On Friday, At Home With Technology celebrated its 13th anniversary. I didn’t commemorate the milestone on the day, because I was “too busy.” And over the weekend, I got to reflect on just how lucky I am to be so busy.
For any new company to last longer than a decade is a minor miracle; but to make it through these particular last 13 years? A feat unto itself! So let me take a moment to acknowledge how lucky I’ve been to have the right people in my life, at just the right times.
When At Home With Technology launched in 2005, I had two resources at my disposal: my friends and family, and the local Chamber of Commerce–in my case, the Chamber of Hollywood, CA. Since Hollywood is the capital city of “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” it’s not lost on me that the first clients I got came from friends’ referrals and face-to-face networking.
The very first new* clients I got in February 2005 were a small film production company some of my friends from college were making movies with. I still remember how nervous I was to be charging somebody for work I used to do for free–for fun— in college. I ended up working many times over the years for that company; and for its executives, both in the office and at their homes. Ironically, it was a career in film that motivated my move out to Los Angeles in the first place… but it wasn’t long before I decided my skills were better served in the tech sector.
Another friend introduced me to a client of hers, a famous actress. I got to help her out several times, doing my best not to be starstruck. There’s nothing more humanizing than seeing that even celebrities can have problems with their technology!
My friends continue to recommend me–and even hire me, themselves, from time to time. I’m lucky they were there when I was just getting At Home With Tech started, and that they felt confident vouching for my skills. There’s an ugly stereotype about “computer guys” being shut-in basement dwellers, antisocial misanthropes, and obnoxious trolls. What I’m saying is, thank you, friends, for being there for me despite all that.
Not able to rely entirely on referrals from friends, the other avenue I pursued was through the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. There, I met representatives from a newly-forming business networking group. It was kismet that this group would be starting at exactly the same time as my company, so I joined up right away. The business contacts and colleagues I would make helped me to launch fully during those critical early years.
In that group, I met a marketing consultant who helped me launch my very first direct mail campaign. I have clients to this day that I can trace back, via word-of-mouth referral, to that first campaign. Believe it or not, that campaign’s the only paid advertising I’ve ever done after all these years.
I’ve joined several networking groups over the years, and I still believe that word-of-mouth referrals have been the best method for me to get new business. But I wouldn’t have had the confidence necessary to promote myself today, if it hadn’t been for that successful first foray into networking all those years ago.
Finally, I want to thank my loudest, most vigorous cheerleaders: my parents, and my girlfriend Jazmyn. As of this writing, Jazmyn’s only been on “Team At Home With Tech” for a little over three years; but she’s been such an enthusiastic motivator, I’m pretty sure her energy has traveled back in time to help me through the lean years. If you met her, you’d agree.
Of course, my parents were there on Day One, providing emotional and material support; as well as the benefit of their years of experience as self-employed businesspeople in their own right. There were plenty of times I was tempted to give up, and to go punch a clock at The Apple Store or some other “safe” job. And my loving folks never pushed me in either direction, trusting that I would be able to stick it out–but if I weren’t, they still would have been proud of me, nonetheless. You can’t get luckier than to have parents like that.
*I called that film production company my first “new” clients. That’s because my mother was my very first paying customer, and it was her idea for me to start At Home With Technology (including “focus-grouping” the name). As “beta testers” go, I couldn’t ask for better.
I’m lucky that I’ve been able to grow and maintain At Home With Technology for 13 years. I’m lucky and grateful for the clients I’ve had over the years; from the loyal long-timers, to the new ones who may have just discovered me via the Apple Consultants Network or other referrals. And I’m beyond lucky for the friends and family in my life. You’ve been there to encourage me as my company has grown–and even when it wasn’t growing as fast as I would like!
Next year, I may be “too busy” again to acknowledge At Home With Tech‘s 14th anniversary. But perhaps by then, I may have a Social Media Manager (if not an entire team) to commemorate it on my behalf! And if I do–and even if I don’t–please know that this continues to be a labor of love, and of luck. ◼︎