I used to work 12-15 hour days every day except Sundays. That is no hyperbole; I may even be underselling it since on numerous occasions I slept at the office. The point is, I worked an ungodly amount as an investment banker. While I actually enjoyed the work and genuinely liked all of my coworkers, I wanted to try something different. The hours didn’t really bother me. I was learning a lot and making a decent living for a 21-year-old. I just felt like I could and should be doing something different with my life. And so, I quit—to start a YouTube channel!
I first started with reviews of wearable tech products (Fitbit, Garmin, etc.) and over time moved into other categories, including fitness equipment, headphones, and so on. Along the way, I became friends with Dan and Dave at monkii and have even posted a few vlogs with Dan. Here’s our first one:
Over a period of five years, I managed, with the help of my business partner and employees, to grow RIZKNOWS to over 400,000 subscribers, build out a popular blog, and keep my head above water (which might be my biggest accomplishment).
So that’s the back story. What I really want to discuss is what it’s like to be an online entrepreneur—essentially, what I do every day and how this has anything to do with monkii. Here goes nothing.
I’m up around 6am and try to get a workout in first thing (I usually don’t eat breakfast). I get bored easily and try to vary my workouts as much as possible. Sometimes I do CrossFit. Sometimes I lift. Sometimes I run or bike. Sometimes I use the jungle gym at the park. And sometimes I just workout at home, at which point I usually use monkii bars. In fact, for several years, I had a pair of tactical monkii bars hanging in my garage.
To me, working out isn’t just about keeping my body in shape, it’s about escaping and decompressing. It really is the only time during my entire day that is all mine. That’s also part of the reason that I workout in the morning. The rest of my day is sort of subject to change, so I like to workout early to ensure that I indeed get a workout in.
I usually am done working out around 8am, but I like to work from home for a few hours, so I usually roll into the office at 10:30am. That gives the troops a little break from me and allows me to work uninterrupted for a few hours. I have a little daily to-do list planner that I religiously use. I write down everything that I need to accomplish each day and I watch myself check those items off one by one. My rule is that if I write it down, it has to get done.
Once I’m actually in the office, my days are all fairly similar. I test new products. I write reviews. I work with our producers to film new videos. I deal with regular small business headaches. And, oh yeah, I play at least five games of ping pong, even though I’m by far the worst person in the office and have only won three games, ever.
Really the lynchpin to my entire day is my workout. I honest-to-goodness love working out and it is the key to me having a productive day. Often times, I will play off this whole running an online business thing as pure fun—no one likes to be around a jaded, worn down, stressed person. The truth, though, is that while it is fun, it also has probably shaved years off of my life. Let’s put it this way. When my employees go home at night, they’re done with work and my work has just begun; that has to have some long term impact.
The hours might be a little less than with investment banking, but the stress load hasn’t diminished. And yet, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love what I do—it has to be the best job of all time. Sure, I worry constantly about how I’m going to operate the business, growth the business, and even stay in business, but that’s part of the fun.
I think that our audience can see all of that as well. They see how hard we work and how much effort and care we put into the content that we produce. And that’s why we get about 13,000 new subscribers each month, on YouTube alone. We have a simple model: create high quality, helpful, and entertaining reviews. We’ve been successful in several industry verticals (fitness, tech, etc.) and are always looking for new ones. And in that vein, we actually spun off a separate home goods focused review site called the Slumber Yard. This is part of our larger strategy to enter new industry verticals one by one.
But now I’m starting to get into the minutiae of my business and that’s no fun. Suffice it to say that being a business owner is an interesting and addicting experience. It’s not for the faint of heart, but, so far, I like it better than being an investment banker.