I was sitting across from a new acquaintance at the CampFI Midwest and he was telling me about his next budding venture. He had a brilliant business plan. An idea which no one had capitalized on before. He was in the middle of gathering investors and beginning the long process of due diligence. I probed further. I am always wary of what I call the financial independence wild goose chase.
It turns out that he had no love or passion for this new project. He really dug the idea of building an empire, and he was ready to be financially independent. But the idea, the idea itself, held little excitement for him.
So I asked about his current work situation. It turns out that he owns and operates a growing small business that with just a little work could eventually sell for millions of dollars. He was sure of that. He enjoyed his day-to-day work and felt a real sense of engagement and accomplishment in what he built.
So why ever was he wasting his time with this new venture? Why was he getting caught up in the financial independence wild goose chase?
I have seen this phenomenon over and over again. For some strange reason, we often ignore the perfectly good revenue generator in front of us. We set off on a financial independence wild goose chase to shoot for the stars with a highly speculative venture.
Our brain stumbles over this concept repeatedly. We all think to reach financial freedom we have to hit a grand slam instead of concentrating on a series of singles.
My acquaintance’s new business was a grand slam, while all he needed was to continue the regular singles he was hitting with his current venture.
He was jumping into a financially risky, speculative, non-passion play endeavor to reach a goal post that was pretty much assured if he just held the course.
Side hustle or bust?
I bristle to say that I have been just as guilty. What is a side hustle other than a financial independence wild goose chase? As a physician, isn’t my time better spent practicing medicine? Aren’t I better served by hitting singles every day in the office instead of building a blog or creating a new business?
I mitigate this effect by using low-cost start-up principles, and pursue passion oriented side hustles that bring joy if not economic benefit. But the point holds true. If financial stability is my goal, I can’t beat the security of doing what I have spent so much money and time on learning.
This realization has not stopped me from jumping into new ventures. But it does give me pause. Am I any better off than if I had just put my head down and saw a few more patients each day?
Investment vs. speculation
It seems that while we shun speculation when it comes to the stock market, we tend to be more than willing to speculate in our business ventures. The financial independence wild goose chase fuels big audacious dreams.
Even those who understand the math can’t help themselves from feeling that they have to somehow try to supercharge the pathway. Even once they reach the magic number, they dream of alternate revenue streams, passive dividends, and a never-ending accumulation phase.
It takes a creative, dedicated person to be thoughtful about their financial future and well-being. Many of us in this community understand the math needed to make it to early retirement. Yet we can’t help jumping on the financial independence wild goose chase.
We throw ourselves into crazy, speculative ventures that often have as large a downside as up.
I’m not saying that building new businesses is wrong.
But be sure you are actually investing as opposed to rank speculation. Plenty of world series were won on singles and doubles alone.
“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.
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