What I Learned About Entrepreneurship by Diving Into a Saturated Market


I started my first business at eight years old, buying and selling Beanie Babies, to afford an electric guitar. I liked the feeling of buying something for a low price, then selling it at a markup at the right time. Little did I know, I’d just discovered my passion for growing young companies.

So, I started advertising my expertise as a marketer. I quickly realized that there are thousands of digital agencies and experts, but saw that the vast majority of them knew almost nothing about digital marketing within the industries they served. And the good ones required long contracts and lots of cash.

Despite the oversaturated market, I saw my opportunity to get it right where no one else did: I created Hawke Media, hired a few people, then went to companies and showed them our no-contract, a la carte options. I used my experience to give my pitch credibility. Before long, I was succeeding in a market everyone considered to be tapped dry.

The importance of passion

You can start a business about anything. But , and the business won’t grow.

In college, for example, I started a business called Stormwater Maintenance Company with a friend. We built and installed filters for storm drains. New California laws had created a need for such devices, and we got in early enough to experience quick growth.

Despite setting up the company, building the , and even completing the legal work when we couldn’t afford a lawyer, I left the company to finish my degree. I believed inand the opportunity, but I didn’t care about storm drains enough to see it through.

No matter how much I enjoyed facilitating growth, I knew that when the going got tough, my heart wouldn’t be in running the company.

Avoiding failure is avoiding the true meaning of life

Trying to avoid mistakes and failures is the quickest path to stagnation because you won’t take risks that can lead to growth. Identifying that truth before I became too invested was the tipping point in my entrepreneurial career. By taking risks and discovering your passions, you can build the skills you need to grow a company while staying open to the opportunities worth pursuing.

How to grow a company in any industry

Don’t let naysayers decide what kind of business you should run. Follow these four steps to start a successful company in any area.

1. Fill a need

The surest way to find a successful niche is to .

When I started in digital marketing, I didn’t do it because I stubbornly wanted to work in that field. Instead, I observed that existing players didn’t fulfill the needs that I personally had while running other companies, so I decided to fill them myself. When I started offering better service options, clients started appearing out of the woodwork.

Identifying your differentiator is the most difficult task when starting any business. For us, that meant providing great services, which eliminated most of the market, then offering month-to-month options, which eliminated the rest. By building our brand on that differentiator, we have been able to establish a reputation based on how well we fulfill legitimate business needs.

2. Have an insatiable appetite

Successful entrepreneurs feel an insatiable need to grow their companies. If you get comfortable, you’ll stop growing, and other companies will overtake you before you realize it.

Set measurable goals along your path to bigger achievements. When you realize that your larger goal is within reach, don’t pop the champagne and sit back—acknowledge your accomplishment and establish a new goal before you surpass the old one. If your goal was to grow your revenue to $1 million, set a new goal of $5 million. When you acquire 10,000 users, set a new goal for 100,000.

3. Don’t follow the money

The more you focus on your personal pocketbook, the fewer opportunities you will have to celebrate success and create long-term goals.

Remember, you’re building a company to create something great, not to buy a boat with the profits.

4. Enjoy the journey

You can’t be successful if you hate every day of the work it takes to get there. My “30 Under 30” accomplishment was a big talking point for friends and family. For me, it wasn’t any more important than the achievements I regularly share with my team.

When you do that, not only will you establish a culture of growth that will weather any storm, but you’ll have a good time while you do it. I don’t know how old Warren Buffett is, but there’s no way he’s still going strong because he has some larger goal in mind that he has yet to achieve—he just loves the inherent thrill of the chase.

Keep your perspective

Don’t crash into a saturated market assuming you’ll make as much money as everyone else in it. I dove in headfirst and worked hard to build my company, and today, new players hoping to strike it rich are jumping into our space without any idea of how to succeed in this industry.

Not only do those types of people not last long, but they also kill their reputations, which could have helped them start other successful companies if they hadn’t gotten over-eager.

You never know how many chances your company will get, so don’t go all-in blindly. Follow these strategies to approach growth the right way. Fulfill a need, stay excited about growth, run an honest company, and you will find success every day.

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