It is possible to build a successful business with little more than a great idea and passion for your vision. When I started my business 14 years ago, I really had no idea that my concept would grow into the successful business it did and honestly, I was not prepared for success.
I had always been a big dreamer, always was able to visualize the bigger picture. When the idea came to me, I did not take the time to really figure out how I would handle success, I only believed that it was something I needed to do.
That day, I remember thinking that I could take my existing small business and somehow put it on the internet and make it nationwide. I really knew very little about the internet but I knew this was something I wanted to do.
I ventured down to the nearest store with my $80.00, determined that I was going to purchase software to build my web site. I asked the sales clerk what software I would need to build a web site and he handed me Adobe Pagemill.
I remember getting back to my office and loading it onto my computer and starting at the screen thinking, “what have I gotten myself in to?” I started trying to figure out the software which was probably the most frustrating thing I have ever done in my life. Bound and determined that I was going to do this, I did not give up.
Days went by and I worked on nothing else, over tired, pounding headache, I will never forget the feeling when I was finally able to upload my very first site to the internet. It was one of the most exciting things I have ever done, I was so proud of myself.
Feeling that I could conquer anything, I started researching other software to build web sites. There weren’t many out there and after reading everything I could, I made the bold decision to purchase Macromedia Dreamweaver. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it and soon before I knew it I was building a site every few weeks for what I affectionately referred to as “my little empire.”
I was the first online divorce company and I had very few sales initially. That did not stop me, it did not even slow me down, I researched laws in all 50 states and created all of my own legal documents for each state.
Four months later and 16 sites later, I realized one day that I was successful. I had been so busy working on divorce papers and my sites, I really never took the time to see just how many sales I was doing.
Even today, I am still shocked by the amount of success I had, sales of $30,000 to $50,000 per month with very low overhead, less than $1,000/month. People ask me how I did it and quite honestly, the concept is simple, find a need, fill the need, build and they will come. I had cornered the market early in the game, my sites were grandfathered into the search engines.
Part of my success I contribute to never giving up. I had countless people tell me I was insane, that my idea would never go anywhere, I refused to listen. I believed in myself, I knew I would not quit until I succeeded. Back then I really didn’t know what that benchmark for success would be.
Looking back, I realize that I was not doing it for the money, I was doing it to prove to myself that I could. I never focused on the money, it was always about being the best at what I did and staying one step ahead of the game as things began to change with the internet.
I had copy cats, people who tried to do what I was doing and that only gave me more motivation to be better. All of those copy cats quickly failed, my business was not one that could be copied very easily.
Within a few years I realized what I had done wrong. When I started my company, I did it alone. I did everything myself and I continued to do everything myself which ironically ended up hurting me later. I did not expect the level of success I reached and I was not prepared for the day I realized how burned out I was.
I attempted to sell my company and quickly learned I couldn’t. What made my company impossible to sell was the fact that I was the resource which made the company successful. I had all of the knowledge, experience, and skills that were needed to run the business effectively. This was a harsh lesson, here I was sitting on a very successful business that I could not sell unless I was willing to go with the new owner. Why would I do that? Why would I sell the business to keep doing exactly what I was doing for less money?
I will not get into the secrets on how I did it because those are now considered my “trade secrets.” I will say this, I started my business before the pay per click, before Google, and before there was much internet marketing . I am very proud to say that I never, not once, paid a dime for advertising.
I have helped several other people take their business online and showed them how to do it without making a huge investment. All of those I have helped have sites sitting in the top 5 of Google and Yahoo without paying to be indexed.
It does require a lot of hard work and definite passion for what you do but it can be done. To this day I find it amusing, all of the SEO stuff, Google, etc and I always smile when I read different articles on the subject of growing an online business. What I learned was far more simple and to this day, I have refused to buy in to all of that stuff.
I have gone on to other things now and I always use the same approach and it has never proved to be wrong. I tell those who ask me to invest in themselves, working long hours day after day does take a toll and keeping yourself healthy and focused is important. Learn everything you can, even if you hire someone to do the work for you because knowledge will never be taken away.