How To Escape The Matrix – (From Someone Who Escaped)

James Beattie By James Beattie 26 Min Read

Are you sick and tired of turning up to a job you hate every day? Sitting in traffic, doing what seems like pointless work for very little in return. You’ve probably heard many people talking about “Escaping the Matrix”. Around 7 years ago, I was in that exact position.

I was working in a Big 4 Finance firm and it wasn’t what I saw myself doing for the next 40 years of my life. To me, that seemed like wasting my time and I knew I had to make some changes if I wanted to avoid doing this for the rest of my life.

Now, I think the whole “Escaping the Matrix” movement is a bit cringe. These people put across that you’re an absolute loser if you work a job. That’s just not true, especially if you enjoy your job. If you are happy in life and enjoy the job you work in, that’s a perfectly good life.

That said, if you hate your job, I believe you should spend every waking minute of spare time finding something you enjoy doing. We spend over 90,000 hours of our life working. That’s a crazy statistic. Don’t spend that time doing something you hate. Life is finite and you should enjoy what you do on a day-to-day basis or at least get paid handsomely for it.

How I Escaped The Matrix

I started in a position very similar to you. I got up at 7AM, rushed to the train, got into the office for 9AM and got home most nights about 6:30PM. I was so tired from work, I would get home and 4 out of 5 nights I would just lie on the sofa and watch Netflix, patiently waiting for the weekend.

Living In The Matrix

I knew I needed to make a change. I had always been working on some side hustles such as freelancing and Instagram theme pages but they didn’t make enough for me to quit my full-time job.

So I started looking for different business models that I could work on at nights and weekends. I tried quite a few different things that didn’t work but I was always learning something as I went along.

It’s important to note that as you attempt to start a business, most things will probably fail. The beauty of business is, you only need one big win. Failures are just stepping stones to the big win.

Eventually, I came across E-commerce which was the first business that really took off for me. After it started to take off, it took about 3 months to completely replace my full-time income. However, the business model was volatile. Some months would be good and others not so good.

I knew I needed to save up a large cash reserve so that I wouldn’t have to go back to work for a while if things didn’t perform well for a few months. Once I had 12 Months of my salary in the bank I decided it was time to go full-time in my business.

That was 7 years ago now. Since then I have tried many different business models. Some have worked extremely well whereas others I have lost thousands trying to get them off the ground.

In 2021 I started building the streaming website and sold it in early 2023 for 6 figures. Moneysprout is my latest project.

Now, let’s talk about how I would go about leaving your job. If I could go back, I would do a few things differently. Let’s take a look at the steps you can take as well as some of the business models you can start which are low risk and high reward.

Step By Step Route To Working For Yourself

When thinking about leaving your job and starting a business, there are a few steps I would take to ensure a smooth transition. I would highly advise against leaving your job without having a proven business model that is already earning you money.

If you are currently still in school or university, you’re in a great position to use your free time to start building your business. You likely have a lot more free time than someone working a job. Use this to your advantage to get ahead while you can.

Let’s take a look at the 5 steps I would take to transition from a job to running a successful business.

Step 1 – Get The Highest Paying Job You Can

If you’re past the school/University stage, you need to get a job. Most of you probably already have one. Having an income is going to make it so much less stressful to build your business. You don’t need to risk everything by quitting your job and going all in. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Find a job that pays well, with the least amount of work. If you can sneak in a couple of hours during the day to work on your own business while getting paid for it, happy days.

Remote jobs aren’t as easy to come by as they were in 2021 and 2022 but if you’re lucky enough to get one you can save around 10 hours per week commuting as well as an hour at lunch where you can work on your own business. This time saving is huge and gives you extra time to work on your business.

Not everyone can get these types of jobs. You have to try and squeeze the most out of what you have. That could be using your commuting time on the train to post on social media or bringing your laptop to the office to work on your own business at lunch.

Step 2 – Automate Your Finances

Once you have a secure income, you want to ensure your finances are in order. I would highly recommend reading my 7 Steps to Financial Freedom.

The main thing to do first is pay off any consumer debt you have and minimise your expenses. You want to stay as lean as possible in the early days of your business so you can put as much into starting the business as possible without taking on debt.

I started my first business with about £500 in my bank account. You don’t need lots of money to get started with an online business. Anyone who says you do is making excuses. Even the website I started in 2021, which sold for 6 figures was started with less than £400. I just put my time into it to get it going.

You should set up a budget so you can track how much you’re earning and spending each month. We teach people how to use a 50/30/20 budgeting system. 50% to needs, 30% to wants and 20% to savings/investments.

When starting your business, business becomes your hobby. That’s where you are going to spend your ‘Wants’ money. Rather than spending £200 every weekend out drinking you save for a couple of weeks and maybe buy a new camera for the Youtube channel you started or buy a course to learn a new skill for your business.

I would still recommend investing and saving 20% of your income at this stage as it gets you into good habits of investing. However, if it’s between buying software for £30/month that will significantly improve your business over investing in the stock market, buy the software.

Investing in yourself and your business at this early stage is so important. The stock market returns 8% a year. Learning a skill that you can capitalise on for decades is going to return a lot more than 8%.

Step 3 – Start Building A Business On Nights & Weekends

Once you have your finances under control, you can start working on your business. If you’re serious about escaping the Matrix, you should be working on this for a few hours every night and even longer on the weekends.

I would avoid any “High Risk” businesses. You don’t need a bank loan. You don’t need to invest your life savings. And last but not least you don’t need a “genius idea”. Find something that works and replicate it. That’s it.

There are a few things I look for in a beginner online business:

  • Low start-up capital required
  • Can be operated as a one-man business initially
  • Has scalability/full-time income potential

Some examples of businesses that meet these criteria are agencies, blogs, YouTube channels or an Etsy store.

All of these businesses can be started with zero upfront capital.

With an Agency you can learn a skill and sell it as a service. It’s important here that you can actually provide this service to a high level of skill. That said, in 2-3 months, you can become really good at one thing if you do it for 4 hours per day.

For example, learn how to edit TikToks and YouTube shorts at a high quality and then cold outreach to potential clients who could use your help. You can learn editing skills on YouTube for free or pay $200 for a really good course to help you learn faster.

Here’s what I would do to start this business while working a full-time job:

  1. Spend 2 Months learning how to edit high-quality short-form content
  2. Use your commute/lunchtime to cold outreach to potential clients on Youtube/Instagram/TikTok. Find people with growing followings that look like they could use help with editing.
  3. Charge £500-1000 per client per month for X pieces of content
  4. Start initially servicing these clients at night and on weekends
  5. As you grow, hire and train editors on your editing style and start to delegate the work
  6. You can focus on growing the business further

This sounds simple but it will take time and a lot of effort, rejections and learning to do well.

Step 4 – Get The Business To A Point Where It Makes 1.5x Your Job Income

Your goal during this time should be to get your business to a point where it is making 1.5x your job income. This gives you some buffer room if revenue fluctuates month to month.

Over the past 3-6 Months you should have been earning a double income from your business and normal job allowing you to save a good portion of your income.

I would not recommend leaving your job until you have at least 6 months of your job income in the bank but ideally a year. This gives you room to work with if you ever have slow periods in your business.

Some people may even decide to keep their job for even longer. This can be a great way to stack double income for an extended period and build some financial security. The more you can put away before quitting your job, will make it way less stressful when you do.

Step 5 – Hand In That Resignation Letter

Finally, the last thing to do is hand in that resignation letter. Again I would only do this when you have a minimum of 6 months of expenses in the bank.

Whether it takes you 3 months or 3 years this is a rewarding part of the journey. You have built a business that allows you to sustain yourself, that’s a great spot to be in.

Now that you have quit your job, you have so much extra time to put into your business. If you were able to make the business work on 3-4 hours per day, you should be able to increase revenue significantly now you can throw all of your time into it.

So that’s my blueprint for leaving the matrix and building your own business. Now, let’s take a look at some of the best low-risk business models you can start with very little start-up capital.

Best Business Models To Escape The Matrix

Now you know the steps to escaping the Matrix, you need to start working on a business model. There are hundreds of them out there and most of them work. However, different businesses will work better for different people depending on their skills.

We have a full list of online businesses you can start here. However, I’ll talk briefly about some of the best ones below. These are businesses you can start with very little upfront capital and can scale significantly into real full-time incomes.


Freelancing is one of the easiest ways to start making money online, especially if you already have some tangible skills you can sell. For example, you may be able to code, do graphics design or even use Excel to a high level.

These are all skills that can be sold. This is a great way to get a taste of online income. You can use websites like Upwork, Fiverr and PeoplePerHour to start selling your services.

Freelancing On People Per Hour

The best part is, that this requires absolutely zero upfront money. Even if you don’t have a skill currently, you can spend the next 3 months learning one and then selling it.

As your can progress in your freelance journey, you may transition to an agency model.


Starting an agency is a natural progression from Freelancing. As you build a big enough client base you may want to start hiring people in your agency to help you scale to more clients.

You can create agencies in pretty much any industry. A few examples are:

  • SEO Agency
  • Social Media Marketing Agency
  • Video Editing agency

I would narrow down my niche. Rather than starting an SEO agency, I would start a link-building agency or keyword research agency. By focusing on an individual aspect of an industry, it’s much easier to become a leader in the space fast.

Youtube Channel

A YouTube channel is another great way to start making money online. The path to success with a YouTube channel is likely going to take you much longer than freelancing or an agency but it has amazing long-term potential.

If you have experience in a certain niche and genuinely enjoy creating content around it, you can build up a personal brand on Youtube. You can do this in literally any niche and eventually earn money through ad revenue, sponsorships and your own products.

Blogging/Content Publisher

Most people think blogging is dead but they’re completely wrong. The fact you are reading this article right now means that they’re wrong. By you being on this page right now, I’m making money through ads and if you click any of the links on the page I will likely make a commission.

By writing content that focuses on answering people’s questions, you can rank in Google. People will then visit your website. When you have people visiting your site, there is always a way to monetize it.

For example, I used to get paid over $5,000 per month on my Twitch Streaming guide website from ads alone. It made another $1,000 or so from referring products.

Mediavine earnings

I then eventually went on to sell this website for over 6 figures at the end of 2022. So, if anyone tries to tell you blogging is dead, they’re simply wrong.

Amazon Influencer Program

The Amazon influencer program is one of the fastest side hustles I have tried to make money online. You review products from Amazon and your video appears on the product page. If someone watches your video and then makes a purchase, you get a commission.

We put a full free guide together teaching you how to get set up. Pretty much everyone has items in their house that they purchased from Amazon or are sold on Amazon. You simply record a quick 1 – 2 minute video review with your thoughts on the product and upload it.

In my first 30 days of the program, I was able to make over $400. Depending on how many products you have, you can easily add a few hundred pounds to your income each month. If you want to scale you can purchase more products or get products from friends to review.

The Real Benefits Of Escaping The Matrix

Most people look at the cars, mansions, and other luxuries and think that’s what leaving the Matrix means. I can tell you now, that while that stuff is nice, that’s not the true freedom you get from having your own online business.

I have had cars, flown first class, went on luxury holidays etc. While all of that is nice, it honestly doesn’t make you any happier.

The one thing that has brought me the most happiness in life is doing what I want when I want. I wake up at whatever time I want. I go on a 5-week holiday if I want. I play golf on a Tuesday morning if I want.

Changing from an Audi R8 to a beater car doesn’t really change your life at all. You can still drive places. Waking up and doing what you want every day compared to having to be somewhere every day at a set time is a HUGE lifestyle change.

The thing that scares me most about going back to a job is having to answer to someone else every day. Having to ask for permission to travel. I’ve now sold all of my cars and live in a modest house. My expenses are low and my freedom is extremely high. This is way more valuable to me than any of the luxuries.

Just last week, I booked a 4-week trip to Asia with my girlfriend. If I worked a normal job, that wouldn’t be possible. If I did make it work, it would mean having no holidays for the rest of the year.

It’s important to think about this when building your business. Most of us get into it for the luxuries but eventually, you’ll realise they don’t matter. They’re great to have but not at the expense of someone else owning your own time.

Escaping The Matrix Is Not For Everyone

Escaping the Matrix usually requires you to start a business. When you see the social media influencers promoting these business models, they act like you work 2 hours per day and everything is always smooth sailing.

I can tell you for a fact that’s not true. While I really enjoy the freedom of my own business, there are times when I am working a lot more than I ever would in a job. Generally, if I am in my house I’m working. It’s hard to sit down and just relax when I know I could be doing something to grow my business.

Many people won’t want to live life like that and that’s okay. Sometimes, I really miss the beauty of coming home at 6 o’clock and doing whatever I want without even thinking about work. Clocking out at 5 o’clock Friday and clocking back in at 9 o’clock on Monday just doesn’t happen in the early years of your business.

I love running my business. It excites me to work on it. If that’s not you, a job may be a better option.

However, if you really don’t enjoy your job and you don’t see an enjoyable path forward, escaping the Matrix might be the best idea. In my opinion, if you you hate what you do every day, you need to be working every night on your own project, so you can eventually leave the thing you hate behind.

For those who enjoy going to their job and collecting a regular paycheck, that’s also a viable option. Just make sure you’re becoming financially independent through the 7 steps to personal finance.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a rough idea of how you can finally escape the Matrix and live a better life. The first step is simply getting started. Spend a few hours every night working on your business.

Some people may reach a point where they can leave their job in 3 months. For others, it may take 2 to 3 years. Two years may seem like a long time but it’s nothing compared to 40 years of doing something you hate.

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I'm passionate about personal finance and making money. Currently trying to FIRE solely by building online assets. Grew my stock portfolio to £86,000 by 26.
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