On May 3, 2003 I opened the doors of my first company. Panic! was the brainchild of Marco Hyder, a Virginia Beach tattoo artist who I knew as a friend of some friends. We had high hopes for the place, despite it being doomed from the very start. Neither one of us knew much about running a business; not to mention the fact that it was quite possibly one of the most clusterfucked and unstable periods in my life. The store was pretty cool though, and I learned a hell of a lot from it too.
I worked in the store, six to seven days a week, and took care of all of the management duties. The only thing I didn’t do was product research, marketing strategies and visit the accountant. Everything else was all mine, from merchandising, to graphic and Web design, all the way to bookkeeping. I was the only employee, until the last few months we were open. Marco was only in the store once, maybe twice a month. It was a really good experience, peppered with some of the most epic mistakes I have ever made in my personal life. I met some cool people, fortunately enough, and we connected others who ended up creating some really great things together.
When Panic closed, a little more then a year later, I had a new perspective and a new idea of what I wanted to do. I was lucky enough to win a car from the radio station we used to advertise on. It was especially lucky because after my girlfriend kicked me out of the apartment, and started seeing my former business partner, I had a place to sleep… once again, that’s a story for another blog. I drove my free car, full of my things, from Virginia to Denver, on the heels of the first entrepreneurial venture I’ve ever undertaken (on the books). I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my career. I had fallen in love with small business.
The first real job I got once I arrived in Denver was with Name.com, who was little more then a startup when I got there. I arrived for my interview in a small two room, brick loft on 15th and Platte st (upstairs from Paris on the Platte, for those familiar with downtown Denver). At that time it was a small, informal group of 20 somethings, and a couple of 30 somethings, sitting across from each other at folding tables. The company had been around for two years and was more or less still an infant, compared to what it has grown to become. It was the best office scenario I could have asked for.
Fast forward to today…
Earlier this month I was talking to a friend who had a very young startup, and was looking for a designer. Three days later I am sitting in a cafe with the two main partners, discussing a partnership. Two weeks after that I became a partner in Denver Marketing LLC. We are a online marketing company specializing in helping small business people get their companies online. We offer quality Web sites, internet marketing and amazing SEO, at a price that makes me wonder if I’ll ever get out of my garden-level apartment.
Starting a business will allow me to rediscover the taste I developed for ramen noodles when I was in my 20s. I know this for sure. I am torn between that, and knowing that just landing a job will be more helpful as far as the immidiate budget is concerned. Fuck it, I guess. Given the choce between my heart and my wallet, I’ve always tended to go in the direction of my heart. It may be a longer route toward financial independence, however; How likely is one to become finincially independent when they work for someone else?