When is the right time to take the leap from side-hustle to main hustle?
I caught up with @yahiabakour of Stock Alarm, who quit his very cushy job a couple of weeks ago to focus on his product. He took his time, waiting until he had a significant 20K MAU and $20K MRR. I'll let him tell you how he did it.
Yahia: I worked at Amazon as an SDE II (senior software engineer), making about $250K per year. I’d been thinking of going full-time on Stock Alarm since I graduated college, but always managed to talk myself out of it with excuses. "I need a healthier MRR," "I need to save money," "I need industry experience," "I'll be missing out on stock vesting," "I'll never find a team as good as the one I'm on"…
I realized that my list of reasons was growing with time.
So I decided it was now or never. The opportunity to fully focus on a profitable product which was poised to grow, coupled with my unique circumstances as a 23-year-old with no kids, no debt, and an unreasonably high risk-tolerance, was too good to let slip by.
I met a surprisingly large number of folks at Amazon who told me that they wanted to do something similar but never got around to taking the chance. Now, they have too many responsibilities to take such a risk.
In my opinion, the right time to take the leap depends on where you are in life. If you’re in your early 20s, have a year or two of industry experience, and a product with some decent MRR and growth potential, then going full-time makes perfect sense. However if you’ve got kids, then your side-hustle needs to be more mature and make a higher MRR over a longer period of time to ease some of that risk.
Yahia: Stock Alarm is a real-time stock market monitoring platform. We started working on it 2.5 years ago and I went full time on it 2 weeks ago. When I went full-time, we had 20K MAU and $20K MRR.
At the moment, the salaries we get from this cover our monthly expenses in a high cost-of-living city (Seattle), with a relatively modest lifestyle. I did a ton of planning and thinking about how much runway I would have in all scenarios, so I'm hoping that this further de-risks this decision.
At the end of the day, it is downright nerve-wracking to execute on the decision to quit a comfy corporate gig. Especially because those close to me provided their well-meaning, yet unsolicited, opinions on the matter. It caused some self-doubt.
But ever since I quit, I’ve somehow felt more confident and calm than ever. Even in the face of so much work that needs to be done.
Yahia: Our best acquisition channel has been organic SEO/ASO and referrals from existing customers — simply building what our customers ask for gets everyone “hyped up” and has netted us some really good ambassadors that spread the word.
I think what’s helpful to indie hackers is to think of the first 0-10K users as a completely separate process from 10K-100K+ users. Here are some of the things we did to get the word out there early:
Yahia: I’m definitely working more now than I did when I was employed, but I also have way more flexibility. Some days I clock in around 12 hours of work, while others are around 4-6.
I usually wake up around 7:30, shower and get dressed, at which point I scout for fancy and overpriced, yet aesthetic coffee shops to work in. Sipping on a cup of coffee, I'll bang out six good hours of heads-down work before I take a break to hit the gym or go on a run. After that, I get in another 2-5 hours of work before unwinding for the day. Sometimes I see friends in the middle of the day or at the end.
Yahia: This work is truly, deeply fulfilling. All the extra hours I put into my own business is investing in my own success — I'm no longer selling my time to another person.
And truthfully, I didn’t expect to enjoy it this much. I was worried about the stress of riding everything on a single startup, but I’m a lot happier now.