My Journey To Becoming An Entrepreneur
My story begins like most, it is the decisions I have made that have taken me to this path I travel down today.
From a young age I have known that I was not like most people. Back in the 80's they didn’t understand kids like me, so I was quickly labeled with a ADHD diagnoses. The truth was, school bored the hell out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved learning. I absorbed everything I read. I just felt like, and still feel like, the current educational system does not praise individuality and creativity. Because of this I spent a lot of time in the principals office.
My dad never went to college, but he worked hard and was able to build a successful small business. He had a Sams’s Club card, and I would go with him occasionally when he would pick up supplies. I was in third grade when we walked down the candy isle and I noticed how much cheaper it was to buy candy wholesale. With a small investment from my dad, I bought a few cans of ‘Splashers’ gum, (if you grew up back then you will remember, when you chewed it it turned your mouth a different color). From the back of class, I set up shop. I would sell 1 piece for 25¢ or 5 for a dollar. The teacher eventually shut me down, but I was pulling in like $40 bucks profit weekly. That was my first taste of selling shit, and I was hooked. That summer, me and a friend dragged a push mower and weed eater around the neighborhood knocking on doors hustling up all the work we could get our hands on.
Skip forward to high school, I would bounce out during lunch, so I could go work under the table at a Chinese food restaurant, (I was too young to work legally, so I would get paid cash daily). I worked in the back washing dishes during the lunch buffet. The owner would give me $20 bucks and a free lunch. I was told from a young age that to get what you want you have to work hard, I never minded working hard. I just always wanted to work hard bringing my own dreams to life, not someone else’s. As I got older I worked almost every job imaginable, from telemarketing, (which I was a beast at), working at lumberyards, to stacking boxes at a warehouse for 12hrs a day, and that is just the short list. I never stayed at any of them long, as I always felt like there was something more.
Then something happened that changed everything. I had a daughter. I was eighteen, and needed money, so, I decided to learn a trade so I could provide for my young family. I became a sheet metal worker, and while the pay was decent, I always knew it would end. I put my nose to the grindstone and within two years I went from running materials around for a small company in Louisiana, to running multi-million dollar projects at resorts in the Vail Valley. Still it wasn’t enough, and I spent my free time researching starting up my own company.
By this time I had decided to go back to college, I had to pay for it myself, so I went to a community college in Colorado a few blocks from where I lived. I made decent grades, but I still felt like I was wasting my time. I read an article back in 2006 in entrepreneur magazine about the best businesses to start from home. Most of them were crap, but when I looked at the return on investment and profits for web consultants I got interested. I found some tutorials online, opened up a text editor and before you know it:
<?php echo ‘<h1>Hello World</h1>’; ?>
I had arrived.
I continued to play around and learn how to code on my own by watching YouTube tutorials, and researching the web. However, I decided to switch my major to CompSci. It was in one of my computer science courses, that I received some valuable advice. My professor, looked at my work, looked me in the eyes, and said, “If you are serious about working in this field you are better off dropping out of college and taking a junior position at a software company”. I took his advice, landed a job at a great tech startup, learned as much as I could, and within a year I handed in my two weeks notice with a plan to start my own company.
I jumped all in at first, made a lot of mistakes, and adapted. I believe that is what separates great entrepreneurs form everyone else. They embrace failure. They learn. They adapt, then they try again. My first two business made money, but the revenue model was not scalable. I was developing sites for small business, and doing some graphic design work. I was making a good salary, but I wasn’t going to get rich at the pace I was going. I let them die, and moved to something else.
Now, I am focusing on my new startup wplabs.us and using the revenue from my consulting business to bootstrap the whole thing. After one week, we are revenue positive. I have a firm belief that ideas are useless until you implement them. This belief shapes my daily routine. Instead of spending hours a day planning, I focus on what will get me the greatest return on my time, and how can I bring more value to my customers.
The most important thing is, that I am finally doing what, I know, I have been supposed to do my entire life. I know there are still many obstacles to conquer, but that is what gets me out of bed everyday. I look forward to the challenges and enjoy finding ways to solve problems and build value. Being an entrepreneur is a constant learning process. Everyday, I am evolving, my workflow becoming more efficient.
An important thing I learned, is that if you are wanting to be an entrepreneur to work less, you are making a mistake. It is 7:50am right now, and I have been up for three hours updating the social media profiles for the three businesses I am currently running, setting up my daily sales goals, and mapping out another SaaS application I am working on. Oh, and I got to bed around 1:30am after spending hours doing some programming for a consulting job I am working on. If your looking for short days, keep your day job. With that said, if you have the drive and are willing to put in the work, then the world is yours…