Top 10 steps to starting an online business in 2022 – or any other year

July 9, 2021

Hey all!

I recently celebrated my 6th year without a job.

The sixth anniversary of that fateful day I finally fired my boss so I could work full-time on my online business.

It’s been quite an adventure.

And usually, at this time of the year, I write a sort of recap of things that I’ve learned over the past 12 months.

This year I’m going to do it a little differently: see, all this coronavirus nonsense has convinced me that having a location-independent online business is more important than ever.

Not because everyone wants to be a digital nomad, but because…

The government can AND WILL send you to the unemployment line in a second, if it seems politically expedient.

Having a boss who can make you “redundant” at any time is bad enough, but now that the government can also get in the game and declare you “non-essential”, well…

It’s time to get that side-hustle on.

start an online business like daniel

In fact, this last year the number of people who want to “pick my brain” has increased dramatically. Many of them were people, it must be said, who thought I was just some lame broke blogger up until the moment the shit hit the fan.

But it’s true that having a 100% online business saved me a whole lotta heartache this past year. And it can save you some too, in the future.

So without further ado, here are 10 pieces of advice for starting an online business and making location-independent income in 2021 and beyond.

1. Get up earlier, work harder, drink more coffee.

I once met a friend of a friend who was “gonna” start a business.

She was really working on it, she claimed, but it was tough getting things off the ground.

She sketched out her daily routine for me: “So I get up at about 10 o’clock, then I go to have a big brunch, then I go to yoga, then I hit the sauna, light lunch, and by about 3 PM I’m ready to get to work.”

I bit my tongue but secretly I’d just figured out why she was having problems: she was putting first things last.

“Have you considered waking up earlier?” I asked.

“No way!” she answered. “I can’t bear being up before 10!”

I wandered off to have a more profitable conversation elsewhere. Last I heard, ol’ friend-of-a-friend had just married some rich, successful businessman – and was currently sunning her asscheeks on his yacht in the Greek islands.

A yacht I’d assume he was able to pay for by – get this – waking up early and working on his most important tasks.

Look: there are definitely exceptions. Some people do their best work later in the day. (And some people inherit their money.) But most people should just get started on their first things first.

It’s in Stephen Covey. It’s on Zen Habits. All the cool kids are doing it.

It works!

Why? Because days have a tendency to get complicated the longer you wait. Things come up. People call. Plans are made. Or maybe you’re just too tired, later in the day, to get to work on your business. Hell, maybe you even have a day job. Doing that all day, only to get to work on your side hustle later, is a recipe for procrastination.

Don’t tell yourself you’ll get started tomorrow… Get started today!

In other words: you might just have to bite the bullet and get up early to work on your hustle.

Either way – early bird or night owl – you’d better be prepared to put in some time and energy (maybe a lot of time and energy) before you see a big result for your online business. Behind every overnight success there’s a ton of hard work. People often forget that simply because they couldn’t see it.

So get up early, make yourself some coffee, and start writing (or coding, or designing or whatever).

Put first things first.

You’re not ready to quit your day job yet!

2. Find your niche and create a product for them

Actually, do you even have a product?

What about an audience? A target market? Someone to sell to?

You’re going to have to figure out what you’re selling, and to whom, before you really get started. There are different ways of doing this. You can do some research about what’s hot, or you can “scratch your own itch” .

What’s hot is probably not the best way to start, in my opinion, because by the time someone’s declared it “hot” you’ve probably got a lot of competition.

I’m more of a “scratch your own itch” type. My first product, actually, was an ebook that did exactly that: I was a dead-broke English teacher and wanted something to help my students with phrasal verbs. So I wrote something, published it on Amazon as a cheap Kindle book and never looked back.

I had a niche already: my students in Madrid and the people in other places reading my (then tiny) language blog. They mostly didn’t have huge amounts of money to spend, so I made the prices pretty low. Supply met demand, and I started earning money with an online business – although I never would have called selling a few Kindle books a “business” at the time.

A lot of people create customer avatars to do this: “My ideal client is Mary, she’s middle management at a logistics company, she’s got two kids, loves doing pilates and really really wants to buy a pair of my bespoke salad tongs”.

And that kind of stuff is definitely valuable. For me, though, it wasn’t necessary – at least at the beginning. I had my niche right in front of my for several hours a day: English learners!

I knew all about them, because we talked a lot in classes. I knew their struggles and their pain, and I was able to address it with my products. Ten years later, I’m doing the same. So if you know some members of your ideal target market, great! If not, get to know some any way you can.

It’s the only way you’re going to understand them well enough to sell something to them.

3. Kill your excuses: Start today, right now, with what you have.

A lot of people tell me things like “I’m going to start a podcast. First I need to get a professional mic, then I’ll learn everything there is to know about sound editing, then I need to soundproof my whole house… actually, I might build a studio in a log cabin on a remote mountainside, that way it’ll be totally silent. Then I’ll write a perfect script, take some diction courses, do voice training with the local opera… And after all that, I’ll finally sit down and press record.”

In other words… “I have this idea but lemme just give you my long list of excuses for never getting started.”

It’s bullshit.

But it’s comforting bullshit.

Listen: it’s easy to dick around with small things that give you a feeling of progress, and much harder to actually ship something to customers. But guess what: if you don’t have a finished product, you’ll never have a business.

So kill your excuses.

Because there are people out there who started out from much more difficult places than you or I, and have become incredibly successful in their chosen field, simply because they had a lot of hustle and didn’t make excuses.

Of course, the most common excuse is time. Well, I’m sorry to point this out to you, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s what you do with them that counts.

And for most people, “I don’t have time” is the lamest excuse ever. You sure had time to watch Game of Thrones or play Mario Kart all weekend.

Another common excuse is equipment and know-how. “I can’t start a YouTube channel because I don’t have a green screen and a $6000 camera.” “I can’t start a website because I don’t know how to code in html.”

Fact is, these days everything is soooo easy. You can start a website with no technical skills, you only need a few bucks to register a domain, and your phone has a video camera that’s good enough for YouTube.

So go out there and be successful, goddammit!

I was laughing my ass off on the second day of “work from home” last year, when everybody started posting pictures of their awesome curated workspaces.

(Reclaimed wood tabletop? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!)

See, for years, back in Madrid, this was my home office…

starting an online business at my home office in Madrid

It consisted of a sofa, my computer, and two shitty IKEA tables with legs that were always threatening to pop off. I wrote several bestselling books on that sofa.

To make videos, I’d prop my computer up on Julia Child’s two volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which I found was more useful as a tripod than as a cookbook.

Wash and dry the bacon after cooking it? Please!

In any case, this is a huge improvement my previous setup, back in my shared flat, which was “me sitting in bed with the computer on my lap while my roommates watched TV in the next room”.

These days, in Barcelona, my setup is a newer IKEA table. I’ve got a better mic for the podcast and a better webcam for my YouTube videos, but it’s taken me years to get around to buying those…

Years in which I made shipped a ton of stuff, without waiting for all the stars and planets to align.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ‘Cause those planets might never align. And while you’re waiting, someone else is creating.

Which brings us to the next point…

4. Learn to love marketing

A lot of people start a business based on their passion, and there’s (usually) nothing wrong with that.

But they don’t have much immediate success, and they don’t know what to do about it. The correct answer is to get out there and sell the hell out of their product or service – and to learn to worship marketing.

Unfortunately, that’s not what people want to hear. They expect the world to beat a path to their door – and as far as I can tell, that almost never happens.

If you’re ready to start a business, now is a good time to start learning about marketing too. Because marketing is a good thing!

Honestly, if you have a good product that will do great things to improve the lives of your target audience, you’re being selfish and greedy if you don’t do everything you can to sell it to people. Do you want to keep it out of people’s hands, so their lives stay exactly the same? NO!

Being shy about sales and marketing kills a ton of businesses. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to get started. A lot of people just get a free Instagram profile and go nuts with it: in 2021, marketing can be on social media, by email, or on legacy media – but it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Also, if your business is online – and probably even if it’s not – you should probably learn some SEO too. Luckily, I have an article about that, called How to Get Traffic to your Website.

Anyway, I understand not wanting to be “too salesy”, and the desire to avoid rejection. But if you’re going to have a business, you’re going to be rejected from time to time. Most people will never buy your thing. And that’s fine.

Might as well get comfortable with the rejection, and focus on the people who do want what you’re selling.

But speaking of failure, rejection and heartbreak, there’s this one…

5. Be prepared to fail miserably, or succeed pathetically.

Failure is part of any game.

I guess we’ve all heard the same anecdotes by now, that Michael Jordan made more game-winning shots than any other player in the NBA, and he also missed more game-winning shots than any other player in the NBA.

Well, guess what. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to fail – perhaps miserably – quite a few times.

Actually, if you’re trying to do anything important, you’re going to fail.

Churchill said it best: “Success consists of going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

(Okay, in reality, there’s no evidence Churchill said that. Might as well attribute it to your humble author, Mr Chorizo.)

Anyway, you’re going to fail at a few things. And you’re going to have haters. Now get up, dust it off, and try again.

Let me tell you about a couple of my failures.

My first book was a fairly pathetic success. I sold about a dozen copies in the first three months.

I was very lucky to have a friend who put this into perspective for me. I told him, kind of bummed out, that I had only sold a couple of copies each month since the launch. He looked at me and said, “Well then, you need to work harder. I don’t know anybody else who’s written a book and sold a dozen copies of it. Do you?”

Actually, I didn’t.

So I wrote a second book. This time I was sure it was the best book EVER.

It sold two copies. And I’m pretty sure both of them were to my friends.

But by now, I knew what I had to do. I kept working.

I wrote a third book. I thought it was a reasonably good idea. And by now, the sales of my first book were reaching two dozen. I was feeling good.

But in any case, my expectations were minimal. I wanted to sell several dozen copies. Really, more than 50 and less than 100 would have been good enough for me. It would have been a clear improvement on the first and second books, anyway.

I sold thousands.

Suddenly, I was feeling wildly successful.

Successful on a level that I had never imagined when I was 19 or 20, a college dropout working the checkout at Safeway and fantasizing about getting the fuck out of Phoenix before I ended up selling plasma to make ends meet.

So after the massive (for me) success of my third book, I just accepted what was by now a pretty obvious fact: I have absolutely no idea if people want something or not. The only way to find out is to put it out there and see if they buy it.

If they buy, I’ll improve it and sell more. If they don’t, cut I’ll cut my losses and move on.

Failure and success are more like two sides of the same coin. Succeeding pathetically, for me, means to celebrate any success, no matter how small. And the only way to truly fail is to give up. So dust it off. Get back to work.

Incidentally, notice that I didn’t spend a lot of time visualizing or “thinking positive” about how awesome I am. I might or might not be awesome… but my attitude is just to keep at it.

Throw enough spaghetti at the ceiling and eventually, some of it will stick.

You can believe in the Law of Attraction if you want… but eventually you’re going to have to stop visualizing and get to work on achieving your goals.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “Good things come to those who wait, but only those things left by those who hustle.”

Old Abe. The original hustler.

(Actually, there’s no evidence Lincoln said that either, or that he ever used the word “hustle” in his life. God damn you, Quote Investigator and similar websites! It looks like most of my favorite quotes are by nobody in particular.)

And speaking of being quotable…

6. Save the corporate speak for later. For now, be real.

A lot of people start a business and immediately go into corporate speak.

“We are an organization fully committed to leveraging synergies in the globalized mid-market corporate donglesphere etc…”

But every time you bore people, you’re missing an opportunity to be real. To genuinely interact with your customers you need to be yourself, and speak your customers’ language.

Incidentally, the reason why huge companies use all that corporate speak is because they have marketing departments, legal teams, HR managers, etc going over every paragraph before it sees the light of day.

They can’t be real, because the lawyers won’t let them.

You, on the other hand, can – and should – be an authentic human being.

Be friendly with your customers. Answer their comments personally. Email them back. I get a lot of emails from people who have read my books, and I usually respond with a few questions to see what readers want, to find out what kind of people they are, where they live, how they found me.

Not only do they appreciate it when the author actually writes them back, but I get valuable “market research” done in a very informal way.

Using this method, for example, I found out that some nuns down in Andalucía were using my best-selling Inglés Básico books to study. I asked for pics to prove it.

And in the process, I learned some valuable information about who’s buying my stuff, and why.

Moving on…

7. Kaizen, kaizen, kaizen

I first heard of Kaizen from Tony Robbins, way back in the day.

I was living in the second-worst neighborhood in Madrid, it was summer, it was hot, and I was so broke I couldn’t even afford to use the aircon. But I’d heard of “self help” somehow, and if there’s one thing I needed at that point in my life, it was help. At that time, I didn’t even have a work visa in Spain: my whole life was illegal.

In any case, I’d downloaded some Tony Robbins audio from eMule, which had probably been ripped off of a cassette tape in the early 90s. I forget the name of the course, but essentially it was about Kaizen.

He called it by a much more Western-sounding name, of course: Constant Never-Ending Improvement.

The idea is this: wherever you are in your life now, you can improve things a little. And then you can improve a little more. And a little more. Do this every day, forever, and you’ll be surprised at where you can end up.

It seems obvious now, but somehow nobody had ever told me this before.

Actually, I’d managed to get through (roughly) a dozen years of formal education without anybody ever telling me that “improving my life” was even possible. They just told me to keep my head down and study for the test, so that one day I’d be offered the opportunity to keep my head down and do some miserable job for a few decades, before retiring, and dying, having never lived.

Inspiring, right?

Maybe not so much.

So hearing about Kaizen really changed everything for me.

I took it seriously, and started thinking: “How can I improve 3 tiny things today?”

Three tiny things may not sound like much, but it’s the day-by-day and week-by-week incremental improvements that eventually add up to your biggest successes.

Because over time these tiny improvements compound. James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, talks about how the British cycling team came to dominate the Olympics and the Tour de France after many decades of mediocrity: essentially, their coach used a “marginal gains” approach. Can we get a pillow that will improve the cyclists’ sleep by one percent? A massage gel that will make recovery a tiny bit faster?

Over time the small things compound, and become the big things.

Eventually I learned to use Kaizen on my bigger projects as well: whenever I’d have a big goal, I’d try to figure out what the first action step was. Bonus points if it takes 10 minutes or less. And then I’d start working on it. Because no matter how big the project, the only way to work on it is 10 minutes at a time.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So just get started.

Whatever your goals are may look insurmountable right now, but if you break them down into smaller bites (eventually into something you can actually do, right now, today) they’re fully achievable.

On the other hand, if you’re anything like me, you have some trouble setting big goals, or creating some huge vision for your future. The good news is you don’t have to.

Making a 10-year plan for your life is pretty hard. For many people, it might even be impossible. But you can surely come up with a few small things to improve today. And like I said, if you improve tiny things over and over again for years, you’ll be pretty surprised to look around one day and realize that your life is 1000% better than it once was.

This has happened to me many times, actually. I sit down to set some ambitious goals, but all I come up with is a version of “my life now, but about 20% better”.

Big goals are scary!

Well, I hereby give you permission to abandon the process of “setting big goals” – because in my experience you’ll do just as well with a general idea of what direction you want to go in, and some Constant Never-Ending Improvement.


8. Learn to manage your time

Time management is easy – and hard.

The good news is you can do a lot to improve your time management by following a few simple rules.

One is the Big Rocks method I talked about earlier. In other words, putting first things first.

It’s essentially what I do every week, although some prefer to do it daily: on Monday morning I sit down and come up with a one-page list of all the big things I can do that week to move the ball forward.

I figure I’ll probably find some time for the small things anyway… but as long as I get the big things out of the way, the rest will take care of itself.

Then I get to work on those things, first thing in the morning – usually before Morena’s out of bed.

The second bit of time management advice is not to waste too much time.

We all procrastinate, of course. According to the (highly recommendable) book The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey, we tend to procrastinate especially on tasks that are boring, ambiguous, frustrating, or have no payoff. For me, that’s a perfect description of how I feel about doing my bookkeeping and tax reporting every month: it’s boring, it’s frustrating, I always feel like I’m doing it wrong…

And in the best case scenario, I end up having to send several thousand bucks off to the government. It’s the exact opposite of a “payoff”.

Anyway, I’ve thought about procrastination a lot. I’ve even written an article about it on my other website, in Spanish: 5 pasos para dejar de procrastinar.

But the main bit of wisdom I’ve discovered in my several years struggling with my own laziness is this: just get started. What I do is set a timer on my watch for 10 minutes, or 20 if I’m feeling ambitious. Then I turn off my phone (to limit distractions) and just get to work.

What I usually find is that whatever I’ve been procrastinating on is much worse in my imagination than it is when I’m actually doing it. And once I get in the flow, I usually go beyond the 10 or 20 minute timer.

The hardest part is just getting started… so get started!

Like I said, though, we all procrastinate. Apparently, even psychologists who study procrastination spend time procrastinating instead of studying.

So don’t beat yourself up over it. Waste an hour here and there, no problem.

Just don’t waste whole days, weeks or months.

9. Read widely, find mentors, and meet others on the path.

Opinions, as the saying goes, are the cheapest commodity on earth.

Absolutely everyone has dozens of them, and they give them away for free.

So when it comes to being more successful in any area of life, I have one rule of thumb for whose advice to follow: I follow advice from people more successful than me in that area.

If I were trying to get in shape, for example, I wouldn’t ask someone who can barely get up two flights of stairs. And for financial advice, I wouldn’t ask some broke schlub at the gym.

Of course, your average broke schlub is sometimes more than happy to offer me advice: “Your YouTube videos suck! That font is awful! You know what you should write a a book about? You’re a terrible blogger! I think it would be a great idea if…”

I try to be diplomatic about it, but basically my response is: “Okay, go start a blog and make it better than this one. That’ll show me.”

Well, if you really think that book is such a great idea, why don’t you write it? Then we’ll know how good an idea it is.

All this to say that you can comfortably ignore the opinions of those who aren’t in the arena (unless, of course, they’re valued customers giving you feedback). Most people who criticize aren’t actually planning to spend money. So don’t worry too much about them.

On the other hand, you should definitely read a lot, find some mentors, and hang out with other people who are on your path.

Thankfully, the internet is full of brilliant online businesspeople who just give their secrets away for free. There are plenty of podcasts and YouTubers out there who will tell you a lot of what you need to know to start your online business.

After that, go out and read some books. I love reading biographies of successful and amazing people. And after a while I started to notice certain patterns.

For example, each and every successful person you can think of had moments in their career when the intelligent, “normal” thing to do would be to quit.

The reason why they ended up being outliers is that they didn’t give up when it would have been the normal intelligent thing to do. They buckled down and kept doing whatever they were doing, and did it better. And better.

For biographies, read whatever you want. I’m into rock stars and dictators, for whatever reason.

And if you’re into marketing, as you should be, here are a few book recommendations:

Those are affiliate links, by the way, so if you buy something after clicking, I might get about 11 cents. Passive income, y’all!

I’ve also mentioned some books previously in this article. The Productivity Project, the famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Atomic Habits. You should check out those, too. And I’ve got a list of my favorite books about writing if you’re into that.

Anyway, the point is to develop a reading habit. Charlie Munger, best known as Warren Buffett’s business partner, has a quote I like about that: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.”

(Yes, Munger did say that, at least if Goodreads can be trusted.)

After that, you should try to get some mentors and make friends with people who share your interests. Get in touch with others in your local area who are also starting online businesses, or hit them up on Twitter or Instagram. Some people will ignore you, others will become friends.

That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m not great at this one myself, but you know, we’re just monkeys. And we become the average of the other 5 monkeys we spend the most time with. So choose your monkeys well.

And finally…

10. Don’t quit your day job just yet

I know you’re probably feeling antsy to get started on your successful online business…

But please, please, please don’t be one of THOSE people. You know the ones I’m talking about.

The people who watch a few YouTube videos promising them a quick 6 figures dropshipping yoga pants for dogs, then immediately quit their jobs, sell all their possessions, move to Bali, and start telling everyone how awesome it is being a digital nomad. (Breaking: it’s probably not.)

In the meantime, they’re not really earning money. They’re just drinking detox smoothies in paradise while they figure something out – and more often than not, what they “figure out” seems to be some version of teaching others how to sell all their possessions and move to Bali with nothing more than some vague reassurances.

It’s a toxic cycle of bullshit that probably ends with many people in ruin, asking Mom for the money for a plane ticket back to Oklahoma so they can beg to get their day job back.

But isn’t starting a business risky? Shouldn’t you just throw caution to the wind, go all in on your idea, max out your credit cards and spend 28 hours a day hustling like Gary Vee?

No. No you should not.

And actually, owning a business sounds risky to many people, but let me tell you: I’m pretty risk-adverse.

“Risky” is having a boss who can downsize you or outsource your job on Upwork at any time. If you have one paycheck, you essentially only have one customer – and that customer could up and leave tomorrow.

If you have a job plus a side-hustle, you’ve got two streams of income. If one of them dries up, it’ll suck, but you’ll be in a much better position to keep moving forward.

And once you’ve got the side hustle, you can work on growing your “empire” to include multiple streams of income – or even a second unrelated side hustle. Then you’re really bulletproof.

Personally, I haven’t figured out the second side hustle thing yet. But at this point, I’ve got income from the main business on several different platforms every month, which really helps me feel good about what I’m doing: I’ve got Udemy royalties on the 7th of every month, royalties from Amazon coming in on the 30th, Stripe paying me for the online courses people have bought every Monday morning, and other smaller payouts coming in from time to time too.

Of course, it’s taken me years to get to this point… but it’s been totally worth it.

In any case, I didn’t – repeat, I DID NOT – quit my day job as soon as I had my “big idea”. Far from it!

Actually, I started my language blog in May 2010, and it was June 2015 – more than 5 years later – when I finally quit my job for good. In the meantime I’d quit a couple of smaller jobs to free up some time, but I was still working about 30 hours a week up till the very end.

How did I know when to quit?

I took the advice of Craig Ballantyne, on Early to Rise, who was doing Q&A on Facebook in those days. He told me to wait until I was regularly earning twice as much with my side hustle as I was with my day job before I quit.

And it took a while to get to that point, but I’m glad I did it. Because shit happens, and “regularly” is relative. If you’ve got any sort of business or freelance gig, you’ll soon discover that not all months are equal. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. Sometimes your whole niche is on summer vacation and your income dries up for 8 to 12 weeks. And sometimes you get big unexpected bills that change your whole financial situation and need to be paid now.

In other words: you have a bit of uncertainty, so it’s good to build some margin for error into your budget. Ideally, a lot of it. Because you never know… there could even be a global pandemic that gives the government an excuse to shut you down for a year and a half.

Far fetched, I know, but theoretically possible.

Of course, some people quit their jobs early on and still make it work. But I suspect there’s more than a little bit of survivorship bias in the stories of wild success after “going all in” that we actually end up hearing – for every one who gets a profile in Forbes after starting some big business from scratch, there are probably 1000 people who went all in, failed, and ended up moving back in with Mom… meanwhile, nobody’s telling their stories.

All this to say: starting a business doesn’t mean you have to take huge risks. Keep your expenses low, and have a cash cushion in the bank and you should be fine.

In conclusion…

You might have noticed that “select a perfect company name” isn’t on this list.

Neither is “get a bunch of business cards printed up” or “spend 9 months designing a logo”.

Because the fact is, the most important thing is having a product, a target audience, and a cost-effective way to reach that audience.

A logo and a great name might help some, but they won’t get you anywhere if your product sucks, or if nobody wants it (or knows about it).

Same with finding the perfect design for your website: people will tolerate a shitty design if the product is great. Nobody’s gonna come back to look at your great design if your product sucks.

And don’t even bother with the business cards. Most people are just going to toss them out anyway.

Anyway, I’ve got a lot more to say about this sort of thing.

Some of it’s already here on the blog, some of it is in my drafts folder and will be out “soon”. Anyway, you might also like my Ultimate Guide to the “Financial Independence, Retire Early” movement. Or my article about levels of financial independence.

And if you’d like to hire me to consult on your online business, feel free to send your absolute best offer to me using the contact form here.

In any case, starting an online business and helping people to free themselves from wage slavery is one of my passions. So I’ll be writing more about it at some point. Sign up for my email updates in the form below so you don’t miss anything.

Kaizenningly yours,

Mr Chorizo AKA Mr Daniel.

P.S. What do you think about this article? If you like it, you should definitely leave a comment. And if you don’t, you’re welcome to – as the Buddha famously suggested – “eat a bag of dicks”. Have fun!

P.P.S. Okay, okay, there’s no evidence that Buddha actually said “eat a bag of dicks”. But it just kinda sounds like the kind of thing he’d say, y’know?

P.P.P.S. If you’ve gotten this far you might like my previous yearly reports about life as an online business owner. Check out one year without a One Year without a Boss, Two Years as a Professional Blogger, Five Years of Gainful Unemployment, and The Truth about Being a Digital Nomad.

P.P.P.P.S. This is, so far, the longest article I’ve ever written. If you want to read the second-longest, it’s called The Realm of Hungry Ghosts. It’s about (among other things) immigrant life, the great recession and online dating. Check it out!

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I’d like to give a shoutout to a book I read recently. Read More

June 4, 2024

Beautiful Valencia! This is Spain’s third-largest city. And I’ve been here several Read More

About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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  1. Sounds like a plan.
    Lucky enough not to need this advice but as you said, reading other successful folks books, etc. All of this is sound.
    Only yourself to blame if you fail and even better, only yourself to credit if you succeed.
    I am retired, I did it early and as I lived in the UK with a good pension, worked for the man and got lucky with pension investment. It did the work for me,😎.
    Self, and multiply employed is, for me, well scary. For my son, the only way to go in this, currently, volatile market.
    Sound advice from you.
    Need to phone him and push,😎😂🤞

    1. Hey Martin, yeah, the economy has changed so much that this kind of thing is more necessary than ever. My parents believed in the “get one job and keep it forever” thing, but I never thought that sounded plausible. Thanks for reading!

  2. Great read. Love your stuff. The “succeed pathetically” line had me legitimately laughing. It’s very true too — celebrating the small wins is part of incremental improvement; sustainable over time and deceptively powerful. I think steps 1–3 alone are enough to really get the ball rolling. Weirdly enough, someone recommended me 7 Habits just before I read this post. One I’d recommend to you if you haven’t already: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Keep it coming!

    1. Hey Ben, Seven Habits is a great book, and it’s also true that if you just do the first three you’ll be just fine… thing is it could take a while to actually implement the first three. I’ve read Frankl a couple of times, it’s really good. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I’ve heard all this advice before, but man, I needed to hear it again today. Thank you. I appreciate the straight talk, no b.s. tone as well.

    1. Thanks Peter! I don’t think I say anything particularly original here, but I guess the best advice is often obvious commonsense stuff that everyone “knows” already. Best of luck with your business 😉

  4. Hello Daniel, always nice to read you. I’ve learnt a lot from you for all that business stuff, you are one of my mentors I can say it, for more than 3 years. Because you are “human”, you just say things the normal way 🙂
    Your post is helpful on various levels: motivational, instructive and fun of course. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”: you are absolutely right, we all grow at our own pace.
    After losing my job in December in Panama (that’s ok and much better this way:), I decided to move finally to Madrid and start my own business despite all the negative feedbacks I receive from others. Never mind, following my path!
    So many things to set up, sometimes I feel lost, where to start, how to, etc.. but I’ll go paso a paso..

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