IMPORTANT: I’m warning you to keep reading this post until the very end.
Honestly speaking, I found Nate on Twitter, and has been keeping eyes on him and his work. After a short while I made a cold contact to him and asked him for an interview.
Why? Because I believe his story and experience is so valuable.
He accepted my request and the interview turned out to be even more inspiring than I expected. So valuable. This is a real nugget.
You will miss good stuffs big time if you don’t read it through.
Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
5 Key Learning Points you will learn from this:
- You tell the world what you have to offer and they will respond. Don’t keep it for yourself.
- You do lots of things and pivot. Learn from failures
- You only need loose business plan to get started
- You don’t let your business grow organically, you force it to grow.
- You don’t wast away your valuable life at a job
Who’s Nate Drescher and Why Should You listen to him
Nate is a serial entrepreneurs that own muliple monetized websites.
Before, he was employed by many different types of companies, from a restaurant to a boat on Pacific Coast, to an airport.
He was also an ESL teacher for 10 years in Asia, and that’s how he met his Russian wife.
He literally forced his way through online profitabilities after a long journey.
He’s now living happily with his Russian wife and his son in Canada.
How did you get into internet business and entrepreneurship?
I got into online entrepreneurship out of necessity.
You see, I hate jobs. I don’t hate work (let’s make that distinction clear). I love to work, but for myself.
I hate having a schedule and being told when I can eat or if I’m feeling sick I hate having to basically beg for a day to rest and get better, and then fear getting written up because of it.
My first foray into online business was actually back in 1999, as the web was exploding. I was in college studying Journalism and was working part-time in a restaurant kitchen.
My boss wouldn’t let me leave one night until after 2 am, even though he knew I had an exam in the morning. He didn’t care. Someone had called in sick and he needed bodies to deep fry chicken wings for the bar crowd.
The next day I sat down in the computer lab at my University and put an ad on the student forum, describing how I could help research and write.
I got three clients, one of whom passed me on to his father who owned his own business consultancy.
I quit the restaurant and by the end of the year I was running a content publishing business for local SMEs!
What have you done since then?
My first foray into entrepreneurship ended when the school did, in 2002. I wasn’t wise enough to recognize that I had an awesome, and established, business with paying clients.
I was young and feeling the need for adventure so I set off and traveled the world as an ESL teacher for 10 years. I taught in South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Russia, and Poland before returning home to Canada in 2012.
Then I got a job working on a boat at sea, on Canada’s Pacific coast, and then after suffering an injury at sea, I took a position managing a screening point at Canada’s busiest airport.
What’s your outlook for your current internet business?
When I returned home from overseas I opened a language tutoring business on the side.
It was doing awesome and grew into a second full-time business. The outlook for my business is great.
I sold my language services business to a larger language services firm who wanted to take out their competition (me).
It was becoming hard work and if there’s one thing I can’t stand doing as a business owner it’s managing employees. The liability issues alone were keeping me up at night so it was a relief to sell it.
My content publishing business is thriving and growing, and I am able to contract out freelance writers in other countries and avoid Canada’s very high payroll taxes without breaking any laws.
The power of the internet has created unlimited opportunities for my business.
Why did you want to leave the 9-5?
My last 9-5 gig wasn’t 9-5 at all.
I was a Screening Point Manager at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. This is the largest airport in Canada and the fourth largest in North America. It’s a big, sprawling airport with multiple terminals and millions of passengers every year.
I was responsible for managing all of the Screening Officers, the passengers and the operation of one of the screening points for US-bound flights.
This was an incredibly stressful job, and there were no breaks.
Because I fell under federal jurisdiction and not provincial (basically the same as a state), I wasn’t protected by any provincial labor codes, and my employer took advantage of this.
I didn’t get breaks, I got yelled at and harassed by senior management and passengers alike.
I had to wear a suit and dress shoes and stand for 10-12 hours every day. My feet developed plantar fasciitis and my employer still wouldn’t let me sit down for a break.
I never saw my family. My wife and two-year-old son only got one or two days a week with me and then wouldn’t see me the rest of the week.
Plus, my wife was expecting our second child.
When I started having panic attacks in my car before I went in for each shift, I knew it was time to leave. This was not how I wanted to live my life. I’m a kind, free-spirit relaxed kind of guy and this job was for young bucks with big egos who liked to wear suits and look important.
How did you end up in your niche?
My niche, digital content publishing, started in University but I actually mastered it while teaching overseas.
In 2004, while vacation in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, I was caught up in the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt and nobody around was hurt, either.
I didn’t quite know what was going on and the locals were cool as buttons so I just continued on my vacation. I didn’t call home or anything…for 10 days. My family was freaking out, Foreign Affairs Canada had the embassy looking for me and I was in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper as one of 100 or so Canadians missing in the tsunami. My sister even held a memorial service for me!
When I went off to Russia in 2008, I decided that the best way to let my family back home know what I was doing was to blog about it.
I started a free Blogger blog called “Mission to Moscow” which, within 18 months, was drawing over 10,000 visitors a day, won “Best Canadian Travel Blog 2010”, had 4 companies paying me to put banners over each post and landed me more than a dozen freelance writing gigs, including one with Japan Airlines.
This time I was smart enough to know a good thing when I saw it, so when I closed this free blog down I reopened it, in a sense, as a fully-monetized blog called “Travel Teach & Play“.
What really happened in the first 6 months? How did you manage and launch your business?
This gave me the idea to launch Alymax, my digital content publishing business.
I learned from launching my language services business, and really my first foray into business back in college, to just do it. I don’t spend too much time writing a business plan.
I get my idea down on paper, kind of draw up a loose concept, and then I just go for it.
You won’t make money planning something, but you will if you execute.
Any pitfalls or fears along the way, how did you overcome them?
LOTS! When I quit the airport, the last “job” I’ll ever have, my wife and I immediately lost a whole bunch of income.
I made up some of it by taking a part-time school bus driver gig (I don’t consider it a job. It’s two hours a day and I’m all alone, driving a bus full of happy kids) to supply a basic income, and I work on Alymax the rest of the time.
We had to cancel our cell plans in the middle of a contract, and cut out cable and rely on Netflix only (yay!), and while my toddler and wife eat lots of healthy food, I cut out all my Tim Horton’s coffee, beef jerky and other unnecessary addictions.
I even gave up drinking beer for a while, which was really tough during baseball, football and hockey season.
There was only one way to overcome the sudden drop in income, and that was to make my business grow. I say “make” because I literally grabbed it by the hair and forced it up into profitability.
I attended every free networking event I could in my community and even crashed a couple of business owner meetups (they had no idea I wasn’t on the list).
I hustled online as much as I could and blasted social media with free advertising. By leveraging my blogs with good SEO and constant posts, I was able to attract lots of organic traffic, which led to more customers, which led to more business.
I literally bootstrapped my business into being.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own business now?
Just do it.
Don’t read Fortune or Inc or those other big publications full of “experts” because they’ll all tell you to plan, plan plan and not to drop that job you hate until your “side business” is built up. Forget that.
Life is important and too full of opportunity to waste away at a job, and there’s no such thing as a “side business”.
Your business is your career, and your employer is your “side job”.
If you don’t have the savings to get you through the first few months, pick up a part-time service job like I did. There are a gazillion service jobs out there for anybody to take and you can drop it as soon as you need.
Just start hustling now.
Make a 1-page concept or plan to keep you on track and get out there.
Use social media as a free advertising platform (Facebook and Instagram are amazing for this) and blog as much as you can to drive organic Google traffic to your business.
Do everything for free, and don’t worry about investing until you are actually generating a profit.
What would you do differently if you can go back in time?
I would plan my time better. I’m an organizational disaster and I love hanging out with my children, so I’ll find myself cutting into my hustling time to wrestle with my son or make my baby daughter smile with silly noises.
At first, I couldn’t find a good balance between working for myself and family time, and I would drop one for a few days to do the other.
Now I’m learning, and I use a variety of tools, such as reminders apps on my phone, a bullet journal on my desk and a virtual assistant as a sounding board, to keep organized, but I really wish I had been more disciplined with my time at the start.
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