If You’re Not First, You’re Last!

This is the Self Employed Movement’s first “Tell Your Story!” It features Andrew from A Hard Road. He came across the Self Employed Movement when my post was featured on Rockstar Finance. We’ve clicked after a couple of emails back and forth and he was courageous enough to be our first “Tell Your Story” feature. Without further ado, let’s get started:

  • So Andrew, what’s your story?

I’m 25 years old and I landed a rather good 9-5 job after college; one that I actually enjoy and will help me reach my financial goals overtime. However, I have the drive and motivation to start something great. The ideas bouncing around my head get louder and louder and I’m finding it more and more feasible to take the leap and start my own business!

Enough is enough, I thought, and finally bought a domain ahardroad.com and am documenting my start of a business. My posts have been about my evolution towards taking the step away from a 9-5 and starting a company. I’m starting with an eCommerce store, supporting products that have changed my life for the better.

  • What’s your idea/business that you’re sharing with the world?

I’m setting up an eCommerce store of quality products that I’ve found to enhance my life. Basically, I’m jumping on the minimalist train and upgrading my college-level belongings. I figure out what I really need by doing extensive research on everything I buy from now on, so there are no purchases that I’ll regret later.

It will be a one-stop-shop of quality products that have added great value to my life. I’ll “live” with them and really test them out so I can give my readers an honest opinion which will help them lead a more fulfilled, minimalistic life. My list of products will only consist of things that will last a lifetime and you’ll be proud to own. I am adding them to the store as I buy them because I do not want to endorse something I have not used first-hand. I basically do the research so you don’t have to and I give you an honest review.

  • What’s your “why” behind the business? Why is this so important to you?

Well, I’m an employed Twenty-something who’s starting to “grow up.” Most all of my possessions are remnants of my college years. At one point or another, everything I own has been shipped in the mail, sat in dorm rooms, shared apartments, storage, etc. And the worst part is, it was never nice stuff that was even worth having to begin with. It’s all cheap household stuff that has been bought 2nd hand or off the sale rack. Over the years, I never saw a need to replace anything, because they all still ‘work’ and serve their purpose. I hate to replace something just to have to replace it again in a couple of years. I’ve been out of college for a couple of years so all my things are breaking down and I’m finding myself have to replace a lot my belongings. So rather than buying the same junk that will need an inevitable upgrade, I’m investing in products that will last me the rest of my life.

For example, I recently upgraded a partially broken CD alarm-radio that I’ve had for years with a nice turntable setup that hooks up to my iPod. I look forward to every morning as I jam it during breakfast, opposed to the static-y FM radio that used to wake me up. If this purchase improved my life, I’m sure it can improve the lives of others who are dealing with the same nuisance.

  • How do you think people will get value from what you’re doing?

I’m doing the homework. I do the research so my readers don’t have to. Rather than partaking in impulsive and reactive purchases, I’m putting a lot of research into everything I buy from now on. I’ll share my findings with my readers so they can make informed decisions on their purchases from a source that they trust. If I need to upgrade something, I’m sure there will be others who need to upgrade the same thing. I can add value because I’m in the same shoes as my readers so I know the emotions, etc that they’re going through because I’m going through the same exact process.

  • What stage are you currently in with your business?

I am just starting up. Which is exciting because I am documenting and sharing the start of my business from the ground up. Writing my thoughts and experiences thus far is actually really helping me organize my priorities and ideas around the business. It also allows readers and like-minded people to get to know the person behind the concept which is really important to me.

  • What made you decide to finally get started?

Here’s where I’m supposed to gripe about my 9-5 job and say I want to be a millionaire running my own business, right? Well, none of that here! I actually rather enjoy my 9-5 but I don’t I want to “enjoy” it for the next 40 years which would be how long until I reach the traditional retirement age in the United States. With help from Mr. Money Moustache, I crunched the numbers of my earnings and expenses and found that I can be ‘retired’ in a relatively short period of time. That time period could be even shorter if and when I’m able to get my small business off the ground.

  • What’s been stopping you from getting started?

Nothing has stopped me, per se. I think I’m like a lot of other people out there; for years I’ve had ideas bounce around my head, thinking ‘I should do that’ or ‘oh, I could do this.’ But until you act on them, they will stay just that: ideas. So I finally just did it! I bought a domain name, and just started writing and posting on a WordPress site. Right now, I’m still in that stage, just bouncing ideas around and putting thoughts on paper. By the end of the year it will evolve into a formal business plan, and 2016 is going to be very exciting for me and my readers.

  • What’s been your best experience starting your business so far?

Reading books. I stopped reading as often after I got out of college. It’s a lot easier to waste time clicking through Facebook on your phone or flipping through a magazine. That wasn’t really getting me anywhere. I thought to myself, that if I wanted to grow as a person and be the mind behind a successful business, I have to start reading books again. So I am now a regular at my local library, checking out anything from great novels to finance books to short fiction. It’s been a lot of fun.

  • Have you had any roadblocks? If so, how have you worked through them?

I do not have internet at home! I spend my whole day in front of a computer at work, so I never saw a reason to spend the $80/ month to get internet in my apartment so I can sit in front of a computer AFTER work too! When I need it, I go to the library or coffee shop down the street. It makes me spend my time more wisely and it helps me save money where I can.

  • What are some of the challenges you’re facing right now?

The biggest challenge I’m facing now is just getting off the ground. It’s so overwhelming when you have a great idea and some motivation but then you turn to the internet, where you are greeted with a thousand MORE great ideas. It quickly gets difficult to stay on track. So before I boot up my computer, I have a list of a dozen actionable items that I need to get done in that computer session. Once I get through those, I can surf and snoop other blogs and websites for ideas and motivation.

  • Any word of advice for others who are looking to get started?

The best piece of advice I have is to just start, and keep going, growing, and evolving your business until you find a rhythm that fits. Reach out to new people, leave comments on websites you like, and email people you admire. You will be amazed at the responses you get and the new connections looking to join, share, and help your story.

  • Anything else you’d like to add/share/talk about?

I’m currently reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and what a great book! Highly recommended, and also if anyone else has book recommendations, find me over at Good Reads.

That concludes my brief interview with Andrew. I always like to hear my readers’ stories. It’s awesome to bounce ideas back and forth and I already got a good one that I’ll try to implement soon. A big thanks to him for being our guinea pig with this feature of the blog! It was a lot of fun.

Want to be our next “Tell Your Story” feature? Get in touch with me here.

Here’s how you can get in touch with Andrew:

Blog: A Hard Road

Twitter: @aHardRoad

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