This week is a pretty big milestone for me personally.
It marks one decade (10 years) since I graduated from college and took my online businesses from “part time” to “full time.”
Despite having Internet businesses since 1998, I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to do “forever”; it was a hobby.
My first choice was to go into law enforcement out of college, my second getting a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), and third was to take my Internet businesses “full time.”
While it sounds silly, I didn’t know how much money I was set to make with a college degree. I just always assumed it’d be a “larger” figure.
I’ve never made any of my decisions around this, but after learning with both law enforcement and my college degree I was set to “start out” around $35,000 a year, it just didn’t make sense as I was making a lot more than that with my “part time” Internet businesses.
What would happen if I focused all my energy on these Internet businesses?
At first I wasn’t sure what the future would hold. Since I was fresh out of college, my 2500 Chevy Truck was paid off, and I never took out student loans, I didn’t have a lot of financial responsibility.
What’s the worst that could happen?
In my opinion, I’ve learned more in the last 10 years than I ever could have in an MBA program.
Here are some of my biggest tips I want to give other aspiring Entrepreneurs or recent high school / college graduates:
#1 – There Is No Substitute For Hard Work
Everyone says this, and that’s because it’s true. I got home from college on a Wednesday, and Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. I was in the office “grinding.”
I didn’t take a “month off” or even enjoy the “rest of the week.” I knew if I was going to make it – I had to work as hard as possible.
Nowadays I realize how important it is to set boundaries and not burnout, but fresh out of college, I was 24x7x365. When you have the feeling that its you vs. “the world” it instills a drive that surpasses anything that I’ve experienced.
Anyone can do it – but it boils down to how bad do you want it – and how hard are you going to work for it!
#2 – Build Long Term Assets, Don’t Chase The Fast $
Like any young-adult entering the “work force” I wanted to make as much money as quick as possible. Impatient by nature, I wanted to short cut this every way possible.
I found this via affiliate marketing. However, it would also grow to become my own worst enemy.
Buying ads with paid traffic and promoting affiliate offers eventually brought me the “fast money” I was looking for, but the only asset I retained from those businesses was cash. Since I was promoting someone else’s product, I was at their mercy.
This made for some very inconsistent quarters with the only way to explain dips, “the campaign died out.” Affiliate marketing is a lot like a game of cat and mouse; eventually you get tired of chasing the mouse and want consistency.
Build things that last, even though it takes a bit more hard work and profits don’t come as quick.
#3 – Consider Partnerships Carefully
From 2007 until 2017 I’ve had four other partners throughout multiple businesses. Fresh out of college, my identical twin brother was my business partner.
As my businesses grew, so did my list of partners. I don’t consider any of my partnerships bad, but they all came with a “shelf life.”
Being a control freak by nature, it was always hard for me to have someone else “in control” or “have a say” how I run my businesses.
Starting and stopping partnerships held me back more than anything over the last decade. Even if you partner with your very best friend, eventually you’re going to find roles aren’t always equal and you will never agree on everything.
I don’t have any partners in Name Hero, and I don’t believe I’ll ever get into another business partnership. I actually have a Podcast on this subject.
#4 – Spend Wisely, Save Frequently
I’ve always prided myself in being good with money and making sound financial decisions.
But it’s funny how success can change your perspective on things. Fresh out of college I just wanted to make sure I could meet my $1200/per month rent obligation. But as business “took off” so did my lifestyle.
My Chevy truck was replaced by a Mercedes and my vacations changed from the Hilton to the Ritz Carlton.
Rather than just going out to the club, it would be a complete “bottle service” event.
As I’ve gotten older, I’m a lot wiser with my spending, and if I could go back to my younger self I would have made better decisions throughout my 20s.
Technically I could retire today, and I almost did in 2014, but I still feel like I have a lot more to accomplish, such as providing the best web hosting in the world :).
#5 – Stay Humble, Don’t Let Success Change You
The biggest thing I told the majority of affiliate marketers I’ve coached and trained over the years: don’t let success go to your head; stay humble.
The “online world” moves a lot faster than the “offline world.” I’ve seen a lot of people go from massive success to out of business the next year.
You never know what is going to happen with a startup or newly founded business, stay humble to those who helped build your business and never forget people such as your team, that help make the success possible. This also goes back to spend wisely, save frequently.
#6 – Don’t Accept Failure, But Learn From It
I wish I could say it’s all balling and bottles, but unfortunately you’re not going to make a perfect decision every time. Sometimes you’ll lose money. Sometimes your ideas won’t work.
When you’re in business for yourself, you’re going to have some failures.
At times you’ll feel demotivated and let down, but learn from it, don’t let it defeat you.
Personally I fail all the time. A lot of my original ideas for Name Hero failed. But I learned from those experiences and kept pressing on. You only fail when you give up; so be persistent.
Over the last 10 years, you won’t believe how close I came to “giving up” on some ideas right before they turned into multi-million dollar businesses.
#7 – The World Doesn’t Owe You Anything
Entitlement is a common thing I see amongst young Entrepreneurs nowadays. I believe “reality” TV shows such as “Shark Tank” put these ideas in the heads of young millennials: If I can just get funding, my idea will succeed.
You’ll find in the business world, there is a bunch of “sharks” all out to get their own. No one owes you anything and if you let people, they’ll take advantage of you.
Success is very possible, but it comes with hard work, and a good idea without the “leg work” is just that; a good idea. No one owes you anything, you have to work for everything. There really isn’t any other way to put it as we all have to “pay our dues” as Entrepreneurs.
#8 – Don’t Rely On Business Success For Your Personal Happiness
For quite sometime over the last decade, I’ve allowed my successes and/or failures determine my personal happiness. When business is good, life is good. When business is bad or challenging, life isn’t good. This isn’t a good way to look at things.
Business is just that; business. I’ve personally found more sincere happiness over the years as I’ve become married and started a family. Rather than being stressed over the things that don’t always go right, I try to always look at the positive aspects of every situation.
Even when an idea falls flat, I try to consider the things I learned and how I won’t make the same mistake again.
#9 – Have Fun With What You’re Doing
If you’re not enjoying yourself what’s the benefit to working for yourself? Don’t do things simply for a lot of money, but rather structure your days to where you spend your time doing what you enjoy.
There has been many times over the last 10 years where I found myself in places where I just wasn’t happy. I’ve always said that no matter how good the money is, if I’m ever unhappy, I’ll leave no matter the cost. This is something I’ve executed more than once.
Life is too short spending it doing stuff that’s not enjoyable; I think I’d rather go get a job then spend my days doing something I dread.
#10 – Never Stop Learning
The moment you stop learning is the moment you start falling behind. I learn new things daily and I feel like this is one of the most contributing factors to my successes.
I try to read at least one new book a week, where I learn everything from the latest marketing, advertising, to even better personal development. I also learn things from my customers and colleagues.
I never try to act like I know it all – as I’m very well aware that I don’t!
To say the last decade of my life has been amazing would be an understatement.
I’ve accomplished things and had experiences that I never even dreamed of back in May of 2007. I look forward to the next decade and applying everything I’ve learned, to better my life not only professionally but also personally.
Finally, don’t ever let anyone say you can’t do something. If you believe in your idea, then go for it. This world is full of haters and naysayers, but as long as you trust and believe in something, the sky really is the limit!
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.