Nerd Out on Business

How I Nearly Ran Out of Cash to Live (twice) and Was Saved by Quadrant II Learning

Published 9 months ago • 4 min read

Going from no knowledge of software development in 2015 to beginner a year later changed my life.

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey is a classic personal development book. One of its core principles is “Put First Things First,” which is Habit 3.

In the book, Covey introduces a time management matrix to help categorize tasks based on their urgency and importance. Here’s a breakdown:

Quadrant I – Urgent and Important: These are crises, pressing problems, and deadline-driven tasks. For instance, a last-minute project that’s due tomorrow or a medical emergency.

Quadrant II – Not Urgent but Important: This quadrant is the heart of effective personal management. These activities pertain to long-term planning, relationship-building, and personal growth. For instance, exercise, strategic planning, and spending quality time with family.

Quadrant III – Urgent but Not Important: These are tasks that appear urgent but don’t significantly contribute to your long-term goals. Examples include some emails, some phone calls, or other people’s minor issues.

Quadrant IV – Not Urgent and Not Important: These are the time-wasters, like excessive TV watching or doom-scrolling Youtube Shorts.

Covey emphasizes spending more time in Quadrant II, which he considers the quadrant of effectiveness.

By focusing on long-term planning, preparation, and prevention, you reduce the number of crises and urgent-but-not-important distractions in your life.

Here are some examples and ancedotes of Quadrant II activities.

Personal Development:

  • Example: Setting aside 30 minutes a day to read a non-fiction book that expands your knowledge or skills.
  • Anecdote: You start reading books about financial literacy. Over time, you might avoid making a poor speculative investment, saving you from a cash flow crises in the future.

Relationship Building:

  • Example: Having a weekly date night with your spouse or significant other, even when life gets crazy.
  • Anecdote: A couple consistently spends quality time together, despite their hectic schedules. Over the years, this helps you maintain a strong bond, keeps the bedroom active, and reduces the chance of misunderstandings or blowups that might tank the future of your relationship.


  • Example: Attending a few HIIT classes per week or going for a daily morning walk.
  • Anecdote: You start incorporating a 20-minute walk into his daily routine. Over time, not only do you find yourself fitter, but these walks also become a time for reflection and stress relief, improving your overall happiness.

(I’ve come up with multiple game-changing ideas on long walks. They are one of the highest ROI things I’ve done)

Planning and Prevention:

  • Example: Reviewing and updating your monthly budget or setting aside time for weekly and monthly planning.
  • Anecdote: You take time at the start of each quarter to review and plan for the next three months. By doing so, you can anticipate challenges and make proactive decisions, keeping the business on a steady path rather constant firefighting.


  • Example: You take an online course to learn a new language or skill, even if it’s not immediately related to your current job.
  • Anecdote: You decide to learn coding on nights and weekends. While your job doesn’t require coding knowledge, a year later, an opportunity arises in your company for a position that needs coding experience.


  • Example: Engaging in a hobby like painting, gardening, or playing a musical instrument.
  • Anecdote: After a particular stressful stretch of life, you start painting on weekends as a way to relax. Over time, not only does this hobby improve you mental well-being, but you also find a new passion and even starts exhibiting your work at your local art shop.


  • Example: You attend a seminar or workshop in your field, even if there’s no immediate payoff.
  • Anecdote: You attends a seminar, where you meet someone from a different industry. You stay in touch, and years later, you cross paths at a time where you both have startup ambitions and strike up a partnership.

Remember, Quadrant II activities may not shout the loudest for your attention because they’re not urgent.

However, consistently allocating some time to them can lead to a more fruitful personal and professional life. And they might just be the fuel you need to spark your new business’ fire!

My Quadrant II Game-Changer

Back in 2015, I had tried and failed (twice!) to build a SaaS product as a non-technical founder. I had hired two fly-by-night programmers off of Elance (now Upwork).

They sounded like they’d be able to help me build my product but I simply didn’t have the knowledge to know any better. Knowing nothing about programming, development frameworks, and project management….the projects were just too slow and expensive for my budget.

Furthermore, I simply couldn’t contribute anything to the process outside of specifications. I also didn’t understand the basic concept that most good developers are not good designers!

After twice depleting 95% of my liquid net worth on these developers, I decided it was time for me to learn software development so I could understand what the hell these keyboard wranglers were doing! I become proficient at HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Ruby/Rails.

Even more important, I started to consume a lot of content on how to build a software project as a non-technical person. There’s more to building a SaaS product than coding.

After spending a solid year and 100’s of hours educating myself, I was able to:

  • Read code
  • Build wireframes
  • Design database schemas
  • Understand the pros/cons of different programming languages and frameworks
  • Use project management tools to track features and bugs

I spent about a month trying to build the product myself but I quickly grasped that I’d need 1,000’s of hours to become a master programmer. Maybe not the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell says but more time than I was willing to invest.

In late 2015, with wireframes, rough designs, and a preliminary database schema in hand. I was able to find a great local Ruby on Rails shop to build my MVP. After a year of part-time work, I launched the product and generated $50k of revenue during launch week.

If it wasn’t for my Quadrant II investment in learning the ropes of software development I surely would have given up if not filed bankruptcy. I’ll forever be grateful for the vast learning resources available in the computers we carry around in our pockets!

Nerd Out on Business

Helping you start and grow a bootstrapped or "seedstrapped" company

I launched a niche SaaS business in 2017 and sold it for mid-8 figures in 2020. I'm here to help you in your journey to achieve financial freedom while having fun doing so.

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