This year seems to be the year of the independent businessman. Many individuals are breaking out on their own and starting new ventures. While going out on your own is a very exciting time, it can also be the most stressful part of your life.
I thought I would share my story on how I got be where I am now and what traits you will need if you wish to make it on your own.
The type of personality you have totally dictates what type of worker you are I believe. I have a strong personality and very rarely do I not give my opinion on a matter. In the IT field, when you are young and throwing out your opinions you sometimes get frowned upon by the 50 year old veterans. You see stupid things happening all around you and you become frustrated. I left two jobs simply because of this.
I always knew I wanted to work for myself, but never knew what I was going to do. Somehow I fell into Business Logs and 9rules. Here’s how.
While in undergrad I thought it would be wise to get five credit cards and max every single one of them out. An even better idea was to go to grad school and take out massive student loans. All of this without a job. Then I got the job that turned my life around. I used to work at this “web design” firm (I try to use that term very loosely) during 2002-2003 and the job basically sucked. The hours sucked. The pay sucked. The boss sucked. Typical job right?
I had plenty of ideas for the firm. There were only three of us there, so executing shouldn’t have been a problem. However, at times the boss wouldn’t show up for weeks or would switch plans on us without a moments notice. Obvious blunders were being made and we were missing great opportunities to become successful.
I had been reading numerous blogs for a while and figured maybe our company site could get more traffic if I started a blog on it. The blog was called Pseudo Design (please note that the company site and blog have been redesigned and redone from when I was there). I wrote on the site every single work day because I usually had nothing to do and then one day I got linked by Dave Shea and received a good deal of traffic along with a few more regular readers.
So I am working at a job that I am only allowed to work 20 hours per week and am making maybe $12/hr and the only thing that I have going for me is that I run a blog on a site I don’t even own. I needed more money and I wanted more attention. So I started 9rules.
9rules started off as my own design firm and by firm I mean me working as a freelancer. I created Whitespace because I was seeing how well blogs did in generating traffic. Eventually, my boss found out about 9rules and gave me two options:
- Drop the site, my clients and continue working for her
- Get fired and then sued
I took my own option and made 9rules an Information Architecture firm. So at this time, I am broke, drowning in debt, living with my parents and have no job or clients. Not bad for someone with a Masters degree. Then somehow I got extrememly lucky and came up with the concept for the CSS Vault. I was already making a decent name for myself (notorious name to some), but the Vault is what really put me up there. I never intended for it to be as big as it got, but I got lucky and the timing was right. When I say “big” I mean big for this community.
I continued to write and look for jobs, but everywhere I went they did a background check and saw that I got fired from my last job for breach of contract so I was basically too high of a risk (I won’t go into other reasons why I didn’t get a job). At this point I am doing crappy small-time jobs just so I can have some sense of self-worth and keep my last shred of dignity.
In January 2004 I sold myself out. I had always been of the mindset that blogs should remain pure and untarnished and that meant no ads. However, when you are unable to get a job in your area, unable to buy Christmas presents and sit at home for New Year’s because you have no money, selling yourself out is a much easier thing to do.
19 days of Adsense and I had made $100. Not a lot, but considering that was more than I had made in the past two months I was excited. I figured if I created more blogs and placed more ads on them I could make more money so I started Forever Geek. It seemed like every other week I was starting a new site. Some sticking to the wall, while others fell to the floor. I believe it was around this time that Jon Hicks labeled me as the busiest man on the web.
Jarrod With the Hookup
Jarrod and I became friends by accident. Either I wrote him an email or he wrote me an email one day and our sarcastic personalities mixed well together. We always planned on starting our own company and had the plans laid out when one day he tells me that some guys were interested in starting a company with a couple of other bloggers. The first email that Matthew Oliphant sent out I didn’t receive because he spelled my name wrong. The second one I got and along with Mike Rundle we began to discuss our new company. Business Logs was formed.
From there it was Business Logs and a greater 9rules and adding Colin Devroe for total domination. I wish I could tell you a story where everything was well-executed and planned out, but many of the events that happened in my life occurred through desperation. Many people out there thinking about going on their own hopefully are fortunate enough to have a steady income already that they can build from.
Tomorrow I will talk about some of the traits that you may need to venture out on your own.