February 2021 | Huge mistakes ($3.3K MRR) 🚨

Straight to the chase. February was my second month of being self employed. And I almost blew it.

I made a huge mistake that could have damaged me bad. Maybe even set me back to square one.

Here is what happened...

A few weeks ago, I was chilling on my sofa. I receive a notification from Revolut, saying that I'm eligible to upgrade to Revolut Bank.

For anyone unfamiliar, Revolut is the number one FinTech startup in Europe. I started using it when I left Greece, mostly for it's ease of use and clean UX. The downside is that it's a startup, which is inherently volatile. It was not an old, boring, established bank, where you can rest assure that your money is safe.

But now they had a banking license! And 100,000 EUR deposit protection. Which means that if something happens, the Central European Bank will pay you back your money. Basically, you have the safety and protection of a normal bank.

I got excited. Even though I knew that it's not wise to put all your eggs in one basket.

I imagined having everything in one place. With analytics. Notifications for every transaction. Set budgets. Check my burn rate and savings at a glance.

How nice. It's the future of banking, after all!

So, I decided to move a substantial amount of money from my PayPal to my Revolut account. I've done this before. Multiple times. But, this time the amount was larger.

As soon as the amount landed in my account, it flagged the system. And it started asking for proof of funds.

- Where is this money coming from?
- How did you get this money?
- Provide statements and documents of proof.

Of course, everything I do is double legal. So, initially, I had nothing to worry about.
 
But, while trying to contact customer support for further clarification, I quickly realized that it's non-existent. It's only chat bots and docs. And there is no phone line you can call, like in normal banks.

I went online and ended up on some Reddit threads... And that's when the nightmare started. All of a sudden, I was reading real life horror stories.

People losing their money forever. Having their accounts frozen for months. Unable to get anyone on the phone. Even early adopters, that were running their businesses on Revolut Business and had employees on payroll. Even they couldn't get someone on the phone to resolve the situation.

Only canned, automated responses. No updates on the process. Because, a third-party agency does the proof checking. And that third-party agency is forbidden to share the status of the process. Even with Revolut.

As you can imagine, I was freaking out. I had 80% of my money in this account. And now, it was under investigation.

I collect myself. I take a deep breath, and I send some paperwork. Rejected. No explanation or feedback as to why.

I try to not panic yet, and I re-send some paperwork, after correcting some things I imagined could be wrong. Rejected again. This time I also get an SMS telling me that they froze my account.

WHAAT?! Ok, this is going exactly like the Reddit stories. Word for word. I am one of the unlucky ones that will never be able to prove their source of funds.

I'm sweating. I'm paranoid. I'm fucked.

What can I say. Congratulations. You have almost all your money in a fucking startup. And they just froze your fucking account.

What an idiot. The guy who talks about Nassim Taleb's Barbell Strategy. And talks about eliminating single points of failure.

The guy that has many expenses coming up as well, as he is moving to another city.

I take my time to really think about it and correct my files. I am already thinking of the worst possible scenario. And trying to think of how I could handle my upcoming expenses with my remaining money.

I send the papers a third time, after correcting them again. After some hours, at eleven o'clock at night, I receive a notification saying they were accepted! My account goes back to normal.

I instantly feel 10 kilos lighter. And got drunk on red wine, with a huge smile on my face and red cheeks. Haha.

But this is were things get interesting.

I wasn't happy and drunk because now I had money back to buy things.

But because I had money to relax. It's was my runway. My piece of mind. My safety. My defense against a rainy day.

This small, stressful experience was almost spiritual. It reminded me 80% of money's value is:
- Taking your stress away.
- Providing you with the basics.
- And enabling you to own your time.

That's it. All the rest is bullshit.

I was reminded that deep down, all I want is to never go back to work in an office again. I want freedom. I don't want yachts or to call myself a self made millionaire.

Another thing that this experience reminded me of, is that I am on a very steep learning curve.

This is my first year of being self employed. And you only go through this process once.

Especially as a solopreneur, I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.

It's not about programming anymore. Or even about marketing and design. Or building new features.

Business lives in the open bounded game of life. Not a deterministic environment.

For that reason, you will have to deal with everything. Accounting. Taxes. People. Legal stuff. Stress management. Philosophy. Patience. Ego. Competition. Fraud. And many other things I'm not even aware yet.

I have to accept that I'll make mistakes. Many of them. But I have to avoid the catastrophic ones. Like the one I did this month.

The worst part of it was that I already knew it was the wrong thing to do, before I did it. Theoretically. But, unfortunately, we don't learn theoretically. We only learn from experience.

Let's hope I'm still here in a year from now.


@alexwestco

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