From finishing Lambda School last October and starting my own marketing and business development right after and going full time to being one year in and busier than ever. This past year has been absolutely bonkers!
In just one year I went from a student trying to become a software engineer with Font Awesome to completely changing my mind and creating my own company to do what I love. It wasn’t easy, in fact, at times I was so stressed I couldn’t sleep. Luckily, I persisted and have been able to put myself in a great spot with my business for 2021.
October 16, 2019
I’d just turned 23 and had just graduated from Lambda School as a full-stack software engineer. I was supposed to start full time as a software engineer for Font Awesome. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out so I had to find something else.
To be fair, Font Awesome paid for me to go through Lambda School basically in the first place and one of the owners is a close friend of mine. It wasn’t anything personal but they thought they were ready to hire another software developer and it turns out they had some other needs to tackle before that. They did keep me on as a freelancer though.
My second idea since Font Awesome was on hold for the time being was to freelance. It wasn’t long before I realized that instead of freelancing I should just start my own company.
At the time, I was already doing freelancing work for Font Awesome and another company based out of India called Casberry Media. I was building software for Font Awesome and writing for Casberry so I figured why not just start a little agency and try to grow it. Thus Helms Media was born!
You probably know where this section’s going to go. February was when COVID-19 hit and a pandemic was declared. Despite most of my business is in the midwest where we weren’t heavily affected at the start, business still slowed down significantly.
I remember sitting in my friend’s office in Joplin, Missouri day after day trying to cultivate leads and ultimately failing over and over. No one was biting. No one needed anything related to business because most of them were closed down. The ones who weren’t closed were suffering from up to a 52% loss of revenue and didn’t have the money to spend on marketing or business development.
It hurt. Like stubbing your pinky toe kind of pain. I’d only had my agency for a few months and a pandemic is declared in the United States. It was a major setback but I still had Casberry Media and Font Awesome as monthly clients so while growth was off the table I was at least able to pay my bills for the time being.
Since most of my days were spent doing basically nothing I wanted to start working on a passion project of mine. For anyone who is a follower on Medium or has watched my YouTube channel, you’ll know that I don’t like college or the education system in the Unites States at all. Instead of bitching about the problem without offering a solution I wanted to come up with a solution that I believed would help. That’s how Helms University began.
I wanted to teach people the general skills they needed to go through life. Things like how to file your own taxes, how and when to buy your first house, and the right way to buy a car. The other half of Helms University would be more focused on specific skills to increase your value in the marketplace. These would be courses and classes on topics like
- software development
- business creation
- business management
- graphic design
- & more…
My idea was that all courses would be taught by industry professionals. For example, software development could be taught by, Font Awesome CTO, Travis Chase.
With the pandemic dying down in other parts of the country the numbers where I live were skyrocketing. When the pandemic was raging in other parts of the country where I live was pretty chill. However, when things got worse where I lived most businesses shut their doors…again.
It’s difficult to run a business that relies on helping other businesses when all businesses are closed. If I can give you one piece of advice when it comes to running your own business I’d suggest making sure that you have the contracts you need to support yourself. Make sure you stay within your means at all times financially. The last thing you want is to have $3,000 worth in bills and only $2,000 of guaranteed income. In a pandemic, it’s difficult to find extra work in a time like this.
In October something happened that I’d been talking about for a very long time. I work with two other guys who own their own companies also. We’ve been talking about merging since about February. In October we finally met with our attorneys and got the ball rolling to merge into a larger marketing company at the start of the new year.
It couldn’t have happened at a better time either. We’ve recently been in negotiation with a city to do their marketing for them and at the start of October, we closed the deal. This means when we end up merging this city will be the larger companies first official client.
The reason for merging is to expiate the process of hiring and put our skills together to make a better overall company than any one of us could make solo. It also helps that I’m pretty good friends with all of these guys (now) so it works out pretty well. Another benefit of merging is it allows us to share expenses under one company that we use for all of our personal companies and the larger company.
It’s Been Insane
I am honestly so thankful for being in the position I’m in right now. I love what I get to do every day. I’m building a second company (Helms University) which is something I’m passionate about.
Here’s to 24! Let’s hope that it’s as amazing as 23 was. I’m hoping to get Helms University launched at the start of 2021 and spending some quality time growing that and helping other young folks make money and learn crucial life skills!