4DX Week 5 Update

week-5

5 weeks into 4DX and the wear is showing. Leea (my wife) and I have committed to paying off the farm by the end of the year. This is a monumental task in of itself. At the same time, Leea is working on starting a small business, finishing her masters online, and working 40 hours a week during tax season. This is a huge strain on her and sometimes makes me wonder if we have bitten off more than we can accomplish this year.She reminds me though that to dream big means to work your @$$ off to accomplish those big dreams. We support each other through the tough times in this process and when this experiment pays off, then we will be closer because of it.

I missed my update last week. In short, I did not work enough hours on developing business ideas by about half an hour the previous week. Do i regret it, no. The time was well spent with Leea and ensuring we remain strong as a couple. It also gave me some time to think about what I have been working on and will it help us accomplish our end goal. Leea has been swamped with her work and will eventually need some good help if her business takes off like she hopes. I figure that I could spend some time learning bookkeeping to help her out on some basics. At this point that will not move the tractor up our debt hill, but it will help in the future. Based on that evaluation, I decided to take her book keeper education course to give me some basics and help finish our books for the year. I received some criticisms, but it was on minor items. As she keeps teaching me more of the bookkeeping, I hope to help out more in the future. My goal this past week was to finish the basic course, which I did. Now I am in need of more practice.

At the same time, I keep thinking about if there is another way to make money on the side. After much thought and research, I think I will try Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA). Some people probably think this is crazy, but let me finish. The ideal goal is to have a steady stream of income with a minimal work. The FBA business model is nice since it is portable. If I can make it work here in Virginia, then I can also make it work from the farm. Then I can do FBA and help Leea on her business as she requires. Long term it all makes sense, but right now it is a lot of learning. Leea at first was skeptical, but I think I have her convinced to give this a try. My goal for this week is to have ship a box of inventory for FBA. This will be an interesting experiment.

Leea had an amazing week last week. Her work on her website and certifications led her to 2 new leads and contacts. What was even better was she converted one lead into a customer! With what she is learning about advertising, I have a feeling that she will be highly sought after once she is no longer going through school. She adds tremendous value to any organization she supports. Her commitment for the week is to finish up setting up the new client.

Overall this past week was a good one. The farm loan is a little bit smaller after the monthly payment, but it still has a long way to go. Leea acquired a new client. I was able to learn the basics of a new skill and find a potential business to start building. I think we are starting to find what we need and will accomplish a lot in the coming weeks.

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4DX. The week 3 trials

As the weeks progress, the work becomes harder. Leea and I have not seen the lagging indicator move yet. It is frustrating but not unexpected. The WIG we set is almost crazy for us to set. We are trying to nearly double our combined after tax income in one year to pay off the farm. That is not going to be an easy feat.

 I haven’t posted the score card yet, but I will update this post once I am near a computer. 

Leea had a rough week. The whirlwind of tax season, school, and mastermind group overwhelmed her. She is extremely frustrated that the lagging indicator has not moved yet and she is even more upset about missing the leading measures. It is understandable when surprise school assignments not on the syllabus show up. We had a long heart to heart to remind ourselves why we are doing this. I also reminded her that we have paid off $20K in debt in the last 6 months. Her commitment this week was to work on eliminating some of the current stress points that are clouding her vision. I’m proud and lucky to be married to such an amazing woman.

My work towards my leading indicators passed one goal but missed on anothrr. I worked 12 hours on research for a side gig opportunity to only realize the market I hoped for did not exist. As disappointing as this set back was, Leea picked me up and reminded me that Rome was not built in a day. 

My website had a whopping one view last week,  which is not unexpected now. After doing further research on my topic I picked, I realized that I am not going to drive the traffic volumes I hoped. Back to the drawing board. 

Even though this WIG seems nearly impossible,  I have enjoyed the learning experience it is providing. I have been raised to think one way (go to school, get good grades, get a good job, retire when you are 60+) that this exercise is stretching my creative and troubleshooting side more than ever.

4DX Week Two

week-2

Leea and I had a busy week working on our respective projects. We both exceeded our hours worked towards building outside income. Leea began to make contacts and has told me she will ramp up a lot more over the next few weeks.

I was able to launch my first website over the weekend. When I went to check views today, I was at 1! I will take that as a first step. Now to keep building it up to drive more traffic.

The hardest part of trying to drive towards our goal is the time spent working and not with Leea. We both love being with each other and having fun. Whether we are going for a hike or out to eat, we just love being in each others company. Since we have been working so many normal work hours during the week, I was able to leave work around 2:30. We drove 10 minutes to our favorite park in the area to hike a trail we have not been on before. I will have to upload some pictures later of it. This hike was very much needed by both of us. It was refreshing to get back to nature and reconnect with each other.

Unfortunately hikes are only a short distraction from real life. Saturday morning came and we got back to work. I worked on my website and published it mid day. This is my first time creating a website and was more of a learning experience to try something new. I spent the rest of the day researching different topics to better understand e-commerce and the different models. It is crazy how the web has changed how the world does business in so few years. You can have product made in one country and have it delivered in a few weeks vs the months it would have taken a little over a decade ago.

You are probably wondering why I am talking about ecommerce. When Leea and I look at our finances, saving would only move the tractor very little on the debt to repay. If things were to stay as they are, we could pay off the loan in 5 less years by saving heavily. As good as that sounds, we want to be able to move to the farm faster. The only way to do that is increase income to help pay off the debt. The double benefit of creating the income steams is it will help us on the farm too. If I am able to create a sustainable income stream, then I will be able to move and work off the farm. That is where I would like to get.

To continue to move towards our goal, this is what we committed too this week to help move our score card:

Leea will make more business contacts.

Paul will look at his website for how it can drive more traffic and finish his research on ecommerce options.

I think that is a solid plan. I will update again next week to see how this week progressed.

Got WIG?

WILDLY IMPORTANT GOAL!!!!!!

The first time my wife and I talked about what our goals were, they were big and general. Live on a farm that does not require us to work off the farm in 5 years. This is a nice goal, but how do you get there? What do you mean by not work off the farm? As we have tossed this back and forth, we came to the conclusion that we needed to focus more and take some smaller steps.

We decided that our household WIG for the year would be to pay off the farm loan by the end of the year. I fought hard that we should probably reflect on this goal some and maybe say pay off half of the loan this year. Her response was we need to go hard to make sure we are committed to this idea. As hard as I fought, the more she held to her guns. In the end, we agreed that this WIG would stretch us personally more than anything else we have tried.

As we looked over what it would take to achieve this goal, we analyzed our finances. As an engineer and accountant, we tend to be fairly frugal and not overspending. We poured over the books and saw that there is not a lot of meat left on the budget bones to cut, plus this would only be a small amount to help us get to our final goal and would not make a big dent in a year.

We both realized our income would need to increase. My wife decided that she wanted to triple her after tax income from her small business to be able to help towards her goal. She works diligently on her business while completing her masters and volunteering in the community. She is working on trying to not be just the doer in her business but grow it so she can be the leader of a small team. She decided her WIG will be to grow her business by 3x by year end.

My situation was different. Since I work in a salary position, the more hours I work, the less per hour I get paid. This makes it hard to figure out what to do. We discussed multiple options that I might be able to do, but in the end we decided I needed to develop a side income that will help meet our goal. I decided to try some internet based ideas out and see if I am any good at them. This is requiring a lot of changing to my thinking since I am used to thinking in a manufacturing realm and not as much in a commercial realm. My short term WIG is to make $100/mo off a website by the end of March. After that I will create a new WIG to push me to a new level and possible new endeavor.

As we chase this WIG, we will continue to update our results to let you know how we are progressing.

4DX Weak One

My wife and I started 4DX to help accomplish our dream of moving to the farm full time. To do this we need to change a lot about our current financial situation and income streams. Part of 4DX is creating a quick an easy score board to read to let us know how we are doing. Don’t laugh, but I am going to publish our first draft.

week-1

The first question that comes to mind when looking at this is “How is this easy to read?” or “Is your favorite color blue?”. To the second question, no, it is not blue. We chose this color scheme because of red/green color impairment in the family.  If you have different shades of red and green next to each other in that situation, then it is extremely difficult to tell them apart. As for the shading, the farther you are from your target, the more blue it is. As you approach your target, then the color will change to white. This lets you know which areas you need to focus on quickly.

As you can see by the Farm Loan Balance, we have a long way to go to pay it off. You might be wondering how we are going to pay off all of this loan. The honest truth is we do not know yet. Part of 4DX is setting a WIG (Wildly Important Goal) you feel is achievable but don’t have all the answers yet. We feel we can make big strides towards our end goal of being income self sufficient if we focus on trying to increase our income.

What do I mean by income self sufficient? We do not want to have to work a traditional 9-5 job for the rest of our lives. I currently work between 45-50 hours a week on a salary. Some people will think that is great, but when we start having kids, I would like to be home more to see them grow up. I would also prefer to be able to spend more time working on things I am passionate about and not just a job. My job pays well which makes things easier on the financial front, but the stress from it has taken its toll on my superiors. When I see that, it is not what I want to do.

Getting back to the score card. We decided that in addition to the whirlwind we currently live in, we would try to increase our income to reduce our debt levels. My wife currently has her own small business, but she would like to grow it so we are not as dependent on my salary. At the same time, I am exploring side gigs that may generate additional revenue if I do my research correctly. Her metrics are directly associated with growing her business. Mine are for starting out. I know that in time I will spend more time to grow my business /income ideas, but right now I am setting them up while not trying to go crazy on them.

In review, my wife got her work hours in, but did not get the leads or contacts for growing the business this week. Obstacles were a short week from Monday being a holiday and we had to get the house running again since we were gone for Christmas. I was able to spend my 10 hours developing one of my ideas, but it is not published yet, so no web views yet.

What all do you think? Are we crazy to try this? Should we track other metrics as well? $/hr worked maybe?