I have always had the dream of being a business owner. That dream didn’t stem from having bad bosses or bad jobs, I just always wanted to be in control of my own success. I had been thinking about this since my time as a student-athlete at UCF here in Orlando. But I faced a large challenge! Enter in the greatest economic crash in the US in 2009. So here I am, a bright-eyed, motivated 21-year-old college graduate with a dream of being a business owner and zero professional experience looking to enter into the “real world” on my own.
I mention this because to understand where we are going, you have to understand where we have been. To keep the lights on and the bills paid, I began working various internships with sports organizations around the US including UCF, the US Olympic Committee, and Florida Citrus Sports. In 2010, Social Media wasn’t anything like it is today. It wasn’t a marketing tool or a business tool, more of just a basic communication tool. Social Media was given to the Communications/PR departments to monitor and post information, if necessary. I eventually made my way into the music and manufacturing industries but I always had two things in the back of my mind: the lack of personal /professional development for student-athletes to make it in the “real world” and owning my own business.
I tried my hand at industrial real estate sales because I knew sales was a way to control your own fate and have an exponential opportunity to make money. While I truly enjoyed this job and the people I, worked with, after ten months in my position, my dad (who is my partner) came across the franchise information for WSI. My dad is on his way out of his main profession and was looking for something that he could do on the road but still, bring in some extra cash. Initially, I was going to just help him part-time in the business, but the more we talked with the WSI Home Office team, the more and more, I fell in love with the model (and the more I knew I needed to be involved on more than a part-time basis). I am not quite sure when the transition happened, but we made the decision that I would leave my job at the industrial real estate firm to dedicate myself to being the operator of our WSI Franchise.
As of October 2017, we have been open and operation for 12 months, and there is so much I have learned throughout this period. I want to share some of my insights with you:
1. The Power of the WSI Brand
I cannot imagine doing this business from scratch. Being able to leverage a 20+ year-old brand, case studies, and experiences from other ICs across the world is PRICELESS. It adds credibility to you especially when you’re starting in a new market.
2. Ethical Practices
There are some things that become VERY apparent in the market as you meet with various businesses and business owners. Not everyone in our space does things with 100% transparency. We run into it all the time where a company's digital assets are being held hostage, or they have issues getting their own information. WSI preaches ethics in our industry and is the reason why clients are so happy with our services.
3. The Sun Will Come Out...It Might Just Take Some Time
This is a competitive business, and it’s not a get rich quick scheme. But if you put in the work, and BUY INTO THE WSI WAY, you’re going to be successful. The first few months are incredibly scary, and you might not see income right away, but trust the process, and the sun will come out eventually. By month 10, we had reached our extremely aggressive year one goal because we trusted the process.
4. There’s Enough Business To Go Around
No matter what market you’re in, there is enough business to go around. Don’t get discouraged if you see other digital marketing companies in the market. Just go and seek groups that don’t have someone in your space like BNI or other referral groups.
5. You’re Not Perfect
You’re human, you’re going to make mistakes, but you have to move on from those mistakes and learn from every opportunity. Don’t be afraid to change and adapt within that first year. It’s a learning year – treat it that way!
After our first 12 months in business, I have acquired 19 clients that provide us an average of $8,000 per month. If we continue to grow at the rate that we are, our year two will be at least double of what we have done in our first year. Even with the hard days, I have never regretted our decision to start our franchise and couldn’t imagine doing anything different.
Could a digital marketing franchise be the answer to your dreams? If Erin's story inspires you, we welcome you to learn more.