How I Escaped The Cubicle Life

The transformation from a corporate life to a free life is priceless, and the shift from illusion to happiness is mind-blowing. One moment I was running the hamster-wheel office life, the next I was in full control over my time and finances. I already showed my friends how I did it, and now it’s time to share it with everyone. So here it is, the story of how I escaped the cubicle life.The cubicle dream…Till a couple of years ago, I had jobs in several areas, ranging from telecom corporations to trading giants. My life was entering the “normal” pattern: school-job-marriage-kids and so on.Working round the clock became my only hobby. Exaggerated fatigue was my normal state. I even moved abroad, away from family and friends, for a better paycheck. I ran a systematic “nine to five” schedule for almost a decade (“nine to five” means “eight to eight” in corporate terms… )I thought I was living the cubicle dream… the dream that painted the illusion that I had it all.Until it happened! Questions started to flood my mind like crazy…Is the world such a boring place that we need to run a robotic life?

Are we all meant to take the “normal” life pattern?What else do I really have to offer besides my time? Isn’t something better I can do with it?!…I realized how seldom I saw my family and friends and that I was spending only a couple of hours a day with my girlfriend.The wake-up call…”To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” O. WildeIt all started when my girlfriend Alina and I went on a 2-week vacation to Indonesia. The words of that Balinese guy still ring crystal-clear in my ears: “I don’t understand you, Westerners. Each year, you spend 11 months of your time working, so that you can afford a couple of weeks in countries like Indonesia. Why are you keep doing this?!”.At first, I didn’t pay much attention to these words but soon after I began to realize that the guy was absolutely right. Why am I doing this?!Soon after arriving back home, we realized that we have more important things to do: my girlfriend is passionate about design, and I love football. We both love traveling, winter sports and photography. I needed to act! I had to come up with a plan to escape the cubicle! Even if my studies were not IT related, I knew that online world was my best chance. I started to research and quickly understood that Blog-Marketing was the…… Get Out Of Cubicle card”It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains.” T.HuxleyI still hear myself: “You’re not a technical guy, genius, how exactly do you plan to build a blog?!”. Well, that’s exactly why WordPress exists. To me, it’s the perfect blog building platform – it’s free and it’s damn easy to use! If I could do it, you can do it as well, absolutely no IT background is needed!After I’ve invested some time in few learning tutorials and a couple of good online marketing reads, I’ve managed to sketch a successful Blog-Marketing business model.Let’s assume you start a blog in the photography niche. In a nutshell, here’s what you need to do:Write a good article on photography. If writing is not your cup of tea, outsource the writing process.Place a couple of Facebook ads in front of photography enthusiasts. When users click your ads, they will be directed to your blog. Between 10-20% of the photography enthusiasts who click your ads will become your customers.

Sell them a photography related product (eg. lens). Now comes the best part: you don’t need to pre-buy or stock any products. When customers click the “Pay” button, two things happen simultaneously: you will get your money in your account AND the order will be sent to the drop-shipper, who will send the product directly to your customer. You don’t even get to see the product. Awesome, it’s it?As your followers base grows, use affiliates to make money continuously. The likes of Amazon Affiliates are ready to pay you fat commissions when people directed from your blog buy their products. You will also sell ads space on your blog to monetize even further.For me, this blueprint worked wonders. Within the first week, the above process brought my first $2000 non-corporate dollars. At first, I just couldn’t believe it, but each day that I was checking my PayPal balance brought me closer to my “Get Out Of Cubicle” card. With extra effort and learning, I was able to improve my marketing and monetizing techniques and generate even better results.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring - Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing - A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) - This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

  • It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
  • Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
  • Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
  • It may provide the business with access to more capital.
  • It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.

It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?