In Pursuit of Wealth and Freedom

I quit my cushy software engineering job. I have allocated enough cash for nine months of personal runway. The first six I will focus on achieving ramen profitability. For my non tech friends, that means making enough money such that I can survive off of ramen. If I start working on an idea that I think is venture scale (large enough potential to warrant raising venture capital) then I’ll consider trying to raise a seed round to extend my runway. If I’m unable to either raise money or achieve ramen profitability in the first six months I’ll have three more months to find another software engineering job. To most people quitting a job without having another lined up might sound stupid and risky. The vast majority of people I’ve discussed this with seem to think it’s a bad idea as well. However, I’ve put a lot of thought into this decision and I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve described my reasoning below. Regret minimization framework Bezos’s famous regret minimization framework. The things you regret are the things you want to do but don’t end up doing. You rarely regret trying things then failing. I’ve wanted to start a startup for many years now. So in order to minimize my regrets in life I have to start a startup. The regret minimization framework helped me make one of the best decisions of my life when I graduated college with a mechanical engineering degree but decided to go into software engineering. This decision feels very similar. I’m rejecting the traditional career path in favor of something that I believe in strongly. Asymmetric upside If things work out for me I can achieve financial freedom 30 years earlier than I might otherwise. If it doesn’t work out, then I lose out on six months of a software engineering salary. Don’t get my wrong that’s fairly significant, but it’s not life changing money. Basically, the upside is massive, and the downside is I have less money in my savings and another software engineering job nine months from now. Learning Typically your rate of learning will diminish over time in any role at a company. I feel as if my rate of learning working as a software engineer had basically flatlined. I want to learn more about startups. There’s no better way to do that than to start one. I guarantee I’ll learn more in six months of starting a business than I would in two years of an MBA program. It’ll probably be a lot cheaper and have a lot more upside too. Also, I find that I’m very unhappy when I’m not learning things. Order of magnitude improvement Sam Altman once said that you should shoot for order of magnitude improvements when you move to work on something new. Founding a business has the potential to be an order of magnitude improvement from my role as a software engineer. Order of magnitude improvements are surprisingly achievable, and I think once you realize that you start aiming for them more often. Bet on myself This is kinda a cliche at this point but there’s probably something to it. Starting a business is probably among the biggest bets you can make on yourself. Building Wealth First I need to define wealth. Wealth isn’t money. Wealth is things you need or want. Money is often conflated for wealth because it’s an efficient way of transferring wealth. In order to build wealth you need to own things. If I start a company I own 100% of it. Initially that’s 100% of zero, but since I can build and sell software, eventually I might own a large percent of something valuable. In order to build wealth, avoid selling your time and try to own things. You only have n productive hours in a day, so your upside is whatever you can charge per hour * n dollars per day. It’s very limited. On the other hand if you own and build something, through leverage your upside is essentially unlimited. So there it is, basically a brain dump of some of the ways I thought about this decision. Wish me luck! Thanks for reading, Zach