From Full-time Employee to Entrepreneur: Dean Carrera's Journey
I was in Information Technology for eight years when I was compelled to start a company. It was a quiet question in my mind, nothing pushy but a simple question.
“Dean, what do you think about starting a hosting company?”
I imagined the idea of owning a company as a compelling challenge. I didn’t have a family yet and could devote the time to the pursuit. I embraced the idea and explored it.
Assemble Your Team
It’s critical when starting a new venture, to find a few loyal advisers and supporting friends to help along the way. I reached out to several close friends working with me at the internet consulting firm. It was an exciting proposition to work together on building the next big hosting company.
Soon after the passion of launching a new company faded, I realized my fellow comrades were not fully committed to launching a business as I found myself doing all the heavy lifting. Still committed, I chose to leap without them and began my new journey.
What I soon realized was that I did not need my friends as business partners for launching the company, but instead needed a group of people who cared for and encouraged me along the way. My friends became a sounding board and loyal technical advisers when I needed insight. In fact, these friends still help me to this day and are part of my strong emotional support system.
If you are looking to start your own venture, you will want to secure a trustworthy team around you.
Expect to feel conflicted at first
Building a company while working for another business as an employee is tricky and difficult. I found myself asking questions, such as:
How will I manage the tension of my employment responsibilities with running a new business?
Would it be more fruitful (promotion opportunities, raises, etc.) to put my side work effort into my full-time job?
In spite of these questions, I chose to move forward and build my business on the side. My love of technology, building things and the expected freedom from business ownership was enticing. I leveraged my technology position and experience to make the transition slowly. This allowed me to sharpen my skills and continue to fulfill my employment responsibilities.
Be Prepared - Working two jobs is not for the faint of heart
As the side job grew, there were times when I was arriving at my data center at 11 pm to fix an urgent issue only to wake up early the next morning to work my job. In many cases, the data center conference room became my bedroom.
Often at inconvenient times, I would receive text alerts about downed systems or issues in need of immediate attention. I also received calls during office hours from clients. At times, juggling the two seemed impossible and was highly stressful.
Building an income-generating business requires blood, sweat, and tears. There are no shortcuts to long-term success.
Growth will indeed come
From 2002, I built the business client by client, server by server. Eventually, I went from one server to two racks of servers, firewalls, network gear and other equipment. And, it was at this point I was burning out from my day job.
I was faced with another decision and test for my level of commitment to this business. Was I going to take the leap out of the corporate world and go full-time with Sozo Hosting, my company? With a financial reserve set aside, I pulled the trigger in 2010 and made the jump from financial security into the unknown.
The feeling of quitting my job and focusing all my time into the business was hugely satisfying and motivating. It was time to take this company to the highest level.
Going back to job security is a temptation to give up
I realized Sozo Hosting was not going to grow magically. I had to do the hard work of networking, meeting people and marketing my services. I had to channel the energy I gave when I worked two jobs into building the company.
During slow seasons, I found myself thinking, I can go get a day job if this does not work out.
The clear advantage of accepting a corporate job is simple -- financial security. The advantages of working for yourself are numerous -- the freedom to work from anywhere, the fulfillment of building something worthwhile, time with your family, no mind-numbing commute, and plenty of opportunities to network, create and grow.
In a way, if I was toying with the security of a day job, I was back where I started, so I decided to reach out to someone for business development ideas and guidance on how to achieve the next level of growth for Sozo Hosting. This is when I decided to reach out to Jason Montoya. We evaluated the state of the business and explored different strategies I could tap for overcoming obstacles.
What was most helpful in our discussions was his illumination of the urgency I faced but was not recognizing.
Jason proceeded me to tell me a story from the film, The Dark Knight Rises. In the story, Batman (Bruce Wayne) is beaten and broken by the villain Bane. He’s subsequently placed into a prison, a giant hole in the middle of a desert. There is only one way to get out and it requires climbing and leaping up the giant chasm with a few small ledges to grab and stand on. Bruce attempts to climb out of the chasm using a safety rope, so when he fell, he would not fall to his death. He finally found out the only person who got out did so by NOT using the rope. It was an “all in” moment and there was no turning back. If you know the story, you know Bruce jumped without the rope and made it out of the cave to ultimately defeat Bane.
Like Bruce Wayne, I realized I was holding on to my own safety rope--the backup plan of getting another corporate job. But, what I failed to realized was there was no going back. There was only going forward. I had to be all in!
I used this revelation and new momentum to propel me forward. On a daily basis, I’m spending time networking and developing new business. The benefits came immediately, receiving new referrals, the direction from others, and landing new customers. I’ve also planted numerous seeds that I know will bear fruit in the future.
As an entrepreneur, I am all in. Are you?
How can Dean serve you?
Did you know that 40% of small businesses do not backup their data? 60% of these businesses never recover from a data disaster. Sozo Hosting can assist your business with backing up your data on-premise and off-site in our PCI, HIPAA compliant data centers. This will ensure that you have multiple copies of your data and in the event of a disaster that we can bring your system back online within a day.
Images courtesy of Cynthia Mag, Matt Heaton & Tim Boote via Unsplash.