My entrepreneurial spirit sparked in my youth, igniting various ventures. At 11, my brother Aaron and I launched a neighborhood lawn mowing service. In grade school, I ran a mobile candy bar and chip business. High school brought knockoff designer purses and bootlegged apps into the mix. Yes, I was a bit of a rebel. Yes, I was dirt poor. Yet, my mindset told a different story.
I’d ponder how many days until my next ‘re-up’, and bartered TWIX and SNICKERS bars like a startup founder. I’d plan ahead and ask my mom for a ride to COSTCO a few days early so I never ran out of candies. Even then, the allure of charting my own course played a role in every step I took. Fast forward years later, and that longing drove me to finally exit the safe corporate village I’d known – to blaze my own trails. While rewarding, going solo has meant endless twists, turns, pitfalls, and unexpected forked roads. My entrepreneurial journey has allowed me to prove to myself time and time again that I can move mountains – and I want to share some hard-won navigational lessons.
When I decided to swing for the fences by launching a cannabis-focused web agency, it aligned perfectly with my expertise in building digital eCommerce vehicles. Based on this ‘green rush optimism’, I plotted launch plans, secured business banking, and envisioned first-month success serving dispensary clients. But little did I know the emotional peaks and valleys that lay around every corner…
A Rocky Start
Shortly after CONSIDERABLE prep work, I encountered an unexpected storm. The threat of a financial seizure arose due to regulatory hurdles in the cannabis industry. With my new ‘base camp’ finally built, this major setback hit hard initially.
As most founders know, the entrepreneur’s journey seldom follows a straight line. In the wise words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” This early jolt certainly felt like a blow, forcing me into an urgent pivot without a map.
I discovered that working with cannabis-adjacent businesses requires specialized financial processors akin to those serving high-risk industries. Since I represented an ancillary entity not directly touching cannabis plants, I still needed to clear regulatory hurdles. Having bootstrapped early ventures as a scrappy go-getting hustler from San Francisco, this presented a formidable challenge at first.
Though daunting, I leaned on 1st principle instincts to assess resources, identify personal ignorance, rely on creativity, and bridge the gap. Once the shock subsided, I channeled an intense energy to keep pursuing my vision through adaptability. So I persisted with characteristic immoderation.
I refused to abandon my visions. I expanded my target beyond the single-industry rabbit hole I had dug. If I couldn’t beat the path before me, I’d forge another. This drive led me to research ways to shoulder two digital marketing agencies. My goal: to create highly affordable channels of cash flow, leveraging my skills for marketing and outreach. I researched one software at a time, reverse engineering my ‘dream tech-stack’ and prioritizing the tools I could activate within my budget. Carefully planning for long term expansion.
With both agencies open for business at a sustainable price point, I took responsibility for the entire workload. I knew that compounding revenue models (like websites) would support my time investment, allowing me to market and grow both companies simultaneously. But this strategic move was not just a business plan; it was a step towards realizing my initial quest to overcome poverty.
Now with my eyes set on a processor that would finally verify my entity and myself – I needed to create an LLC. So I pressed forward. I believed the foundations and skills i’d already built would propel me to new heights. I figured – “Whats one more unconquered peak?” Onward and upward!
Navigating this growth phase demanded a resilience level I hadn’t experienced before. I took a bold step, distancing myself from conventional marketing lessons and diving headfirst into the insightful worlds of Myron Golden, Diary of a CEO, and the wisdom of Robert Greene. It was more than just acquiring knowledge; it was a journey of unlearning and reprogramming.
Confronting old belief patterns, especially those rooted in frustration (previously dictating my stress tolerance thresholds), became a crucial undertaking. The revelation dawned upon me – agency owners, negotiation virtuosos, find themselves in negotiations about 105% of the time. The rebellious spirit within me needed a makeover, a conscious curation to harness its energy effectively.
Transitioning from the simplistic goal of “winning negotiations” to the nuanced art of setting expectations and ensuring an absolute knockout performance marked a pivotal shift. It wasn’t just about negotiations anymore; it was about orchestrating success. This transformation allowed me to channel the same energy that once brought excitement into a focused understanding of how to ‘knock it out of the park.’
This shift in mindset wasn’t just a philosophical recalibration; it had tangible effects on my sales approach. The energy I invested in negotiating now became a well-directed force, propelling me to new heights.
Then after handling some legal considerations in late December, I dove headfirst into rapidly expanding my abilities in web development, design, writing, and even video production. With websites at the core, I realized just having sharp technical programming chops wasn’t enough. I needed to complement coding with creating compelling content, storytelling, and optimizing user experiences.
Leveraging online courses and mentorship opportunities, I leveled up my UI/UX eye, copywriting capabilities, and overall digital marketing wheelhouse. I firmly believe part of being an entrepreneur means expanding your own knowledge first so you can better empower customers. It helps to take advantage of the massive amount of free resources out there.
Meanwhile, I also picked up a side gig in hotel hospitality and invested my earnings into funding this entrepreneurial quest. This balancing act taught the me the value of financial diligence and keeping a balance sheet. Through all of this, I stayed focused on the vision of ultimately helping fellow business owners make an impact through their web presence.
A Valley of Persistance
With my foundations set and a polished pickaxe service bundle, I still had to crawl for traction. I vigorously chiseled then paved roads less traveled – using inbound methodology coupled with constant optimization. Celebrating micro-wins and high-fiving myself in the mirror was a regular occurance.
I harnessed my website analytics to guide some fine-tuning, like A/B testing different homepage headlines and visuals to boost conversion rates. I also integrated email nurturing funnels, optimizing campaign segmentation and subject line phrasing through open and click analytics on HubSpot. Thankfully; I learned to prospect over 1k high intent potential clients signaling for my services, verify their data, and upload it to my CRM in just a few hours. This has allowed me to keep my pipeline overflowing since i’ve started my cold outreach campaign. I now use this newly acquired skill to service local Solar and Real Estate professionals who want targeted ‘blitz lists’ (B2C Lists), which is great. My services have always aimed to help brands and people thrive on auto-pilot by directing their digital marketing for them, freeing founders to claim new territory.
A light at the end of the Tunnel?
As I write this along the path, I’m weary yet wired by progress. With my frameworks constructed, I feel ready to bring value to the digital marketing space. I’m critiqing my process in supporting eCommerce travelers seeking a prosperous and resilient journey. By obsessing over hard-won lessons, I envision my services like an alchemist, turning the complex digital landscape into an inviting trail.
Having emotionally whitewater-rafted this far as an entrepreneur, I’d tell every founder to expect the unexpected. Get to know Murhpy’s Law; because Murphy is gonna give ya’ a visit. But by stacking skills, mindsets techniques, and support systems; you’ll invariably climb the mountain you set out to summit. Remember the climb is not about being any higher than others – but having the ability to see more than you did before.
I couldn’t honestly say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. On my train, the ‘lights’ never went out – or at least I never lost faith in myself. Either way; I do see a future where my services and experiences can help guide businesses to digital marketing success, opening them up to new heights of opportunity too.