising revenue.
(5) Digital Info Product: I have picked up a few sales. However, I haven't had the time to do a full product launch for this. This has gotten deprioritized.
(6) Bubble Bootcamp instructor: This can be taken off the list. I need to focus. I have zero time for this and learned how little time I actually have. I've been spread too thin and need to go deeper into the opportunities that are paying me.
(7) Micro SaaS: My partner and I Marc Fletcher have developed a product. We are opening public beta for Notion Quick Add. Private beta revealed to us how much improvement we needed to make for making onboarding easier and better landing page experience so folks actually understand what it is. Zero conversion into actual paying users. This is a small bet that we are working on.



Reach me on Twitter. Or by Email: michael@sideprojectstack.com




February Actuals and March Forecast: