May 8, 2015
Like many people I have always fancied working for myself without having to answer to people, however, I never knew where to begin. It was only when I was faced with constant knock-backs when applying for promotions in my day job did I finally decide to try and follow this through. It ended up being the best decision of my life.
I had been working in my job in local public protection for over 6 years and I applied for promotion twice, failing both times. The second time was a bitter pill for me to swallow as I knew it would probably be the last opportunity before a major re-structuring occurred, and I would miss out on an important training contract I wanted to really get on to. I enjoyed the role I was doing but I had outgrown it and I needed something more, a bigger challenge but also the salary that represented progression in my life as my wife and I started to think about children. The day I was rejected for promotion again I found myself driving home from an evening of working late upset, pretty much in tears. My wife consoled me best she could as she knew how much it meant to me but I just wanted to be left alone that night. It was only after a week or two later as I tried to make sense of what to do next did it hit me. I realised my disappointment was great because I kept relying on other people to bail me out of my current working life and into something better. The problem with depending on someone else however is its unreliable and thats when I knew I had to depend on the one person I knew would put my own interests first – myself.
I had some small minor success writing psychology revision resources for students as I had self-taught the subject a few years prior. I had done pretty well scoring among the highest grades in the country so I had somewhat of a specialistic knowledge in it. My brother encouraged me to try take this further so I decided to create a website dedicated to revision – unfortunately I knew nothing about website development. In the 21st century, the online world has so much more potential than having a brick and mortar store when it comes to any business and here’s why: If you have a store and even if its in the city centre you have a limited amount of people that can walk past – this is your so called “traffic”. For argument’s sake, let’s say 2000 people walk past your store on average every day. From that pool of 2000 you may only ever get anywhere between 200-300 who actually come in the store. So in a month you’re limited to 7500 customers who will enter the store at best. You still have bills to pay such as electricity, staff wages, rent, or even VAT on all goods sold too. This gets expensive and, sure, this is a rough ball park figure but the point is to highlight having a brick and mortar store is extremely costly when compared to the alternative. With an online website you pay about £50 in total for hosting and a domain and you’re up. All the money you would have spent continuously on rent, staff, electricity, etc, you funnel into ensuring the website becomes visible instead and that is guaranteed to be much cheaper than an actual store. Plus, you no longer have to pay electricity or expensive rental fees for being in a prime location. So it was always going to be an online venture I had to try due to its affordability.
I had nothing to lose at this point and everything to gain so I spent the next 3-4 months learning website development with Youtube being my best friend. Just to add, it’s amazing how you can learn almost every little simple thing with Youtube. With the site up I spent the next 5 months updating it with content that I knew students would be after. The problem is with a new website it won’t ever be found within searches unless the content you create is really good. So I started to focus purely on this; writing great content was what Google’s focus had become, so I knew as long as I kept at it, people would find it. In only 15 months I went from having no knowledge in website development to running one of the most popular psychology revision websites in the UK. Thousands of students had downloaded my free and paid resources with many of them scoring grades higher than they thought possible. Over 330 schools were using my resources and the first academic year hadn’t even finished.
Pictures and tweets started to be sent in from students who had got into university thanks to my resources and I found myself overwhelmed with it all to say the least – one even ended up in Cambridge university and sent me a picture thanking me.
It’s only upon reflection did I realise that it was a buildup of failures which directed my path towards this, and the disappointment had to build up to a point where I would finally crack and do something about it. With building something myself, I realised that it’s usually failure which fuels success, as everything I sucked at drove me to try improve to a point where I overcame the problem. The people who fail are the ones that give up but as Steve Jobs once said, “everything around you was made by people no smarter than yourself”.
Don’t give up, persevere, and you will get your rewards. I failed about 4 times in getting the website anywhere close to how I wanted it but I kept at it and once you begin to find that small inch of success you’ve found your way in. The foot is in the door and you keep growing it from there and this applies for any small victory in business.
Image Credit: Flickr/Nukamari
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