Full-time Entrepreneur: 12 Months Later

by Travis Ketchum · 20 comments

I’ve talked about the shift in the American dream before, but it’s probably more true now than ever.

June 30th, 2012 marks exactly 12 months since I worked my last day in a cubicle in exchange for a paycheck and I’ve learned so much it’s hard to believe it’s the new “normal”.

It’s no longer having the house with a white picket fence, a Mercedes and 2.5 kids. In fact, today most people don’t have any desire to own a car at all.

Today, the dream is to own your own business and have the kind of personal liberty that almost nothing else can provide.

It’s not a cake walk, in fact you’ll never work harder than you will as an entrepreneur but it gives you the latitude to spend your time on work that you actually love.

“I want to be en entrepreneur for the personal satisfaction instead of just cashing the easy paycheck for “today” money.” [Click To Tweet]

Getting What You Want

Make no mistake about it, doing well as an entrepreneur is no easy feat. When you work for someone else it’s common to slip into the clock-in/clock-out mentality where you can honestly afford to ignore those 1am customer requests.

I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve had to stop whatever I was doing and dig into a customer’s WordPress backend to help them solve some obscure problem they had that wasn’t even caused by my products.

Doing this though brings me immense satisfaction because people are genuinely thankful for the extra effort, and I’m in this to help people and create lifetime customers.

If you are lucky enough to build something that helps a lot of people that you actually enjoy, covet that and do your best to multiply the experience.

You will be rewarded exponentially for your efforts.

Creating Real Value

Entrepreneurs like to throw around the word “value” a lot. To be honest I don’t think many know what real tangible value is.

We all like to think that things we create have value, but in reality most of what gets created is pretty useless.

It’s for this reason that I have avoided “info products” like the plague, even though there is a ton of money in them.

Since most people don’t do anything with what they are given (and even less when it’s just information), I knew that building software with a specific use case was going to be infinitely more valuable than anything else I could bring to the marketplace.

As they say, I kept it simple stupid. And it has worked like a charm.

Building Long Term Assets

In the past 12 months I have traveled more than ever, been in the best financial position in years and enjoyed the highest level of personal satisfaction to date (but I still have a long way to go for all the above).

I’ve been able to travel to Texas, Cabo San Lucas (pictured above), Portland, Kodiak Island, Vegas and more.

Those locations were for pleasure because I could continue to create value while traveling, I had many more trips for work.

The key here was the added flexibility of being in control of when my efforts produce dividends to match the lifestyle I desired.

So you might be wondering, what kind of work supports this lifestyle and can continue to grow?

It’s been about 50% software and 50% client work, but let me elaborate…

Working With Interesting Clients

I dabbled for years with Internet Marketing, and had actually fallen into a form of it when I was 18 with my first computer company.

What was intended to be something small, turned into a large scale eBay drop shipping setup that had me pushing 200-300 laptops per day.

I’m not a developer, hacker or otherwise but at the time I had figured out how to circumvent my High School’s filtering system to access my eBay business.

I also grabbed some half done scripts to compile an automated way to post 1k+ eBay listings each day to keep up with demand.

Once I found a few offers that scaled, and worked with the likes of “Shoemoney” to launch a few projects I had enough experience to start working with interesting clients.

These range from best-selling authors, speakers, to local franchise owners.

The same is true of all clients I work with now though, they are decent people who are trying to do big things.

Building Simple Software That Works

While I love my clients, this part of my business has me much more excited.

I recently successfully completed the launch of my first self-branded product called “Contest Domination“, which has done over $100k in sales since it launched in April.

This puts our total volume in roughly the 4,000 copy range and we aren’t just sitting on our thumbs.

I’ve partnered with a “SaaS” (software as a service) pro whose helping me bring something really special to the market.

Driving a SaaS to compliment the distributed software model should put me in the position to help a variety of different people in a variety of different ways.

But the most important thing is that I *am* helping people, earning a stellar living, working my tail off and loving every minute of it.

About Travis Ketchum
A smart ass marketer who doesn't take no for an answer and always questions the status quo. Connect with me on Google+. Convinced yet? Get more tips and great content 100% free.

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Building a sustainable business is all about how well you can gather and maintain an audience. An email list is still one of the most viable ways to do just that.

We wanted to find a way to build an email incredibly fast, in a way that people actually find interesting, engaging and well - cool. It took a lot of testing to weed-whack through all the hype and find something that really worked.

The result? We ended up building our own solution, focused around the idea of contests and rewarding people for taking the actions that ultimately led to more leads on our email list. Everyone wins (and some literally do!), because as it turns out people love contests regardless of their market place.

Click to continue…

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Staton June 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Travis, thank you for the awesome posts as usual. I’m very close to leaving my full time gig to to become a full time entrepreneur.

I’m currently working at a fortune 500 company full time and “part time” (a shit ton of hours) on two “side” projects.

http://www.RestorationLocal.com is a nationwide network or water restoration contractors that we send live phone leads. We validate and charge for leads using phone call tracking and even send emails and text messages to our partners when a lead comes in.

http://www.NotifyMeNow.com is where my passion is strongest at the moment. Mobile technology is where it’s at and helping people, schools, companies, etc. communicate more effectively and efficiently is fun and rewarding too. Right now, we’re starting to gain a strong brand name in the automotive space. See: http://www.notifymenow.com/blog/text-message-marketing/auto-dealership-window-sticker-text-message-marketing.html

In any event, thanks for sharing and enjoy the weekend!

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Travis Ketchum June 30, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Matt,

I really love the hustle! Thanks for taking the time to read the post, and even more time to leave a comment. Have you considered just focusing on one of your two projects to focus your “part time” energy on so that it gets the maximum chance of success?

If you are like me, you have a hard time saying no to things and also have a lot of ideas. However, in the beginning I found that saying “no” to everything but a single idea/mission helped me speed up my pace to full-time entrepreneur.

Just my two cents πŸ™‚ Enjoy your weekend!

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Matt Staton June 30, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Travis, I tend to have a hard time saying no because there are so many different things I am passionate about. I am on the verge of choosing between the two within the next 30 to 60 days. I will keep you posted.

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Travis Ketchum June 30, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Please do report back, I know it’s a hard thing to do but saying “no” more often will actually get you what you want in my experience. Look at Apple, the most valuable company in the world (market cap wise) and their entire portfolio could fit on most coffee tables.

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Jay Eskenazi June 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Great article, Travis. You tell it like it is, and you have integrity. Creating real value for customers is the only viable long term strategy.

Happy 1 year anniversary!

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Travis Ketchum June 30, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Thanks Jay, I really appreciate hearing things like that πŸ™‚

Have you decided to try your hand at promoting an offer yet? (based on the last time we talked) Or have you mapped out the first software product you’d like to bring to market?

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Richard Dacker June 30, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Hi Travis ,

Enjoyed the story..your a smart man. Pushing 200-300 laptops a day is some feat. Seems to me you achieve a goal nicely. The contest domination product I have not yet put to practice.. scoping ideas and juggling matters of business to get there eventually. I will know when it hits me the right ingredient for contest domination. That I am sure.

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Travis Ketchum June 30, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Richard, thanks for kind words. Once you have your contest up and running drop me an email, I’d be happy to take a look at it.

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Austin June 30, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Travis,

I always enjoy reading about fellow entrepreneur’s journeys! It’s something that people have a hard time “getting” until they try it and it hits them. Thanks for putting yourself out there to help inspire other people to take risks and start working for themselves.

Best of luck with all of your future endeavors!

Here’s to your $uccess!

~Austin

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Travis Ketchum June 30, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Totally agree Austin, those who haven’t tried it have a very hard time relating to the struggles and the satisfaction related to the hustle.

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Charles Ash June 30, 2012 at 11:11 PM

Thanks for sharing this Travis. I’m an IT professional based in South Africa and recently thrust into entrepreneurship by circumstances. It’s sometimes very difficult to hold on to the dream while making ends meet and building to realise the vision…but articles like this certainly do help.

I’ve used Contest Domination now for a few clients and I wanna THANK YOU for creating this…it’s flippin’ awesome!

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Travis Ketchum June 30, 2012 at 11:42 PM

Charles, keep fighting the good fight. I promise it’s worth it, as far as hearing about Contest Domination working so well for you – I LOVE when customers can instantly realize the value of their purchase.

Keep your eyes open because you can expect more of this type of product design coming from my end over the coming months.

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Wilco de Kreij July 1, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Hey Travis! I had no idea you quit your job just 1 year ago – I assumed you were one of the “oldskoolers” as well πŸ˜‰ Was “Contest Domination” your first WP plugin that you launched? And what can we expect from you in the upcoming year?

– Wilco

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Travis Ketchum July 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I take it as a compliment that you thought I was an “oldskooler” πŸ˜‰

I’ve helped people like Shoemoney etc launch things before, but Contest Domination was the first WP plugin I’ve launched and first product under my name. As far as things coming up I have two exciting projects I’m working on right now.

1. A hosted version of Contest Domination for people who want more advanced functionality (that isn’t easily doable under WordPress) and that either don’t use WP or just want something they don’t have to install and manage.

2. Making another WP plugin called Good Karma Press that is going to let you nurture your existing leads and customers (since it’s easier to make your existing list more engaged). Putting premium content behind a social share for those already opted in and turning their referrals/cold-traffic into new opt-ins.

It’s something I’ve personally wanted and struggled with finding an elegant solution so instead I’m just building it myself. This is the same way I came up with Contest Domination and the market seemed to love it!

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Wilco de Kreij July 1, 2012 at 1:18 PM

That sounds awesome – looking forward to your new WP plugin. Do you code everything yourself?

That’s exactly how I came up with my 1st WordPress plugin: needed it myself and decided to make it public. That way you’re certain you’ll have at least one customer πŸ˜‰

Do you have a blog post which tells me a bit more about your “track record” over the years? πŸ™‚

– Wilco

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Travis Ketchum July 1, 2012 at 1:22 PM

I’m actually not a developer or a designer, but I hire some pretty talented people to bring what I want to life. I map out everything about how I want/need things to work and look but they do the magic for me and I bring it to market.

Very cool about you rocking WP plugins as well, it’s a fun business isn’t it? πŸ™‚

I don’t have a post that lays out everything I’ve done but that’s not a bad idea, haha.

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Wilco de Kreij July 1, 2012 at 1:27 PM

If definitely is πŸ˜‰ I’ll be reading your blog from now on – we’ll be in touch (hopefully)!

Jared White July 1, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Great post Travis! This is inspiring and further encourages me to keep pushing for my business so that I can help others as well.

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Travis Ketchum July 1, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Glad you found it helpful Jared! Anything specific you are struggling with over at the tech temple that I can help you with?

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Wealth December 12, 2014 at 1:19 AM

This post is inspiring.

One other thing is that I totally agree with you on the concept of value. Many folks are yet to get what is valuable and what is just plain useless to potential customers.

Keep up the good work.

~PBW

Reply

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