An Entrepreneurs Story
"Just start! Take that first step - even if you don't know where you're going."
I was an entrepreneur before I knew what an entrepreneur was...
I was born in Hollywood, Florida. Lived there until I was 5 years old along with my brother and sister, Mom and Dad. Not much impacted me up to this point, but this is where my story begins.
I don't remember a whole lot, other than it was always hot. But I do remember we would take trips to the beach in an old beat up Volkswagon Bus and afterwards my mom would get us Jamocha Shakes from Arby's. It was great.
From ages 5-20 I lived and grew up in Wawarsing, New York. From as early as 10 years old I would mow lawns in the summer, rake leaves in the fall, and shovel driveways in the winter for my neighbors to get some extra cash. At 13 I tried starting my first Web Design company called NAIMCO. Unfortunately, I never had a real customer.
I sold my first bag of weed at 14, and ended up becoming a dealer and remained one well into my mid 20's. My first job was at McDonalds. Where I also sold weed on Fridays when everyone got paid. Eventually I would go on to start a small landscaping business as a side hustle.
In an attempt to quit selling and grow up, I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina with a couple of friends from New York. I learned a lot of hard lessons here. I developed a passion for construction and eventually a small construction company.
I pursued my passion for Hip-Hop, recording 8 albums and orchestrating an entertainment group that would do shows up and down the coast of NC. My plan to quit being a dealer backfired and I ended up bigger than ever, getting caught, and paying the price for it. That's a whole other story in itself!
After that I moved to Maine. I was pushing my late 20's, I was completely lost, and sought to start my life over in pursuit of a second chance. Here I spent a year and a half rediscovering who I was through a major project where I helped my parents start a Winery and produce their very first vintage of wine.
Not only did I dive head first into the Wine Industry but had to turn hollow barn into a Winery, and a 170 year old house that was falling apart into a home. I did the majority of the construction side of this project all by myself, which ended up showing me I was capable of anything if I put my mind to it. I got so much out of this experience.
One of my best friends growing up suddenly dies at 27, we were born a day apart. The entire experience opened my eyes to the fact that we don't have a lot of time on this earth and so I dropped everything and moved in with an old friend in Mountainville, New York.
Together we started iPro Digital, a company offering wireless POS Systems for restaurants using iPods and iPads. With that we offered a full suite of other services that catered to clients such as Web Design, Graphic Design, and Social Media Marketing. We used to drive to Manhattan, park the car, and go from one restaurant to the next trying to convince people that iPads would be the future of POS Systems, ha!
Working as a server to survive, I was barely getting by. Then one day I was presented with an opportunity to go to Boston, Massachusetts for the summer to work for my Cousins Boyfriend at his Segway tour company, giving tours for the summer.
I learned a lot from him, not only about what works in business, but what doesn't. Either way I did learn a lot as I kept my eyes and ears open. During that summer, I did Segway tours all day and built one website after another during each night. It was around this time, in 2013 that I was first introduced to WIX. In my eyes, I saw WIX as a game changer in Web Design and instantly fell in love with the platform.
With money saved up for the first time... ever, I followed my heart. And instead of moving back to Upstate New York - I went towards the belly of the beast - New York City. It was a lifelong dream to tread my feet here on a daily basis. Of course I couldn't afford to live in Manhattan. Instead I moved to Weehawken, New Jersey.
I'll admit, I was also chasing a girl. We had been dating for about a year or so and I had this vision of us starting a life together in the city. About a week after I moved there, we broke up and I pretty much had a mental meltdown. I tried to take time away from the daily grind and turn my Web Design work into a sustainable income, I even landed one of my biggest Web projects to date, but I ran out of my savings before it could take off.
Broken inside with only a taste of freedom, I had to go back to the daily grind of a 9-5. I got a job in a Latin Bistro in Brooklyn as a Bar Back, which led to a job Bartending. I worked as much as they would let me. I used my work as a way to escape mentally, and forget my ex.
I learned a bunch of old friends I grew up with lived in the city. We got together every week and partied hard. I got to know one of the owners at the Latin Bistro I worked at very well, and would go to his office after work and have long conversations about life and about business.
Like most of my mentors he was a lot older than me, about twice my age. He showed me how to be a great leader, what delivering great customer service was about, and showed me how to run a business like a well oiled machine. His name was Farid, he and his partner George ran Bogota Latin Bistro. To this day I carry the lessons I learned from working there with me and will never forget that experience.
As the winter faded, spring started to emerge and one day I got a phone call. My Cousins Boyfriend from Boston asked me to come back and serve as his General Manager for the Segway tour company he ran. When Farid got word of this, he offered me a job as a manager as well, and for more money! But I knew that in the long run, there was just more potential for growth in Boston. So I ended up moving back.
I went to take on being a GM for the very first time. God I learned so much. It was brutal. I quickly learned that to lead means to be faced with conflict on a daily basis, and that it's impossible to please everyone. Above all else, I was reminded of one of the key reasons why I wanted to be my own boss.
I was being taken advantage of. Being over worked and under paid. I was told I would make "X" amount but then only earning about half that, meanwhile working twice as many hours as we agreed. I was making less than the tour guides, without a doubt.
But I stuck it out for the experience. I stuck it out because I could sense the potential in what I was doing and that it could take me to the next level.
Inside of Boston Segway Tours, right before we officially opened for business...
The potential I could sense had manifested itself into what became "Boston Segway Tours". My hard work and patience had payed off and I was presented with an opportunity to work out a type of "partnership" with my Cousin's Boyfriend. Some words of advice, never make a serious deal in business without a contract - even if it's with family. I'll leave it at that, seeing as this is the short version of the story.
Over the next 5 years I would run what started out as just another tour in the city of Boston, at the lowest rank possible. To becoming the #1 Tour in Boston on TripAdvisor, cultivating thousands of 5-star reviews and generating millions of dollars in revenue. But it takes money to make money! Especially in a seasonal business. I learned more in those 5 years about business than I probably had in the last 20. But then came our 6th season in business and everything changed.
Here we are in 2020. Our would-be 6th season had turned into a complete disaster over COVID19, and we ended up having to close our doors for good (or so I thought). Me, I instantly knew that even if we were able to open BST, we would probably not bring in that much money. So I took my side hustle of building websites and decided to go full time with it.
While having no idea what the future holds for BST, I have faith that we will find a way to work things out and reopen in the Spring of 2021. I am hoping to make Business Builders such a success that it can bail out BST from the damage it has incurred from the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Meanwhile, my time has been freed up and Business Builders is an idea I've had for a while now and have decided to make it reality. I decided to take all I've learned over the years, between the multiple Web Design ventures I've had in the past, and just go for it. Break the mold, and truly give new entrepreneurs what they really want and need.
All of the great benefits of an high-end Web Development company without the high-end price tag, and the freedom to choose whether you want someone to do it for you or to learn how to do it yourself. In 2020, with all it's challenges and adversity, Business Builders Club is born. Now here YOU are... Make the most of it!
On the fence? Then don't waste your time.
But if you are serious and ready to get to work, then let's go!