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Start Here: Key Articles & My Escape from Cubicle Prison 

Wow, it’s been a journey turning 7 businesses into money machines run by employees, and I’ve learned a lot on the way that I’d like to share with you.

 

In this post, you’ll learn:

  1. What is Fast FI (Fast Financial Independence)?
  2. The top articles and resources you should check out on the blog.
  3. How I built my personal money machine and why my experience can supercharge your pursuit of FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early = FIRE).
 
 
 

Why Fast FI?

 

Our Fast FI community has one primary goal: Help you build your money machine to achieve financial freedom FAST while managing risk.

What is fast, you might ask?

 

Fast to us means 5 years or less from $0 to FIRE.  The math of high return cash flow investing works out that the average college graduate can achieve financial freedom in 5 years or less using Fast FI principles. This article will set you on a path to supercharge your FIRE journey.

Our Catching FIRE series discusses three paths to wealth: Frugal FI, The Way of Wealth, and Fast FI. If you’d like to check my math on <5 years to retirement, the 3rd article in our Catching FIRE series covers the math behind financial freedom using Fast FI investing strategies by combining Frugal FI and The Way of Wealth.

 

However, to fully understand the concepts of Fast FI you need a little more context on the topic. I suggest you read our Beating Billionaires post first, and then all three Catching FIRE posts to get better context for the Fast FI investing perspective.

  

  • 32% Return: The Investing Strategy that Beats Billionaires: In this article, I explain the core of our Fast FI methodology of investing that beats the return earned by the funds of top billionaires of Wall Street like George Soros and Warren Buffett. Impossible? Well, the Harvard Business School disagrees since they did the research. Seriously, I was baffled when I learned that these investing ideas had been around for decades, but nobody talks about them. I wrote the above article outlining the strategy then created two whole infographics explaining the numbers: Beating Billionaires Infographic and Search Fund Infographic. The Fast FI Club is built off this core investing strategy as well. I explain how the Fast FI strategy significantly cuts down the timeline to achieve financial freedom in the third article of the Catching FIRE series. Below I offer a quick synopsis of our Ultimate Guide to Catching FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)
 
  • Catching FIRE 1: Frugal FI’s Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom: Our article on Frugal FI discusses the path to financial independence (FI) through cutting costs and living a meaningful but frugal lifestyle. Some famous bloggers have popularized this approach, and it can be done off a normal salary by living an abnormal life. This article also provides the foundation I believe that is necessary to progress to The Way of Wealth, the next article in the series.
 
  • Catching FIRE 2: The Way of Wealth’s Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom: Although I believe Frugal FI offers a bedrock perspective for anyone seeking financial freedom, growing wealth is the way most people want to achieve financial freedom. The Way of Wealth discusses the path to growing your income and passive cash flow to achieve financial independence, financial freedom, and ultimately a meaningful life.
 
 

After those critical articles, there are a few more popular articles that you might want to check-out to finish fleshing out the concepts:

 

  • Passive Money Machine – Fast FI’s Strategy: This article delves more into Fast FI’s Passive Money Machine concept. The core of this strategy is that the fastest, easiest way to build a passive money machine is an investing club working with talented operators who passive-FI cash flowing small businesses and an Overwatch entity that monitors and fixes everything that goes wrong. This brings the highest return, with the fastest financial freedom time horizon to deliver the financial freedom you desire.
 
  • Debunking Wall Street Wisdom: When Wall Street is unanimously telling you to invest in anything (currently, index funds), run. Run for the hills. Group think in investing is the poison of returns. In this article, I slay the sacred cows of Wall Street and debunk the half truths spoken by the lords of finance. Common wisdom in investing means commonly poor returns and high chance of loss of capital.
 
  • De-Risk High Returns – Portfolio Incubator Strategy: This article along with our Beating Buffett: The Fast FI Portfolio Guide (Click Here) resource offers a step past high returns to practical portfolio building to balance risk using high return cash flowing assets. This strategy is best done by a group of people co-investing with a similar set of investing goals (cash flow/growth/financial freedom…etc). This article builds out the case for a search fund incubator, similar to our Fast FI Club, as an investment vehicle. Since individual operators or investors will have a hard time effectively incubating deals that offer a cash flowing path to investing for financial freedom. The goal of us investing together is to develop our Fast FI Club as a portfolio incubator with people who have similar values. This strategy mimics the brain trust I’ve created in my own business and our Fast FI Club to execute on the Fast FI strategy together.
 
 
 

 Fast FI Investing Club

 

Once you’ve read some or all of the articles above, then you can learn more and get to executing on your passive money machine by joining our Fast FI Investing Club.

The key here in executing on our Fast FI investing methodology is that we do this not individually, but as a club. Individually, it’s hard to achieve the types of consistent, scalable returns that allow you to execute a Fast FI strategy.

That’s an understatement. It’s so difficult that the people who know how to make a small business into a passive investment oftentimes sit back, and retire off the cash flowing asset.

 

I took a good decade learning how to invest my own money in a way that beats Warren Buffett’s return to shareholders, George Soros’s Quantum Fund, and other billionaire fund managers. However, it’s hard to execute this strategy by yourself. Ultimately, from going through the past decade I realized that together we can accelerate everyone’s path into wealth.

In our Fast FI Club we provide education, access to like-minded people, and a straightforward path to achieve FIRE in 5 years, all while having the opportunity to beat Warren Buffett’s investing return.

  

That’s a big promise, but it’s also simple math and an investing strategy that’s been known and researched by Harvard Business School for a few decades. This isn’t new. The reason you might not know about investing in high return assets like small businesses and search funds is simple. Wall Street hasn’t yet found a way to benefit by you investing in main street.

All the big financial firms have a cadre of educators discussing how you should put your money into giant funds, because they make money on fees for those funds, not because it’s the best investment in the market.

I cover the details in the above articles along with our investing philosophy, so make the decision for yourself.

 

 

Have I piqued your interest?

Join our email list for more incredible articles, investing education, and opportunities or learn more about our Fast FI investing club here.

 

Joseph Drups Origin Story

 

Now that I’ve given you a summary of our top investing articles and resources, let me take you back through my journey so you understand where these ideas came from.

After all, everyone likes a good origin story.

 

 

Escape from Cubicle Prison

 

Back in 2012 I was a starry eyed, Air Force officer, with a desire to make the best of a sentence in cubicle prison.

I had gone into the Air Force to pay for my college and serve my country. I came from a family of 4 biological siblings and my parents had adopted another 5 children when we left the house for college (yes, 5 children!). With a family of 11, my dad candidly couldn’t pay for my siblings and I to go to college, so I decided that spending 4 years in the military seemed like a good way to avoid piling on debt while getting real world job experience.

 

For me, a kid out of college without any real world skills, the Air Force was a good first job. Yes, it felt like my soul died a little each day for 4 years, but I learned a lot about operations, leadership, engineering bombs, and also I learned about the work I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life. Sure, it’s good to run toward a dream, but running away from something that you hate can also be quite motivating.

Try it for yourself. To kick off your work-out one morning, set loose an angry rottweiler to chase you and see if you run faster than you would on a treadmill… But I digress.

 

During this time, I focused on self improvement and learning as much as I could. I scraped together 2 hours every day working toward my dream of financial independence.

I also set a hard date when I would achieve financial independence. To me that meant not working for someone else and working toward my dream of owning a successful business. I set the date that my Air Force commitment was over to go out on my own and launch my dream.

I had 4 & 1/2 years to make something work.

 

During my time in the military, I continued building business concepts, and testing them in the market, but nothing stuck. I iterated through a web application, a blog concept, an online course, and then tried a partnership with a friend. Car flipping, house flipping, … you name it I tried it out. Side hustle after side hustle and nothing was making me enough money to quit working, and my date was coming up fast.

 

 

The Plunge: Into the Jungle

The time came for me to exit cubicle prison, but there weren’t angels singing and a light shining at the end of the tunnel. Instead there was me walking out of an office with a box of my stuff past rows of cubicles in a dingy, poorly lit corridor. Before leaving the building, I stood looking at the glass doors and saying my goodbye to a life of certainty.

On the other side of those doors, was the jungle. It was the real world marketplace where I would succeed or fail based on my own decisions, market demand, and hustle. I stepped out and entered the jungle without yet successfully generating an income.

 

Since none of my entrepreneurial experiments had succeeded up to this point, I decided to offer a basic service and trade my time for money. I had a good head for business operations and had taught myself programming, website development, digital marketing, and a whole set of complementary skills over the last decade of improving my skillset.

The first year was pure hustle. I pounded the pavement and ate gravel to build an initial clientelle.

 

After the first year, I could pay my basic expenses.

I talked to every business owner I could and ultimately built up a salary from my digital marketing firm to match my engineering salary after about 2 years. Then I kept it growing.

It turned out I was pretty good at marketing and operations. On top of that, small business owners need A LOT of help, and I could fill in the gaps with what they didn’t do well.

 

However, after two years out from leaving the Air Force, my stream of income was securely tied to my time.

I gradually started to build processes that allowed me to spend less time and earn the same or more income. I hired contractors, freelancers, and employees. I built processes and delegated the entire process of building online funnels.

I searched for a way to break the chaing between my time and my income. This is a critical goal in anyone’s pursuit of passive income and I discuss it in more depth in my article on The Way of Wealth.

In the third year after taking the plunge, I discovered small business investing and it changed my life forever.

 

 

Small Business Investing

For years up to my first acquisition I learned everything I could about investing while savings and reinvesting my cash in my marketing firm and side ventures. At the three year point, I was making plenty of money from my marketing firm to reinvest in other businesses. As I began to explore the marketplace for acquiring businesses and build relationships with brokers, I realized that you could purchase successful small businesses for around 3 times earnings. At the time, popular public companies sold for 20x-60x+ times earnings.

 

The investment case was incredible.

 

On top of that, I could get a loan that would be paid off by the asset and I could utilize my skills at marketing and operations to improve the business… I was sold.

I read every book I could find on acquiring small businesses, and I started looking for my first business acquisition.

 

The first business I bought was a small complaints website that did a few hundred dollars per month of revenue. After managing it for a few years and building out processes, I was able to grow it up to $7,000+ in monthly recurring revenue with virtually no overhead and it requiring under 1 hr per month to manage the project.

Shortly after purchasing this first business, I acquired a larger company that sold colored sand online. This was my first larger company that I acquired and it came with a team of employees to manage.

 

That moment was truly life changing for me.

Up until that point, growing wealth was a difficult, risky, and uncertain grind. I tried many ventures that failed or succeeded small, so I knew from hard earned personal experience the likelihood of success in a start-up was low.

Acquiring a successful business was entirely different. You knew the business concept worked from the beginning. You knew up front how much income the business would bring in, and how much cash it would take to achieve that income.

 

Sure, it was A LOT of work, and initially I was buying a job, but the path to high returns and true wealth was tangible.

 

I purposefully purchased a business 45 minutes away from my house. That meant I’d have to rely on the employees to run the business, but I could visit it when I needed to. As I was building out methodologies to manage remotely, empower staff, and mitigate risk, I acquired and merged two additional brands to the same location.

This set of businesses were my training wheel companies in acquiring and running businesses. Purchasing a successful business is like buying an MBA and taking it in 6 months.

 

My business did well and I grew it about 50+% in the first two years of owning it. Then I decided to scale the concepts I had learned while going after larger and larger businesses. In 2020, I acquired another business, then in 2021, and 2023.

With each acquisition, I improved the process and grew my knowledge of investing and operating small businesses. In 2023, I ran the numbers and assuming reasonable valuations, I estimated a 142% return on my money. Those numbers are insane.

 

I wrote an article (Beating Billionaires) on this where I put the returns in context. The three top money managers of my time are: Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, and George Soros. All of them averaged less than 32% in their funds.

This got me thinking.

 

 

Fast FI Club

 

If I could get a group of people interested in investing together, we could scale what I’ve been doing and give a reasonable split to managers, investors, and operators while still beating the best returns of the top money managers in the world.

On top of that, we could more than triple the expected return that most financial freedom communities talk about in index and bond investing.

 

With that idea, the seed of our Fast FI club was planted. The basic idea is that you can retire A LOT faster if you can triple your returns versus index fund investing. High returns can be achieved through buying small businesses but few people will have the skillset to do this effectively, so why not invest together as a club? That’s what the third article in my Catching FIRE series discusses.

  

You can cut your time to retirement in a THIRD!

 

I’m convinced the best way to maximize your return is to invest in small businesses. Wall Street isn’t wired to invest in main street, because they deal with sums of money in the $100’s of MILLIONS or even BILLIONS.

That’s a lot of money. It’s TOO much money to effectively invest in small businesses.

 

I discuss some of the falsehoods of Wall Street and their mediocre returns in my Debunking Wall Street article. For too long, I’ve stared baffled at the low returns Wall Street manages, and the insistence of Wall Street’s ruling elites to celebrate their mediocre returns as exceptional, but I digress.

Small investors could have their lives changed by a single successful cash flowing small business. Those opportunities are EVERYWHERE.

 

What if I could bring together a group of operators that would run these businesses, buy down risk by diversifying the investment approach, and give investors the chance to cut their time to retirement down to 5 years?

The math works. I’ve already been executing the investment strategy. All that’s left is you.

 

If you’d like to learn more about our Fast FI Club, check it out here: Fast FI Club.

I’ll be dropping more investing articles on the blog, so if you’ve enjoyed our articles, sign-up for our Drups Investing email list, and I’ll send you a 3-pack of articles and a Fast FI portfolio guide to build your high return portfolio safely.

I look forward to going on this journey together. In the mean time, I’ll end my article like I do most of them. With a quote to think about.

 

“Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.”

– Benjamin Franklin in The Way to Wealth

Author: Joseph Drups

Joseph Drups specializes in acquiring and turning small businesses into passive cash flow machines. With this strategy, he incubates high return, cash flow portfolios for investors. 

Joseph’s primary experience is in acquiring, merging, and managing 12 businesses from early phase start-ups to scaling past $9MM in revenue over a 10 year period.
 
This experience includes passiv-FI-ing 6+ small businesses, and leading Drups Ventures to the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. 
 
Learn more about Joseph’s Origin Story, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Beating Buffett:
Fast FI Portfolio Guide

What if I told you there was an investing secret known at our elite institutions which could propel your returns to beating Buffett?

In our article on, 32% Return – The Strategy that Beats Billionaires, we outlined an investing method that corroborates Harvard Business School’s research alongside our own returns in high return investing. Click below to learn more.

What is a Search Fund?

Search Funds are a powerful vehicle that allows you to invest in small businesses passively. 

We created a Search Fund Primer to give you a summary of the process, unique insights into search fund investing, and the research accomplished by Harvard Graduate school that covers Search Fund investing. Click below to learn more.

Beating Buffett: Fast FI Portfolio Guide

The Beating Buffett Portfolio Guide offers an investing strategy to beat the Titans of Wall Street like Warren Buffett.

  • Investing Secrets of Elites: Learn about the Harvard Business school investing methodology  that returns 3x an index fund.
  • Safe, High Returns: De-risk your high returns using the risk mitigation strategies of billionaires.
  • Fast FI Strategy: Learn an investing method to achieve Financial Freedom in  5 yrs or less.

Search Fund Primer

What is a search fund?

A search fund is a little understood vehicle that allows an acquisition entrepreneur to go purchase a business and run it. 

This method of investing in small businesses offers a passive and outsized return compared to other investment funds. 

In this primer, we delve into the Harvard Business research as well as our own experience related to acquiring small businesses.

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  • 3x Returns: We offer an investment concept that may double or triple your returns. 
  • 5 Years to Retire: Our Fast FI focus looks for paths to retire in 5 years or less. 
  • Passive Money Machine: Passiv-FI your income by building your passive money machine.

HELOC Personal Bank Sheet

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De-Risk High Returns Spreadsheet

Click below to download this spreadsheet and begin de-risking your portfolio: 

  • Portfolio Balance Sheet: Get a portfolio balance sheet template to calculate net worth, assets, liabilities, cash flow, and income.
  • Risk Analysis: Download an automated spreadsheet to calculate your portfolio risk and help de-risk your portfolio.

Savvy Saving Spreadsheet

In this resource, we offer the process we use to carry out Zero-Based Budgeting and include a lot of other nuggets of gold for cutting costs, and increasing savings for a small business owner.

Click below to download the resource.