Jumping into the startup world can be scary for anyone whether you have experience or not. What’s even worse is seeing the hundreds of millions of dollars that everyone is raising to grow their company. Well, we just hit a huge milestone five months into our company and we have never accepted a dollar from anyone.
I love the show Shark Tank - it gives me inspiration, ideas, and insights into the latest trends. Most people watch to see the type of deals and investments the entrepreneurs get from the sharks, but I’m always rooting for them NOT to accept the investment. Every once in a while, I’m blown away by someone appearing on the show, having no marketing background, and they’ve done something like $2 million in sales in their first two years. I love it, and the competitive nature within me likes the push I feel when I see it.
I had a thriving advertising agency in Denver, CO, was making more money than I’ve ever made, and I just was not happy. I decided to make a change. I even wrote an article on Huffington Post about why I took a successful business and burnt it to the ground to start something new. The scariest part of this whole story? There was no investment. No loan. No infusion of cash. Just my ass on the line.
We launched WhiskerCloud and I said to anyone that would listen, “if we hit 15 clients by the end of the year, we can celebrate.” Like anything else in life, projections and expectations can change quickly. We hit 15 clients in the first week. I’m writing this six months after launch to tell you about what the hell happened over the last six months as I’ve pushed myself to grow this company with no investment whatsoever.
I once took a personality test, and my top trait was “competitive.” I always pick the cardio machine at the gym next to the fittest person and go faster and longer. I read about other Denver startups doing big things, and it lights an even bigger fire under my ass to push harder. So, I’ve spent the last six months working early mornings, late nights, weekends, nonstop. I watch our competitors as if they were my own company - I know when they sign clients and when their customers leave, and what advertising they’re currently doing. I know what they offer, and I constantly improve our offerings to beat them. They offer this; I offer that. I go out of my way to take the absolute best care of our clients, anticipating their needs and upgrading their services whenever we can. I hated two things we were offering to our customers, so I worked tirelessly to upgrade and implement them, making our website faster and more secure than ever - free of charge.
In addition to working tirelessly and keeping a close eye on the market, I literally have done more advertising than anyone I’ve ever met. I don’t mean I’ve spent the most money, I mean I’ve literally A/B tested more ads than I can count on more advertising platforms than I can count, meticulously calculating ROI and CPA, and working hard to do better with each new ad. The result, hitting the mark I wanted to hit on our one-year anniversary on our five-month anniversary.
The day we launched, I said that WhiskerCloud would change and modernize the veterinary industry. Since then, we’ve been featured in the biggest and best veterinary publications, I’ve been a guest on some of the biggest veterinary podcasts, and we now work with the heaviest hitters in the veterinary industry. This didn’t just happen, I sent emails, made calls, and made real connections with the people in this industry. I tell our clients exactly why our services are priced the way are and the type of margins we have to stay in business. When my team does something for a client I don’t like, I tell them and the client that we’re going to keep working because it’s not perfect yet.
As I’m writing this, we’re coming off one of our hottest two-week periods ever. In fact, if all goes well, we could double our business before the end of the year. Of course, I’d have to delete this post and re-write it to talk about how we hit our two-year goal in six months. Something I will gladly do.
I’m not here to gloat, I’m here to tell you what it takes to start a business and make it successful without raising capital, getting a loan, or borrowing money from others or yourself to start a company. Build something great, believe in it above all else, and seriously...do not slow down. Our competitors were 100x bigger than us, had 1000x the amount of money we had, and had the connections in the industry. They just got complacent and let someone build something bigger and better and now their clients are mine. While they work to catch up to us, we’re already working on the next big thing.
Always be ahead of the curve and work your ass off. You’ll be fine and you won’t have someone else taking 30% of your profit. I didn’t accept the two investments I was offered and now I’m able to reinvest 100% of profits right back into growing the company.