I used to be an attorney, and left that career to become a financial planner three years ago, which is what I’d been doing while side-hustling with my blog and making money online (more on that here) — until about a few months ago (March 2018). I made the choice to leave my second career as a financial planner and enter my third career as an online entrepreneur. I wrote about the fear and doubt I had around going full time in My Diary Of 7 Days Before I Quit My Job To Blog Full Time. In this post, I want to talk specifically about how I came to make the decision between the two careers — financial planning versus being an entrepreneur.
At the heart of it is the difference between making money and managing money.
Learning How To Manage Money
Since graduating law school knowing nothing about money, I have been on a mission to “figure out money.” I find it super shocking, interesting, and weird that I knew nothing about something super duper important in our everyday lives. I immediately dove into personal finance books and money podcasts when I was trying to figure out my debt. Soon after that, I decided to start a blog about my money journey. I didn’t even read blogs, so I have no idea why I even thought this was a good idea. I just had the idea and went with it. At the same time, I wasn’t loving practicing law at a big law firm. And I was becoming more fascinated and interested in money. I really became passionate about filling the void in the market — helping people manage their money better.
I decided I’d be better off as a financial planner. So, I quit my job as a lawyer, and I became a financial planner. I started working at a registered investment advisory firm that manages over $1 billion in assets under management. I learned a ton about managing money, and over time, I became a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). It was great, except for one thing.
Understanding How To Make Money
What I found out was that I was actually getting paid because of my contribution working for a business (sounds obvious, but bear with me here). The business part is how I (and the firm) made money. The managing money part is not. It’s the service behind the business. Once you really understand this, you understand how the economy works. It’s really all just business and marketing. You can make and create money doing anything. Managing money is just one side of the business industry.
Financial planners are in the business of managing money. It’s the “business” part that I didn’t truly understand until recently. Managing money and making money are completely different. You can build wealth with your savings and investments, but the more money you contribute and save, the better. Let’s be honest — if you have a ton of student loan debt, make $60k per year, and want to get rich, you’re in a losing game no matter how well you manage your money. This is a cash flow problem, not a money management problem.
Funny, I first heard this from Grant Cardone years ago on the Knowledge For Men podcast, but it never clicked until now. I finally get it. Managing money is a skill that everyone should learn and know. But it’s not how you create money. It’s what you do with your money once you have it.
My Money Beliefs
I’m not into being super frugal. It’s basically sacrilegious to say this as a personal finance blogger, which is why I think there’s tension between making money and saving money. They’re just completely different. Personal finance is more about managing money. I’m a money blogger, business owner, whatever-you-want-to-call it, and I’m proud I’m not frugal. It’s just not me. And that’s okay! That’s the beauty of it. You can decide what money beliefs you want for yourself. You don’t have to listen to me or anyone else. You can learn about money and decide for yourself.
I’m into managing money responsibly, living debt free (or paying off debt that you have), and creating a lot of wealth. Wealth gives you freedom and it allows you to give and contribute to the world in amazing ways. I had learned how to manage money, but I didn’t make enough money.
You Can Create Money Through Entrepreneurship and Marketing
If you want to learn how to create money? Learn about business and marketing — not money management. Who knew. I sure didn’t. I compare it to wanting to start investing in real estate and becoming a real estate agent. You can make money as a real estate agent, but you’re doing it by being in the business of being a real estate agent — not from your investment properties. In the same way, you can make a great living by being a financial planner, as someone who is in the business of selling financial planning services.
I was on the wrong side of the table. I was basically the personal assistant to really rich people. Nothing wrong with this at all. I just don’t get excited about it. I’m not really interested in creating money through generating business for a financial planning firm. I’m ambitious. I love business. I love creating value, putting it into the world, and getting paid for it. I’m not really into sitting at a desk, working set hours in an office, having very little control over when and how I work, and making a set salary.
I knew that after I had all these revelations about creating money versus managing money, I had to leave this career. People who tell me “oh, well, I’m sure your law degree or CFP designation aren’t a waste — they’ll come in handy,” completely miss the point.
It’s not about getting a certification so that it can serve you. It’s about using your certification to serve the world. I needed my education to get me to where I am today. I want to focus on inspiring people to design their dream lives through personal development, financial intelligence, and business. When I think about being at the end of my life and looking back, I know I’m making the right decision.
I have a weird sense of my own mortality and make decisions knowing that I’m going to die one day. This seems to serve me well with making decisions about which direction to go in my career. It all starts from having an end goal. And this “end-goal” has changed over the years, as I learn and grow. I always wanted to be a lawyer. Then, I learned new information that made me give up that dream and move on to the next. I thought being a financial planner would be my career path, but then I learned more information and realized that wasn’t the way for me either.
Now, I’m entering the world of entrepreneurship. I continue to learn new information and grow in ways I could’ve never dreamed.
Above Everything Else — Invest In Yourself
I believe the key to success is investing in your mind. This is how you show up and contribute to the world. It’s how you create a new future for yourself, instead of repeating your past. By investing in myself, I learned how to think, choose, decide, commit, and take action. These skills have enabled me to be clear about what I want and go after it relentlessly. I keep investing in my mind, making decisions, and taking action.
I love the quote from the intro on Knowledge For Men (not sure who it’s by!) where he says “your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.” My advice: if you’re not sure how to manage your money better or make more money — start investing more in yourself and in your mind. You can do this for free, through books, and podcasts. That’s how it started for me. Then, you can pay for coaching and conferences. It’s amazing the time we live in where you can get a free education on a machine in your pocket. We are so lucky.
I’m so grateful for my time as a financial planner (and as a lawyer, for that matter). I loved the experience and learned a ton, and I worked with amazing people. And now, I enter my third career phase as an online entrepreneur, blogger, and business owner and coach (truthfully, I still don’t know what to call myself).
Cheers to entrepreneurship!
Natalie Bacon is an online entrepreneur. Prior to this, Natalie practiced as a certified financial planner, at a firm that managed over $1B in assets under management. Before her financial planning career, Natalie practiced as a business attorney. Natalie has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, and other publications. Natalie is most passionate about helping young, professional women design their dream lives. Read Natalie‘s full story at NatalieBacon.com/about.
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