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GOLD! Moved to Scottsdale, Growing a Web Design Firm

GravyBoat

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Sorry if you already mentioned it but what CRM are you using to keep track of all your prospects/customers/projects/etc?
 

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GuitarManDan

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Hey All,

Quick update, my first SEO client ($500 per month) was really happy with the first month of work we did together when I sent out the monthly report of where we stand and what the game plan is for the next few months.

Note this client isn't locked into any contract so was happy to see she paid the invoice, but I have a good feeling this one will last at least a few more months!

Updating the numbers below to add for $500 more!

A few more quick updates as the week goes on:

  • Have a call tomorrow morning with a really good potential SEO client (referral from another client). He verbally agreed already but obviously it's not final until the invoice is paid. Will keep everyone posted but I'm very optimistic about that!
  • Sent out my email proposal to another SEO referral that came to me (catering business) that needed help with SEO. Will keep everyone posted when I hear back for that one as well.

2019 Revenue Tracker: $15,530 Revenue / $100,000 Goal

Monthly Recurring Revenue: $2,000 Per Month / $10,000 Per Month Goal
 

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What are you doing to get so many referrals? Referral program/discounts or just straight word of mouth / asking / networking?
 
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GuitarManDan

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What are you doing to get so many referrals? Referral program/discounts or just straight word of mouth / asking / networking?
I'm not involved in any referral programs or discounts.. honestly just grinding away at it and building out my network of people out here over the past year or so.

As someone who's an introvert at heart, it wasn't easy at first but I've just been consistently working on it. The referrals have been coming from past happy clients, previous people I've networked with, and friends/family (rare, but once in a while).

I've been in one networking group for the last 8 months or so that meets once a week and I joined the local chamber of commerce earlier this year. So on a typical week I'll try to do at least 1-2 networking things.

Most importantly, just keeping an eye out for opportunities. Always having my mind tuned to look for potential opportunities for me to help out with my business and looking at things differently. Something as simple as seeing a giant billboard for a local law firm and seeing they list their website. Using this example... it tells me:

-This company has a good marketing budget if they can afford this giant billboard
-They're clearly looking for new clients
-I should investigate their website and see if there's an opportunity (if it's great, then it's great... but what if it's awful and their SEO rankings are terrible? Then I can genuinely reach out telling them they're throwing their money in the trash with those traditional marketing strategies if they're funneling traffic to a site that isn't converting)
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

I want to be as transparent as possible and not just make this a highlight reel. I'm sure this is a common mistake people make when they make a progress thread - from the outside looking in, it seems like it's nothing but success after success.

I know I personally learn the most from the challenges and others would gain some great insights too. That being said, a few quick updates from my end for a few deals that I figured would be sure things but ended up running into challenges:

1. Referral for the Catering Company Got Back to Me:

"Your price structure is better suited for businesses much larger than mine. I'll have to struggle on my own for now."

This one honestly confused me, I gave her a tier of pricing from $500 per month to around $2,000 (she said her budget was around $500 per month). Additionally, she emailed me after our call saying how I really "got it" and we were on the same page.

My reply (still haven't gotten a response yet):

"Completely understand, it was great speaking with you and learning more about your business.

Just to quickly address your last point, typically I work with small businesses that are owned by business owners who view the SEO services as more of a long-term investment, as SEO is typically a long-term play. Whatever they end up paying and whichever plan they select, they understand that the main goal of the whole project is to get them a great return on investment or else I'm not doing my job.

I think you have a really good vision for your business and you struck me as someone who would rather get it done correctly the first time instead of having to deal with some of the more inexpensive options, that's why I felt it would be a good fit!

You did mention that you were looking to spend in the area of $500 per month so I figured the silver or basic SEO plans would get excellent results and would be around that budget range.

Either way, just wanted to clarify the rationale behind the pitch that I sent over and if you had any questions at all please let me know. Otherwise, it was great speaking with you and best of luck!"

2. Referral from Previous Client (Entertainment Company) Got Back to Me:

Good news and bad news (kinda):

-Good is he wanted me to help with some quick fixes on his website. I have been billing at $90 per hour for these so still a decent payout. He said he should have more work too, but after doing the first wave of edits (will be around $400 bucks.. will update when he pays and I send out the invoice), I found A LOT of issues in the back end. Whoever made this site didn't know what they were doing and it's causing a crazy amount of issues.

I suggested the best thing would be to scrap it and start from scratch, as I told him I didn't want to see him invest a lot of his money into a site that wouldn't get him the results as his business grew.

-Bad (for now) is he said he'd prefer to put the monthly SEO work aside and not kick that off until a later point.. so still a good chance it goes through but I figured this one had an excellent chance of going through.

Current Client Work:

As I'm really getting my feet wet with delivering for clients in the SEO world, it's definitely been a bit overwhelming, but thinking back when I started web design the exact same thing happened... as it's a new skill to learn and even simple things take longer than expected, it can get overwhelming at times.

I kinda like that as I keep closing more deals this is going to force my hand to start outsourcing and really get my system down so that I can scale this thing up.

One of the biggest personal characteristics I've had to constantly fight against with running my own business is that I'm definitely a perfectionist, so the idea of outsourcing terrifies me in a way, but I know in order to really make this work and start bringing in the level of income that I'm aiming for I'll need to outsource different aspects.

I know playing more of a project manager role and focusing on the sales side will really help me get amazing experience that will help me down the road. Will keep everyone posted!
 

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Sounds like your making massive progress. Have you thought about outsourcing some of the work? e.g. Focusing on building the websites and then outsourcing SEO etc.?
 
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GuitarManDan

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Sounds like your making massive progress. Have you thought about outsourcing some of the work? e.g. Focusing on building the websites and then outsourcing SEO etc.?
Hey man - absolutely! In fact I had a few really good meetings today so definitely thinking about outsourcing, I see it as the only realistic way I can scale this thing up and make a good income without going crazy (right now I'm working longer hours than I did in investment banking, but funny enough I've actually been enjoying the hustle).

Quick Update:

Just sent out an invoice for some quick web edits (been charging $90 per hour, may increase that soon)... did 4.5 hours so $405 more in revenue.

2019 Revenue Tracker: $15,935 Revenue / $100,000 Goal

Monthly Recurring Revenue: $2,000 Per Month / $10,000 Per Month Goal
 
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GuitarManDan

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Hey Everyone,

A few quick updates on my end:

1. New Outreach Going Well - More Prospects: Now that I'm back on my feet, started doing outreach again. Got a call today from a law firm very interested in my help with SEO.

Obviously not official yet, but got a verbal commitment that he wanted to go with my $1,000 a month package for at least 3-4 months. Seems like a good business owner to work with after our first call.

2. Turning Down a Headache Potential Client: Had to turn my first ever potential client - had a bad feeling all along... they worked with an SEO firm that absolutely screwed them over (and they paid a lot on a 12 month contract). They were extremely rude and short with me and said some crazy things... my personal favorite "if you screw us over, we'll destroy your business and reputation".

Funny thing is I know I can deliver for this one, but $1,000 to $1,500 a month is NOT worth it if they are the trouble client that takes up 70-80% of my time and causes 95% of the stress.

I ran it by Fox's inside group and without a doubt, every single person agreed I needed to run as fast as I could haha so I'm going to send them an email today basically in a professional way saying I don't think it would be a good fit to work together.

3. Great Results for My First SEO Clients! This one is really huge for me, as the first few clients are always stressful. My first big SEO client ($1,500 a month) I just sent over their monthly report and every single keyword ranking went up (tracking 10)... one even is ranked on the top page! The client is happy and I'm excited to really be delivering and getting some great results.

Will keep everyone posted, need to start acting really smart and need to take massive action to meet the goal I set out of getting to $10k a month by June 30th... with where I am now, that means I'll need to bring in $4k/month worth of clients in May and June.
 
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GuitarManDan

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Quick update I forgot about - the biggest SEO client ($1500 per month for 12 months) recurs the 1st of every month so updated numbers for 2019:

2019 Revenue Tracker: $17,435 Revenue / $100,000 Goal

Monthly Recurring Revenue: $2,000 Per Month / $10,000 Per Month Goal
 
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GuitarManDan

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Well, ok today has taken a weird turn...

So that nightmare potential client - I sent them a very respectable email, something like "After reviewing your project requirements, I unfortunately won't think this is a good fit because of my current capacity limits"...

They responded with this (I definitely dodged a bullet here but how do I handle this?):

THEIR RESPONSE: "
Wow...So disappointed in the business person you told us you were..and now we find out you are not ...do not feel you have been professional
In how you handled this.

We will be sure to provide feedback to the business group on how you conducted yourself

Feel free to call me if you need further explanation"

This is fun haha.. trying to think of how to / if I should respond now.
 

Mass

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Well, ok today has taken a weird turn...

So that nightmare potential client - I sent them a very respectable email, something like "After reviewing your project requirements, I unfortunately won't think this is a good fit because of my current capacity limits"...

They responded with this (I definitely dodged a bullet here but how do I handle this?):

THEIR RESPONSE: "
Wow...So disappointed in the business person you told us you were..and now we find out you are not ...do not feel you have been professional
In how you handled this.

We will be sure to provide feedback to the business group on how you conducted yourself

Feel free to call me if you need further explanation"

This is fun haha.. trying to think of how to / if I should respond now.
Don't get drawn into it. Any response will just fan the flames. If you recognised that they were trouble I'm sure others will and the words will have very little weight. Kind of like that friend you have who's always complaining so you know never to take his word when he says a restaurant was awful.

At least you know your judgement was right.
 
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GuitarManDan

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Don't get drawn into it. Any response will just fan the flames. If you recognised that they were trouble I'm sure others will and the words will have very little weight. Kind of like that friend you have who's always complaining so you know never to take his word when he says a restaurant was awful.

At least you know your judgement was right.
Hey man,

I spoke with @Fox and he gave me an amazing response, basically just stated that it seems like this guy has a huge ego and just play into that to diffuse the situation.

It worked perfectly - the guy just called me up and said he completely understands and he just misinterpreted my other email.

Whew... what a mess. I guess being as transparent as possible, after 5 years of high-stress investment banking work, when I got that response back is the first time in a long time that I really panicked for a while.
 

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Congrats on the progress Dan. I'd be very tempted to fire back something along the lines of "shitty business owners end up with shitty contractors/services". But as he's in some sort of business group that you belong to, wiser remain professional about it I guess...but what a dickhead.
 

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Hello,

first of all thank you for sharing your story with us.
Second congrats for the progress! :)

Reading this is more motivation than my friends or family could give me.

All the best for the future and much success! :)
 

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It worked perfectly - the guy just called me up and said he completely understands and he just misinterpreted my other email.
Can you recite how you diffused it? What did you say?

Without guessing, I would have said something like, "We really wanted to work with your business but feared we didn't have the capacity and human resources to complete it in a fashion that would work for your company, much less satisfy our own standards."
 
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GuitarManDan

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Can you recite how you diffused it? What did you say?

Without guessing, I would have said something like, "We really wanted to work with your business but feared we didn't have the capacity and human resources to complete it in a fashion that would work for your company, much less satisfy our own standards."
Hey MJ,

I can’t take credit for this one - it was all @Fox he recognized this guy has a huge ego so he drafted up this that I sent over:

“Hey David,

Seems like I messed up that email so that is on me. What I was trying to get across was that I don’t feel like my experience is right for what you need at this point. The last thing I would want is to not over deliver on what you need.

I take feedback like this really serious so I would love to learn how I could have written that better and any other way to improve. I joined the networking group to learn so any insight into this would be of great value.

Apologies for the misunderstanding - let me know your thoughts and happy to jump on a call if needed.

Dan”
 

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Hey MJ,

I can’t take credit for this one - it was all @Fox he recognized this guy has a huge ego so he drafted up this that I sent over:

“Hey David,

Seems like I messed up that email so that is on me. What I was trying to get across was that I don’t feel like my experience is right for what you need at this point. The last thing I would want is to not over deliver on what you need.

I take feedback like this really serious so I would love to learn how I could have written that better and any other way to improve. I joined the networking group to learn so any insight into this would be of great value.

Apologies for the misunderstanding - let me know your thoughts and happy to jump on a call if needed.

Dan”
Damn that is good!!
 

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Hey MJ,

I can’t take credit for this one - it was all @Fox he recognized this guy has a huge ego so he drafted up this that I sent over:

“Hey David,

Seems like I messed up that email so that is on me. What I was trying to get across was that I don’t feel like my experience is right for what you need at this point. The last thing I would want is to not over deliver on what you need.

I take feedback like this really serious so I would love to learn how I could have written that better and any other way to improve. I joined the networking group to learn so any insight into this would be of great value.

Apologies for the misunderstanding - let me know your thoughts and happy to jump on a call if needed.

Dan”
Yeah, well done @Fox
 
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GuitarManDan

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Unfortunately this ridiculous saga keeps going on - the other co owner sent me a furious email making it seem like I turned them down because they didn’t have “an unlimited wallet”

I’m done with this, I’m not going to reply anymore, there’s nothing I can do or say at this point that won’t set these people off.

Just hoping they’re not ridiculous enough to try to trash my reputation (bad business reviews on google, Facebook, etc) but my guess is their bark is worse than their bite.

I’ve covered myself and called the head of this networking group and he’s on my side, I have the emails so people can see how reasonable I’ve been... just chalking it up to a weird learning experience.

Anyway on a more positive note, my big SEO client sent over the signed contract so he’s officially locked in for the 12 months!

My best friend’s bachelor party is this weekend so I’m back in the NYC area so that’ll be a fun time.

On to bigger and better things but man what a weird few days!
 

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My best friend’s bachelor party is this weekend so I’m back in the NYC area so that’ll be a fun time.
Oh boy, love to hear the "how's the thing going in AZ? Sad you quit Goldman yet?" comments...
 
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GuitarManDan

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Oh boy, love to hear the "how's the thing going in AZ? Sad you quit Goldman yet?" comments...
Haha here’s a rundown I can think of - there will be friends at this bachelor party who work for:

Morgan Stanley, Goldman, JPmorgan Chase, Citigroup... it’s like an investment banking conference, we’re just missing Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank.

I still have a long way to go but the people who at first said “you’re throwing your life away” keep saying how jealous they are when they hear my schedule and the AZ lifestyle haha
 

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Haha here’s a rundown I can think of - there will be friends at this bachelor party who work for:

Morgan Stanley, Goldman, JPmorgan Chase, Citigroup... it’s like an investment banking conference, we’re just missing Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank.

I still have a long way to go but the people who at first said “you’re throwing your life away” keep saying how jealous they are when they hear my schedule and the AZ lifestyle haha
Let me guess... jealous but not going to do anything about it?

You’re so lucky?
 

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Enjoy your weekend :)
Thank you for this highly motivating and fun to read thread. What a process!
Can't wait to see further progress. Your determination is contagious !
 

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"if you screw us over, we'll destroy your business and reputation".
Jesus. How did you manage not to tell them to f*ck off? Reading how you handled the situation and the advice you got, I've realised I'd be terrible at dealing with clients like that. Very sad that 2 morons try to get advantage from a guy who just wants to do a great job.
 

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Hey Dan, didn't know you had a progress thread here - it's truly an amazing read. I had 2 questions:

1) What has been your prospecting plan? You mentioned cold emails didn't work as well, so you said to stick to cold calls - can you share a bit more how you would approach this if your pipeline dried up again? (# of calls/day, what kind of companies, how you would find them etc.)

I am trying to refine my prospecting strategy - in the past I just did 20 calls/day with not great results, so I am trying to learn what you personally are doing. Also 20 calls doesn't take that much time so I am not sure what do I do for the rest of the day? Did you have a prospecting plan?

2) Do you meet most of your clients in person? I don't live in U.S. and I want to start approaching clients there but I feel like it might be a bit tough to sell huge projects if they never meet me. What has been your experience?

Thanks man!
 
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GuitarManDan

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Jesus. How did you manage not to tell them to f*ck off? Reading how you handled the situation and the advice you got, I've realised I'd be terrible at dealing with clients like that. Very sad that 2 morons try to get advantage from a guy who just wants to do a great job.
Hey man, honestly it was pretty difficult but I value my freedom from this business 100000x more than getting a satisfied feeling of telling a few idiots off. It bothered me because usually I'm really good at making sure situations don't escalate to this level. Good learning lesson though, should've been 100% truthful and told them I don't work with clients who threaten to ruin my reputation and who outright say they don't trust me (in a nice way).

Someone pointed out in another thread in one of Fox's groups that the reason they probably were so upset was because:
1. They had a bad experience with their other SEO guy and they projected that on me
2. I've gotten so much better at these in person meetings so they were probably excited because I present myself well and gave them honest feedback of what to expect (which I know I could've helped out with if they weren't crazy).
3. They had HUGE egos (how dare he not work with us... we're great... it must be because he wants to steal our money). In all of the long-winded emails I got, they never considered that I just didn't want to work with them or that it was something about them. It was ALL deflections (money, fake health issues, I wasn't qualified enough, I was shady...).

Regardless, no use beating a dead horse, so far it looks like they didn't trash me on any social media platforms. I may lose a client over it, but the fact that this client is friends with these psychos tells me they may be a bad fit as well (and it's a web design client too so not my main focus for this year).

Hey Dan, didn't know you had a progress thread here - it's truly an amazing read. I had 2 questions:

1) What has been your prospecting plan? You mentioned cold emails didn't work as well, so you said to stick to cold calls - can you share a bit more how you would approach this if your pipeline dried up again? (# of calls/day, what kind of companies, how you would find them etc.)

I am trying to refine my prospecting strategy - in the past I just did 20 calls/day with not great results, so I am trying to learn what you personally are doing. Also 20 calls doesn't take that much time so I am not sure what do I do for the rest of the day? Did you have a prospecting plan?

2) Do you meet most of your clients in person? I don't live in U.S. and I want to start approaching clients there but I feel like it might be a bit tough to sell huge projects if they never meet me. What has been your experience?

Thanks man!
Thanks for the kind words - much appreciated.

1. If you're just starting out, what worked the best for me was networking and cold calling. Sometimes going as crazy as 40-50 calls a day but usually I'd aim for like 10-20 a day. Just remember not to look at this as a static activity. There are so many complex parts going on with cold calling and you can improve and tweak all of them to find out what works for YOU. Examples - prospecting, tone of voice, handling objections, how to get past the gatekeeper, how you present yourself, your call to action, etc. Do 10 calls, record a few and post them in Rob's groups if you're in them and you'll be amazed at the feedback you get - don't do this alone when you have amazing resources all around you.

2. Depends where they're located, even some clients right by where I live (who were younger) didn't want to meet in person. Seems to be a generational thing, which makes sense. My target client is usually a decision maker / biz owner so they are usually 40 - 60 or so, so typically they'd want to meet up. Luckily I can leverage my 5 years of Corporate America to really do well in these in-person meetings and handle objections they have.

It may be a bit tougher, but if you're effectively communicating the value you can bring and how you can solve your problems... people won't care where you're located. For you, I'd say the trust factors are the biggest part because from my experience people in the US may be hesitant of someone overseas just because we're all loss averse and we don't want to pay and have someone run away.

If you're really trying to hustle to bring in clients, maybe add in a clause like you don't pay a thing until the project is completed or a 30 day money back guarantee... basically just something to say "I won't run away with your money and you can trust me".
 
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Hey Everyone,

Quick update from my end - bachelor party was a great time, I think my body gave up on me after being out until 5 am in the casinos for a few nights in a row and getting barely any sleep so I was dealing with a nice fever the last few days so I'm finally back on my feet and back to it.

I'll be flying back to AZ later this week so just working from my family's place on the east coast for now.

Only notable update I can think of for now:

1. Fashion designer's people came back to me basically chasing me asking if I could send over the SEO follow email we discussed so she could present to the fashion designer ($2,200 per month for 12 month contract).

Quickly responded back saying it's odd I sent the email back on April 17th but maybe it went to the spam folder.. and I reattached the email I originally sent to them (more follow up details on what I'd be doing and what it would be for the site I built for them and his brand).

I'm going to give her a call later this afternoon just mentioning that I sent it over right after our call and I wanted to wait a few weeks to follow up since she mentioned the fashion designer was traveling internationally for a while.

Good sign though that they were chasing me... this one would be huge if that goes through - that would lock down total monthly recurring revenue that would surpass my expenses which would be a huge relief.

Just need to be smart with this one and keep pushing forward.
 
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Feb 28, 2017
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@MJ DeMarco - I figured you'd enjoy a quick breakdown of what the bachelor party was like with everyone asking about what I'm doing in AZ and with my business. Here's a quick summary of what happened (keep in mind that everyone is basically working for big investment banks in this group):

1. Everyone telling me how "jealous" they were that I could just drop everything and "try this thing out".

2. "Do a lot of people quit (XYZ Bank I used to work for)?"

3. "Wait, how did you learn coding and all of that stuff.. you didn't go back to school did you?"

4. "Starting a business is really risky" followed by some people throwing out stats like "95% fail in the first year"

5. LOTS of complaining about their jobs, which if I'm being honest, I find myself just not caring and not able to be empathetic to anymore. After seeing what the other side is like and the amazing stories of people on here overcoming the odds, I don't like hearing people complain about a problem but do nothing to fix it. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I've been busting my a$$ to improve every day and am working towards escaping a miserable situation that I wasn't happy in with my old jobs.

6. "Wait, you don't have any employees yet??"

7. "How much longer do you think you're going to try this thing out for?"

And my personal favorite and this brings me back to my glory days working for that last miserable investment banking job...

8. My best friend (whose bachelor party this was) got an email on Saturday from his Managing Director saying he needed to log on (they knew it was his bachelor party). He was obviously really drunk at this point so he ignored it and he came back to an angry email on Monday saying everyone was "disappointed" and that "a leader needs to step up and they're upset he didn't step up on Saturday".
 

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