🎙Career Shift Stories - "I'm quitting the corporate rat race to go solo."
Interview with an "ex-corporate" about how to build a solo online business
🔓UNLOCKING: MAY THE POWER OF INTERVIEWS BE WITH YOU - WELCOME TO DIGINTERVIEWS!
We all walk on our ways. But most of the paths have been walked by some others before we hit the road.
We experience the same struggles, ask same questions, enjoy same pleasures but in our unique ways.
Yes. We are all unique. We are all the same.
I want us to turn this weird dilemma into our strength.
Let’s explore the previous adventures on the same roads, hear each other’s stories, find the similarities & differences and leverage others’ experiences to create ours.
When it comes to how to do this, I strongly believe that making interviews is a great way to pass on know-how and experience. With this aim, I initiated an interview series with online business builders who have inspiring stories and may enlighten like-minded people’s ways.
And I prefer to start this series with an EX-CORP, who decided to leave his job at Samsung after 11 years of corporate experience and built an online business as a solopreneur.
As an ex-corp, I am very well aware of the fact that transitioning from the corporate world to building a solo online business is a major mindset shift. It requires so much effort, patience and difficult confrontations. Most of the time, it goes beyond a simple career change and becomes a self-discovery journey.
Within this context, it is impressive to see all the projects he has built within the last 1 year after he quit his job.
I pass the microphone to Ayush Chaturvedi who is on the stage now.
EX-CORPS: Stands for ex-corporates. Ex-corps are ex-white collars who quit their job at a corporate company. And yes, I gave this name to myself and other corporate quitters.
🎙 EX-CORP INTERVIEW
Hello Ayush, let’s start with getting to know you.
Hey, I'm Ayush. I'm a writer, creator, solopreneur. I'm from New Delhi, India. I was a software engineer/product manager in the corporate world for 11 years before I quit my job last year. Since then I've built multiple products and services. Mostly through my love for writing and product management.
How & when did you decide to leave corporate life? Why did you decide to go solo?
I quit my job in August 2021 to go solo and my primary reason was to have more freedom with my time and work. So that I can spend more time with my family and do the work that really motivates me.
I realized I didn't need more money, I needed a more meaningful life.
And continuing in the corporate world wasn't going to give me that.
👉 I've written more about my decision to go solo in one of my blog posts: On a new Adventure.
Let’s go back to your first days as a solopreneur. Where did you start first?
I was focused on building an audience and having a network of like-minded people around me. Because this journey is hard and you can't do it alone. That's why I started building an audience on Twitter before quitting my job. I met some amazing people from around the world and learned business basics from them. And then when I had a tiny consulting gig I resigned from my full-time job.
Which products & services have you built in the beginning?
In the very early days, the key products that I build are:
A newsletter about mental models and cognitive biases: The Wisdom Project
An e-book about building habits: The Toolkit for Atomic Habits
An e-book about Twitter: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Tweeple
I also gave services like;
Product consulting for early-stage startups
How did you distribute your creations & products?
All of it is through my audience on Twitter and newsletter. My daily goal is to provide as much value as possible to every person who comes into my vicinity on Twitter. If they like my content, they follow me; if they like it more, they subscribe to my newsletter.
I haven't seen fast viral growth, but I've seen steady, sustainable growth. Which is my favorite way to grow anything :)
How did you earn your first 1 dollar?
My wife and I wrote a quick summary of the book Atomic Habits, and created a Notion dashboard to apply all the tools mentioned in that book. We launched the product on Gumroad and announced it on Twitter. And luckily a few kind souls actually bought the product. It was a great feeling that completely changed my mindset about work and money.
You share your revenue transparently and I saw that you reached 4-figures income in Aug’22 for the first time. Congrats on this!
What is the main source of your revenue?
Yeah, so that's only through products. I make more money via services as well like Product Consulting and Ghostwriting. But selling my own products gives me great leverage.
Most of my revenue is broken down into 3-4 major products:
Indie Masterminds - Mastermind program and community for solopreneurs
Copy OS - A guide and framework for copywriting
The Creator Profit Playbook - Step by Step path to start from 0 and make a living as an online creator.
Blue Bird Essentials - An actionable course around how to find your first 1000 followers on Twitter
I have 14 products in my Gumroad store right now (Free and Paid) and every month my revenue is divided in different proportions between them.
👉 More details: My Best Month Ever - AGAIN!
Tell us more about Indie Mastermind which is your main revenue generator. How did you come up with the idea? How did you grow it?
It's a mastermind program for solopreneurs and indie hackers. Basically, anyone who wants to quit the corporate rat race and work for themselves can join in and find value. Once you join you become a part of a small group of 4 founders, we do hot seat calls every week where 1 founder gets to be on the hot seat every week and share all their challenges with the group. The other members brainstorm solutions and come up with new ideas for them. This way we can solve each other's problems together and learn from each other. There's also a private community where you can ask questions and get feedback on Slack. I open limited slots for new members at the end of every month because I want to keep the quality of conversations and the community high.
This has worked well for the members, they find great value in the program.
The idea came from having hundreds of conversations with solopreneurs from around the world. The primary pain for everyone was a need for belonging and some place to get real feedback on their work. Because in most cases the people around them aren't interested in what they do or aren't equipped to help them out. This is where a mastermind group of like-minded peers from across the world is so helpful.
👉 Check-out: Indie Masterminds
You are working on multiple projects & products. How do you manage all at the same time?
I plan a lot and ruthlessly prioritize my tasks every day. The goal is to do just the absolute top-priority tasks every day and nothing more. This leaves enough time for the exploration of new ideas and testing a bunch of different things which feels more like play than work to me.
Which of your projects didn’t work as you wished? What are your learnings from these projects?
Oh, there are so many. The most recent is a product called - Launch like Product. In my head, I thought people would love it, but it made just 4 sales. My biggest learning is focusing on people's needs and getting out of my head. What I "think" and what people need can be very different from what people actually need.
What are you currently working on? What is your next milestone on this journey?
I have a bunch of products in the pipeline to be released over the next 2 months. But I'm constantly working on Indie Masterminds, trying to help all the members as much as I can every day.
Apart from that, my goal is to have a portfolio of proven high-quality products and services by December. Next year I want to double down on them and scale each of them to build a solid business around them.
What are the most difficult and great parts of being a solopreneur?
Most difficult - Figuring out what to do next in your journey. At every step you have 100 options; how do you know you're making the right move?
Great - The freedom to work on things that I want to work on, at my own time and with people I like hanging out with.
What would you recommend for anyone who wants to leave the corporate world and go solo?
Start with 1 skill and see if there's a market for it. Build a small product or service around it as a side hustle, and see if you can find people who are willing to pay money for it.
In other words, ask these 5 questions to yourself:
Do you have a monetizable skill?
Have you made your first dollar online?
What's your runway?
Can you deal with uncertainty?
Do you have a support system?
👉 More details: 5 Questions you need to answer before you quit your job
Thank you so much Ayush and good luck on your adventure 🚀
📚 LEARN MORE & GAIN INSPIRATION: Recommendations from Ayush
(Check-out below threads for the full lists)
3. People to follow
If you have any comments leave them below or simply reply to this e-mail.
See you next Sunday 👋
Thanks for sharing this interview. It shows why building an audience is essential.
Hope to see the next ones.