As I settle into my fifties, counting my cash, it’s comforting to find myself in the fortunate position of thinking that, financially, I should be pretty set. I look at my personal pensions, investments and tell myself to relax, it looks sorted. Even if we go through another 2008 and everything drops by 40%, I’ll probably survive.

That’s the upside, sitting warming my hands by this financial fireside. But there’s a downside. I’m stuck! Okay, I can survive a 40% decrease in my pile in any given year, I suppose, but I’ll probably NEVER see a 40% upside over that year in those same funds. Why? Because to get that return, I’d have to risk a sizeable element of my funds to get it. And risk is not something I want to entertain when it comes to the money I’ve amassed to date.

I find this quite sad, in a way. I think I’m thinking this way at the moment because I’m reading “Shoe Dog”, the autobiography of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. His story of building the company up from nothing is exciting, dramatic and full of life. It feels like he never had a dull moment, although his early days of building the business were mostly full of stress, flirting with bankruptcy, dealing with corrupt suppliers, ruthless competitors and even more ruthless banks. He risked everything to build his company, and now – he’s worth over $28 billion dollars – he’s sitting on the rewards.

In my current job, I’m dealing with quite a few start-ups and spend a bit of time with the “entrepreneurs” behind them. Generally speaking, they’re a colourful bunch who are driven to get things done. There’s always a way for them to continue to move forward, get what they want and they’re prepared to put their money where their mouth is. They have to. Most of their money goes into their business and not many of them are living flash lives – as neither did Phil Knight for decades either. I don’t envy them the stress of what they’re trying to achieve, but I do envy their willingness to take the risk.

I don’t know too much about their personal circumstances – have they a pile of cash sitting somewhere they can fall back on? Do they have a pension? Is their partner a secret millionaire? Are they secure in the knowledge of a big inheritance eventually coming their way? It’s possible, but even if this was the case, why not live a cushy life instead of throwing bundles of cash at something that has a damn good chance of ending in misery?

Now, in my fifties, I wonder if I’ll ever know that excitement that I feel must be involved in throwing yourself into trying to build a business? In my career, I chose the corporate life and can’t knock it for the relative security it gave me, and the perks I enjoyed too. And I often asked myself just what kind of business I’d have to build to pay me the kind of benefits I eventually enjoyed in that role? It would have to have been pretty damn successful, I know that.

Over my career I used to think and chat about having the chance to build my own business, but latterly I used to qualify this dream by stating I’d loved to have had the chance to “build my own really successful business!”  There was no guarantee of that, which makes all the difference. I have two personal friends who pretty much ruined their lives trying to realise their own dreams on their own terms. Phil Knight is a winner, I suppose, so it’s their histories we read about and envy. Real life for the rest of us is often very different and it was partly the “real life” that I saw that helped keep me where I was.

I have the option, of course, of scooping some money out of my savings and plunging it into a new venture that, potentially, could pay me millions in ten years’ time. Or at least will give me an interest and side income in my next shot at “retirement”. After all, the brilliant podcast, “How I Built This” showcases loads of people who have done just that, often with a lot less than big bucks to start with. I don’t have to risk a massive amount – the first “How I Built This” interviews the first female billionaire business woman who, I think, started with an idea and five thousand dollars she’d saved. The rest was hard work, more hard work and a bit of luck.

So, that whelk stall down the front of Scarborough could be in for a new owner soon.


3 thoughts on “FIRE Dog

  1. So why not retire (again) and try and hook up with a start-up venture? This is where I am at, retired (laid off and not likely to find something in my field) at 53, 4 years later I am enjoying life, but to get the business buzz and fill in the feelings of “retiring with no purpose” (without the business politics and stress for now) I have getting involved with business ventures, my objective is to earn some money that would be a ‘bonus’ to my retirement savings income. My first with a friend (3 years ago) was a consulting gig, we have been helping some start-ups pro-bono with upside if they succeed (Start-ups don’t have money to pay consultants) it is not looking good that we will ever earn anything. Just started another venture with a ex-colleague, who is the entrepreneur and risk taker (Walked out of a 15-20 year position to start the company). I am not getting paid today for my work but if the venture is successful then I will get rewarded maybe even a jackpot :-

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Gary and you hinted at it in your post as well: you’re now in a position where you can actually try something big with small risk of failure: you have enough money that you don’t need your job. Meaning you don’t have to invest (and risk losing) your egg nest, but you can invest all of your time. Most people don’t have that!

    My side gig’s investment is my time + the cost of a web server (about $800/year, but it used to be much cheaper when I used a smaller server). I believe there are lots of businesses nowadays that can start with very little investment.

    But based on my experience with your blog, I think what you might be missing is something you’re passionate about, enough to turn it into a business? Some people start with their hobby, although I’ve seen others who are more methodical, searching “any” topic they think might make money, making some market studies, etc… A guy I know started a “wedding” company, selling all inclusive wedding trips to California for Japanese people who wanted to get married there. “Weddings” was not his hobby at all, but he had made a case study and felt there was some money to be made.

    Liked by 1 person

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