Starting a business out of college was tough. I thought I was smart enough to figure everything out. The truth is my first business failed miserably, cost me a lot of money and made me question an entrepreneurial life.
A little back story on my failures:
My first company was a website design firm. In college I took a few classes on web design and human computer interaction (an old school term for user experience design). My professors ensured me that my skills would sell themselves and what I knew was valuable so anyone would hire me.
Upon graduation I went out and started my own web design company confident that I was the shit and people loved me. I based the business model around my web design skills, a network of friends and family, but mostly a belief that my skills would sell on their own and people would magically find me online.
While my web design skills were ok (admittedly not great), the other two foundations of my business flat out sucked. My network was unproductive and surprisingly no one magically found me online.
Like most failing entrepreneurs I made excuses!
During this failure I thought people just didn’t want web designers anymore (WordPress and Squarespace were the devil), didn’t want to pay for a better product or that I was just not good enough. I was wrong on all three points. But as green as I was I gave up. Instead of sticking it out and trying to grow my business in other ways I sought out jobs from more established businesses.
After a few strange interviews that made me feel like I was back in middle school gym class getting picked last, I landed an internship. Yes, an internship. I swallowed my pride (hell I went to college and had crazy debt) as a “budding” entrepreneur who thought I was set in life and better than everyone who worked a normal job.
During this internship I realized three things.
One: I was good enough at what I wanted to do.
Two: People did want to pay a premium for a better product.
Three: I shouldn’t make excuses
My previous failures were not a result of my skills, but rather my understanding of how customers consumed. Things don’t sell themselves and people just don’t magically find you. The key to growing a company is knowing how to focus on growth and value at the same time.
After realizing this I soaked up everything I possibly could during my internship. So much so that I got another internship on the side.
This next internship really changed the trajectory of my career and my life. I worked alongside an entrepreneur that really understood other people. He knew how to grow a company from nothing and find people who wanted his product even before they knew they wanted it. Instead of guess and check, he had a system.
At the end of that internship I had a choice to make. Stay on as full time employee or go out on my own with the lessons I had learned. I took the plunge, dove headfirst into starting a new company. My previous boss was actually excited for me when I told him my decision.
The second go around was much more successful. Sure I learned from my mistakes from the first failure, but more importantly I had experience well beyond my years. The experience wasn’t mine alone, but a series of events that my mentors had shared with me.
Without my first failure and a few mentors taking me under their wing I would still be living in my parent’s basement, or even worse working a job I hated for little to no pay.
After a few years of success at my second company, Oddentity Media, I started branching out with other companies, investing in startups and writing about what I do. 2 of the companies I started now do over 100k in sales and this blog generates thousands of views a week. None of this would have been possible without the guidance from mentors that knew what they were talking about.
Instead of making excuses I got my hands dirty and learned from people much smarter than me.
So why am I telling you this story?
I just want to help others dreaming of starting their own business and entrepreneurs who want to grow their business like crazy.
The SproutHack.com blog was created to help people start their own businesses and learn how to market them effectively. Over the past couple of weeks 16 out of our over 2,000 unique readers have asked us to help with their business on a more one-on-one basis. We didn’t want to just do consulting work anymore. We really want to have an ongoing relationship where we can really help people starting their own businesses or trying to grow an existing one.
We are excited to officially launch Sprout Hack Academy, (actually just opening it up to the public.. see below) a one-on-one coaching program.
This coaching program will include:
One-on-one mentoring, weekly calls, customized plans for growth and… results. Previous students (who paid for our private consulting services) went on to launch chart topping mobile apps, run blogs that generate livable incomes, and get accepted into top rated startup accelerator programs.
We are opening up Sprout Hack Academy and are limiting ourselves to just 10 students. That’s it!
You can learn more and reserve your spot at https://sprouthack.com/coaching
****As of the writing of this article 4 spots have already been taken. (We sent out a little update to our newsletter subscribers first)