Building a Business on $0 Days
“Those who win don’t mind $0 days. Those who do, quit and go back to working a 9-5.”
A friend of mine showed me this tweet the other day from @comedicbizman. And for she and I, both entrepreneurs who have spent the last few years building our businesses and personal brands, it validated a lot of frustration that we had been feeling. To get ahead, sometimes you have to work for nothing. It is entirely possible to build an empire on $0 days.
Accepting a halt in cashflow can be one of the biggest deterrents for people from starting their own businesses. The fear of working as hard as you can and seeing no return on investment feels like a time suck and a waste. But the truth is, these days are part of what help transform you from just another pawn on someone else’s board, to a sizable player in your own game.
“If you work a 9-5 you start getting paid from Day 1. You never have a $0 day. But you’re working to build someone else’s dream,” my friend reiterated. She is Andrea Valeria, a travel vlogger (It’s A Travel O.D.), author (So You Want to Vlog?), a consultant, educator, and so much more. She left her job nearly three years ago to turn her side hustle into her dream job. And now she spends her time on her own schedule, moving all over the world at her whim to create video content and share her story. It wasn’t a quick transition to success. It took a lot of time. And a lot of days where she was investing more than she was making. But hard work and consistency turned those $0 days into success.
What is a $0 day? Anything that is considered a valuable investment of your time in order to help expand your business or brand. No one is going to pay you to work on your website or watch YouTube tutorials all day. No one is going to pay you take a class (in fact, you’ll probably have to pay for that). No one will pay you to research tax or employment laws, or to go get another degree. No one is paying me for this blog post right now. But these are all worthy investments of your time because it is laying the rock-solid foundation for the future.
Andrea and I are in Mexico right now on a collaboration trip together. We're not getting paid for the time we're down here, but what we are doing is fusing our skill sets to create content, forge new contacts, and build a base for potential future projects that will help get the word out on our businesses and brands. It's been three $0 days, but the connections we've made and the content that we've produced thus far will turn themselves into marketing tools for ourselves in the future.
“If you use $0 days correctly, they will have a high ROI,” Andrea said the other day in an Instagram live session. Speaking personally, I left my desk job nearly four years ago. I went from a cushy $60k writing job with benefits to, well, nothing. My first year freelancing I made $25k. It was quite a life adjustment. Goodbye takeout, hello eggs for every meal. Now, nearly four years later, I’m just about back to where I was when I had the full time job. The difference is, the company I worked so hard to build is entirely my own. The bottom line is mine and mine alone. It didn’t come easily, and it certainly was not fast. But the freedom, flexibility, and ownership is entirely worth it. So much so that now I’ve branched out to create this new company - Vaera Journeys - which aims to inspire other women to take the risk, as well as give them the tools and support to turn risk into reward.
$0 days are NOT about working for free. Knowing your value is important. You aren't accepting jobs for less than your value; you're investing in your future and the future of your business. Network. Go to meetups. Promote yourself. Host an event to get the word out about your business. Meet experts and pick their brains.
Spend days not worrying about making money, and be okay with that. We all need to make money. We all need to pay bills and survive. But for all the $0 days, what you’re getting in return is a future that is entirely your own. It won’t be quick, and it won’t be easy. But when it’s built, the bottom line will be entirely yours.