I’m the accidental entrepreneur. I did not grow up selling lemonade to neighbors or inventing products to sell to my friends. I just didn’t think that way. I went to college and majored in accounting so I could find employment and pay my student loans once I graduated. I wanted a solid job and I wanted a solid income. I wanted to work hard, have a regular paycheck, and I really wanted health insurance. I wanted the stability I lacked as a child and I thought a “good” job would give that to me. And it did for a very long time.
I’ve really only had three employers in life and I stayed with each of them from three to nine years. I’ve worked in small family companies and very large corporations. I didn’t job hop and I stayed loyal. I tried to be trustworthy and give back to my employer. I held jobs in operations, sales, and marketing. But never in accounting, as my education had prepared me. I gravitated to technology at every opportunity and always became the go-to girl when software was involved. I liked what life had given me and I liked my regular paycheck, my vacation time and my insurance.
And then one day, something changed.
I quit my six figure job in the heart of the recession and started Web Savvy Marketing. Some have called it foolish and others have called it “ballsy”. In retrospect they were all right. But personal situations made it necessary and I’m so thankful that I took the leap of faith and I starting our company.
When the idea presented itself, it wasn’t that the entrepreneurial bug got into me. Far from it. I was scared and uncertain. I didn’t want to leave my stability and I didn’t want to brave it on my own. But I saw no other choice at the time. The recession was in full swing and there were absolutely no jobs available in Michigan. If I wanted a change, I had to make that change happen myself.
My husband, God bless him, asked how I was going to pull it off. I told him I was going to blog, use my knowledge of SEO, and stay active in social media. I told him I was going to use what I know because I knew it worked. I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because he looked at me with a blank stare and just sat there in silence. With great love and a lot of unspoken concern, he let me quit my job and start our company. Yes “let me” – this was not a decision I could make on my own. It was going to have an impact on the entire family.
For months we had been stocking money away. My husband was in the automotive industry and we had no idea if he would have a job the next day, so we were preparing for the worse should it arrive. When I finally decided to quit my job, we had a cushion in savings to help us ride out the first few months while I tried to recapture some of my lost income.
When I founded Web Savvy Marketing my goal was to not lose my house. Literally. I simply wanted to supplement my husband’s income so we could continue to live in our nice house, drive our new cars, and play on our Malibu boat. My first client arrived from LinkedIn and it was someone I had known in my old life. Then another client came from my old life and they both referred me to other clients. The unexpected independence worked and I quickly had my old income back.
And then one day, the angel investor arrives.
Both my husband and I realized this company had a lot more potential. I’d like to say it was us, but it wasn’t. An angel investor showed up and tried to buy into the firm. I had met him through a client and once we spoke, he saw the potential that I did not. He pursued me for months and I eventually declined his money. While this courting process sucked up a lot of my time, he did open my eyes to the potential that I was not seeing. And this was a turning point. The company had much more potential than we realized.
My husband and I pulled money from our 401k accounts to help grow the company. Thanks to the unwanted angel, we knew we had something kind of cool here and we wanted to take another leap of faith. We used the 401k loans to invest in the firm and invest in additional resources. The tides turned and things started to grow and grow fast.
For four years our firm has had steady revenue growth of 40%-100% year after year. I’ve tried to keep the growth manageable and I’ve held back certain expansions until I was certain we could support the expected spikes. I’m still holding some off in an effort to keep me and my team sane. It has been an adventure and a learning curve. I’ve grown professionally and I’ve grown personally. The stability I once craved has been replaced by the desire and ability to do what makes me happy.
The company is now interwoven into all aspects of my life and it is who I am. I am a wife and mother, but I am also an accidental entrepreneur. I am a technomommy, a nerd, and I am part of the 23 million small businesses in America that account for 54% of all U.S. sales. I have a responsibility to our team and to our clients.
I’m proud of our work, our custom web design and our stock WordPress themes. I love when a client tells me they’ve had traffic growth and increases in conversions. I love being the change and helping others pursue change.
Some entrepreneurs are born, some are made, and some of us just stumble into it.
I was not born an entrepreneur. No one mentored me and made me into an entrepreneur. I just stumble into it. I feel like I tripped over it and just had the good sense to pick it up, embrace it, and run with it. But isn’t that life in general?
What change do you want? Do you have aspirations to start a blog, a businesses, or launch a product? Do you want to publish a book or create a non-profit to help those around you?
In today’s digital world you can make it happen. It doesn’t take an army or a million dollars to make change. I talk to people each week who have realized this already. Internet marketing and my beloved WordPress have allowed the accidental entrepreneur a much greater chance at success. It is an opportunity to make the change you want to see happen. You may need to invest a little of your own time and money, but you can make it happen.
Be the change you want to see. It’s easier than you think.
Lori Boyce says
Rebecca – thanks for telling a great story. I’m with you – not born an entrepreneur, but keep feeling the tug toward it. Your message comes at a good time for me.
Rebecca Gill says
Lori I’m glad it helped. Life brings unexpected challenges and journeys for all of us. Sometimes the best journeys are ones we didn’t ask for and we’re just given. =)
Devin C. says
Thanks Rebecca for the inspirational words. I am pushing into the entrepreneur world slowly and enjoying the journey! Happy to hear everything worked out for you in the end.
Thanks Rebeca for this relatable post. I am trying to transition into the entrepreneur world from the corporate world (baby steps). It’s funny how over time your goals and vision changes and I appreciate this in your post and the fact that your were able to reach your goal. I must say the title of the post caught my eye and I was not disappointed with the content of the post. Thanks for sharing your story.