The Idealized Sandwich Shop

August 15th, 2008 · No Comments

Every programmer wants to open a sandwich shop. At some point in their career, they all suddenly want to open a motorcycle shop, or become a carpenter or open a sandwich shop. I always thought I would be immune to this until one day not long ago I started to plan my farm. I attribute this malady partially to the fact that we programmers get sick of only making ephemeral things, but mainly to the fact that the grass is always greener on the other side.

When deciding whether its worth it to jump into a new arena, we almost always idealize what it will be like and give the new venture a huge discount because of it. “Well that job will only pay 30% as much but I’ll love doing it.” Of course you will, for about three to six months. At some point however it will become a job. This is important to remember.

While some of the benefits of Internet business are lasting–like working from home and setting your own hours–the novelty of the whole thing will wear out just like any other option. Regardless of how much you like writing your blog, there will come a day when you don’t really feel like doing it and will have to anyway.

Everyone loves a sandwhich, right?

Everyone loves a sandwhich, right?

In addition, when it comes to Internet business, the same low barriers to entry are going to work against you as well as for you. You’re going to have to stand out in a huge pool and compete against people who are willing to do the same work for much less, or even free. Hopefully you will have other advantages that will offset these things, but ultimately you’re setting yourself up for a hard slog.

This is especially true if you have a high-paying job to begin with. While $10 an hour may seem like a pittance to you, the same pay may be great income for other people–especially someone who has limited other options. Its much easier for a stay-at-home parent to have a successful Internet business than a highly paid consultant, because the definition of success is much easier to meet.

So when deciding whether it’s worth it to try your hand in the Internet arena, remember that the grass is always greener and don’t idealize your new idea. If it only makes sense because you’re going to love doing it, think hard about whether you’ll still love it as much in two years. Otherwise you might find yourself chasing around a rat in your ramshackle farmhouse and wondering why you ever thought farming would be fun.

Categories: Main blog narrative

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