This is a guest post from Jake Thompson, Compete Every Day
“What did I get myself into?”
Those are the words that consistently ran through my mind for the first two years of starting my own business. I was overwhelmed, and to be honest, had no idea what I was doing half of the time. It was a trial by fire, where every day you are learning on the fly. I think it’s a position most of us who start a business can relate to. We have an idea, we launch the idea, yet we don’t know everything that we will encounter.
And that’s the fun of it.
There’s nothing like finally taking that leap and launching your idea, turning a dream into a reality. It’s exhilarating, frustrating, motivating, and humbling all at the same time. I had spent a few years designing plans and strategies for businesses that never left the ground. Some were of my own creation, others of clients. Regardless, they ended up staying on paper and never found life. I started Compete Every Day with no retail experience, no fashion experience, and no ecommerce experience. But I had a lot of passion and I was going to be damned if this idea never came to life. So I launched it.
I’ve spent the last two-plus years grinding. I started with a small investment of my own and decided to bootstrap this business without investors for as long as I possible could. My goal was to build the business the right way – not by forcing a product down customers’ throats, but instead, building a powerful story and inviting others to be a part of it. I feel that’s the area we’ve been hugely successful with at Compete Every Day. I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way. Budgeting was one of my hardest skills, and it showed, but the experience gained from experimenting different projects has been valuable.
We grew over ten-fold in the last two years. We’ve already surpassed our 2012 sales only six months through 2013, and are anticipating a big remainder of the year with upcoming events. The same shirts that were sold out of the back of my car when I launched are now the same products being worn by professional athletes, country music stars, and individuals worldwide. The support and success has been overwhelming, but it was far from easy. The road has been long, difficult, and full of many failures along the way. But it’s a learning experience you could never find inside of a classroom or staring at pages writing a business plan that you’ll eventually lock away in a cabinet.
If you’re passionate about an idea want to launch, here’s what I’ve learned that should prepare you for the road ahead. Continue reading “The Long, Hard Road of Entrepreneurship”