Update 4/27/17

It  has been quite some time since my last blog post. Doug and I are going into month number three of entrepreneurship. There has been so many things going on the past two months. I have also experience stress while driving home over the last month, but I am feeling much better now! We’ve moved in yet another direction as the days change along with our thoughts and mindsets. All in all everything has been great thanks to the love and support of our families and very close friends.

At the beginning of March, we had discovered that we spent the last month looking for potential leads (Clients) on indeed.com and craiglists, that were not the right fit. We realized that being a start up company  with one client and very little of a portfolio, that it was difficult to get companies on board because you had to have a portfolio and it was hard to get in touch with the decision makers at bigger companies. We saw a local social media management company doing well and by well I mean having 8 plus clients. Their client base was local restaurants. That was the “Ah Ha” moment. It made sense.  I contacted the owner of a Japanese / Thai restaurant that I had worked for two years ago and he said to “Come on in and pitch him”. I still have not gone in, I tried stopping by once or twice but he was not in due to family or other reasons. I am hesitant because I am not sure if he will be a good fit or not based on previous experience with the owner. I tried reaching out to the owner of a pizza restaurant who had three locations but at the rate things are going, the relationship will need to be built. I still want to stop by and visit the owner of a Mexican restaurant with three locals as well just haven’t made it a priority yet. Last week I had met up with an owner of a local brewery. I was not as talkative as I would have liked to been but in general I am a quite person unless I know you, thank God Doug was there to talk it up, I make things work! I am unsure of where we stand, he said he wanted to get the ball rolling but we yet to receive payment. It’s been a week and I just sent him a message on linked, we’ll see what happens. Oh and before that I almost had a client doing PPC for them but the owner of the business wanted to move a bit fast and did not really understand that it takes sometime and is strategic plus optimization. OH well I am not in low spirits because if they were a good fit meaning I did not feel negative in anyway when working with the client or we were not on the same page with realistic progression. I want a client that’s friendly and pleasant to be around and who is understanding and easy to work with. I know I shouldn’t be so picky but I do not want to be in a bad position and I feel the clients will come naturally that I enjoy working with. I don’t want to be desperate and work with every client that is not a good fit and at the end of the day makes my life a little more stressful. So that’s what happened over the last month in a nut shell plus I sold my couch to make my car payment! Haha I am making things work!

At the beginning of April, we decided to go full force on our software company.  We are making a new social media management tool that solves the current pain points and frustrations of social media managers and marketers. We made a google survey to collect some information for market validation and research. I spent all of April talking to social media managers and marketers and even got a process going on to gain leads! My survey is at 50 user submission and our developer wants us to crank it up to 500 user submission which is fine by me because the more the Mary! So in the mean time Doug and I are going to crank up the Easy shop to I believe 300 and something items. The current 35- 39 items are brining in 15,000 visits a month! On top of that we’d like to find some clients for social media management and dedicate 8 days out of the whole month to make our money as we keep on with the development of our software! All in all we are doing great thing!

So the last month I have had panic attacks while driving, pretty much be subconsciously  getting stressed and hyperventilating while driving. Yes it was all in my head and I am better now! Yes I do live in my head more than I would like to. I am working on being more present, staying of social media and being more thankful. I started feeling better the other day when I spoke to my friend Andrew who has recently had things start “Clicking for him”. He said something along the lines of “You are smart, you are building a business from the ground up with no help at all (Besides Doug) and have nothing to show for. But if you keep at it you are going to make it and good things will happen” That is very true. And on top of that I recently left a career that I was miserable at. I am more happy and free than I have ever been over the last five plus years of my life. I am always looking for things to move faster in hopes of getting money in my pockets to cover the bills and necessities. But I am running a marathon not a sprint. We have to keep our heads down and work with as little distraction as possible. We have to stay strong and believe in what we are doing. We have to stay consistent and we have to figure everything out as we go along our journey!


Update 3/7/17

It’s been about two weeks since the last post. Since then a lot has happened. I resigned from IT job at the university and I have also moved out of my appartment to move in with my cousin and her husband for six months while I work with Doug to get BeeSocial off the ground. Today is my fourth day working together with Doug on BeeSocial. To be honest, ever since I left my job and the apartment complex, A majority of my stress has been lifted off my shoulders.

Having a full time job and being committed to a year lease, really put me in a bad place financially. It put me in a position where I felt completely helpless. I was living pay check to pay check with $200 – $300 to save every month, if I only drove to work and back the whole month. No visiting family, going to see friends, no eating out, no buying cigarettes, no nothing. At the beginning of February the bank had pulled $720 from my account and used it to pay off a bank credit card that I had past due for a couple years. I went to the bank 24 times over a two year period which is once a month for two years. Not once did a bank representative try to say “Hey Aaron, We noticed you owe some money on a credit card, would you like to set up a payment plan to avoid funds being taken from your checking?”. I understand it was my responsibility to pay of the debit and to set up the plan and I guess you could say to be more proactive. But for a bank who claims to have such wonderful customer service they couldn’t even do such. Anyways back to the story. Now having $720 less at the beginning of the month (I got payed the last day of January and was pretty much broke on February 2nd) meant I had to either pay my apartment complex or pay for my car. I called the apartment complex to see what I could do and sure enough after 10 days of being late I would have to pay 10% interest on the over all monthly bill plus the monthly bill. If I didn’t do that, then they would take me to court and make me pay court fees then evict me. I ended up paying the apartment in full seeing how my lease was up March 1,2017.  My car payment went unpaid the month of February.

A few days later I filed my taxes. I was so excited. This money was going to for sure float me for 6 months meaning I could pay my car payment of $430 including insurance and pay rent with is $250 a month. I had enough money for food and money to travel 400 miles per week for six months. I filed on February 2,2017. It was now February23,2017. Dogs girlfriend had already gotten her taxes back and filed on February16,2017. I was a bit in shock that I hadn’t received my taxes yet. A few days went by, constantly using the IRS “Where’s my refund?” tool and then I got an update. My federal tax refund had been used to pay off my past due student loans… All the money I was going to float on was used to pay my student loans which I had just set up a payment plan to get out of collections. I called the collections agency and they said that even if I had started this rehabilitation program a couple months earlier it could not have saved me. It takes 9 months to get out of collections. They recommended I call the Board of Education to see if there was anyway I could get my refund back .I called them and sure enough there was no way. Apparently I got a letter in October 2016 about setting up a payment plan to avoid this situation. I don’t recall getting it, maybe I received it and skimmed over it. All in all, it was my absolute fault. There was nothing I could do but accept it as it is and use it as motivation to work even harder.

From all the entrepreneurs podcast I listened to, the successful ones said they went through hardships and always had their backs up against the wall. It gave them the fire to work hard and get through the struggle no matter how bad the situation was. This is the exact position that Doug and I are in. We both have our backs up again the wall. But I could much rather have my back up again the wall than to deal with the stress of being stuck living pay check to pay check, working at a job where I can not stand my manager or the people around me ( There were a few people I enjoyed)  just to pay off my bills and have no money to go hang out, eat out once in a while or have the opportunity to make more money.  The cost of opportunity in a full time job being stuck in a lease is very very low. How are you going to find the time to make more money? Save up for a couple of months and force your self to study whatever certification or take a class that you honestly have very little interest in, in hopes of passing to make a couple extra thousand a month? That seemed like the only way to get experience. Or you could use your free time to network and go meet people in your industry to search for opportunity. But either way you have to sacrifice your free time or family time to better your self for a couple of months just to put your self into a better position. Thats where I was at not too long ago. Exactly 18 months ago, Doug and I decided we were going to pursue business. We had an idea of where we wanted to go but was not sure how to get there. We knew we had to figure it out and take the time to learn how to do the things we wanted to do. So we started different projects and used that 18 months to experiment and dabble into different business ventures. That 18 months of learning and experiment with business was my “Side Hustle”. I used 18 months of family time to come home from work and work on my side hustle. I would go to bed anywhere from 11pm to 1am. Wake up at 6am, be at work at 8am, get home by 6pm and repeat the process.

Even though I don’t have my “Comfort” I have enough to get started. I have a Straight talk iPhone 5s  and I borrow a computer from drugs girlfriends daughter. Doug also let me borrow a Google Chrome Computer. I have a place to stay and enough money to hold off a month or two. I’m with Doug and we’re in the same damn boat. I’ve learned to live with very little recently. I don’t need a Tv, playstation, the newest shoes out clothing. I don’t need the next hottest thing. I got my Fiancee who absolutely and 100% support me and my dreams. I got my best friend who believes in what we are doing. I have my Cousin and her Husband who allowed me to move in because they knew I had a goal and knew I was passionate about it. I have a few friends who support the journey I’ve been on.  My parents over all support me and my fiancee’s parents overall support us. Of course the parents are worried, but you know what? I am setting up my foundation for my fortune. I have to do this. If I’m going to be working, I have to be working for my self and setting up my multiple streams of income. I have my support group, I have the stress removed from my life, now I can strictly focus 100% on building this business. It’s not hard. There’s a good bit of work for two people to handle but that’s fine. I’d rather be doing this than working at my full time job where I just wanted to collect the check. Now I’m in the right position to go out and make how ever much money it is that I want to make. I can work as hard as I want to. I can learn what I want to. “The distance between dream and reality is called action.” Credit goes to whoever wrote that quote. But action is the only thing that separates you and I from our dreams and from making our dreams a reality. ACTION! That means going and doing something, not sitting around thinking. ACTION!

The Power of Writing

Over the last two weeks I’ve been trying my absolute best to try and blog every single day! From the daily podcasts I’ve been listening to, The Foundation, Entreleadership and The Brian Buffini Show I’ve learned that many successful entrepreneurs develop daily routines that help them maximize their performance. The daily routines vary per person. Some entrepreneurs wake up as early as 3am – 6am and beginning their days with stretching, exercising, reading and writing. The main purpose of getting up this early is to give yourself personal time to work on the things you want to work on before you begin your work day. My perfect routine is to wake up on time which would be 5am, then to stretch for fifteen minutes. After I stretch I’ll eat my breakfast, get a shower and depending on what day (Wednesday, Thursday & Friday) it is, I will go to the gym first thing in the morning for an hour to lift weights. On the days I don’t go to the gym, well I normally relax with my fiancée until it’s time to go to work. But my routine is about to change on the 28th of February. On the days I don’t go to the gym, I’d like to wake up early and spend an hour reading and an hour writing.

Lately I’ve quite fallen in love with writing (typing at the moment but looking to switch to pen and paper). From the interviews I’ve listened to, writing has helped people clear their mind of the thoughts from the previous day. Some days I’ll wake up and my mind feels like it’s cluttered. On those days it’s hard for me to focus, I can’t think clearly and for me it’s like having the worst case of writers block. But since I’ve been blogging the last two weeks and writing, it has helped me out tremendously. It’s helped scrape my mind of the unnecessary bullshit. It’s helped my mind feel fresh just like your mouth feels after using mouth wash. It’s allowed me to actually validate what I actually know in my head. When I write about my past experiences I am able to explain all the processes and lessons I have learned, which in turn means I am able share with others and teach new comers along the way. Writing really helps you validate everything you know, it allows you to talk about it openly and explain it, just like a teacher explains criteria to students. I try my best to write 1,000 words a day, whether it’s for this personal entrepreneur blog or an actual blog post for our Digital Media Agency. Writing gets me in the flow and the more I write the more I tend to be more creative versus days where I don’t write. For me it’s like having a cup of coffee in the morning.

So since I’m writing almost every day, the amount of clarity I have feels unreal. I feel greater than ever and my flow is on point! It gives me more confidence because now I can go and have in depth conversations on what I know. And since I am validating what I know it’s easier for my brain to process things, learn new things and have more focus. My brain doesn’t have to repeatedly question itself on what it thinks it knows and what it actually knows and what it doesn’t know. I’ve already told my brain what it knows now and it allows us to focus on what we don’t know. All the “I think I know” has been scraped from by brain. Which makes more room to go learn new things and builds confidence. I could go and have a conversation with someone about what I know and who knows from that conversation it could spawn various conversations and opportunities all because I am clear on what I know, clear on what I want and clear on where I am trying to go.  Like I said the level of clarity is unreal, it truly helps things “Click” quicker and allows you to connect the dots. It allows you to go and learn what you don’t know so you can get to where you are going.

I think the most important thing besides talking about what you know, is to be able to teach what you know. When you are able to teach what you know, that means you actually know what you are doing and what you’re talking about. You can now go and help others based on the experiences and lessons you’ve learned. Being able to teach means you understand your craft and you can take that knowledge and make a living in many different ways. I strongly believe that when you don’t write daily you don’t have that clarity. You’re not fully aware, you’re just living on autopilot and I’ll admit that I lived that way for a while. Sure that wasn’t always the case, I was able to learn but when I was learning a lot over the last couple of years, I would stop and reflect on everything I’ve learned. When I reflected I honestly couldn’t tell you what I know. I knew I knew it. But I couldn’t explain it. And that made me question myself on what I really know. Sure I was learning but I felt I wasn’t really paying attention because I could not talk about it. I could show you what I know, which was alright. But being able to truly validate and just take the time to think and expand on thoughts is a truly amazing feeling. If you’re ready this, I challenge you to write (Or type) 1,000 words minimum every single day for one month straight! I promise it will help you reach that level of clarity you were looking for! For the longest time I wanted clarity but wasn’t sure how the hell I was going to get it. Writing it like lifting weights but for you mind. It gets my mind relaxed, just like when I lift weights, my body feels relaxed and free of stress.

I submitted my two weeks notice!

Today February 14, 2017 is the day that I submitted my two weeks! A couple weeks ago I had that little bit of nervousness that everyone has when making a big jump. Going from something stable, safe and secure to something completely unknown and bring determination, hard work and positivity with you. Of course I know the direction we’re going and I know what the plan is, but the main thing I need to focus on is being effective and doing as much as possible in the six months that I do have. The most important thing is to have no expectations. I can’t control the outcome but I can control how much hard work I put in.

To some this may seem crazy, scary or too risky. I know my Dad prefers that I set up my business on the side then make a smooth transition over. I strongly believe that it’s about opportunity being present and taking that opportunity to work on something I want to do and strongly believe in. Pete my cousins husband think’s I’m a little drastic but he’s letting me move in with them for six months at the end of February so that has to say something. My mom believes in me and my abilities, she’s always supported me. Marina my fiancée strongly believes in me. For the last eighteen months she has been letting me work on business related projects and held things down while I work on improving myself and skillset. I recently learned that the famous MMA fighter Conor McGregor has the exact same support from his girlfriend and I believe that a woman who believes in you and allows you to work on your self is a woman you should keep for a life time. My best friend Doug constantly reminds me of all our projects and experiences we’ve had together that turned out to be a major success anytime we set our minds to something and gives me the reassurance I need to know we’ll be just fine. My good friend Andrew believes in my capabilities as he’s watched me grow over the years and mature as an adult. And myself? Of course I believe in what I’m doing and I know we will make it. I think everyone has those feelings of uncertainty and nervousness when making any big life decision but I think it’s normal and I think it’s alright to have those feelings.

One thing I’ve learned from Conor McGregor is to stay calm. That’s something I’ve been practicing the last couple of days. Staying calm no matter what the situation is. When you’re nervous, stressed and afraid, it shuts down the front part of your brain that allows you to do all you’re critical thinking. So along as you stay calm you can continue to solve problems. I’m honestly feeling confident. I feel very happy and it feels good. I’m great at what I do don’t get me wrong but I am burned out. I’m not happy with my current job but when I submitted my resignation at 8:41am, it felt fucking amazing. I felt free, I felt the stress of the world lift up off my shoulders. Soon there will be a new beginning and a new start to the next chapter of my life.

June or July or 2016, I had interviewed for a Desktop Support Role in Ballantyne, NC. They were going to pay me $50,000 salary and the job was much easier than what I am doing now. I interviewed twice. Once with the manager and once with the CIO. I killed bother interviews. However somehow the recruiter never got back to me. She wouldn’t answer my calls or my emails. I called the company and left a voicemail and nothing. At the time I was upset. I thought I was out of WSSU. It’s alright though because I kept my head down and went back to work, working on business related projects and continued to learn. Eight months later and I officially submitted my two weeks and things are feeling much better versus back then when I was going to submit my two weeks. This time I have a purpose, I have goals and I have motivation with hard work to back it up. When I listen to podcasts and they say “Oh you need to have this and have that in your life etc.” I have those characteristics and qualities that I did not have eighteen months ago. Everything has finally lined up for me, it’s only a matter of time before we make it. I have a great feeling about everything and to be honest I’m not as nervous as I was, I’m more calm and confident. I’m going to be positive and not have expectation and only control what I can control.

I can feel spring coming, I can feel change coming.

Hi, my name is Aaron. I am 25 years old, I am engaged, and I have a daughter who just turned 1 years old five days ago. Next week on February the 14th (My anniversary with my fiancee) I will be submitting my two weeks and leaving my full time job with the government that many people would kill for. I will be working full time alongside of my best friend Doug on our start up BeeSocial. BeeSocial is a Digital Media Management Agency. For those who have no idea what that is, we help businesses build their online presence to help people discover them and what they bring to the table. It’s great for businesses who are looking to acquire new customers and generate more sales but I’m not here to pitch that to you today. I’m here to reflect on how the hell I ended up in this unreal bizarre yet beautiful journey.

Today is February the seventh (Happy Birthday Little Sister!) and the weather is absolutely perfect. It’s sixty degrees outside and the sun is oh so warm. I can feel spring in the air and you may wonder how the hell do I know that? I’ve been raised in North Carolina a good twenty years of my life and I know when the seasons change and I can feel it. Not only do I feel spring in the air but I feel change in the air. Change in my life is finally coming. I’ve been waiting so long for change and you may also wonder why I’ve waited so long before making any change. Let me back up for a second. I work at a University and I am part of the help desk (Correction, My Coworker and I ARE THE HELPDESK!). I do a lot of desktop support, trouble shooting and working with Students, Faculty and Staff face to face. It only takes me two to six months to pick up my job and perfect it. When I say perfect it I mean I can analyze the problem and find a solution within a matter of minutes. I also like to make my job as efficient as possible so I have very little work to do. I’ve been here since August of 2015, this September will mark my two years (Too bad I’m submitting my two weeks next week!). Back to the story, Last June / July I got a job offer making more money doing less work for this company. I had two interviews and I absolutely killed it! Somehow the recruiter I was working with stopped returning my calls, my emails and all forms of communication. What turned out to be one day turned into two and then slowly snowballed into months. I was so upset, I really wanted out of this job and I was so close to putting in my two weeks. At this point I was devastated. I had stopped applying for because at this point, most of the job offers were contracts and most of the full time positions wanted to pay me entry level still. I have five years’ experience in Helpdesk / Desktop support ( I know I should have went a different route in IT and yes, it does suck) I had my A+ and Network + certification plus my associates degree and employers still wanted to pay me an entry level salary. It did not make sense. I mean growing up all you hear is go to school, get a job, experience, experience, experience. But apparently experience didn’t mean shit any more.

So around September 2015, Doug and I had made a decision to pick a project, any project and stick with it 100% beginning to end. We decided to start a subscription service selling T shirts with unique artwork on them by undiscovered artists. At the same time I decided to start a motivational Instagram account called MotivationUp. So at this point we had two projects we were working on. One project in hopes of making some kind of money and one project in hopes of watching it grow and evolve into hopefully another cash revenue. Our Subscription service went on until March of 2016. Seven months of Doug and I working full time jobs and coming home to work on our business. Doug worked in IT as well and we both worked 8 am to 5 pm every day then we would come home, eat and work from 6 pm to sometimes 1 am. This went on for seven months and to some it may not sound like not a long time but we literally worked from when we got home to when we went to sleep. We ended up making 2 sales during this time. One sale to a good friend and one sale to an absolute stranger. We grew MotivationUp to 700 followers and then I stopped. I stopped because I lost interest and the subscription service had more of an opportunity to make more money. Around March 2016 Doug had met a guy by the name of Chris and the next thing I know is that we’re working on another start up. It was for fishing analytics. That only lasted a month or two and again things fell through. At this point I had started another business called Rock Solid Stickers. What did I sell this time? You guessed it! (Probably not) Penis Stickers! I don’t care what anyone says I think they are hilarious and I have the best looking penis stickers on the market to date! We paid $250 for 1,000 stickers and ended up breaking even and making $200 plus in profits! I am still proud of this accomplishment! I mean I’m selling a sticker that costs $0.25 for $3.00 apiece. You may be wondering how all this ties together, well I’m getting there so go to the next paragraph!

June 2016 Pokemon Go became the biggest trend if not one of the biggest trends of the year! Everyone was so excited about the new AR app where you pull out your phone and use your camera to spot and capture Pokemon. It was need and definitely nostalgia! I can’t recall how Doug got the idea (Reddit maybe?) but we decided to open up a shopify store and import items from Ali Express and run advertisements via Google, Facebook and Reddit. We threw this all up in the matter of one day, if we had done it right we probably could have made more money and things probably wouldn’t have gotten so messy. I remember our first week open we had sold $900 in revenue! That was absolutely crazy for us seeing as how we weren’t businesses guys. We were just normal guys who were best friends and had jobs in the same field. As you can see we’ve learned quite a bit and started connecting the dots through the year and so. We went from working on a business that turned zero in revenue and profit to starting small businesses that were finally starting to make money. Of course I’m not going 100% in depth with all my experiences and business adventures but I can tell you that things were finally starting to look up for us. I know understand that “overnight success” reference, you know where it can’t happen over it. It takes time and it took us a little under two years which is pretty damn fast, but it’s the fact that it takes time to learn and to go through experience to see what’s working, what’s not working and to see what you actually know.

Fast forward to October 15th I believe. Doug and I had spent a good amount of time familiarizing ourselves with Social media, how to create a brand, how to build an audience, how to push traffic to your website, How to create physical products, How to run ads, How to drop ship, How to start a subscription service etc. We had been talking for a little bit about starting a social media management company and it sounded great, but it didn’t click until this day. We could finally utilize all our skills and start a business helping other businesses manage their social media, create their content, target their audience and generate reports. We decided everything we were working on was going to be put on the back burner and make this our number focus. Why? Because this was the most profitable idea we’ve had and this was what we had been practicing.  At this time I was trying to take of one a week and go to Doug’s house to help get this off the ground. Sometimes I would take off two days a week to go and work on this. Hell I’m not even going to lie, I spent time at my full time job working on whatever I could to get this going. If you’ve started a business before, it’s not really complex. It’s just time consuming and there’s a lot of documentation and what not that needs to be completed before you can start getting customers and convincing them why they need your service. I remember November of 2016 I took off eight days that month! (LOL) we even got familiar with cold calling. Let me remind you we are normal guys who working in the IT field. We didn’t go to school for business, we are not salesmen, but we learned how to create a script, we learned how to pitch and we learned how to cold call. It’s not hard, it’s time consuming and it’s a process. It doesn’t matter how much you read or how much advise you’ve been given, business is one of those things where you have just to go out there and see what you can do. You need to see what you know, what you don’t know, you’ll figure out what you need to learn and its fun. We messed up but thank God it wasn’t anything critical!

So we went from Social media management to Digital Presence management. We not only want to help people manage their social media accounts but their overall digital presence. We’ve learned that it’s good to have a website but it’s better to be everywhere on the internet. You want as much exposure as possible to drive traffic, to get new customers and to make sales. Now back to today. I am so excited to quit my job and work on what I am passionate about. As you can see I’ve been on this crazy journey and it all started with the goal of picking something and sticking to it. I would have never guessed that I would be so blessed to have the opportunity to leave my job that I have got burned out from and start a business with my best friend and work on something that is meaningful and opens up so many doors for us!! I can feel spring coming, I can feel change coming and it is very very exciting and still so very bizarre and unreal to me.