When I was 20 years old, I decided to take a break from my education and working towards a rather recent goal of pursuing a career in some form of medicine. I had been working in retail management and was not content with corporate retail. I really wanted to start my own business and try things for myself. I had an attempted businesses several times since I was 16 years old. My first small success being an online cell phone and accessories company. However, this time, it would be different because I would be attempting to open a physical store with actual inventory.
I opened my store with $4000 to my name. I use that $4000 to pay first, last, and deposit for the building I would lease. I used to that same money to buy inventory, display cases, and supplies I would need to be able to sell products to customers. It took a lot to spread out the inventory that I had in an attempt to make the store look full. To kick things off, I have the local rock radio station come due a ticket stop and giveaway in front of my store. I believe that the only reason people came inside was due to the fact it was raining outside.
My brother and one of his friends were into gas powered scooters and we’re always complaining that there was nowhere to buy parts or have their scooters repaired. You may remember these noisy scooters that were very popular from 2000 to 2005. That was the sound of money for me until a law was passed making it impossible for kids under the age of 16 to ride them on the street.
One of my first purchases for inventory was one of these scooters. I actually bought one and took it apart so that I would have parts to sell. Timing seems to be on my side because these gas powered scooters would keep my business alive for the next year.
Using my limited website development skills I had obtained from building my first online business, I built a website for my new store. The main products I sold online were these gas powered scooters and parts. That holiday season, I would sell between 15 to 20 scooters each day. At this point, I was buying scooters from a distributor in Southern California. I would climb in a small cargo van and drive to LA to pick up scooters because I needed them faster than they could be shipped.
Weeks later I would place a $18,000 initial order direct with the factory. For the next few months, I would drive to the factory, which thankfully was only an hour away, to pick up truck loads of scooters for my online customers who had already purchased them.
I quickly added other services that were complementary to owning one of the scooters. My store quickly became a repair shop. The owners of the building we were renting were not impressed. This resulted in me having to move my shop to another location in the midst of trying to keep up with the demand of our customers online orders. This meant an increase in overhead expenses.
Each step along the way of this business was a leap. Starting it was a leap. Placing that initial order of scooters was a leap. Moving to a more expensive location was a leap. Hiring employees was a leap. The entire process of owning a business is often a series of leaps. Some are small, some are quite large.
When I decided to start this business I told myself that now was the time because I was young and could easily bounce back. At age 20, it’s not a big deal if you have to scrape yourself off the floor and move back in with Mom for a while. I realized it would be much more challenging to start a business if I had a family of my own.
In 2004, I saw the writing on the wall. I knew that a law would soon prevent kids from riding these scooters on the street and most who owned them would either sell them or put them away forever. I would either have to pivot my business, or try something new. I decided it was time to try something new. I closed my business, sold all of my inventory, and started developing websites for small businesses.
These last few years, I have been putting some of my time into online education. It has been a lot of fun because I have been able to teach people about things I enjoy doing. This last year I have realized that I would really like to shift more of my time toward creating educational content. I realize that this is going to require a shift in the way I currently spend my time.
Creating education content is hard work and requires a lot of time. Creating educational content has been extremely fulfilling to me. I have spent years working and perfecting my process for different aspects of my work as a photographer and website designer. It is fun to be able to teach those processes to others.
Twenty-year-old me would make the full leap into educational content, but thirty-six-year-old me knows that he has responsibilities. Because of that, I will be working on both as I have time. I have clients who I have committed time to and I want to see their projects through. I also have my educational website that I am working on when I have extra time. As we complete client projects, it will free up more of my time to work on the new site. When I get closer to its completion, I will make sure to share about it on my blog.
At this point in my life, I realize that I am a career entrepreneur. Though the idea of getting a job with a company for the quintessential “security” sounds great, I prefer the series of strategic leaps in life. I think that deep inside most of us, we want to leap. We want to try something different or go after an idea. For many, it stays a dream. The fear of failure is too much for some. I have found that failure is an excellent teaching tool that better prepares me for the next thing. I am sixteen years into working solely for myself, and I have yet to hit that home run that would result in an early retirement. I have hit a lot of singles, even a few doubles, but I have struck out more times than I can count. I have also hit a lot of pop flies out to deep left field only to have them caught just short of the fence line.
If I could encourage you to do one thing, it would be to take a leap. Your first leap doesn’t have to be across a raging river of risk. A short leap could be starting that blog you always wanted to put out there. It could be taking your photography hobby to the next level by trying to get a paying client. We live in a world where you can build a business from home using an iPad while watching Storage Wars on Netflix, which is literally what I have been doing these last few weeks. It’s pretty crazy what we can do these days.
In the coming months, I will be creating courses on how to start a business. Whether you desire to start a small blog about your hobby or plan to replace your income with an online venture, my video courses will help you be as ready as possible to take that first leap.
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