After giving up a “good job” with a steady paycheck in New York, Everett got on a plane to Portland, Oregon with $3,000 and a backpack. According to him, there was no grand plan or incredible epiphany – just an intense need to simplify and find a new way of life.
Since his transformation, he’s managed to build a sustainable business from Far Beyond the Stars while moving all over the country to places like Portland, Chicago, New York, and now San Francisco. In fact, he’s recently released a guide called Minimalist Business to help others do the same. “Live and work from anywhere” is the idea.
Everett’s story of simplicity really goes hand in hand with my message about risk taking – you don’t need a complicated plan or tons of money to do the things you’ve always wanted to do, and the most important person you’ll ever listen to is yourself.
I caught up with Everett the other day to get some more details about his philosophy on minimalism and how it’s helped him accomplish what he has.
Here’s what he had to say:
Why did you decide to embrace a minimalist lifestyle? Was there a big “a ha” moment?
I’d always been interested in being minimalist, — I’m a huge fan of the work that Leo Babauta had done with it and read his blogs religiously — but hadn’t really committed to going all the way with it until August of last year. I was working at a job that had very much run it’s course and it was time to move on to greater things.
The problem was that we’d been in a recession for a year, and there weren’t any appealing job opportunities out there.
Instead I made the decision to embrace minimalism. I reduced my possessions to less than 100 things and hopped on a plane to Portland, Oregon (I’d always wanted to move somewhere, and Portland was cheap and beautiful).
The remarkable thing I discovered was that when you embrace minimalism, what you do for a living doesn’t matter as much because your life-overhead is so low. This allowed me to start a business online with my blog, instead of settling for something that paid better but would have bored me.
You own less than 50 things now. What’s it like living and running a business with so few material objects?
Yes, I do have 50 things at the moment! This makes it incredibly easy for me to base my business anywhere in the world.
I just moved to Oakland, Ca. — across the bay from San Francisco, and it would have been a lot more expensive if I had a huge office or wardrobe that I had to move with me.
Most of the objects we assume are necessary to run a business aren’t needed anymore. I don’t own a desk, I don’t use paper, I don’t have business cards, I don’t rent an office. There are lots of other things that I don’t have, but those are some key elements that almost everyone assumes they must have to launch a business.
The benefit of choosing to live with less is that my business operating costs drop to nearly zero. I made a $250 purchase of a domain name from one of our community, and that was the biggest investment I’ve had to make in my business.
When your overhead is nearly zero, you can start turning a profit immediately. A lot of entrepreneurs think they need to invest in thousands of dollars of gizmos and widgets. My argument lately is that you don’t!
Exactly. I have a 5 year old cell phone and my entire setup is a laptop and a backup drive. Not every business can get away with so little, but I think it’s important to focus on what you have instead of what you think you need. Now, you’ve moved all over the country and, from the looks of it, done it mostly on a whim with little money. Has minimalism helped make that possible?
Definitely. When I relocated to Portland last year, I only had $3000 in the bank, which lasted me until the end of the year. This relocation was a little more costly, just because I chose to buy a bed this time and our apartment is amazing.
Moving doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. Many people choose to root themselves to a location by accumulating stuff they don’t need or use. When you opt out of the cycle of stuff, you free yourself to be location independent.
When my girlfriend and I went to Europe for 2 months in 2008, we bit the bullet and took a single carry on backpack. We were afraid we’d be miserable, but we ended up loving the freedom that came with not having to worry about so much stuff. Okay, last question. What do you tell someone who wants to quit their job and start a business, but thinks it’s too risky?
There comes a moment for some people when you realize that settling for a job or settling in a place you don’t like is one of the riskiest things you can do.
There was an age when corporations took care of their workers. They moved them up the corporate ladder and wouldn’t dream of laying people off, but that age is over.
The world moves too fast for people not to be thinking about establishing a brand around their own identity, instead of getting tied up in the branding of a larger entity that they have no control over.
The truth is that the safest thing to do is to begin to learn about developing alternative and passive income streams. The Internet has broken down all of the barriers in communication, and that completely changes the game.
The power is in the hands of the individual now. Yes, that responsibility is scary. The scariest thing to me though is putting your life in the hands of a corporation that sees you as disposable. We all have an opportunity to change that, and so we should.
That’s a great point. Ultimately, the only person responsible for your well being is you. Best to take control of what you can than rely on someone else to take care of it for you.
Now over to you: Do you have any questions for Everett or about running a minimalist business?
By the way, if you decide to pick up a copy of Everett’s guide, Minimalist Business, you’ll be supporting my work here at Advanced Riskology.