The First Six Months – A Decade in the Making

It’s been just over six months since I left the safety and comfort of gainful employment. And I haven’t looked back since.

They say the first six months of starting a new business is among the most challenging, and I would have to agree. And I couldn’t have done it without the help of a fantastic group of friends, colleagues, and most importantly family. My wife and son have been incredibly supportive, and have tolerated many (and I’m sure there will be many more) early mornings, late nights and weekends of work and worry.

Also, I have to thank some tremendous colleagues and friends. I’ve leaned on them for more advice than I probably should have, and they’ve been very generous with their time and suggestions. Folks like Dave Cook at Stoltz Marketing Group. Jane Perlaky at The Agency Creative Network. Paul Carew at Carew Co. John Drake at Drake Cooper. Lou Perlaky at Noot Group. The list goes on and on. I like to think that I’ve been able to learn a little something from every conversation that I have, or get even just a little more focus to what I’m trying to accomplish. And I believe they’ve helped me along the way.

But this story goes back even farther. A decade or so, to be more specific.

It goes back to my days at Albertson College of Idaho (now once again The College of Idaho). It was there that I had my first exposure to this thing called the Internet, and the possibilities that it held. A couple of guys by the names of James Rice and Bryan Davis built a directory of links for the College (Bender and Bonfire’s Netsurf – how’s that for remembering a random fact) and suddenly we were a little closer to people and places that used to seem so far away. Combine that with an outstanding education from the College, and it all just made sense to me. I could see how the Internet could be used, from a practical business standpoint. I was hooked.

As the years went on, the interactive space was always a part of my job experience, whether working with an interactive agency, traditional agencies, or on the client side with a global corporation. I took the experiences from each of those positions, added it to what the past has taught me, and continued to learn and grow.

But like any good story, there’s got to be a twist, right? Well, yes – here’s mine.

In addition to the work that I’ve done in the interactive, marketing, and advertising space, I’ve also worked off and on for the better part of the past decade as a bartender. Yes, a bartender. I’ve had the unique opportunity to study people for hours on end, day after day. I’ve become a student of human behavior. I can see, and understand, people’s motivations behind their actions, even if they themselves don’t always see it. In a way, it could be said that I have a second degree in sociology (although the accreditation could be somewhat suspect).

So, now you have a formal business education, above average knowledge of the interactive space, and an understanding of human behavior. That mix of skills and experience doesn’t easily lend itself to traditional jobs. Until now, I’ve struggled to find a good “fit” with different companies and assorted roles within those companies.

With the rise of social media, and its increased adoption, the light bulb came on, however. The first hints came about a few years ago, as I started digging into things like podcasts, blogs, social networks and more.

As was the case before, it just made sense to me.

And this time, I saw the signs, got a sense of where things were going, and after some long and hard deliberation, made the decision to go out on my own. It was not a decision that was made lightly, or one that happened overnight, that I can assure you of. But when I finally made the choice, a series of events were set in motion that now have me running as fast as I can, and still picking up speed.

I’ve kept a good deal of what I’ve been doing under the radar, and deliberately so. There are a lot of people, particularly online, that love to hear themselves talk, and are not ashamed to tell other what they should be doing – all the while promoting themselves above everything else. I don’t want to be one of those people. At the end of the day, I want to do good work for, and with, good people. And I’m doing just that.

They say that most overnight successes don’t happen overnight, and I couldn’t agree more. Has it been easy? No. Are there still tough times ahead? Of course.

Am I still enjoying what I’m doing? Absolutely.