Twenty years ago this month I started my first company. It was the same month that I started my first quarter of my freshman year of college. Most people don’t start college in January, but I was 21 and had just returned from a two year church mission.
When I started college, I signed up for and was taking 16 credit hours of college credits, plus 4 additional credit hours of religious classes that did not count towards my college degree. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been taking 20 credit hours in my first quarter of college while also starting my first business. To make matters more stressful, I had started dating a girl I would end up marrying. To say the least, my time and attention was split between school, my new startup and dating.
As a teenager, I had worked a number of jobs during and immediately after high school, each of which paid more than minimum wage. My previous jobs included a sales job at Nordstroms, working construction, mowing lawns and as a referee for youth basketball. Upon returning home from my church mission, I went looking for a job the last two weeks of December. I fully expected to be able to get a sales job at Nordstroms. To my frustration, it did not happen and no one else was willing to hire and pay me more than minimum wage. This led me to the decision to start my first company.
My dad had told me about a company that was looking for a distributor for their products in the state of Utah. This opportunity, coupled with my desire to make more than the local job market was willing to pay me at the time, led me to my first startup company. The company that I started, Rocky Mountain Low Vision, was simply a product distribution of high powered magnification devices. It was an opportunity to resell other company’s products. I started selling one company’s products and over the course of the next seven plus years, would grow to several different company’s products. It was a very niche market, but with hard work I was able to do well for a college student.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, there was no social media to use for marketing. To this day I feel that I learned far more from this company than I did in college. I learned first hand about sales and marketing, budgeting, accounting and taxes, networking, business contracts and so much more. There is no substitute for experience. You cannot learn from a book what you learn from actually doing the work yourself.
Six years and eleven months after I began my first quarter of college, I was able to graduate with my bachelors degree in Business Administration. Nearly two years later, just two months shy of eight years after I started Rocky Mountain Low Vision, I sold the company and moved on to my next company. Twenty years later, the Rocky Mountain Low Vision is still going strong.
Over the years, I’ve had numerous friends and family members ask me for help to start a business. For this reason, I’m going to write a series of blog articles that will go over all of the steps to start a business. I will include ideas for business opportunities, getting started online, including buying a domain name and web hosting, information on legal and accounting details, funding opportunities, and sales and marketing. I hope that it can be helpful to you or anyone you know that is thinking of starting a business.