I read this article from Joseph Walla, “The Benefits of Building a Company in the Bay Area”, I don’t know Joseph, I’m sure he’s super nice and smart, my friend Des Traynor tweeted a link to Joseph’s article. I clicked the link, I read it, I wanted to share my thoughts.
I’ll start by agreeing with Joseph Walla, yes building a
business funded tech startup and attempting to sell-out for millions of dollars might be easier in the bay area. But Joseph’s point is missed on me, while raising money sounds sexy and I love being sexy…moving because your business requires you to do so sounds like slavery.
Here in Panama City that average household income is $25k. That means I’ve hired people to help build a backyard office/tinkering space for $10/hr. I can hire a fully capable developer here for under $50k. I’ve even considered building a FLOATING TINY HOUSE and docking it at the marina for $150 a month as an office space for me.
I can jump on our boat, zoom off to a state park island, and eat dinner on an island watching the sunset in the Gulf of Mexico. I live in a 3500 sq ft home with a pool for less than most people pay in rent in San Francisco.
My family is here, I get to see my parents, brother and sisters often. My in-laws come into town and come for a cheap beach getaway because they can stay with us. I like living in a place people vacaction to.
I don’t know if my business is important enough for me to give all these things up.
Wait, wait Allan, you’re talking about reasons to live in Panama City, not to build a company there.
I love this business, I work hard trying to grow it but my goal is building a good life. Life first, company second. Moving to San Francisco because it’s a great town sounds like fun, moving for the sake a business sounds like slavery.
Maybe changing the world is a younger man’s game and I’m old – 33 years old.
Maybe it’s because I’m married with kids and I’m so busy with doing things with my family I don’t feel motivated enough to spend 60 hours a week trying to “go big.”
If you want to attempt to “make a dent in the universe” you have to become a slave to your business. You have to consume your being with work and thinking about work. I never heard a story where a person works 30-40 hours a week and changes the world. I don’t want to obsess about my work and be a slave to it. I’m no one’s slave.
So you’re thinking “But Allan, you can build software, you could create something millions of people use thus changing the world.” While that sounds great, I don’t believe it. Sadly since we can build software we’re obligated to “go big.” But let’s not forget we can also work only 10 hours a week and still make more money than most people. Example: Working only 10 hours per week, billing my time at $100+ hr I can make more money in those short hours than a full-time teacher, fireman, or police officer. And the only immature people I have to deal with are my kids and my business partner. The latter of whom I will shoot in the back if he says one more stupid thing.
Why is working 10 hours a week not acceptable for software builders? Why it is unacceptable to put my life before my business? I don’t have that answer.
The reality is this, I will be forgotten soon after I’m dead, that’s if anyone even notices me or this company while I’m alive. No one’s software product will live for generations, oh sure tell me about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. You and I will never be them. The best we can hope for is a product that a few thousand people use and are happy enough to pay us money for each money. That’s pretty amazing.
So why do I choose to live in little, redneck Panama City Florida? Because it’s a great place for me to connect with my family, it offers most of the things I value more than my company.
Life in a place that brings your life joy, maybe that’s in the valley, maybe that’s in a small beach town known for its beaches.
If you wanted it to build a product you’d find a way to get time to work on it. If you really wanted to start that new hobby you’d sacrifice something to find the time and money to do it.
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In the past few years I've built go-carts, built a 200+ sq ft workshop, written several eBooks. How do I create a life where I have time to work on side projects?
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