In 2006, I thought I had life all figured out. I had just gotten married, bought a house, and started my interactive marketing career at Shaw Industries, Inc. which is the world’s largest carpet manufacturer and a Berkshire Hathaway company. It was a very secure career as I became the company “evangelist” for SEO (search engine optimization) and helped increase traffic year-over-year on their brand websites such as shawfloors.com and shawcontractgroup.com. I worked with a fantastic team and together we accomplished all sorts of great achievements.
So what changed? Why would I willingly choose to leave my career behind at the age of 35? Well, it probably started when I was about 7 years old.
An Entrepreneur Spirit
Looking back, I’ve always had a bit of an entrepreneurial drive in me. As a kid, I was always coming up with ideas to make money…most of which usually got me in trouble.
I once went to the local newspaper stand, put in one quarter, took out ALL of the newspapers, and proceeded to go around the neighborhood selling them for a profit. I thought it was a great idea…until a neighbor called my parents to fill them in on what I was doing. Yes, I had to march back to the newspaper stand and put in the rest of the papers and all of the money I had made. Busted. Lesson Learned.
Some time after that, I decided to have a yard sale…so before my parents woke up I managed to open our garage door and start selling stuff…their stuff. I don’t remember what all was sold or how little was paid for it, but let’s just say that I practically gave away some rather expensive things. Again, busted…lesson learned.
My childhood is filled with similar stories…fortunately none of these ideas are why I left the corporate world!
Months before I began my career at Shaw in 2006, I had created a few websites in the travel industry niche to simply play around with and test out SEO strategies. Those websites grew slowly and when I began my career at Shaw, I would tinker with them at night from time-to-time testing out more strategies. Then something happened that would forever change my life.
In 2008, my bride (I always refer to her as my bride) and I welcomed our first child into the world…a baby boy. I had no idea how much that would affect my life, but he set in motion what would happen next.
My bride was a 2nd grade teacher when our son was born, but wanted nothing more than to be a stay-at-home mom (which I now recognize as the most challenging, yet rewarding “job” in the world!). A deep motivation stirred in me at that point to get my “side-income” to a level where she could retire from teaching and stay home to raise our son. Some people do it for fancy cars, yachts, etc but I found that when your motivation and desire burns deeper than something “material”, the fuel burns hotter and keeps the fire going longer…at least for me anyway.
I then spent numerous late nights, weekends, and any “down time” working on my travel websites implementing all sorts of SEO, email, and other internet marketing strategies to get as many visits to those sites to generate as much revenue as possible.
All of that work, lack of sleep, etc paid off in March of 2009. My websites were acquired by a large company for a cash deal that was large enough to allow my bride to retire from teaching and fulfill her dream of being a stay-at-home mom.
Dream complete. End of story, right? Ohhhh no no. Remember, this was just the “spark”.
After the acquisition, I got a LOT more sleep! We even took a 10 day trip to Hawaii just to catch up on some much-needed time together. She started staying at home, and I went back to completely focusing on my corporate career…or so I thought.
It turns out, that spark created a flame. Something in me had began to change. I had created something from nothing on my own and turned it into a financial windfall. I finally made money without getting in trouble – much to the appreciation of my parents!
I began to wonder…could I do it again? Could I do it bigger? Could I do it to a level that I could pursue it full-time and leave the corporate world? It was a thought that constantly tugged at me and wouldn’t let up. This time, though, I had support, advice, tips, etc from all sorts of people.
I began listening to internet marketing podcasts such as Internet Business Mastery by Jason Van Orden and Jeremy Frandsen, which provided all sorts of tips and strategies for internet marketing. It’s mostly geared toward people who are just getting started with creating an internet business, but there are great interviews and nuggets of info helpful for internet entrepreneurs at any level.
The Internet Business Mastery podcast introduced me to Pat Flynn and his Smart Passive Income podcast, which again had all sorts of tips and strategies for internet marketing. Pat has an inspiring backstory which involves him getting let go from promising architecture career and then prospering with his own business. He put his story in the form of a nifty interactive “book” which you can find at http://patflynn.me/letgo/.
The Smart Passive Income podcast then led me to Mark Mason and his Late Night Internet Marketing podcast which I became a guest on for episodes 23 and 24 where I shared numerous WordPress SEO tips. Mark and I shared the common connection of having a corporate “day job” and then working on our own internet marketing projects late at night. It’s important to find people who can relate to what you’re going through as you can help each other along the way! Simply listening to Mark’s podcast gave me comfort in knowing there were others out there who knew what I was going through!
Those three podcasts and those guys had a large influence in keeping my flame lit and pushing me further. I listened to every one of their podcasts during my drives to and from work to get ideas and simply stay motivated. I’d recommend each of them if you’re involved in internet marketing and looking to either make extra income on the side or pursue it full-time.
Quotes that inspired me
I have a little black moleskine notebook that I’ve jotted down quotes into over the years and here are some of the ones that influenced me along the way.
- “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn
- “If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘a faster horse’.” – Henry Ford
- “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count but the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln
- “It’s not what you know, it’s what you use that makes a difference.” – Zig Ziglar
- “It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” – Jim Rohn
- “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Napolean Hill
- “An average person who develops the habit of setting clear priorities and getting important tasks completed quickly will run circles around a genius who talks a lot, makes wonderful plans, but who gets very little done.” – Brian Tracy
- “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg
- “He who thinks the idea owns nothing. He who executes the idea owns everything.” – MJ Demarco
In 2012, another major event occurred. We welcomed our second child into the world…a baby girl! Just like with our first child, I had no idea at the level of motivation this would bring. This put into motion a fireball of motivation and desire. I began to want to spend more time with my family. I didn’t want to miss any more “firsts”. I didn’t want to miss a single t-ball game. I knew that the requirements of the corporate life would conflict with all of that and more and the only way to “fix” it would be to leave the corporate world.
So that’s what I set out to do.
In the last half of 2012, I replicated the success of my travel websites…but this time on a larger scale. I went back to working late nights, weekends, and any downtime I could find. I won’t lie…I hustled my butt off, but with an amazingly supportive bride and a LOT of prayer I kept pushing on toward my goal…this time with a LOT more fire than the first time.
Speaking of prayer, after a particularly tough day I prayed for guidance and strength as I began to be approached by other companies to take higher-level positions for substantially more salary. I was at a crossroads to either take my corporate career to the next level and be “comfortable” or continue pushing forward with my own business to be able to do exactly what I wanted to do each and every day.
I’ve had many answered prayers in my life, but I’ll never forget this one.
I received an unexpected phone call asking me a question that I hadn’t considered…I was asked if I would be willing to sell my websites. Wow.
Now, the first time that happened in 2009, I didn’t even think TWICE about it. This time, though, was different. I didn’t “need” the financial windfall and I was on a roadmap to turn these websites into a full-time business that would allow me to leave the corporate world and do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, from wherever I wanted.
It wasn’t an easy decision as the offer was tempting. But in the end, I said “no thank you”.
What happened next, though, changed everything.
After turning down the acquisition proposal, I was approached with the opportunity to form a partnership with someone in the same industry to take everything to the next level. Our areas of expertise complimented each other and so we decided to give it a go. And boy did it go!
After forming the partnership, we’ve made acquisitions of our own and have been building a network of websites that have been growing in popularity and revenue month-after-month…even with me only being able to devote a small amount of time on them during nights and weekends.
I knew that the time to transition from my corporate career to my own business was approaching fast and there is an immense amount of pressure when considering “stable” income, 401k, health insurance, life insurance, etc that a corporate career brings. It wasn’t an easy decision at all, but I got another nudge by an unexpected source.
I was listening to a podcast where MJ Demarco was the guest and talking about his book The Millionaire Fastlane. While the name sounds a bit “scammy”, what he was saying was resounding heavily with me and the decisions I was facing. Needless to say, I bought the book and can absolutely say it’s had the largest impact on my outlook on business than any other “business” book I’ve read. It completely put into words what I had been feeling and thinking for years…especially when it talks about creating systems that generate revenue as opposed to trading time for dollars, which was something I knew that I had to change.
The impact was so massive that I actually submitted my resignation on the same day I finished the book!
Corporate life for me has come to a close. It was a fulfilling journey that taught me all sorts of valuable lessons that I’ll carry with me.
Fanning the Flames
I’m “on fire” about my growing business and building value into my own asset that generates revenue even when I’m not working on it. I no longer trade time for dollars and am able to finally do whatever I want, whenever I want, from wherever I want. It’s a sweet mix of freedom as well as discipline that is new to me, but I’m loving every minute of it.
I’ll be sharing all sorts of strategies and tips on this website about how I made all of this happen, so be sure to either subscribe to the RSS feed or signup for the newsletter (below) to get updated. I’ll also be sharing my journey into the full-time entrepreneur world to help others who may be on that same path. I’ve still got a lot to do and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you!
Also, I’ve been kicking around the idea of starting a podcast to share all sorts of internet marketing tips and strategies that can be used on sites of all sizes (small to enterprise) in numerous ways including e-commerce, content publishing, B2B, social, email, etc. If you’d love to get tips through a podcast, please drop a comment below to let me know!
I asked my son (who is now 5) what he thought if I worked from home tomorrow, and the next day, and every day after that. The smile on his face sealed the deal and brought everything full circle. At least now I’ll be home if he ever clears out the local newspaper box or tries to have a yard sale!