How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur Outside of the Tech Bubble

How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur Outside of the Tech Bubble
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By Tommy Mello

My girlfriend asked an interesting question the other day: “Why did you go into the garage door industry?”

I paused for a second and replied, “Well, why not?”

It’s not just the garage door or home services industry that is worth going into. Plenty of other industries have tons of potential, yet they’re completely overlooked by aspiring entrepreneurs. Why? They’re not as sexy as platforms or services that could potentially be the next Facebook/Uber/Airbnb.

But here’s the thing: You can capitalize on significant, unique competitive advantages by getting into any of these obscure industries and positioning your business well. And that more than makes up for the fact that it might not be as glamorous and exciting as the technology industry. Here are three specific things that you should consider:

You Face Less Competition

Don’t go into tech startups, where the best and the brightest are fighting tooth and nail to stand out. Instead, exploit all the hidden gem opportunities, especially in an industry that is less saturated. To do this, pay attention to industries that aren’t typically glamorous, but have strong market growth and potential. A few examples include home services, logistics and transportation, as well as agriculture. Once you find an obscure industry that you like, pick a niche that your skills would be suitable for.

Personally speaking, I’ve never seen the allure of jumping on the bandwagon. My company started when I found out that my friend was making a killing in the home services industry and I heard his sales pitch to get me involved. Even though it wasn’t an industry that many people would get excited about, I saw the value in it, and my entrepreneur’s instinct made me jump right in.

So, think about what “outdated” industries hold the most potential for you, and find business opportunities that would fit your passion and skill sets.

You Have the Power to Disrupt an Entire Industry

You’d be surprised at how many industries haven’t fully embraced the digital innovation or the newest technologies. When you’re up against competitors who don’t have the same understanding of the online space as you do, you have a far better chance to beat them, even if they are much more established in the market.

I’m speaking from experience here: the home services industry can be pretty old-school (even more so when I first started out), and I was able to quickly and effectively grow my company using digital marketing and lead generation techniques.

For example:

  • Seeing that customers were often making decisions based on online reviews, I designed a marketing campaign that encouraged our customers to leave reviews on my business’s Yelp page. This led to over $1 million in increased revenue over just 10 months.
  • When I first started out in my business, I didn’t have a huge marketing budget, so I tried out posting ads on Craigslist (which was free). I posted on a regular basis. And as a result, I would get 3-4 client jobs every day from Craigslist alone. This helped build word-of-mouth marketing, which laid the foundation for more business growth.

Look at the different industries that are still stuck offline, and consider whether online marketing strategies would provide you with the competitive advantage that you need to start and grow a company.

You Face Less Pressure to Scale Quickly

If you enter the tech industry, you might very well get trapped in the funding bubble, which will definitely cause you a lot of stress. The idea is that you need to raise capital to get enough users quickly and beat your competitors before they can copy you. As a result of all this pressure, many startup founders rush to hit their next milestone or simply neglect the bigger picture, causing them to make dangerous mistakes in business. These people are smart, but they fail when they go too hard too fast.

On the other hand, because I didn’t have any external funding, I had the luxury of growing my business step by step. I could learn from my mistakes without getting burned too much.

It took me years to finally focus on building the right systems and hire the right people. For the longest time, I was trying to handle a million things all by myself -- and as a result was always overworked and disorganized. If I had $1 million in the bank back then, I would have probably burned it all, as I just wasn’t ready to scale. In short, I learned that if I don’t work on the business, I will always work in the business and limit my business growth.

By going into an obscure industry where you don’t need to get external investment (at least right away), you’ll be able to take your time to learn every aspect of your business and build the strong foundation you need to grow your company in the future.

It’s easy to get swept up in the tech wave, especially when you’re reading articles on how tech startups get acquired for billions of dollars every day. But for every successful tech startup that you hear in the news, there are hundreds of failed startups that quietly close their doors.

Enter an industry where you can rock the boat and scare all your competition stiff. That’s where the money is.


Tommy Mello is Owner A1 Garage Doors, a $25M+ home service business.

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