YouTube / MkElite

A ‪#‎LandRover‬ employee recently told an audience (which I was a part of) that the average start-up only lasts for 18 months. After the talk, I went up to shake his hand, letting him know that I’ve been doing this for four years. But it’s really only the last year that counts. I said goodbye to the wonderful cushion of a full-time salaried job in America. I left with the understanding that I would make half as much on my own (at least initially), and would have to pay 5x as much for health insurance. People say America is great for building a business, but honestly there’s a lot of things that could be different which would make it easier for others. You pay more taxes if you’re self employed, especially if your expenses are low. You also have to pay for your own health insurance, and if you have an unidentifiable illness/disease/condition (whatever you want to call it) that requires expensive medication (as I do), it means paying boatloads for insurance just so you can attempt to turn your business into something sustainable.

The risk is huge, but for me it was not. I have a family that put me through college, that paid for my life and made sure I went to good schools and didn’t butcher my future. They’re incredible. I could fall back on them if needed (oh, and I’m back on their health insurance till the end of this year, ‪#‎ThanksObama‬), but once I’m 26 it’s on my own again. I have a girlfriend who’s employed full time (and kicks ass working to save the many species of our planet which are in need of help, all while I’m spinning tires on a backroad) and could cushion my fall if quitting turned out to be a terrible failure. I could go home if it came to it, back to NC. I could return to work at my previous employer, as the VP of the company let me know the day I left. There was no risk. And that’s why I quit.

I’m certainly not trying to get political here, just pointing out there are a lot of best case scenarios which fell into place for me which allowed me to do what I’m doing, and I’m extremely grateful for it. I wish anyone who wanted to jump into the deep end to see if they could swim had the safety net of a life guard.

So how has my first year of being truly self-employed been? Undoubtably the best year of my life. I’ve gotten my hands on a good 30 press cars delivered to my driveway. It all started with a ‪#‎Lexus‬ GS350 F Sport, which was a nice way to break into the industry (still one of the best sound systems I’ve heard to date). I drove a ‪#‎Corvette‬ on a track (the final straw which forced me to quit, as I didn’t have the vacation time to attend the event). I toured the Corvette assembly plant and saw some of the very first C7 Z06s on the line. I did a lot of silly things to my ‪#‎Integra‬, and although it rides and accelerates in the most unrefined manner possible, I’ve learned an abundance from it. I’ve been able to hang out with awesome folks like ‪#‎EricTheCarGuy‬, ‪#‎ScottyKilmer‬, and the ‪#‎HumbleMechanic‬. I’ve learned the facts behind winter tires and how engines can take advantage of higher octane fuels. I attended ‪#‎NAIAS‬ and saw the unveiling of the ‪#‎Ford‬ GT (oh yeah, and the ‪#‎Acura‬ NSX). I experienced ‪#‎NHRA‬ and the many thousands of horsepower that each 8.2L engine produces. I interviewed the lead engineer behind the to-be world’s fastest car, the ‪#‎BloodhoundSSC‬ (oh, and they’re putting EE on the tail wing). I began writing for ‪#‎CarThrottle‬ and have seen enormous support from their talented team. I flew to ‪#‎Sebring‬ to watch the development of ‪#‎Nissan‬’s radical ‪#‎LMP1‬ car. I rode around in a $95K ‪#‎Cadillac‬ Escalade while it kept my “Pepsi” cold in the center console and massaged my back. I grew new ‪#‎greyhair‬. I drove two BMWs with 567 HP twin-twinscroll turbochargers, and then I drove a ‪#‎BMW‬ i8 (video eventually). I went to the 99th ‪#‎Indy500‬ and the Coca-cola 600 IN THE SAME DAY via private jet! I asked the winner of the Indy 500 (‪#‎Montoya‬) what type of milk he prefers the day before he won, face to face (thanks ‪#‎Shell‬!). I watched ‪#‎Subaru‬ dominate Rally America. I drove a freaking ‪#‎NISMO‬ GT-R!! I auto crossed BMWs with my brother in Seattle (video eventually). I drove a Convertible ‪#‎C7‬ Corvette to the ‪#‎Oregon‬ coast. Thanks to ‪#‎Gumout‬, I rode shotgun with Vaughn Gittin Jr in his 850 HP Mustang, and there’s a Ford ‪#‎Mustang‬ Eco-boost sitting in my driveway right now (video eventually). And that’s probably only half of it because my memory is terrible!

I’ve managed to fit a lifetime’s worth of incredible opportunities into just my first year of being self-employed, and it’s all because of you guys. You’re curious, intellectual, and have a desire to learn. You’re a niche that’s unique to the online world, because you’d rather watch me explain to you how large rear slip angles result in oversteer rather than Joe Schmo doing donuts in a parking lot (which granted, is entertaining, but not exactly valuable).

Thank you for watching, whether you’ve been watching since June of 2011 or since this morning. I cannot wait to see what happens over the next year! smile emoticon