Getting Started

How I Built A $5,000 Per Month Side Project

A side hustle that makes more than some full-time jobs is most entrepreneurs' dream. Learn how Michael Thomas did just that, and more

This post was written by Michael Thomas

Passive income. The 4 hour work week. The dream. As a millennial there are few things that rank as desirable as finding a recurring source of income that doesn’t take much work (or a boss). In April of 2015 I decided to seek that out and build a side project that could pay my bills while I read books and traveled the world. Within a few months I achieved my dream and booked $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

It’s been almost 3 years since I started SimpleData, my passive income muse. I grew the business to $30,000 per month in revenue within six months, automated and delegated just about everything, and for all of 2016 I worked an average of 5-10 hours per week. My new freedom enabled me to spend five months living in Argentina and then Europe. It afforded me the time to study things like history, political science, and other liberal arts that I felt I missed after dropping out of college. This muse changed my life.

In January 2017—18 months after starting the business—I sold SimpleData. It’s hard to imagine what my life would look like today if I didn’t sit down at my computer one night back in 2015 and come up a plan to quit my job, make passive income and travel the world. This simple act put me on the path to financial independence and wealth. It gave me the time and money to volunteer and give back, which opened my mind to a set of questions I never thought to ask previously—about my responsibility to help people less fortunate than me, about the work that makes me happy, and what to do when those two things are in conflict. This path also led to depression, social isolation, and the hardest time of my life, which previously I’ve been hesitant to share. (Is there anything worse than a rich guy complaining about his life?)

In this 3 part series I’ll break down how I built and sold my business, including how I came up with the idea, found my first customers, scaled operations, and found potential acquirers. I’ll also share some of the more personal things that I learned along the way and how I learned to calm some of the demons in my head.

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