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GOLD! Quit My Job, 3rd Time's the Charm: Trailer Park Edition

Tom.V

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Yesterday I quit my $xxx,xxx job so I can work on my business that has $xxx,xxx,xxx potential, full-time. Went smoothly, no hard feelings, learned a lot and provided a lot of value. It was actually not bad for a JOB, but not the environment for a guy like me to be able to really THRIVE.

Enjoyed a nice glass of bourbon and a Cohiba stick last night, just reflecting. It has been a long road to this point, 6 years in the making. 6 years since I read TMF, and 6 years since that fire was lit under my a$$ to make something of myself. 6 years since I completely turned my life around from being a poor kid from the trailer park with no formal education working manual labor jobs.

No one ever expected anything great of me, I can tell you that much. I watched my peers around me become consumed by drug addiction, crime, or in many cases, a premature death. Not exactly an environment geared towards success. Rather, one geared towards perpetual sidewalking.

From being a $10/hr laborer toting bricks and blocks and mud around through these hellish North Carolina summers (for 4 years, mind you) to having that FTE for that, and making the leap to running a successful, growing ad management business. I don't think I've ever put my whole story out there, but I think it's time. My hope is that through my painful journey out of the pit you can take something positive from it, even if just a laugh.

********* Warning: Long Post Ahead **********

The Sidewalk

Hit the Bricks. Move Them Over There, NOW!

Wanna talk about a tough, physically demanding job? Go be a brick mason's apprentice for a day. It's grueling work, particularly during the summers and winters. The only thing worse than carrying around heavy shit in 100+ degree weather all day, every day, is sitting in a warm truck, all bundled up and arriving to the job where it's below freezing and you have to move all of the heavy things from one side of the job site to the other. That feeling of pure dread. Every day was a FTE.

Yet, with that in mind, I guess I was just a masochist at the time. I just took it. For 4 years. 4 years of taking that pain and turning it into strength. Conditioning my body to be able to do things that I never thought I'd be able to do. To really pushing my own personal limits to see just how far I could go. I was young, I had no direction, and it was a good fit in retrospect. It helped me get my shit together mentally and get away from my peers at the time. Some people join the military to do it, for me it was just backbreaking work for a few years.

Now keep in mind that this was all post-Great Recession and residential brickwork at the time was slowww. Most weeks I would only bring in $300 or less. A really good week was $400. There towards the end, it got so slow, we were only working 3 days a week and I had rent to pay, and my car needed two front tires because they both blew out at the same time. Shit just got real, and I had to make a move fast.

IMG_20110410_190720.jpg

So without hesitation, I had a few beers and made an ad to put on Craigslist. I put it in the wrong section on purpose to get more visibility, but it was basically something along the lines of "Experienced Laborer Looking For Work". The next morning I got a call from a guy a few towns over and he said to meet him at Lowes and go to work. I told my boss at the time I had to go, I had another job. So I moseyed down the road going 35mph for about 30 miles in my car which had two spares on the front. I couldn't go very fast, or take turns quickly, but I got there. It was a job doing gutter cleaning and roof repairs for homeowners, and I wasn't the biggest fan of heights. Great. But it was work, and I needed the money.

Gutters & Roofing: It's Lonely at the Top

I remember my first day on the job, climbing that ladder, getting onto this flat back porch roof. Legs trembling, profusely sweating, scared to death that I was going to fall off and end up being a vegetable. But it was that day, and the coming months that helped me really get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Next thing I knew I was running up and down steep roof tops like spiderman. New level unlocked.

Then I got the big pay raise up to a whopping $14/hr! I was stoked at the time, as this work was wayyy easier than doing brickwork. I mean you had to scale houses and do death-defying stuff all day, but it was in sprints. Get on a job, run around like a mad man for 30-45 minutes, then hop in the truck and drive to the next one. There was a lot of ride time and I looked at it as getting paid to sit in the shade.

Typical day in the life here. Shitty, old roof. 32ft ladder, fully extended, just barely reaching the roof for me to climb up. No safety harnesses were used during the taking of this photo.

2012-07-25 15.01.09.jpg

The summer of 2011 was almost over and I was a bit worried about what were going to do about work when things started icing over and getting cold. Then I was told that we would be installing Christmas lights on residential homes starting in November. At first, this sounded great. I could rack up over 60 hours in a week!

Of course, I judged that book by the cover. It was an icy hellscape where my days blurred together and my life was nothing but work. I woke up at 7 am, started working at 8am on roofing and gutters, and worked most days until 11pm-1am. That wasn't even the worst of it all. The worst part was when you were dangling over the side of a roof hanging up lights, then when you go to get off of the roof, the temperature had dropped and frost covered your way down. For those unfamiliar, that equates to a death slide, allll the way down to the ground, which was typically comprised of concrete, steps, or rocks.

By a stroke of a luck, I made it through this arduous time virtually unscathed, though there was that one day when I almost lost two of my fingers when the bottom of a ladder slipped on a PVC deck and proceeded to go horizontal with my fingers mashed between the ladder and asphalt roof. I managed to pop the ladder up off the roof using my, at then, super human rowing skills and grabbed onto the gutter before the ladder fell to the ground. Ruined the gutter, but things could have been worse. This was the flesh wound that resulted.
2013-01-05 12.26.12.jpg

The Big Change

Winter of 2011 was my next FTE. This led me to wanting out. Sure I was making more money, but at the potential cost of life and limb (literally). Something had to change. It was in January of 2012 when I was riding along to a job with a new helper who just got hired and he was telling me how he was getting items off of the free section of Craigslist and flipping them for a profit. Thought to myself, sounds easy enough. Get something for free or for a low price, sell it for higher. Simple.

So my research began and the first good resource I came across was this thread -> Great bootstrapping thread - how to create money.

Upon reading more and more, it made sense. Then I saw the link to the book on the forum. The Millionaire Fastlane. What is this? Checked on Amazon, started reading through the reviews. Ok, so maybe I should probably read this thing. So I did. Rather, I devoured the book. The concepts, the ideas, the system, CENTS, Lambos, freedom, passivity; the works. It all clicked. I remember, I spent very little time thinking things through, and just started hustling.

I got some software back then, Craigspal (now defunct), that scraped the location you wanted on Craigslist, the keywords you were looking for, and returned results as they were posted. Also had automatic email notifications, and great organization. It was a really powerful piece of software for the would be flipper. So next I started trying to figure out what to go for. Then I stumbled upon this Seagate's hard drive shortage from Thailand floods expected to continue throughout 2012 - There was a global shortage of hard drives. So, I started buying hard drives locally for cheap, and putting them on ebay to resell. Average ROI if I remember correctly was around 75-125%. It worked well for a while, then the software got shut down and I moved onto other things.

Internet Marketing: Getting Started

From early on in my journey, I wanted to have an online business. I had seen enough of the outdoors at that point and wanted something a little more cozy and out of the elements. Something where I could use my mind to do the heavy lifting versus my back. Something that I could eventually scale. So I started learning about SEO, web development, Wordpress, etc. I just immersed myself in it all until things started to click.

There was mention by my boss at the time that he wanted to optimize the website, so I readily volunteered. I also started running some Adwords ads at the time for the business, all for free just to get my feet wet. Around this same time I also met a PPC consultant when cleaning the guys gutters one day. Started talking and he ended up paying me $15/hr just to do some data entry-ish type work on one of his sites. Also started learning copy around this time and he gave me some pointers on ranking sites and the Adwords campaigns.

For about 6 months or so I took a break and was 100% focused on making money to bootstrap my own business, whatever it would end up being.

Sales: The Great Equalizer

The biggest difference now was that I was learning how to sell at this point. This is where the entire game changed for me. By learning how to sell, I started to make a lot more money and learned the power of dissociating my time from money. One week I even made $2,000 in commission! Going from $10/hr, to $2k in a week over this short period of time really started getting me thinking about what else can I sell.

So I continued to put money back for a few months while working the job, got about $10k saved up (more than I ever had in my life at that point), and QUIT MY JOB (The first time) to work on a Fastlane venture, or so I thought.

I Think I Know What I'm Doing..

So there I am. No income coming in, no real plan, just a fire in my belly and that burning desire to be financially free. This was in April of 2013. I join StackThatMoney.com and immersed myself in media buying and affiliate marketing. I bought a few relevant domains, I started running some traffic, I made some really terrible ads with really terrible angles, and failed my a$$ off. During this time I did pick up a number of quality skill sets that I would be able to use in a functional way in any business moving forward. I also made some money and had my first $500/day profit within a decently short amount of time. But it wasn't sustainable as competitors were ripping my ads and landing pages as fast as I could make them. This was a GRIND, not Fastlane at all. So I moved on.

I started working on local lead generation websites that would rank for various local services in every city across the US. I was selling the leads to the largest lead generation company in the US ( guess who?) via phone calls and forms. At one point I had a 7 man team of Filipino outsourcers working on different aspects of the sites, from content spinning, to web design, to creating new sites, to just VA work. I thought I was a big shot and I was going to be a millionaire in no time. I just KNEW it was going to work. Well, it didn't. It made a little money, but there were missing pieces to my system and I was running out of capital FAST.

In an effort to get more capital, I sold my car. I lived downtown at the time and could ride my bike where I needed, so good riddance.
2012-03-12 17.39.28.jpg

Now this is where the story takes a bit of a turn for the worse. This is the point in time where I just started spreading myself way, way too thin and it led to my inevitable downfall.

I fired all of my outsourcers and just let the sites float, letting them collect any revenue from lead sales that they could in their state at the time.

Importing: Everyone Is Doing It!

This was around Fall 2013, I got a whiff of the market for e-cigs. It was getting red hot and vaporizers were getting better and better. So I decided, why not make my own brand? Notice the common theme here? All decisions up to this point are "me too" based. No focus on providing people real value, but rather money chasing.

So I came up with a brand name, made a logo, made my packaging design, made my site, got my high risk merchant processor and gateway setup, and ordered 200 units of the highest quality product I could find in the flavors I noticed competitors were promoting the most often.

2013-12-16 11.59.11.jpg

I managed the get the site ranked very well for some key terms using some high quality backlinks. But I made one crucial mistake here. I used the same keyword in the anchor text from the external backlinks too many times and ended up getting a linking penalty and my rankings for my top high volume, high converting keywords disappeared. Went from $700/day in revenue to $150-$200/day revenue, literally overnight. And it continued to fall from that point.

As the legendary Billy Mays would say, BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

Mobile Mechanic Partnership: WTF?

Around this time a friend of mine approached me with a business idea. A mobile mechanic service for the local area. I had experience ranking local sites. I knew how we could target the primary demographic. I knew how we could sell the service. I didn't, however, know anything about the mechanic business or the pitfalls associated with doing it in peoples driveways.

So I put together the site, found out how much we would need to charge and upsell parts, and started putting the pieces together. In short time I had the backend stuff all working and the phone was ringing and revenue was flowing. Everything is working, right?

Then we came across one of these bad boys.

explorer.JPG

That's right, the Ford Exploder. My partner had quoted the owner of the vehicle WAY under what it should have been to do a specific engine repair to replace the timing chains and the guides for it, when it should have been a complete engine replacement. Long story short, we ate shit on this deal. This is where things went from shit, to worse. At this point my partner had used the Amex that I setup for the business to cover costs for the business such as parts, fuel, and so on, to the tune of roughly $4k or so. In addition to this, he drained the business banking account dry and bought an Xbox with the money and proceeded to disappear.

The Bottom: It's Lonelier Here Than At The Top

It's around February-March 2014 at this point. My cash reserves are 100% depleted. My credit lines are all maxed out. I have virtually no income at this point. Bankruptcy crossed my mind once the creditors started calling. There really is no worse feeling than that which I experienced during this time. Depression kicked in. I think I watched the first couple of seasons of Game of Thrones for like a month straight and drank like a fish. I had a girlfriend at the time, and she had a job, but I was THAT BUM now. I had to get a job, like ASAP.

I started applying for several sales positions, some marketing gigs at agencies, something that would help me progress while also helping me pay down this debt I had accumulated. I went for an interview at a Toyota dealership for a car salesman position. Show up, and this old bastard gives me this look up and down in disgust "You should wear a tie next time". Definitely not the place for me. Obviously didn't get the job (thank god).

Next I had a few return calls, one for a roofing company hiring outside sales reps which I had experience in. The other inside sales for an online agency. The roofing sales gig obviously had more potential for more money and faster based on my experience, but that wasn't that path I wanted to take. I wanted to go somewhere where I could learn more about online marketing and continue to hone my skills. So I started working at the agency.

Phone Sales: The Reason I Am Calling Today..

I started cold calling businesses to sell them SEO services. Like pushing a rock uphill. I got a few sales, but selling SEO in general is typically just a lot of bullshit. It might work, it might not, depends on a lot of different things. But the silver lining here was I learned how to prospect and build effective pipelines and get good at talking to people on the phone. This skill will serve me well no matter what I do or where I go, it is one that I continue to refine and perfect.

Still wasn't making a lot of money, still had a lot of debt, things were on the rocks in my relationship due to the financial hardship. Getting out of the pit is never much fun, but sometimes it is just what you need when you need it. For me, it was a reality check. It got me back grounded in the real world and I kept on kicking.

There was an opportunity that came up in this company to be an SEO consultant, and I jumped on it. I already had skills in ranking my own sites effectively, so why not hone that craft even further? Even though I was more interested in doing paid ads, this was an in.
 

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Tom.V

Tom.V

Tom
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Part 2:

The Slowlane

S-E-Slowwww


I started training immediately, and applied all of the new stuff I was taught to my already existing knowledge. I got dangerous, fast. I was taking client accounts and calls in short time and getting them stellar results all along the way. I was making a decent salary which helped me pay down my debt and allowed me to have enough money to get my own place as me and the ex called it quits. So I did as any early 20's guy just out of a relationship and coming off of a soul crushing low would do, I moved into an overpriced apartment downtown. While not the best financial move, it was the best move I could have done at the time given the circumstances.

Mindset improving and becoming less clouded by stress, I went to work, learned things along the way, and became the rising star. I devoured articles, blog posts, analytics data, and every other resource at my disposal. I was still new to the whole office politics thing, so I made a few enemies along the way, but leadership was happy as clients loved me and I did great work.

I did this for about a year, about halfway through that year I hit the point of diminished returns. There were not enough challenges in my position. I could handle more clients thanks to my efficiency and "cut to the chase" method of analyzing sites. But the hierarchy in that department was already filled up. There was no wiggle room for me to advance through the ranks. I couldn't automate, I couldn't systemize, I couldn't delegate, I couldn't lead. So, I started working on processes to manage paid ad accounts, Adwords primarily.

Paid Ads: My True Calling

This is where things started to get fun. I had managed to get only a few paid ad clients on and was working with them, and devouring everything I could to make the most of the situation. One of those clients I managed to get them to $10k/mo spend and $100k/mo revenue fairly quickly. This was reassuring for me as it further reinforced my belief that this stuff was easy with the right strategy, processes, and systems in place.

Now, around this time I was bored. I started working on a business idea. It was for a lead generation company to focus on generating exclusive phone leads for roofing companies at first, then to expand into other local service verticals as it gained traction. So around September 2015, I saved up another $10k, and guess what? I quit my job AGAIN! Again, with no substantial revenue, no working model. Just hopes and dreams and grit.

Local Lead Gen: Big Problems Need Big Money

So for this business, I started out STRONG. I had a plan, I had a system, I just had to get people signed up to buy the leads, I would run the ads to my landing pages, and I would generated leads, and distribute them to my lead buyers. Simple right? Right...

So before I get into what happened next, my then girlfriend's twin sister decided to talk her into moving 700 miles away, THE DAY THAT I PUT IN MY TWO WEEKS. Needless to say, I was blindsided. I was hurt. I was crushed. I didn't see it coming and everything was going so well. This really messed me up for a while, then she moved back. Talk about an emotional roller coaster.


Anyways, at this point my head was focused on the wrong things, time was not on my side, and my system I thought I had perfected had holes all over the place. I had lead buyers, I was driving leads, but many were falling outside of the zip ranges which resulted in no one buying the leads because there were gaps in my coverage area. I was again running out of money and I needed a massive outreach effort to fill the gaps.

It was at this time I had to act fast and found a client to manage their ads and SEO for. This covered my bills, but that was about it. No wiggle room whatsoever. It was after another 6 months or so the agency I worked at before reached out. They wanted me back. So I went back. But this time, things were going to be a little different. This time I had a goal in mind, and that was to build a highly efficient department at the agency focused on paid ads. So I did.

Building The Department: Coming Into My Own

I came in with the fury of a 1000x suns. Ruffled some feathers, but was overall more cognizant of office politics at this point and what strings I had to pull to get things moving in the direction I needed them to move in.

I took under utilized human resources and took them under my wing, training from the ground up to manage and grow ecommerce ad accounts. Over the course of 6 months, I took the department from managing $10k/mo to managing more than $100k/mo. In 12 months, we were managing more than $500k/mo with more than 30 accounts. Things were moving, but nowhere near as fast as they could have. If I were to put in the time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears needed to take it to $10m+/mo in managed spend, I needed equity.

Long story short, it didn't work out due to a number of internal issues. But I didn't take it to heart. Instead, I started focusing on doing it for myself. The way it needs to be done. The right way. The best way.

The Fastlane

Present Day: Ecommerce Ad Management - A Growth Service

Fast forward to today. I have further refined my processes, am in the process of ramping up my sales team, and am training and onboarding new ad managers to help balance the workload. The plan is set, the model is sound, the trajectory is solid, and the only thing left to do is to do it.

Hopefully you've enjoyed this 6 year journey (struggle) that got me to this point and perhaps even taken something positive from it that you can learn from.

Goodbye job, hello Fastlane. It has been a long time coming, and it has taken a ton of sacrifice and hard work. This would never have been possible had I not read TMF all those years ago. There are too many people to thank here, whose posts and conversations have helped me through the years at various points in time. But obviously @MJ DeMarco thanks for making this community for business nerds like me and for TMF & Unscripted.

@biophase @Vigilante @JasonR @AndrewNC @million$$$smile @amp0193 @Andy Black @eliquid @IceCreamKid @MidwestLandlord @Ravens_Shadow @G_Alexander @James Fend @AllenCrawley and really everyone that contributes here, thank you. All of the insight you've provided here on the forum and via conversations over the years has helped me form my own mental systems that have gotten me to this point and for that I am forever grateful.

It just goes to show, no matter who you are, where you come from, what you are doing, or where your head is at currently, with the right focus, determination, and perseverance, you too can overcome any obstacles in your way and live the life that you want to live.
 

luniac

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great read dude.
Potential gold in da making?
 

juggler619

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Dayum! Blood,sweat and persistence! Pure goosebump gold!

@Ungodly thank u for the share!
 

Vigilante

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Yesterday I quit my $xxx,xxx job so I can work on my business that has $xxx,xxx,xxx potential, full-time. Went smoothly, no hard feelings, learned a lot and provided a lot of value. It was actually not bad for a JOB, but not the environment for a guy like me to be able to really THRIVE.

Enjoyed a nice glass of bourbon and a Cohiba stick last night, just reflecting. It has been a long road to this point, 6 years in the making. 6 years since I read TMF, and 6 years since that fire was lit under my a$$ to make something of myself. 6 years since I completely turned my life around from being a poor kid from the trailer park with no formal education working manual labor jobs.

No one ever expected anything great of me, I can tell you that much. I watched my peers around me become consumed by drug addiction, crime, or in many cases, a premature death. Not exactly an environment geared towards success. Rather, one geared towards perpetual sidewalking.

From being a $10/hr laborer toting bricks and blocks and mud around through these hellish North Carolina summers (for 4 years, mind you) to having that FTE for that, and making the leap to running a successful, growing ad management business. I don't think I've ever put my whole story out there, but I think it's time. My hope is that through my painful journey out of the pit you can take something positive from it, even if just a laugh.

********* Warning: Long Post Ahead **********

The Sidewalk

Hit the Bricks. Move Them Over There, NOW!

Wanna talk about a tough, physically demanding job? Go be a brick mason's apprentice for a day. It's grueling work, particularly during the summers and winters. The only thing worse than carrying around heavy sh*t in 100+ degree weather all day, every day, is sitting in a warm truck, all bundled up and arriving to the job where it's below freezing and you have to move all of the heavy things from one side of the job site to the other. That feeling of pure dread. Every day was a FTE.

Yet, with that in mind, I guess I was just a masochist at the time. I just took it. For 4 years. 4 years of taking that pain and turning it into strength. Conditioning my body to be able to do things that I never thought I'd be able to do. To really pushing my own personal limits to see just how far I could go. I was young, I had no direction, and it was a good fit in retrospect. It helped me get my sh*t together mentally and get away from my peers at the time. Some people join the military to do it, for me it was just backbreaking work for a few years.

Now keep in mind that this was all post-Great Recession and residential brickwork at the time was slowww. Most weeks I would only bring in $300 or less. A really good week was $400. There towards the end, it got so slow, we were only working 3 days a week and I had rent to pay, and my car needed two front tires because they both blew out at the same time. sh*t just got real, and I had to make a move fast.

View attachment 20156

So without hesitation, I had a few beers and made an ad to put on Craigslist. I put it in the wrong section on purpose to get more visibility, but it was basically something along the lines of "Experienced Laborer Looking For Work". The next morning I got a call from a guy a few towns over and he said to meet him at Lowes and go to work. I told my boss at the time I had to go, I had another job. So I moseyed down the road going 35mph for about 30 miles in my car which had two spares on the front. I couldn't go very fast, or take turns quickly, but I got there. It was a job doing gutter cleaning and roof repairs for homeowners, and I wasn't the biggest fan of heights. Great. But it was work, and I needed the money.

Gutters & Roofing: It's Lonely at the Top

I remember my first day on the job, climbing that ladder, getting onto this flat back porch roof. Legs trembling, profusely sweating, scared to death that I was going to fall off and end up being a vegetable. But it was that day, and the coming months that helped me really get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Next thing I knew I was running up and down steep roof tops like spiderman. New level unlocked.

Then I got the big pay raise up to a whopping $14/hr! I was stoked at the time, as this work was wayyy easier than doing brickwork. I mean you had to scale houses and do death-defying stuff all day, but it was in sprints. Get on a job, run around like a mad man for 30-45 minutes, then hop in the truck and drive to the next one. There was a lot of ride time and I looked at it as getting paid to sit in the shade.

Typical day in the life here. Shitty, old roof. 32ft ladder, fully extended, just barely reaching the roof for me to climb up. No safety harnesses were used during the taking of this photo.

View attachment 20154

The summer of 2011 was almost over and I was a bit worried about what were going to do about work when things started icing over and getting cold. Then I was told that we would be installing Christmas lights on residential homes starting in November. At first, this sounded great. I could rack up over 60 hours in a week!

Of course, I judged that book by the cover. It was an icy hellscape where my days blurred together and my life was nothing but work. I woke up at 7 am, started working at 8am on roofing and gutters, and worked most days until 11pm-1am. That wasn't even the worst of it all. The worst part was when you were dangling over the side of a roof hanging up lights, then when you go to get off of the roof, the temperature had dropped and frost covered your way down. For those unfamiliar, that equates to a death slide, allll the way down to the ground, which was typically comprised of concrete, steps, or rocks.

By a stroke of a luck, I made it through this arduous time virtually unscathed, though there was that one day when I almost lost two of my fingers when the bottom of a ladder slipped on a PVC deck and proceeded to go horizontal with my fingers mashed between the ladder and asphalt roof. I managed to pop the ladder up off the roof using my, at then, super human rowing skills and grabbed onto the gutter before the ladder fell to the ground. Ruined the gutter, but things could have been worse. This was the flesh wound that resulted.
View attachment 20153

The Big Change

Winter of 2011 was my next FTE. This led me to wanting out. Sure I was making more money, but at the potential cost of life and limb (literally). Something had to change. It was in January of 2012 when I was riding along to a job with a new helper who just got hired and he was telling me how he was getting items off of the free section of Craigslist and flipping them for a profit. Thought to myself, sounds easy enough. Get something for free or for a low price, sell it for higher. Simple.

So my research began and the first good resource I came across was this thread -> Great bootstrapping thread - how to create money.

Upon reading more and more, it made sense. Then I saw the link to the book on the forum. The Millionaire Fastlane. What is this? Checked on Amazon, started reading through the reviews. Ok, so maybe I should probably read this thing. So I did. Rather, I devoured the book. The concepts, the ideas, the system, CENTS, Lambos, freedom, passivity; the works. It all clicked. I remember, I spent very little time thinking things through, and just started hustling.

I got some software back then, Craigspal (now defunct), that scraped the location you wanted on Craigslist, the keywords you were looking for, and returned results as they were posted. Also had automatic email notifications, and great organization. It was a really powerful piece of software for the would be flipper. So next I started trying to figure out what to go for. Then I stumbled upon this Seagate's hard drive shortage from Thailand floods expected to continue throughout 2012 - There was a global shortage of hard drives. So, I started buying hard drives locally for cheap, and putting them on ebay to resell. Average ROI if I remember correctly was around 75-125%. It worked well for a while, then the software got shut down and I moved onto other things.

Internet Marketing: Getting Started

From early on in my journey, I wanted to have an online business. I had seen enough of the outdoors at that point and wanted something a little more cozy and out of the elements. Something where I could use my mind to do the heavy lifting versus my back. Something that I could eventually scale. So I started learning about SEO, web development, Wordpress, etc. I just immersed myself in it all until things started to click.

There was mention by my boss at the time that he wanted to optimize the website, so I readily volunteered. I also started running some Adwords ads at the time for the business, all for free just to get my feet wet. Around this same time I also met a PPC consultant when cleaning the guys gutters one day. Started talking and he ended up paying me $15/hr just to do some data entry-ish type work on one of his sites. Also started learning copy around this time and he gave me some pointers on ranking sites and the Adwords campaigns.

For about 6 months or so I took a break and was 100% focused on making money to bootstrap my own business, whatever it would end up being.

Sales: The Great Equalizer

The biggest difference now was that I was learning how to sell at this point. This is where the entire game changed for me. By learning how to sell, I started to make a lot more money and learned the power of dissociating my time from money. One week I even made $2,000 in commission! Going from $10/hr, to $2k in a week over this short period of time really started getting me thinking about what else can I sell.

So I continued to put money back for a few months while working the job, got about $10k saved up (more than I ever had in my life at that point), and QUIT MY JOB (The first time) to work on a Fastlane venture, or so I thought.

I Think I Know What I'm Doing..

So there I am. No income coming in, no real plan, just a fire in my belly and that burning desire to be financially free. This was in April of 2013. I join StackThatMoney.com and immersed myself in media buying and affiliate marketing. I bought a few relevant domains, I started running some traffic, I made some really terrible ads with really terrible angles, and failed my a$$ off. During this time I did pick up a number of quality skill sets that I would be able to use in a functional way in any business moving forward. I also made some money and had my first $500/day profit within a decently short amount of time. But it wasn't sustainable as competitors were ripping my ads and landing pages as fast as I could make them. This was a GRIND, not Fastlane at all. So I moved on.

I started working on local lead generation websites that would rank for various local services in every city across the US. I was selling the leads to the largest lead generation company in the US ( guess who?) via phone calls and forms. At one point I had a 7 man team of Filipino outsourcers working on different aspects of the sites, from content spinning, to web design, to creating new sites, to just VA work. I thought I was a big shot and I was going to be a millionaire in no time. I just KNEW it was going to work. Well, it didn't. It made a little money, but there were missing pieces to my system and I was running out of capital FAST.

In an effort to get more capital, I sold my car. I lived downtown at the time and could ride my bike where I needed, so good riddance.
View attachment 20157

Now this is where the story takes a bit of a turn for the worse. This is the point in time where I just started spreading myself way, way too thin and it led to my inevitable downfall.

I fired all of my outsourcers and just let the sites float, letting them collect any revenue from lead sales that they could in their state at the time.

Importing: Everyone Is Doing It!

This was around Fall 2013, I got a whiff of the market for e-cigs. It was getting red hot and vaporizers were getting better and better. So I decided, why not make my own brand? Notice the common theme here? All decisions up to this point are "me too" based. No focus on providing people real value, but rather money chasing.

So I came up with a brand name, made a logo, made my packaging design, made my site, got my high risk merchant processor and gateway setup, and ordered 200 units of the highest quality product I could find in the flavors I noticed competitors were promoting the most often.

View attachment 20155

I managed the get the site ranked very well for some key terms using some high quality backlinks. But I made one crucial mistake here. I used the same keyword in the anchor text from the external backlinks too many times and ended up getting a linking penalty and my rankings for my top high volume, high converting keywords disappeared. Went from $700/day in revenue to $150-$200/day revenue, literally overnight. And it continued to fall from that point.

As the legendary Billy Mays would say, BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

Mobile Mechanic Partnership: WTF?

Around this time a friend of mine approached me with a business idea. A mobile mechanic service for the local area. I had experience ranking local sites. I knew how we could target the primary demographic. I knew how we could sell the service. I didn't, however, know anything about the mechanic business or the pitfalls associated with doing it in peoples driveways.

So I put together the site, found out how much we would need to charge and upsell parts, and started putting the pieces together. In short time I had the backend stuff all working and the phone was ringing and revenue was flowing. Everything is working, right?

Then we came across one of these bad boys.

View attachment 20159

That's right, the Ford Exploder. My partner had quoted the owner of the vehicle WAY under what it should have been to do a specific engine repair to replace the timing chains and the guides for it, when it should have been a complete engine replacement. Long story short, we ate sh*t on this deal. This is where things went from sh*t, to worse. At this point my partner had used the Amex that I setup for the business to cover costs for the business such as parts, fuel, and so on, to the tune of roughly $4k or so. In addition to this, he drained the business banking account dry and bought an Xbox with the money and proceeded to disappear.

The Bottom: It's Lonelier Here Than At The Top

It's around February-March 2014 at this point. My cash reserves are 100% depleted. My credit lines are all maxed out. I have virtually no income at this point. Bankruptcy crossed my mind once the creditors started calling. There really is no worse feeling than that which I experienced during this time. Depression kicked in. I think I watched the first couple of seasons of Game of Thrones for like a month straight and drank like a fish. I had a girlfriend at the time, and she had a job, but I was THAT BUM now. I had to get a job, like ASAP.

I started applying for several sales positions, some marketing gigs at agencies, something that would help me progress while also helping me pay down this debt I had accumulated. I went for an interview at a Toyota dealership for a car salesman position. Show up, and this old bastard gives me this look up and down in disgust "You should wear a tie next time". Definitely not the place for me. Obviously didn't get the job (thank god).

Next I had a few return calls, one for a roofing company hiring outside sales reps which I had experience in. The other inside sales for an online agency. The roofing sales gig obviously had more potential for more money and faster based on my experience, but that wasn't that path I wanted to take. I wanted to go somewhere where I could learn more about online marketing and continue to hone my skills. So I started working at the agency.

Phone Sales: The Reason I Am Calling Today..

I started cold calling businesses to sell them SEO services. Like pushing a rock uphill. I got a few sales, but selling SEO in general is typically just a lot of bullshit. It might work, it might not, depends on a lot of different things. But the silver lining here was I learned how to prospect and build effective pipelines and get good at talking to people on the phone. This skill will serve me well no matter what I do or where I go, it is one that I continue to refine and perfect.

Still wasn't making a lot of money, still had a lot of debt, things were on the rocks in my relationship due to the financial hardship. Getting out of the pit is never much fun, but sometimes it is just what you need when you need it. For me, it was a reality check. It got me back grounded in the real world and I kept on kicking.

There was an opportunity that came up in this company to be an SEO consultant, and I jumped on it. I already had skills in ranking my own sites effectively, so why not hone that craft even further? Even though I was more interested in doing paid ads, this was an in.
Instant gold.

You are the reason MJ wrote his books, the reason this forum exists, and the reason that I hang out here despite the crazy.

Thank you for sharing your story for those who come behind us. I look forward to following your next chapter.

I read every word of your story this morning while I was sitting on my patio as the sun was rising and I was smoking my favorite cigar. You relit a fire in me to double down my efforts on my next venture. The only thing that would have made this better is if I was sitting on MJ's patio so he and I could talk through your story together. Your story is our story... Just a different decade but the same climb.

Keep pressing. You've made it through the desert of desertion and the sky is the limit now for you.

We expect great things from you. We are in your corner and are cheering for your success. Go make it happen.
 
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NateKruse

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Great post, Tom! Thanks for sharing and congrats on the overnight gold 6 years in the making!

When I need paid traffic I know who to go to.
 

johnp

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wow. amazing story.

Thanks for sharing!
 

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momomaurice

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Great post. I too came from a manual labour background and I am now starting a social media marketing business. I know how scary it can be on ladders and roofs. I read a few stories on forums about guys falling off ladders and having to learn how to walk again, F*ck that it's definitely not worth it trying to earn a few quid. Glad it all worked out for you and stayed at it during the hard times.
 

SparksCW

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Great post and amazing story, thank you for sharing it and good luck with your ads business.
 

Ravens_Shadow

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Excellent post and I'm always happy to hear about how much a$$ you're kicking. Rep++
 

Flybye

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...It has been a long time coming, and it has taken a ton of sacrifice and hard work...
Awesome read and THIS! Your story is very inspiring to those that feel that they have gotten "stuck" in their process, and also a reminder that everyone's process has varying degrees of time and hard work. Some believe in a quick buck and dont realize it can take time and work to keep something sustained. Some just simply lose the patience to plow forward. Every experience is a learning experience, and you perfectly proved that.
 
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Glad to hear you guys enjoyed it! It really got me thinking as I was reliving those experiences, of how embarrassed I was of my failures at the time. However, in retrospect, it was nothing to be embarrassed of at all. I tried my a$$ off and failed my a$$ off. And because of those actions, it pushed me in the direction I needed to go in at the time.

Can't wait to see what the future holds, and just remember, failure is a learning experience. The more you do it, the more you learn. Just don't let the failures keep you from trying again. Every time you get knocked down, get back up and at it as soon as your wounds have healed.
 

Dunkafelics

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@Ungodly this is epic.

I've had the pleasure of talking with you over the last few months and never got to know your background until now.

That grit and determination should be an inspiration for anyone who comes across this forum. There might be easier or harder paths, but the point is that you keep moving forward no matter what.

All I can say is that we are in your corner and I can't wait to see happens in the present and future for you.
 

RayAndré

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Wow @Ungodly what a story. At this year's summit your personality stood out to me, and now I can see where you got it from. Keep it up and keep kicking a$$, motivating the slower-paced guys like me to get in gear.
Can't wait to see/hear/read what's next. We're on your side :thumbsup:
 

Roli

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Every young kid who comes on here bitching about their situation, living comfortably in their parents' basement needs to read this thread... and then they need to read it again.

Pure gold @Ungodly, can't wait to see how it all goes; I'm sure with the same effort you've been putting in, you'll be smashing it in no time.
 

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dzackb3l

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Thanks for all these details! It really is interesting and motivating... I have been in the spot of quitting and getting back to corp. jobs because I ran out of funds, but definitely going to get back onto my entrepreneurial spirit and life!
 

Andy Black

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Goosebumps.

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for allowing us to follow the next chapter in real-time in your (Insider) progress thread.

Well done!

(And that photo on the roof is scary af.)
 

Suzanne Bazemore

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Typical day in the life here. sh*tty, old roof. 32ft ladder, fully extended, just barely reaching the roof for me to climb up. No safety harnesses were used during the taking of this photo.
@Tom.V your story is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing it. This image of the ground from a rooftop would inspire me to make promises to God.
 
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Here we are 120 days later, and I can say with certainty at this point that I made the right choice at the right time. Things are moving incredibly fast, the business is flourishing, and the days of following are over. The days of truly leading are here and here to stay. I have laid the foundation for my business over the past 4 months to be able to truly embrace the Fastlane and I am now beginning to really see the fruits of my labor. I can only IMAGINE where things will be in another 4 months.

One thing is for certain.. I'll be much further down the road. And that much closer to achieving my goal. The goal of never having to worry about money for survival or basic human needs. Neither will my family. Or my close friends (if they're still around at the end of this road). I was sitting back thinking about this not long ago.

How proud I'll be when I can purchase my mom and dad a home of their own.
To pay off my dad's debt.
To pay for my youngest brother to go to college.
To be able to take my family on a real vacation for the first time in their lives.
To be able to create money systems for giving back (St. Baldricks model is interesting to say the least)

Then, onward to the next challenge I take on in this life. Until then, 100% focus on the task at hand.

Scale. Scale. Scale.
 

Eli Cohen

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Tom you are a great man with serious passion, drive and resilience. I see a lot of similar traits in you that I have myself especially a relentless drive to succeed. I respect people like you 100x more than someone who credits others success as their own. I'm in the e-commerce and advertising space as well. Are you focusing on specific traffic sources? Would love to connect and bounce ideas off each other.

Thanks for your contribution to the forum and I look forward to hearing more about your success.
 

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