Small Business Ownership and Leveling Up
I wanted to take a moment and pull back the curtain on my business endeavors over the last 10 years. As well as help you get started or push forward in your own business. Small business ownership is often romanticized and Im really not a fan of that, because it is hard work, has massive risk and lets be honest, youll miss out on things in life. Still, at the end of the day, I would not change this life for anything!
This post is adapted for an article I was asked to write.
As a quick back story, I created a graphic design company my sophomore year of high school, which later turned into PixelBit (my current company).
Towards the end of 2015 while going over the company’s reports I made a very conscious decision that in 2016 I would double our revenue. This would be no easy task and like all things in life, we need help to achieve our greatest results. While the company has been profitable since the early days, Ive always been driven to grow and level up year after year. I refer to this as the entrepreneurial bug, and I was bit by it at a pretty young age.
I attribute 2 groups/people for kicking my butt in this regard. The first was Id been a member of an entrepreneurial group, Secret Entourage for a while and heard about a business challenge, so I of course signed up. The objective of the challenge was to pick a 6 month goal (Jan – Jul) and work in a small team to meet/achieve that. The other person I thank for kicking my butt is Jamie from Eventual Millionaire, she ran a 7 day challenge and I instantly was seeing results. I dont write this as an ad, nor am I even linking directly to them, just that we need people in our corner to help us level up.
I decided to join the business challenges for the networking opportunities and hearing various perspectives (eureka moments might not happen as often if you constantly surround yourself with people who think the same as you). While I do have mentors and advisors, I always welcome input for varying perspectives.
My graphics company was profitable since its early days. Fortunately, web companies don’t require too much start up capital. and I originally was classified as a sole-proprietor, so I didnt have a complex tax situation. Honestly, if you have the talent and a spare $500, you can start a web-based service business. The problem was in the early days I was unable to take a paycheck. When starting out I was having a tough time finding good clients, I found all the bad ones though! Thankfully I didnt have too many expenses but I still needed to find some outside freelance work (with other companies) to make ends meet. Looking back now, I could have cut some expenses, such as computer hardware, but it was new territory for me and being a geek, I love gadgets
I also am very fortunate to have a loving and understanding wife that took on the lion-share of financial responsibility.
About 2 years into the company I was building great relationships with clients and starting to see an upside to all the effort being put in. I then decided to expand my company into a full service agency, which is where it is today.
I guess the point of telling you all this is to show the process of starting/growing a business is not an overnight process, in fact it can take years. However, if you put in the effort and take on some risk, you can create a life which isnt possible working for someone else.
— Matthew Keefe (@mkeefe) April 5, 2016
Hacking the Business
Most people know the word hacking to mean breaking into a computer, often illegally. I of course am not referring to that hacking in this section, but more the process of doing things a little different in business. Here are my top 3 actions that are sure to bring you better results in your bottom line.
1.) Never stop learning Business is a journey, stay thirsty for knowledge and youll always be able to grow/expand over the years.
2.) Dont take No When I was starting out, I had this prospect that seemed very eager to get started, however when we got the negotiation phase, he said no. I walked away confused as to what could possibly have gone wrong. Rather than sulk, I reached out to him directly and asked him for candid feedback.
An amazing thing happened when I did this, he decided to work with me because of my unwillingness to just walk away. That client still works with us to this day! I guess what Im trying to explain here is if a prospect gives you a no, take it as a learning opportunity and grow from it. Who knows, maybe that prospect will see your passion and change his mind!
3.) Work happens when you least expect it While you can certainly find prospects at business meetings, conferences and other professional networking events, there is other options. Though this may not work for everyone, be sure to keep your ears open while attending events centered around various hobbies.
For me its car events, being that cars are a passion of mine, I go to many events. I have landed many great clients as a result of talking about cars/business during these.
"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway."
– Earl Nightingale
— Matthew Keefe (@mkeefe) April 14, 2016
If you’ve gotten to this point, hopefully youre fired up and ready to take action. While you could
download an ebook, tweak your website or refine your sales copy, those really dont help in the
short term. Instead, do these 2 things TODAY!
– Contact 5 new prospects, secure meetings
– Reach out to older customers and provide an upsell or update to their project
Dont have a business already? Thats okay, start brainstorming what youre good at and would like to continue doing on good AND bad days, as there will be many.
Okay, now get going!
Matthew Keefe is the founder of PixelBit. Matt loves to spend time with his family and talk about cars. For proof, you can check him out on Twitter (Entrepreneurship/Software Development) and Instagram (Cars…cars…and more cars). Got tips to be a better husband and father? Matt looks forward to hear from you!
Have a similar story or business question to share? Shoot me a message!