Required Reading: 5 Takeaways From Before You Quit Your Job

Robert Kiyosaki has written a lot of books. I lost count somewhere in the teens. But when I saw this one on Amazon, I thought it would be perfect to review for this blog. It is, after all, about Quitting Your Job and what you need to know before doing so. I’ve talked about Kiyosaki in blog posts before, so this was a match made in heaven.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Kiyosaki can be hit or miss. Some of his books I’ve given up on as they’re regurgitated bits from his other books or from talks he’s done. There was nothing new. (Critics are saying that’s all his new book Fake is: rehash) But I wanted to read this one just for the sake of this blog, so I took it head on. Plus, it would be interesting to see what he said after I’ve already Quit My Job. Would I agree? Did I quit my job the way Robert Kiyosaki says to?

The book can be summarized thusly: If you want to start a business so you can quit your job, you must make sure you have X, Y, and Z. That’s it. The rest is padded by life lessons and anecdotes. I was able to finally quit my job because my business grew to the point where I needed to devote myself to it fully, and didn’t need the day job paycheck to survive. The one thing I noticed was that my business DID have X, Y, and Z and we’re now bigger and doing more business than we ever have.

Point for Robert.

So here’s five takeaways I got from Before You Quit Your Job:

#1. What is an Entrepreneur?

I consider myself and entrepreneur. Not only because I built a business, but because I believe if you’re an independent filmmaker, you’re an entrepreneur. So how does one define the word? It’s tricky, and with the explosion of “start your own business” or “think like a business person” channels on YouTube or accounts on Instagram, the word entrepreneur is being thrown around quite a bit. Seriously, look up entrepreneur on YouTube and look at what you get: talking heads telling you how to build a successful business and quit your job to be an entrepreneur. But can any of them actually define the word?

Kiyosaki gives entrepreneurship the best definition I’ve ever seen (crediting Harvard professor Howard H. Stevenson): “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” This also works flawlessly to describe an independent filmmaker. But that’s what an entrepreneur is — you see an opportunity and try to make it real, cash or resource or skill be damned.

My own personal experience fits right into this. I first identified the opportunity — a ‘Need’ — before I had the means or plan to fill it. But it was identifying it that set me on my path. I Quit My Job (the first time in 2014) setting off to build something to meet that need. Before I knew it, I had three business partners and the foundation for the company was being built. I didn’t have that before I left.

When I made my first film in 2012, it was the same thing. I had a script and a desire to make a movie. I didn’t have the money or the people yet. I had to seek them out. I built a team. We raised funds. I found money by selling stuff I owned or holding out my hat.

If you’re going to Quit Your Job, you’re going to need a business. And to start a business, you need to know just what an entrepreneur is.

#2. The Power of Excuses

Kiyosaki spends a small section confronting excuses. To quote: “Any two-year-old is an expert at making excuses. The reason most people who want to become entrepreneur remain employees is that they have some excuse that keeps them from quitting their job and taking that leap of faith. For many people, the power of their excuse is more powerful than their dreams.”

It happens all the time. Someone I know works a day job but has a dream to do something else. I always get excited hearing about what other people dream to do; I talk it up, start to ask them what their plan is to get there. Like clockwork, the excuses come out. Kiyosaki even lists the most common:

  • “I don’t have any money.”
  • “I can’t quit my job because I have kids to support.”
  • “I don’t have any contacts.”
  • “I’m not smart enough.”
  • “I don’t have the time. I’m too busy.”
  • “It takes too long to build a business.”
  • “I’m afraid. Building a business is too risky for me.”
  • “I’m too old.”

It’s like nails on a chalkboard. Excuses are what cause dreams to die. Imagine the amount of art, ideas, inventions, or technologies that we’ll never see because the person with the idea has an excuse.

Kiyosaki later gives a recap of a sit-down with a woman who was struggling after quitting her job to start a Network Marketing company. She took the leap and started the business. But, after 6 months, things were going terribly. Things were going terribly not just because she didn’t know how to sell but she refused to learn how to. She didn’t want to commit to new behaviors to make the business work. Even worse, she only wanted to work a few hours per week. Her excuses were different than the ones listed above, but they were still excuses: “I don’t want to.” She quit her job to start a business so she could work a lot less and make more money. So she failed at her business.

#3. The B-I Triangle

Kiyosaki loves his trademarked shapes and drawings. The CASHFLOW Quadrant is one example. The other is the B-I triangle shown in this book:

The B-I triangle, borrowed from http://www.richdad.com and I make no claim to ownership!

Simply put, for a business to survive and grow, you must have the five components and surround them with your business’s team, leadership, and mission. Kiyosaki gives the example of his early successful business, the surfer wallet company Rippers started in the 1970s. He didn’t have a legal component to his business and Rippers was brought down by competitors.

I look at the B-I triangle and compare to my own business. We cover all five (it helps that one partner is a licensed lawyer!) and we’re still in business five years into it.

I could break down each component, but it would take forever in this post. If you’re interested in reading more, pick up a copy of the book here and dive in. Just know that if you’re looking to build a business to Quit Your Job, it needs to have these bases covered. You’re going to need some sort of legal component (if anything to handle the mountain of paperwork involved with properly filing a business with state and federal governments!); an accountant (‘Cash Flow’) to help with taxes and expenses; marketing and sales (“Communications”) to get the word out about your “Product” (in our case, “service” is our “Product”); lastly, another word for “Systems” is “Network.” You need a network (How are you going to get your product out there? How are you going to get your product made? Packaged? Shipped?)

The other important point here is, if you’re going to grow your business and be successful it takes a team. You cannot try to be proficient in all five components — it won’t work. It’s best to focus or be strong in 1-2 of them and build a team to handle the rest. This is how we did it. I was the Product. One partner was Legal, the other was Systems and Communication. I brought in an accountant to handle Cash Flow. Yes, there are costs to building out the team. But you need to have them or it will all fall apart. If you’re flying solo, you’re going to need to hire a team around you.

One thing Kiyosaki doesn’t mention is that this B-I triangle also denotes the best way to grow. When you have a team in place, you’re not limited by the amount of hours you alone can physically work. A team shares the load, and a team can always be expanded. Think of Apple: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started in a garage. They had a Product (and to some extent Systems). Apple is now huge because it’s not two guys in a garage hand building computers. There’s an entire Legal team. An entire Communications department to handle marketing and sales. Systems is now a network of factories in Asia and Europe building and shipping products.

#4. Working For Free

This section echoes the one with the failing network marketing business woman Kiyosaki met with. It is also one of the most important takeaways from the book. If you are good at your job in sales, that doesn’t mean you’ll have a successful sales business. Becoming successful means “working for free” a lot of the time.

“Working for free” is Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad euphemism for taking the time to practice or learn something without getting paid for it. The examples he uses are doctors (would you want someone who JUST quit their job to become surgeon to operate on you?), professional athletes, and even The Beatles.

“Even The Beatles worked for free before they became world famous and rich. Like the medical doctor or professional, they paid their dues. They did their homework. They did not ask for a guaranteed record contract, a steady paycheck, or medical benefits before they began practicing.”

The point is, you need to learn on your own (without getting paid) to build up your business and make it successful. If you have an idea for a great product, people aren’t going to buy your product if you’ve never made it before. Or tried it. Or even tested to see if it works. Part of the process of building your business is to spend the time learning it before you charge for it.

#5. The Entrepreneurial Process

It’s not as simple as, “I’m starting a business and then quit my job. My business will support me.” I tried it, and it didn’t work. When I quit Apple in 2014 to start my company, I expected enough money to come in early to not have to get a day job again. In six months I was filling out applications. Why? Maybe my goals were unrealistic. Maybe I didn’t appreciate the process enough of building a business. Or maybe I just didn’t know what I was doing yet.

In retrospect, what it really was was it took time. We had our B-I triangle intact. We were in a market space with little-to-no competition. But we had a lot of ground to cover — including failing. As Kiyosaki puts it, “since a new entrepreneur is creating something out of nothing, it is obvious mistakes will be made. In order to succeed, a new entrepreneur needs to be committed to going through these steps as soon as possible.”

  1. Start the business.
  2. Fail and learn.
  3. Find a mentor.
  4. Fail and learn.
  5. Take some classes.
  6. Keep failing and learning.
  7. Stop when successful.
  8. Celebrate.
  9. Count your money, the wins and the losses.
  10. Repeat the process.

I didn’t officially Quit My Job until #8. My business partners and I just hit #9 these past few weeks with the largest contract we’ve ever had. It’s not easy starting a business, and you must appreciate it takes time before you can Quit Your Job permanently. The failures are rough. You’ll want to quit. You’ll question why you’re doing it. But if you keep going, the successes will start to keep up with the failures.

If you’re going to Quit Your Job by building a business, you will not be able to quit your job right away. It took five years of working at it until I was able to finally quit. And even then, I wasn’t really prepared to quit. But my business reached a new peak that required my full time and that told me it was truly time to Quit My Job.

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