In order for you to fully understand my perspective while you read this blog, I think it helps to know a little about me. First of all, my name is Eric, I’m 29, and I currently live in Chicago (Illinois). I’m currently a full-time CPA (accountant at a large, international law firm), but I have entrepreneurial dreams and I’m slowly starting to act on them.
Note (12/20/2013): The information below is outdated – I’ll be back to update this soon, hopefully!
I’ll start with high school. I never really had a “normal” high school job, but I wanted to combine my hobby with some kind of income stream, however minimal that was. I was (and am) very interested in computers and technology in general. Back then, I built computers for everyone in my family, and was known to family and friends as someone who could always be called upon to repair computer issues.
This led to a logical fit for a job – I put advertisements all over my town and had my family and friends spread the word that I was repairing computers. I didn’t get a ton of business, but I charged $30/hour, so what little work I did have amounted to enough money for a 16 year old kid.
Flash forward to college. Between being a student and enjoying my free time, I wanted to limit my work to a) work that could be done anytime (i.e. not a typical hourly job) and b) summer jobs. For “work” that could be done anytime, I took that route that many college students take – online poker/gambling. Back in 2004, online gambling was in much more of a gray area than it is today (i.e. there was no legislation making it illegal – even today, the legality is up for debate).
Without going into much detail, I derived most of my income from exploiting online casino bonuses (note: this was perfectly legal within the terms & conditions of the various casinos). Once these dried up, I became a student of poker – I read books, participated in online forums, and managed to refine my skills such that I could beat other players online and generate a modest income. I wasn’t getting rich, but it was enough to pay my bills and leave some money left over for eating out/going out.
During the summer following my freshman year of college, I started my own exterior house painting business. The idea was to mimic the other established college house painting companies in the area with a similar name and logo (yet different enough to not infringe on any copyrights). I cold-called houses on Sundays in the spring, set up appointments to give free estimates (i.e. my sales pitch), hired and trained college students to paint, and basically managed the operations when the summer rolled around . I did the same thing during the summer following my sophomore year, taking on my brother as a business partner.
The up-front work was challenging (finding clients), but the summers were nice – being able to relax while my painting jobs were completed. The money was decent, the experience was great and in retrospect, I could have made more had I worked harder in the spring (isn’t this always the case?). It was my first real taste of entrepreneurship, and believe me, it was sweet. I worked harder than I ever had before with respect to a job, but the rewards were great.
After graduation, my “real” professional career began. During the summers following my junior and senior years, I was a tax intern at the “Big 4″ public accounting firm at which I work today. During my year of graduate studies, I passed the CPA exam and now have my CPA license. So far, working at this firm has been a great experience in the professional realm. I work with a lot of smart people and work for a lot of important clients.
Despite a strong interest in computers and technology, I began my educational career in 2003 at the University of Illinois (in Champaign-Urbana) as a business major with an undecided concentration.
Like most people, my major changed a couple times, but it stayed within the same field. I went from general business, to finance, and finally to accounting. I know what you’re thinking – I couldn’t have picked a more thrilling area of study. I can’t say I ever really enjoyed it, but I was good at it, and I thought it would make for a solid foundation in business, which is something I knew I wanted to get into.
I graduated in 4 years with my B.S. degree in accounting and stayed an additional year to complete my graduate studies, receiving a Master’s degree in accounting with a concentration in taxation.
Like anything else in life, there’s always a desire to pursue something greater. I don’t think I’ll die as a tax consultant, so sometime between now and death (which happens to be only other certain thing in life besides taxes), I’d like to find my true calling.
You can follow my journey here, at My 4 Hour Workweek. If you’d like to stay in touch with some of my tips and ideas that I don’t share on my blog, please sign up to Muse News, my free muse creation newsletter. You can sign up below, and read more about it here.
This page will be updated periodically.