Indie Founder : Miguel Ferreira

Indie Digital Brands - Founder Interview

Indie Founder: My Interview

If you haven’t read the “About me” page yet (I forgive you) I’m Miguel and I’m a multimedia freelancer. I’ve started Indie Digital Brands with the purpose of sharing the untold stories of other entrepreneurs and I’ve successfully interviewed some amazing people so far that really inspire me and make me want to do more. There’s a long road ahead of me and there’s a lot of people I’m reaching out to, which will allow me to share even more impressive and inspiring stories right along with some of their struggles and battles to get to where they are today. Now, let’s get to it…

So why freelancing (you might be wondering)? Freelancing has allowed me to build this website and live a lifestyle that’s very different from the 9-5 world that most people have. What I mean by that is that I don’t have a schedule, I don’t have a boss and yet I work more than 8 hours per day for sure and judging by the people I have to answer to when something goes wrong, I probably have like 5 to 10 bosses at any giving time (depending on the amount of work I have), because I choose to. With that being said, one thing is for sure: I love it, and this is really what I like to do, and want to continue doing for as long as I can.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture and how did it come to life?

The decision to work as a freelancer and really set up shop happened quite naturally. I started to get involved with concepts like digital nomadism pretty early on in my life and my entrepreneurial mindset has kind of always been there. I’m always searching, researching, looking around trying to learn different things with the mindset of “how could I make this or that better?”, “is there a better way to do this?” So basically in a way I just always wanted to build cool things and work for myself for as long as I can remember.

The freedom and the ability to do it and to make it happen was the hardest part of it, and sometimes it still is. There have been months of struggle, there have been months of doubt and along the way you learn to surround yourself whit the right attitude and for me, fortunately, the right people as well. In a way I guess I can say I’ve been providing services for almost 5 years now but I’ve been experimenting and doing things on the side (even when I was in the corporate world) for at least 8 years now.

Is this your first venture? If not, How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

As a full-on Multimedia Freelancer, which means I’m working with small businesses developing their online presence (either by creating websites, managing their social media accounts, creating content for them, editing images & video) YES, this is my first venture. Yet, I’ve started working online in a side-business doing translations first just by pitching the service in an online job posting websites (like upwork / freelancer) which then evolved and is now set up in a popular “gig” website called Fiverr. I guess to put it simply freelancing is the second venture yet I still have the first one and I’ll continue to have it for a while since nowadays is also a very cool source of income.

As for giving up on an idea: I don’t really think if you have an idea that you ever really give up on it. I mean, obviously there’s a point that you know something is not working and it’s not worth to pursue it anymore but when the idea is really mine I find myself going back to it sometimes even years later to try to understand if I still want to give it another go or if that it was really something not worth it.

Now, there’s a difference I’d like to point out that an idea isn’t really anything until you put it into action until you try it. And trying thing for me is an entirely different process. I’ve tried a lot of things and sometimes I stick with it for a really long time (the side-business on Fiverr is a good example) and others I feel like I’m not really in sync with it and I can stop it immediately. I don’t need to look at stats to understand if it’s working or not if it’s unpleasant for me from day one.  I like to keep it practical and accept that I’m good at doing some things and even if I don’t really enjoy them I can do it because they pays the bills but I can also evaluate that making me miserable by doing something that I won’t put the real effort into it I won’t get any results, so why do it at all right?

 

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

I’ve recently read somewhere in one of those inspirational quotes post that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, and I instantly related with that. Professionally I’ve hit a few walls from time to time. I stopped studying really early and left the safety of my parent’s home (entirely by choice) as soon as I turned 18 because I thought they shouldn’t be the ones that needed to support me financially so I decided to go out and create my own path.

Even when it got harder (which it did) there’s always a lesson that I took from it and tried to move on. The recession hit Portugal very hard and I lost my job when the economy was in one of its lowest points, not great I know but that’s what allowed me to take a step back and start to create what I wanted for myself and redefining my life in general. I’ve luckily found the woman of my dreams a few months later after I left my parents’ house and we’ve been together for almost 7 years now. She’s amazing and has taken great care of me through the years, motivating me and helping me with everything I decided to do. We are able to support each other and really “be there” for one another which is unbelievable. If you’ve ever found love, you’ll know what I mean.

Getting back to the topic of lessons learned here are a few: If you want to build a good rapport you’ll have to eat a lot of frogs and deal with situations that even if you know you’re absolutely right you still have to let your client get away with it. Not to say that everyone will try something that’s bad for you or your business but there are times when it’s unnecessarily complicated to settle on things that are very simple. I’ve learned that I rather lose a couple of dollars and still make my client happy than ruin a business relationship for the quick buck. It’s not worth it people.

Another lesson that I’ve learned (the hard way) is that if you don’t value what you do and you don’t really believe in it, how is it possible for another person to do it? Seems simple right? Well, sometimes is harder than it looks and here’s why: when you start building websites (as an example) people will come to you thinking you can “do it all”. And if you were like me when I started, you’ll not be afraid of the challenge. You might not know how to make a logo, edit a picture or even upload files to a server, but you’ll figure it out! With the right attitude you probably will, but if you don’t trust yourself at that point, how will you price all of that? Well, most likely you’ll leave money on the table and sometimes even do stuff for free because you don’t know how much they’re worth or you don’t believe you’ve done a good enough job (especially in the first couple of projects) that you deserve to be paid Top Dollar for it. But guess what? You can and will do better. It’ll take time but every time you’ll learn from the experience and adjust to the market. Sometimes pivoting your strategy or getting into a new type of industry.

In essence, the real message here is: what’s important is that you keep moving, keep trying and keep making mistakes. If you only know how to win you’ll probably won’t be able to enjoy it, and when a loss knocks at your door for the first time, invite it in, have a cup of coffee together and learn what you can do better next time. That’s the only way you’ll learn and be able to grow both professionally and in life.

How do you generate new ideas and what would you do if you had to pivot your entire project/idea/business?

I’m one of those types of people that have probably hundreds of ideas per day and my dirty little secret about it is that I don’t really have a strategy in place for why or how I have them. I actually just let it flow. From my own experience, the more you “try” the worst is going to go. I can’t just sit and tell myself: “now I’m going to have an Idea”, it just doesn’t work that way (for me).

I try to pay attention to things and most of the times something will pop-up in my brain telling me: “wow, this can make that happen” and I start to join the pieces of the puzzle together. Yet, Ideas are like I’ve mentioned before, just something that you think about until you put it into action and it’s all about the action here. Results will only happen if you put them into action!

For the pivoting part: As some of you may already know I’ve recently moved (relocated) from Portugal to Denmark and I couldn’t be any happier. This is a great place to live and I really love it here. Now, let’s also take into account that this is a very expensive place to live so there’s more financial risk here to have a quality lifestyle. Luckily I’m able to keep doing what I know how to do which is managing my side-business with the translations and keep on working in websites for clients and for myself (building a couple of niche websites as we speak).

Once again, to keep it practical here’s some of the things I’d do if I had to pivot entirely:

  • For Indie Digital Brands – I’d redesign the website and focus on helping brands building their online presence. I’d revamp the website to focus on creating a service where people would be able to hire my services and start a blogging session here to share as much information as I could about digital brands (the indie part would be how I’d set up the added value and the differentiating factor for my brand/services).
  • For my own freelancing projects – I’d probably try to learn a new skill within the industry. I’d start searching for someone I could outsource part of the things I’m not able to do and maybe focus on building strategically targeted websites for a niche that I know something about or that I could have access easily.
  • For the translation side-business – I’d probably rebrand and start over from the bottom where I once was. The market for translations is luckily not very saturated in my niche and if you’re professional enough on what you do people start to recognise that. I’ve already established a couple of returning clients and businesses so I’d definitely reach out to them and pitch them on a different type of agreement and maybe even try to get them under a contract where I’d do a set amount of work for a set amount of monthly fee.

 

Can you share some of your ideals that you think have helped you to get to where you are?

Being very professional, polite and having a positive attitude are definitely some of the pillars I personally focus on. Making sure that people know they can trust me through my actions is what has set me up to be where I am today. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a long way ahead of me and there’s still a lot of room and potential to expand both personal projects as with clients in general. My freelancing career has taken his first few steps and I think one of my assets is that I know I still have time to build what I want to build and I don’t worry too much about the quick hustle. I’m in this business for the long-run. This business is more than just “business as usual” for me, instead, it’s my entire lifestyle. With that being said, I’m working towards improving the foundation of it, especially with the relocation now.

 

Do you believe there is some sort of pattern/formula/requirement to becoming a successful entrepreneur from the experience you’ve gathered in your journey and are you a part of your own definition of success?

I do, and it’s a very simple one: “You have to want it!” – In all honesty, I think that the notion of what it is to be an entrepreneur nowadays has been somewhat manipulated by the mainstream media and that it’s pictured like something people are doing overnight. From my experience, I’ve built what I have today because I did what nobody else wanted to do to get here. I put in the work, I struggled yet I still kept going because I knew how important to me it was.

I remember when I started doing some of the first translations I was able to close. I was basically working to pay the PayPal fees I had and I was making a few cents on the dollar. And I remember there was one time where all my friends were going to the beach and enjoy the really hot sun and called me to see if I wanted to go. I said I didn’t but I was so embarrassed that I wasn’t going because I had taken that gig making so little money that I made up an excuse not to go. They were all working part-time and we were still very young, but I felt they wouldn’t understand so I kept it for myself, put my head down (in this case in from of the computer, and worked). I look back now and that was one of the deciding moments, I knew something changed within me. I was putting in the extra effort and that is something that I still carry on today.

Some of my friends today see me working on a cool project or doing a translation for a bigger company and they’re like: “wow man, you really got lucky in getting this one ham?”

Well, I’ve put in 5+ years of work (so far) to “get lucky” and I plan to continue going. But there’s a sadder side to it as well, those same friends are the ones that start complaining about not being able to do this or that, or buy this item or go on this vacation because they can’t afford it or they can’t save enough money from the current job they have.

My question to them is always the same: “Who do you think is going to make it happen for you?” – Obviously, I’m close to them when I tell them this, some people just don’t want to hear it. Some people think they’ll get lucky with anything by just existing, but let me tell you: that’s not how it happens.

 

What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

If by now you haven’t noticed let me be clear: I come from humble beginnings. I was raised in a loving and caring household that was considered middle-class workers but my family thought me how to appreciate things really early on.

The fact that I started to work on my summer vacations when school was closed and I were only 15 years old also thought me to value the effort put into the work you do. Something nowadays called “sweat equity”, most of you probably already heard that term. When you put in the extra work, when you go the extra mile, when you know you’re on the right track to “get it done” that’s the part I love about being an entrepreneur.

Not to glamorize it because I know I’m not a Sucess Story yet, but it’s also a goal of mine to be financially free and I know that I’ll try to make it happen to the best of my ability because I’m able to do things and to take the steps and put in the extra effort required for it and that probably others can’t, that’s the difference from someone who wants, and someone who is. I don’t do it for the title, I do it for the options it gives to my life.

As an entrepreneur you choose not to work 9 to 5 to work 5 to 23 (sometimes more), you choose not to have one boss to having 10 or 20 at a time telling you what they want/need. You choose not to have vacations because you’re indispensable for some of the things you’re working on. But that’s all part of the process. Basically, you’ve created the option to do this, and you know you also have the option to get back to the 9 to 5. To me, it’s worth every second of it.

 

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?

My greatest fear is that one day I wake up and I’m out of ideas, out of energy and feeling like a zombie with no purpose, no goals, nothing to look for in life. Numbness, I guess is the word I’m looking for.

I manage it by making sure I document almost every single one of my ideas and goals so that one day I can look back if I’m in that state of mind and remind myself that I want more, that I’ve done a lot to get to where I am and that I still have a long way to go to grow both as a businessman / entrepreneur / freelancer / whatever you want to call it and also as a person. I’m a firm believer that your brain is a “machine” that keeps on working and working and that it’s your job to train it and to properly care for it so that’s why I take special attention to mine.

Someone (which I’m guessing must be really important and I’m forgetting who, see the irony in this?) once said: “your brain exists to have ideas, not to store them.” and I’ve never forgotten that quote because once you recognise that (if it resonates with you) you start to stop trying the whole memorising thing of tasks, to-do lists, chores and all of the storing you do in your brain. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has a brain that can be used for whatever purpose. My opinion is that: Your brain is one of your most brilliant assets, use it wisely. 

 

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspiration is my girlfriend, and yes I know it sounds cheesy but it’s the real truth!

She has been such a great spouse, companion, best friend, and sometimes therapist that I don’t even have the words to describe how much I look up to her. She was the one who always stood next to me, that took part of my losses and my wins that have taken this journey with me and always supported me no matter what. I learned to appreciate more of this life because of her and aspire to be a better person every day because of her.

Now please excuse me for a minute while I’m going to let her know how much I love her just one more time, be right back! 🙂

Love of my life - My gf is my greatest inspiration

What book has inspired you the most? Or, What is your favourite book? Or, What books do you think anyone must read?

My reading habits weren’t the best, let me just clear that out of the way. I think the last book I remember to read as a kid was one of the first Harry Potter ones and I had to trick myself into reading the entire thing because I didn’t quite understand why the experience of reading was important. Nowadays I think that I probably just wanted to go out and play with my friends (who also didn’t read) which influenced me to stop caring about reading. Being nerdy has become sexy now that it’s 2016. If you tried to tell your friends you weren’t going out back when I was a little kid, you’d be teased for months. Back then it was already bad that I had to wear glasses, I didn’t want to make it worse!

Everything changed when I saw a documentary on TV about a real-estate investor that had written about his own story, struggle and success. That “guy” was Robert Kiyosaki and he was talking about a book Rich Dad Poor Dad. I literally searched all over the internet to find that book and in my country, there wasn’t even a translated version yet. – I eventually found it and was I got hooked, I read it like 3 times in a row to make sure I was taking it all in. Financial Freedom? Real Estate Investing? Cash-flow? What was all this?

Then I started to learn about different topics that I really wanted to know more about and found myself stumbling upon the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris, which lead me to Rework from the founders of 37signals and I thought to myself: Well I’m reading now aren’t I?

Last year I challenged myself to read at least 1 book every 2 months, 6 books in a year to me was great because I didn’t felt the pressure to speed read anything and miss a concept or anything like that (when I say that I read, I’m all-in, book cover to book cover) and by October I had already read 8 books.

As for a book that I’d recommend: it’s one about psychology and behaviour. Essentially it explains the influence of our own mindset and how it has an impact on our decisions and ultimately on our lives. I recommend anyone to read it, it’s called Mindset – The new psychology of success by Dr Carol S. Dweck. An amazing adventure through our thought process and some of the corners of the human mind.

Nowadays I’m getting to the point where I’m more comfortable in tackling more in-depth subjects and I’ve started to read books that are somewhat out of my comfort zone but yet that I can feel like they have something to teach me. As soon as I’ve made that connection, and I hope anyone can achieve that too, reading became an incredible experience for my personal development and as soon as I pick another book I feel like I’ve grown another inch.

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most (or look up to)?

Currently and just to name a few, I’m very interested in what Tesla is doing (I think Elon Musk is one of the greatest minds of our generation), Twitter (which I think is the coolest social media format and because of its cleverness) and to name probably one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs I’m going to have to say, Gary Vaynerchuk. I think he’s doing a great job spreading his message out and explaining some of the concepts of “keep trying till you make it happen” it’s very interesting to see how easy it is to relate to him in certain topics and at the same time how relentless some of the truth bombs he drops really pokes fun at some of the everyday life we take for granted.

On a more down to earth approach I do also want to point out a couple of guys I was lucky enough to Interview. Obviously, I’m a real fan of Niall and Pat because of their down to earth approach to life itself and their ability to try things and keep moving forward.

I’ve been following Niall’s journey for a while now and he’s just a very passionate guy about travelling, about his business and what he does in general. He has an impressive work ethic and pretty much motivates me to achieve more and get more done even in those days when I start to think I don’t feel like going the extra mile. Niall’s journey influenced me to become a better freelancer and to keep moving and trying new things.

Pat’s journey is also an inspiration that motivated me in two ways: first because if there was a picture in the dictionary to explain what a nomad is, I think it had Pat’s photo in it. We’re talking about a guy that dropped everything and hitchhiked is way around America, how cool is that? Talk about putting yourself out there right? Second because he did what I’m trying to do within the next 5 to 8 years. His business allowed him to move to Asia and explore the world on his own terms while working on the projects he enjoys the most. How amazing is that? Let’s not forget, you have to have the right attitude, mindset, perseverance to achieve that and I salute him for it and for inspiring me to one day be able to do that too.

 

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time and how do you manage to balance that time?

Some of my hobbies are juggling, playing a few songs on my guitar and since I’ve moved to Denmark I’ve been more and more interested in riding my bike. I’ve been having a blast exploring the city and getting to know some of the local cultural scenes and attending some of the events here. Can’t wait for the Summer Solstice here…

Managing my time is something that I feel it’s always a work in progress. Since I’m currently just working for myself as a freelancer and managing this side-business and projects I find myself a bit all over the place sometimes, but I think that’s part of the journey.

My girlfriend is always here when I need an extra hand which has been working perfectly and I’ve recently started to take a look at the startup scene here reaching out to them to maybe get a few partnerships or maybe even being hired by one of them and be a part of their team, who knows? My journey is just starting and there are a few things I’ll probably be sharing here, later on, some news that’ll most likely change my everyday life. Hope you’re following along so I can tell you everything about it 🙂

What three pieces of advice would you give anyone who wants to become entrepreneurs?

Don’t do it because you just want the title. – Do it because you’re passionate about what you’re creating. Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t on anyone’s mind, today it’s just a title that’s thrown around easily because the media felt the need to label the people that don’t settle for a regular job and that aim for bigger things. If you’re one of those and you always feel you don’t fit into jobs, and school and all that, by all means start creating and outlining your own path.

Be prepared because this is a road that’s going to test you every day. – You’ll face several challenges, you’ll hit walls, you’ll feel down and 5 minutes later you’ve accomplished something extraordinary. Remember that the little changes are sometimes what causes the more impact.

Try to enjoy the journey as much as you can. – It’s your life, after all, no one else will be able to live it for you!

If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

Oddly enough I am conducting the interview and being interviewed at the same time here, so this question was already made by me with the purpose of having an interesting question. Seems like I’m reliving the Inception Movie all over again here! Stop it… 😀

When we are together, the world is fine! :)

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Indie Nomad : Niall Doherty

 Niall in India

Indie Nomad: Niall Doherty’s Interview

I’m following Niall’s journey for around two years now and I’ve seen him create, write and build amazing things. Sometimes doing what I think is the impossible, like he’s doing right now with his course where in 3 months he’ll do his best to get you to 1000€ per month in income as a freelancer working online. Some of his students achieve results in just weeks and sometimes days. Really impressive! But that’s not the Niall I knew.

When I first discovered a video of Niall on youtube he was talking about some of the tracking methods he used (with a simple excel sheet) where he explained how he was able to achieve his goals and expand his knowledge while learning other languages at the same time. The file he showed in the video was in Portuguese and I obviously had to see more.

His content was really engaging and I felt like a stalker. In the first few days, I had subscribed to his mailing list because I needed to know more about all the great and sometimes unbelievable things he was doing. We’re talking about “a guy” that went all over the world without getting into a single plane (he wrote a book about that)! How impressive is that? And as if that’s not all he was also doing challenges (to himself and others) to reach $5k in one month (which he did), create an online course (which he did very successfully) and all that while sharing his challenges and “momentos” and also being available to his community. This is my interview with him and it is my pleasure to share it with you:

Niall in a Sailboat

 

IDB: Can you describe/outline your typical workday?

 

Niall: Up at 6:45 and at the gym by 7.

Exercise for 35-40 minutes.

Then I take a couple of hours for meditation, breakfast, email, reading, shower.

First work session from 9:30am to about 11:30am.

Break for lunch and nap.

Second work session from 2pm to about 6pm.

Get out of the house in the evening and do something social.

It’s never usually that smooth but that’s what I aim for most days.

 

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?

 

Like most people, I fear wasting my life away and looking back with regret. I manage that by trying to keep things in perspective. For example, I have an item on my daily to-do list that says, “Remember: someday you will die.” I have to check that off every morning, and it keeps in mind that my time is limited and I need to make the most of it.

 

What has been your most satisfying moment in business (either present or past)?

 

Last July I launched an information product that earned me $5,000 in 24 hours. I’d worked hard on that for months so it felt really good to see it do well.

 

I’ve since evolved that product into an online course called 3M1K, which helps people get started working online, so they have the freedom to work from anywhere like I’ve been able to do for the past five years. Seeing people have great results from the course has been very satisfying, too.

 

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time and how do you manage to balance that?

 

I love to read and usually get through a book a week. Last night I finished reading The Grapes Of Wrath which was amazing.

 

Other than that I regularly try to get out and spend time with friends and be social.

 

There are lots of other things I’d love to be doing but my tendency is to take on too many projects at the same time and become overwhelmed. So I’m careful about getting involved in too many pursuits and getting distracted from building my business, which is my primary focus right now.

 

What is it that truly makes you happy?

 

A sense of progress.

I like to look back every few months and see that I’ve made significant strides towards my goals.

 

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

 

I’m pretty strict about my schedule nowadays. I rarely deviate from my Monday-to-Friday work routine, and I try to get to bed early most nights so I can be up before 7 the next morning. As such, I miss out on lots of random coffee meet ups during the day, and late night adventures with friends.

 

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most (or look up to)?

 

I admire what Ramit Sethi has built. He has a suite of high-quality products that really help people, and it sounds like he does very well financially. I also admire his no-bullshit approach to marketing.

 

 

What three pieces of advice would you give anyone who wants to become entrepreneurs?

 

1) Start young.

The vast majority of entrepreneurs who succeed early in life were the kids on the playground selling baseball cards or on the sidewalk selling lemonade. I think there’s a natural gestation period for becoming an entrepreneur, and for most people it’s 5-10 years. So the earlier you start, the earlier you take your punches and move beyond them.

 

2) Work hard.

Should go without saying. If you don’t have a good work ethic, you’re not going to do very well. Lots of people want to build a successful business putting in 4-hour workweeks, but they inevitably get left in the dust by competitors putting in 40-hour workweeks. The latter crowd is doing ten times more work. Even if they’re not as smart and make tons of mistakes, they’re still going to come out ahead.

 

3) Teach.

I’ve really noticed this from building my 3M1K course. In there I’m teaching people how to make money freelancing online, and in the process I’ve become a much better freelancer myself. Teaching other people exposes gaps in your thinking and knowledge and you’re motivated to fill those gaps quick so you don’t look like a fool to your students.

So as soon as you learn something new as an entrepreneur, turn around and try teach it to someone else via a quick article or video online. Not only will you force yourself to understand concepts more deeply, but you’ll help others as well.

 

If you had the chance to start all over again, what would you do differently, if anything at all?

 

I quit my day job almost six years ago and spent the first ~10 months of my entrepreneurial life chasing passive income. That proved to be a huge waste of time and energy. Passive income is possible, but trying to achieve right out of the gate is unwise. Much better to focus on active income (e.g. freelancing) initially. You get a much faster ROI while learning lots about marketing and how to deliver value.

 

If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

 

This one 🙂

How do you define success?

 

I like how John Wooden defined it: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

He didn’t consider the best basketball players he coached to be the most successful. Instead, it was the players who made the most of their natural talents, even if those natural talents didn’t amount to much.
So in Wooden’s eyes, a guy scoring 4 points per game might be more successful than a guy scoring 20, because that first guy might have maxed out his capacity while the latter might be coasting along, relying on exceptional natural talent rather than heart and hustle.
Give that first guy the same natural talent as the second and he would probably score 30 points per game.

 

Make sure you take a closer look at Niall’s journey and that you follow along on his blog, social media, and youtube channel.

 

Niall’s Latest Video:

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Indie Youtuber’s Journey : Corey Ferreira

Corey
Embolden – Corey Ferreira

Indie Youtuber’s Journey: Corey Ferreira’s Interview

Corey Ferreira of Embolden.co (you can read more about him here, where he tells his story) was just another fresh graduate back in 2008 with a business diploma he wanted to put to good use and he really did.

He tried things out, he went through the online challenges and he built his following which watches closely his successful digital products, courses, and his documented journey through Youtube where he’s almost reaching the 5000 followers mark.

IDB: Can you Describe/outline your typical workday?

Corey: During the week, I’m involved with the marketing and content team over at Shopify. Once I’m done crushing it at Shopify, I’m home building my businesses during the evening. Whether that’s creating content, working on growing the business, or building something new.

 

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?

My greatest fear is the unknown and not knowing the future. I manage it by rationalizing that I can’t control the future, so it’s not worth fearing or stressing over things you can’t control. What I can control is what I do now to set myself up for more positive things in the future.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business (either present or past)?

Starting my very first business in college and getting my first customer. That feeling is pretty amazing along with the amount of excitement you feel.

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time and how do you manage to balance that?

I enjoy playing guitar and spending time with friends and family. I always schedule this time into my calendar, just like I would for something for my business.

What is it that truly makes you happy?

Creating things and helping people. I get a lot of satisfaction and joy from the emails and comments I get from people letting me know how much I helped them. It’s a very humbling feeling to know that what I’m doing is helping people improve their lives and business.

Being creative is another part of it. I like creating and building things, so creating content and running businesses helps fulfill that aspect.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Early on, I had to pass on going out with friends or saving a lot of money. I put a lot of time and money into my early ventures, but it was worth it.

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most (or look up to)?

I think what Buffer does is admirable. Buffer is one of the few businesses that is completely transparent about their earnings, processes, and marketing. I also think the product itself is great and they’re always listening to customers to improve it.

What three pieces of advice would you give anyone who wants to become entrepreneurs?

  • Be patient
  • Put yourself out there and go outside your comfort zone
  • Create opportunities instead of just seeking them or waiting for them

 

If you had the chance to start all over again, what would you do differently, if anything at all?

I might have started putting myself out there sooner. Building my personal brand has led to so many things in my life, if I started sooner, I’d be further along my journey.

If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

What one book would you recommend to a new entrepreneur?

How do you define success?

Success to me is living the life I want to live and doing things that make me happy and that I’m passionate about. If I have those things, I feel successful.

Make sure you subscribe to Corey’s journey and  follow along on his blog where the valuable content he shares can really help you on your journey as well.

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Startup Success: Ryan Leavitt’s Interview

yeti-maids
Yeti Maids

Startup Success Story: Interview with Ryan Leavitt

After several entrepreneurial startups, Ryan Leavitt has found success in his newest startup, a cleaning business called Yeti Maids. He just launched the business a few weeks ago but has already gained ten new clients and fifteen bookings. In this interview about his various startups, he talks about the importance of finding your focus.

What ignited the spark in you to take on a new business startup, and how did it come to life?

Since I learned about online business in 2008 from a friend of mine in the Marine Corps, I got really excited about the whole idea of startups and just dug in and learned as much about it as I could. I would stay awake at night just reading and reading anything I could get my hands on. I am one to act on my thoughts pretty quickly, so I decided to have a test site built where I could map out all of the bike trails on “Marine Corps Base Quantico.” Knowing nothing about how to get a site up online, I paid a freelancer I found on freelancer.com from India who only charged me $75. As I was adding stuff to the site and showing some of my friends, they asked me what I would charge to build them one. I told them I didn’t build it and suggested to get it done on freelancer. After a few people approached me, I decided to sell the site for $300 and then pay my contact to build it.

I did this the entire time I was in the Marines, and I also built out some small niche sites where I learned how to do SEO.

When I left the Marines in 2008, I had about a year left of college to complete my marketing degree, so although I hated school, I decided to finish.

Since my first client, I’ve been building out sites and providing SEO marketing services to customers. It wasn’t until this year that I’d dealt with some fraud from some of my customers. They’d waited until after they’d received the marketing to report it to their banks as fraud. I was fed up working with clients and decided to build a business and do the marketing for myself rather than for others.

That’s how Yeti Maids came to life.

Is this your first startup? If not, how long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

No, my first business startup was in 2006-2008, when a friend of mine and I went into business together building small utility trailers commonly used to carry four wheelers in our area. Things were going well with that business until all of the companies buying our trailers went belly-up after the 2008 economic crash.

In 2013 I started a cleaning business in Utah, where I was doing all the cleaning myself. I cleaned residential and commercial properties and was able to grow the business pretty quickly. My biggest success was contracting the college housing, doing all the move in/out cleanings. When dealing with a big institution like this, a lot more work is required to get the job than would be invested in your average customer. After a year of this, I got burned out and decided to sell the business.

In 2014 I started a pest control business, because I liked the idea of easier work and better margins. I built this up to about sixty clients over the summer of 2014, but things died down in the winter months due to the lack of bug activity. During these months, I went through a divorce and moved from a small town in Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada in hopes of better opportunities.

So I guess you could say when my interest dies or the business model has proven unmanageable, I move on.

What are some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

When my first business closed in 2008, I was 20 years old, and it was one of the lowest points of my life. I went from a business owner to a shelf stocker at Walmart, and I didn’t understand that many things come into play when it comes to business and the economy, so I felt that I must have done something wrong. A few years later, I learned that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but the only way you have a chance is if you keep trying.

How do you generate new ideas, and what would you do if you had to pivot your entire project/idea/business?

My brain is constantly thinking of different ideas for business, which can be a bad thing. I find it hard to sleep at night, because I can’t turn it off. There is always a better way to do things. Take my cleaning business, for example; if I’d known about Rohan Style, I would have been able to shift the business, so I could focus on what I love doing, which is the marketing, rather than the cleaning

Can you share some personal ideals you think have helped you get where you are?

Honestly, I think my work ethic is my key to success. I’m addicted to work, and I can’t sit still for very long. At the time of my first startup, I worked three jobs, seven days a week for a year to save up enough money to get it going.

Do you believe there is some sort of pattern/formula/requirement to becoming a successful entrepreneur from the experience you’ve gathered in your journey? Are you a part of your own definition of success?

Yes and no. I think choosing the right focus is the primary requirement. When I had my first cleaning business, I hated doing the cleaning. It was such exhausting, unfulfilling work that sometimes when the phone would ring, I wouldn’t answer it, because I didn’t want to take on any more customers. While I had this business, a friend of mine started a tour company. Three years later, it’s still going. He’s doing amazing and has really grown his fleet, and it’s because he found something that he loves doing.

Now that I’ve changed the focus of my business to ensure that I’m not killing myself doing things I hate doing, work brings a ton of joy to my life.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

No job has ever brought me as much happiness or pride as taking a startup business from scratch and growing it with a cult following.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?

I used to say the fear of failure, but I’ve been there and done that already. Now I’d say that I fear I’ll work too much and not focus enough on my wife and kids – Ashley, Jude, and Ayden. I have to work on this every day and make it a point to shut everything else out when it’s family time.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Andrew Warner from Mixergy. He has a way of communicating with people that I just love.

What book has inspired you the most? What books do you think are “must-reads” for entrepreneurs?

I know this is like the entrepreneur rule to read books, but I’ve learned way more from blog posts online and listening to podcasts than any book I’ve ever read. A few blogs and podcasts:

Mixergy (Andrew Warner)

Starting from Nothing (Foundation Podcast)

Smart Passive Income (Pat Flynn)

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

Drip Apps, they are an SEO teaching company. They offer software products for SEO, as well as material to help you keep up with the ever-changing SEO game. I know everyone lists companies like Amazon and Zappos, but honestly I have not worked with them much. But with Drip Apps they are definitely all about the customer. It’s never good to have a problem, but after I did, I respected them a lot more because of how they handled it.

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time, and how do you manage to balance that time?

Camping is one of my favorite pastimes, but my family and I have not been out in a good while. We have a lot of fun trips planned for this summer, and I’m really excited about it.

What three pieces of advice would you give anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur?

Start, fail, adjust.

If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

One thing I wish more interviewers would ask is how much entrepreneurs invested in their startup to get it off the ground. In my case, it was only a few hundred dollars, and I am just rolling all profits back into advertising right now.

References:

Yeti Maids

Freelancer

Mixergy

Starting From Nothing

Smart Passive Income

Drip Apps

 

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