9 Lessons from 9 Years as an Entreprenuer

working at home
The view from my office on Day 1 of working for myself 9 years ago.

Exactly nine years ago I acted on my decision to never work for anyone again. I started Brand5 out of the dining room in my apartment with exactly zero clients and a very small bank account balance.

Nine years later I’m proud to say that Brand5 is still very much alive (and thriving). The company’s success has afforded me the opportunity to take some additional entrepreneurial leaps. I’ve been fortunate enough to start and sell two other companies in addition to Brand5 – Beelya and FileLater – and I’m working on my next one already. As a result, I’ve become passionate about starting, and helping other people start, their own online technology companies (my term for websites). For me, nothing is better than taking something from the back of a napkin or a white board, turning it into something real, getting customers, generating revenue, and wrestling with all of the things that can happen trying to make it grow into a real product or service.

Along the way I’ve learned a crazy amount of lessons. I do my best to take those lessons with me when I work with clients or on my own ventures. Here are nine (9 years, 9 lessons get it?) that I hope will help others out there trying to find their way building their own online business. As always, forgive the plethora of sports analogies. I’m a big fan of business and sports and the two often get mixed together.

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HOW TO: Choose and manage domains when you’re an entrepreneur

choosing a domain
Proper domain management can save you time and money

If you’re like me and own lots of domains for more than one business interest, you know that it can be challenging to keep everything organized (not just with domains, btw).

I’ve learned some valuable lessons about managing a portfolio domains. These are simple, but they’ll save you time and money down the road as your business interests grow and, ultimately, make it big.

1. When in doubt, buy them out
This one’s not so much about management, but it’s worth passing along. When your company is in the spitball phase of trying to come up with a winning name, buy every single domain you think has a chance of being the final pick. Here’s why: first, don’t ever leave it to chance that the domain will be available tomorrow. You never know who is watching. The last thing you want to do is to have to go pay someone for the domain you really want. Second, you may forget. Sounds dumb, but that stroke of genious you have can easily vanish into thin air because you’re attention got drawn to some other important detail. Buy that great name before it leaves your brain.

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How My Home Office Gets In The Way Of Being Mayor

home officeI’m 50-plus checkins deep into my Foursquare career and I’ve realized my future as a mayor in the geo-location app is limited. Even though I’m relatively brand new to the game, it’s clear already that there’s only so many mayoral crowns that are within my reach.

The reason? My home office.

Yep. My choice to run a lean internet marketing consulting operation and work at home stifles my ability to become a prolific Foursquare mayor. No Super Mayor badge for me. Bummer.

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Startup Lessons: Guard Your Equity and Make Every Day Productive

Here’s the latest installment of our Q&A Series – short interviews with talented, experienced, and successful entrepreneurs who are on the front lines of running online businesses.

My guest is Curt Dalton, founder of the new search engine NowRelevant.com – yeah that’s right. I said new search engine. I had a chance to chat with Curt this week. He had a lot of great insight’s about the entrepreneurial game and the search business. He’s got an interesting idea.

This interview is super interesting because of the industry involved – one that’s obviously occupied by giants that we’ve all heard of. Here’s our discussion:

B5: Before we get into your new venture, tell me about being an entrepreneur.
For me it has always been about how you think about a problem and how you look to solve it.  I have always been the “I can create a better mouse trap” type thinker.  So, you will strike out some, but you if you stick with it and be persistent you will find success on a project sooner or later.

new search engine

B5: So tell me about NowRelevant.com.
NowRelevant.com is a new search engine that shows you everything about a subject, but just for the last two weeks. We want to give users relevant information on topics without having to sift through 55 million results that date back to the beginning of time. We’re able to remove spam and SEO dummy sites from the users results as well.

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