I launched my very first website from my freshmen college dorm room in 1999.
The first dot.com boom was in full swing, and as a resident of one of the many on-campus dorms at The University of Texas, I had something most kids my age could only dream of: high-speed internet in my room.
As a 19-year old college student, I hadn’t ever thought much about entrepreneurship, and had never considered building multiple companies or starting my career.
But then something happened . . . I met a girl.
I was invited to a futuristic-themed party so naturally chose to go as Millennium Man, a little known superhero poised to change the post Y2K world.
That night, I somehow managed
to introduce myself to Emily, the
girl in the pink shirt. I realized
pretty quickly that she was the woman
who I was going to marry. That started with buying her a ring.
Now that may not seem like a huge feat, but for a struggling college
student, this was daunting.
So I started a simple eCommerce site selling e-books and made my first sale in November of 1999. By the time I graduated in 2003, I had only earned enough for that ring, but I was doing really well. I had several eCommerce websites, each earning a good amount of money each month and each growing rapidly.
By 23-years-old I was a business mogul with a growing company. External forces and the naïveté of managing a business at such a young age quickly set in and I found myself with a mortgage, a wife, a newborn and a quarter of a million dollars in debt.
In 2006 in a bar in Dallas, TX. I contemplated my debt, my history, and my family situation. A couple of glasses of bourbon in, I had an epiphany. I picked up a napkin on my table and contemplated it. It was large enough to provide space for an idea, but small enough to force simplicity. I held the napkin for a few minutes and it hit me that I had mega overcomplicated every aspect of my business. What should have been simple and concise had gotten bogged down in overstated processes. I scribbled down my answer to the question that
I believe is the basis for all business growth: How will we go about acquiring customers profitably and predictably?
And in that moment in that bar when my only option seemed to be to give up, I made a decision to take that simple answer and run with it. That was the first year my business generated $1M in revenue. It was also the first time that I saw true, honest growth that was tenable.
Ryan Deiss is a best selling author, founder of multiple companies collectively employing hundreds around the globe, and one of the most dynamic speakers on marketing in the United States today. Ryan is the founder and CEO of DigitalMarketer.com and Founder and Managing Partner of RivalBrands.com and plattr.com. Ryan is the creator of the “Customer Value Optimization” methodology and have introduced and popularized many of the digital selling strategies that modern companies now take for granted. Ryan is also the founder and host of the Traffic & Conversion Summit, the largest digital marketing conversion conference in North America.