Back when I was an employee, I dreaded the office.
It was 2009, the year I graduated college. I was engaged to be married later that year, and trying to save every penny I could.
I landed a full-time job with a big consulting firm here in the Washington D.C. area…a job that I thought would set me up for a while. It was high paying, looked great on a resume, and fairly low stress.
But it didn’t take long for all those things to not matter so much.
In the end, I could have been making 6 figures a year, working a strict 8 hour day, and reporting to no one, but still been miserable.
I hated the office.
I hated having to be somewhere I didn’t want to be. I hated not being a part of a great team. I hated not having many allies, many people next to me, all fighting for the same cause.
There was no unity. No teamwork. Nothing.
I was alone.
And my guess is most employees feel that way at work.
How I Started Loving the Office
Fast Forward 6 Years…
For my first 4 years as an entrepreneur, I had a very small (virtual) team.
When I launched TrainBaseball.com, it was just me.
I created the products. I made the website. I answered the support tickets.
All from the comfort of my parents basement, and then my basement apartment with my wife.
In 2010, when I launched Get10000Fans.com, I knew that my team would need to grow. Sales took off pretty quick, and customer support became a pretty big time-suck. So, I brought my little brother, Scott, on board. He was still back in college, so he would do support tickets from his dorm room.
We kept growing and I needed Scott helping me with the marketing and product creation, so we hired our first virtual employee, which was a customer support rep.
Over the next few months we brought on 2 more part-time support reps. All the sudden we had a team.
It was fun when we got everyone together on skype calls to check-in, but other than that, we didn’t chat a whole lot.
This team of 4-5 people was pretty much it for 3-4 years. We had other part-time people come in an out (designers, coders, etc) but that was pretty much it.
When I Knew We Needed An Office
It wasn’t until 2013 that I started thinking about really growing a big team.
In 2014 we started working on a brand new project. It was going to be my first stab at the SaaS (“Software as a Service”) industry, where my plan was to create a shopping cart for my 2 current businesses that would help me increase my checkout page conversion, 1-click upsell conversion, and just make my life easier by integrating with all the other marketing tools I was already using.
I figured if I could hire some developers to build it internally, and prove that it worked for me, that I could convince our followers that it would help them sell their stuff online more effectively.
By early 2014 we had our first version of this new shopping cart, and our team had grown to 6 people. (myself, my brother, 2 customer support reps, a developer and a designer)
SamCart was born.
I started showing some friends this new cart I was using to sell all my products from TrainBaseball.com and Get10000Fans.com, and they loved it. We got a few of them on board, and it just continued to snowball.
We decided to finally open it up to our Get 10,000 Fans subscribers, and it was a big success right off the bat. We sold our first 500 people into our beta program, instantly giving us enough monthly revenue to start really building our team fast.
This was where I started to get excited.
I have the privilege of being friends with some pretty amazing founders of mega-successful software startups, and I started noticing some very common advice they would all give. “Grow your team as fast as you can.”
This seemed a little backwards to me, but it started making sense, and honestly, I didn’t care if it made sense or not, those guys obviously knew what they were talking about, especially since most of them were founders of companies doing well over $100,000,000 in sales per year.
My mind was made up: I was going to hire as fast as humanly possible, even if it meant not taking any money to pay myself for a while.
Now, look…I understand my situation might not be what yours is right now. I had enough money in the bank to not worry about anything for a while, which let me make that decision…but the idea is still valid. Do whatever you can to grow your team, even if it means forgoing short-term personal gains.
From 4 to 14
By the end of 2014, our team had grown to 14 people. 10 which are now in the office full-time.
It’s a crazy shift for me, especially since I used to hate the office. Hell, one of the biggest reasons I started my own business was so that I never had to go to the office again. But looking back, that really wasn’t what motivated me at all, even though I would say it was. I wanted freedom. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to build something I was proud of. Something my wife would be proud of. Something I could use to take care of my family. Something I could use to impact the lives of others, employees and customers.
That is why I love the office now.
It’s because the team we’ve built is amazing. It’s fun. It’s vibrant. And we’re all fighting for each other, for a common goal. Everyday is a new adventure, and we’re experiencing it together.
I literally cannot wait to wake up and go hang with my team each morning. And then I can’t wait to get home and see my wife and new baby girl. It’s a great place to be in life…and I realize more every day just how lucky I am. Blessed, actually.
Most people never get there…and that kills me.
But it can be done.
I guess that’s why I’ve sort of fallen in love with this “small business/online marketing/startup” world. Because it’s full of people just like me. People who want more. People who know they can do it…and are willing to do anything to get it.
Hopefully this story can be a little inspiration. Who knows.
If I can go from my parent’s basement, making $12/hour…to a basement apartment making $60,000/year and hating my job…to being a part of an amazing team, running a super fun business, and helping thousands of people…
…there’s no reason you can’t.