Tag Archives: retirement

How I quickly built a Twitter Following: Crowdfire interviews Steve Miller

In the past year, I’ve successfully built my Twitter following from 600 to over 24,600 at the time of this post (December 2015). Additionally, I increased my blog visits by 2300%.

This success caught the eye of Crowdfire, a company that produces a tool I use to help build my Twitter followers. They were intrigued by the growth but more importantly, they liked my story of early retirement and wanted to post an interview that explains my story and how I’ve used Crowdfire to build a community of Twitter followers.

The Crowdfire Interview

Here is the story, I hope you enjoy it.

Crowdfire interviews Steve Miller

Direct link to story:
http://blog.crowdfireapp.com/meet-steve-miller-driving-app-downloads-using-crowdfire/

Finally, here is a video showing how I use Crowdfire. If you like my story, you can also follow me on Twitter.

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence, and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

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How to Accomplish More (Dream Big Baby!)

Throughout the years, I’ve met lots of people who dream big. Here are some common dreams I hear:

  • I am wrapped up in a career I hate, I would just love to [job they would love to have]
  • I have a great idea for a product, I bet it will do really great
  • I would love to retire early and travel
  • It would be great to save a million dollars and only work on things I’m passionate about
  • If only I could become a scratch golfer [or similar sports-related goals]
  • I want to work for myself and plan out my own day

I’ve met lots of people who set these types of goals. Some make them happen and some don’t. Meet an interesting couple that made their dreams come true:

Dream Big: Bob and Robin Charlton

Bob and Robin Charlton were in their late 20’s, in debt and working in jobs that no longer excited them. They had a dream to travel more. But how could they do it? They had an epiphany. They decided that if their dream was to come true, they had to put a plan in place to make it happen. Here’s how they did it:

  1. They dared to dream big: Retire within 15 years
  2. They set goals for accomplishing the dream
  3. Robin retooled her skills so that she could get a better paying job
  4. They attacked their debt and built an emergency fund
  5. They invested every extra cent into index fund investments
  6. They reduced their expenses and rented out part of their home to bring in additional income

Fast forward 15 years later, Bob and Robin retired at age 43. Now they travel to exotic locations– for many months at a time. They are still very frugal and live on 4% per year of their investments — a safe withdrawal rate that will last them the rest of their lives without the need to work again. Dream big, it pays off!

Bob wrote a book entitled “How to Retire Early” that tells their story in detail– it is very inspirational. If you want to see their travels, check out their website.

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Dreaming Big Without Committed Goals

I could mention another 5 or so people I’ve known over the years that have shared their dream with me and I’ve seen them convert that dream to reality. However, I could tell you about another 50 or so people who have shared their dream but never saw it through. Here’s why:

  • It must be a shared dream. If you’re married, your family must buy into it or it will not work.
  • Dreaming is not enough, you also need goals. You must have a plan for making it happen. You have to set “dream big” goals and create a list of tasks you do every day that supports that goal.
  • You have to analyze everything. Once you begin working on daily tasks that support your goal, you will find that some things work and some don’t. You must build in the time to analyze everything you do and adjust until you find the right formula for what works.
  • Conquering big dreams takes a lot of work.  If it were easy, everyone would do it. It’s very hard and time intensive to your reach your goals, so be prepared to sacrifice to achieve it.

Conclusion

I hope this post has inspired you to dream big and to figure out what goals you must put into place to make them a reality. If you’re working towards a “dream big” goal (or have already accomplished one), please share your story in the comments below.

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence, and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

What are bonds

Financial Independence 101: What are Bonds?

This is a continuation of my Financial Independence blog posts related to financial education. I’m creating the blogs so that our two sons that will be graduating college soon will have a better understanding of personal finance.

Financial Independence 101: What are Bonds?

Investors tend to talk about buying and selling stocks and bonds. But what is a bond?

Bonds are simply a loan or an IOU, but you serve as the bank. 

Stocks and bonds are the primary ways companies raise money to grow their business. As discussed in our last blog post, when you purchase stock, you are purchasing ownership in the company. When you purchase bonds, you are lending money to the company and receive interest payments on that investment.

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Bonds have a fixed term (called a maturity date), normally 5 to 20 years but companies that issue bonds may “call them” (purchase them back) prior to maturity.

Related Post: Financial Independence 101: What are Stocks?

Who Issues Bonds?

Both companies and the government issue bonds to finance projects. Municipal bonds are issued by city and state governments. The US government issues Savings Bonds, Treasury securities, T-Bills and Treasury Bonds.

Why buy Bonds?

Buying bonds is a defensive play when you are building a balanced portfolio. Generally, the value of a bond rises when interest rates fall and fall when interest rates rise. So normally if the stock market starts to tank, your bond values will rise, protecting you from the ups and downs of the stock market.

When the stock market tanked in August of 2015, the value of my stock index mutual funds tanked but my bond index funds did well. This was my protection. Because we are retired, I draw money from our retirement portfolio every so often to pay for our living expenses. Since our stock funds were down, I could cash in some of our bond funds if I needed cash, and we would not lose money from the stocks that were in decline at the moment.

How do you purchase bonds?

Bonds are sold through brokerage accounts (Fidelity, Vanguard or some other financial institution).  You can also purchase government bonds directly from the US Treasury at TreasuryDirect, but I recommend having an investment account (like Fidelity). Once you have an account, you can buy and sell stock and bonds online. This account will become your portal to financial independence.

Is it risky to purchase bonds?

Bonds are much less risky than stocks but do not normally produce as high of a return. Again, it is your defensive play for when the stock market is in decline. One of the drawbacks of investing in bonds is that they have a set maturity date, so you cannot sell them at will.

Bond mutual funds solve this issue. A bond mutual fund is a collection of bonds (normally hundreds of bonds) that allow you to buy or sell at any time. The mutual fund is managed by a company and you pay a small fee to the mutual fund management company for having them manage it. The amount you pay is called the expense ratio, so look for mutual funds with low expense ratios (I look for those with an expense ratio of .15% or less).

Conclusion

Now that you have an understanding of bonds and financial freedom, let’s get to the bottom line. Once you start your career, set aside money for savings and have that money automatically deducted from your paycheck. Start with 15% of your paycheck, more if you can swing it.

Open up a Fidelity account and begin contributing money to a few mutual funds. If you want to really diversify, I suggest these 4 mutual funds to invest equal amounts in:

  • FUSVX – Invests in S&P 500 stocks
  • FSEVX – invests in smaller yet stable companies
  • FSITX – Invests in bonds (note: if you are young and have 30 or more years before you retire, you may consider delaying the purchase of bonds for a while since you will not care as much about market fluctuations).
  • FSIVX – Invests in international stocks (like those in Europe).

Finally, track your budget and investments with an online tool. Personal Capital is an excellent tool for this and best of all, it’s free**. This is a great start to financial independence!

** Note: I have no affiliation with Fidelity nor do I get any compensation, I am just more familiar with their services than other investment companies so that is why I recommend them in this article. I am an affiliate for Personal Capital, it is a totally free and superior way to keep watch over your investments. I would never recommend anything that I don’t personally use and completely believe in, so give it a try.

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

What do you think of these financial independence training articles? Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

Podcast: An Entrepreneurial Strategy for Selling a Company

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Jordon Bryant of ChambersDS just published this podcast with Steve Miller, who built a multi-million dollar software business and sold it in 2009 and retired. After being retired for several years and traveling the world, Steve is now creating mobile apps in between time he spends golfing, boating, cycling and keeping fit.

Ways To Listen To This Episode

About Steve Miller

The guest for this podcast is Steve Miller, an entrepreneur who built the multi-million dollar Pragmatic software and sold it to AutomatedQA, which is now SmartBear Software, in 2009. He has over 24 years of experience in software development, project management, and software architecture.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Steve:
  • 1:23 : Steve gives us a peak in his consulting days with Microsoft and how this influenced him in forming his previous company, Pragmatic Software.
  • 3:21 : The solutions, features and benefits of their software, and the pivots they had made to fully develop their company including branding and building up clients to make the business viable. These strategies resulted to winning awards and, in turn, made them more attractive to other companies.
  • 06:16 : How they ended up being acquired by creating strategic partnerships and pre-planning integrations with other vendors with products complimentary to theirs. We also discuss the value exchange that happens during cross promotions and partnerships, not only in terms of revenue, but also when it comes to building relationships.
  • 08:46 : We dig into how he came up with a SMART exit strategy and how he ensured that this buyout plan came into fruition. Steve shares the timelines, starting out by identifying the list of companies which would be a good fit, narrowing them down, reaching out to form a relationship to those which remained as potential candidates and finally achieving the goal of being acquired.
  • 12:07 : Steve explains what a buyout earn out is, as well as the things that companies are looking for before doing acquisitions. He adds that they are not just interested in the product but also, they are interested on what you will bring into the table. As someone who knows your product well, they would look at you to be there to support the transition initially. He also shared pay out terms during their buyout and how they exceeded revenue targets which resulted to bonuses.
  • 14:04 : What Steve is currently doing with his free time including travelling, exploring his hobbies, and finally deciding to enter the mobile app development world.
  • 15:10 : His amusing story of how losing his iPad spurred his genius and resulted to his first app creation, aMemoryJog. He also talks about how travel can change perspectives and about his long term plans.
  • 18:41 : The structures Steve had in place when he started working with aMemoryJog starting from looking at the competitive landscape, creating a business plan after his analysis, and documenting his processes along the way.
  • 23:53 : Apart from looking at the App Store, Steve also shared his other validation techniques such as having the app reviewed with friends and family and leveraging on his network.
  • 25:21 : How detailing his specifications helped him in landing a good price and using oDesk and Elance services for his app development needs. Steve also shares advice to people seeking development.
  • 27:57 : Steve’s other marketing efforts including reaching out to bloggers to tap them to become beta testers in different silos to get feedback. He also shares how he plans to reach out to them using a template with a YouTube video and how he tracks response rates.
  • 36:10 : Other key take aways that Steve had learned from his first app that he will be applying for the second: driving social virality through sharing capability and establishing good PR.

Rapid Fire Questions

  • Would you put more emphasis on the idea or the execution? How would you weigh each of them why?
    • Everybody has an idea for an app so for me it’s 10% idea, 90% execution.
  • What is your biggest learning lesson on your journey so far?
    • It’s good to localize but you can localize too early.
  • What is your favorite business book?
  • What is your favorite app?
  • What is the coolest thing that you are working on right now that you want everyone to know about?

Links From The Episode

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