When I was ten years old, my first year as a Boy Scout after crossing over from Cub Scouts, I joined the other boys in my troop in our annual fundraiser selling Entertainment and Gold C coupon books. I was the top seller in the troop that year, and several to follow.
The Birth of an Entrepreneur
Unlike their cookie cousins sold by the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts gave us quite an incentive to sell the local annual coupon books. I split the bounty with my troop 50/50, and was able to use the money to pay for my membership dues, camping trips, ski weekends, and other troop activities.
While my parents never made me pay a cent for my involvement in scouting, it felt good to cover the cost of my participation in fun events, which ranged from $10 for a day trip to $200 for a week at the camp I would later join as a staff member.
I always felt a competitive edge when selling. I would load up the books in my wagon and walk the neighborhood in uniform pitching the books to my neighbors door to door. When it was selling season, getting the top spot in the troop was all I wanted to do.
My First Product
Jump forward a few years to middle school. As a Jewish kid with mostly Jewish friends, I didn’t know what WWJD stood for when people started wearing those skinny bracelets, but it didn’t take me long to notice a trend and an opportunity.
Living in the Rocky Mountains and possessing the maturity of a South Park fan, I knew that I didn’t care what Jesus would do, but I thought that a reminder to “never eat yellow snow” was both practical and hilarious.
I didn’t have the cash on hand at the ripe age of 13 to manufacture bracelets, but the idea stuck with me until I did have the few hundred dollars I needed to launch Never Eat Yellow Snow bracelets. Like President Abraham Lincoln, my first venture was a flop.
I did sell enough bracelets to almost cover my investment, but it was far from a profit or a successful venture. It taught me valuable lessons on starting on ideas in a timely manner, sourcing a product, and what people are actually willing to pay for something you find hilarious.
From Hobby to $1
While my pile of NEYS bracelets was getting dusty at home, I was never deterred from new projects of ideas.
Sitting in that hot, non-air-conditioned office all afternoon running the office one summer at camp, I spent down time reading blog posts around the web on global politics, but found that even, credible coverage of Israel was sparse compared to the many people who vocally share negative, often false, stories about the Jewish state.
What began as ericspoliticalandeconomicinsight.blogspot.com became The Israel Situation, a popular blog with multiple authors featuring discussions on life, politics, and culture in Israel and the Middle East.
As the site’s traffic began to grow, I added AdSense advertising to the site. One click at a time, I slowly grew my balance to $1. It took year to reach my first payout, but that little thought of dollar was part of a chain that led you to this site today.
normal person blogger, blogs became my thing. Whenever I had a clever idea, I started a new blog. Most of those are long removed from the internet, but some better received ideas like Wikibias and Beer Is Sexy remain, with a trickle of new content when I’m in the mood.
The blog that changed my life more definitively, however, was Narrow Bridge Finance. Born in 2008 shortly after I left a job working in a bank, I created Narrow Bridge Adventures, another blogspot blog, to share what I learned and knew about finance and banking from both a finance education and time working as a bank manager.
That blog went a different direction than The Israel Situation. While the Israel Situation earned around 2 cents a click, people wanted to advertise on Narrow Bridge, they were willing to pay me money to put content on the site.
It was through that site that I connected with other finance bloggers, many of whom I now proudly and happily call my friends. It was through that site that I visited the first annual Financial Blogger Conference in Chicago and changed my site from a hobby that earned money into a business that covered my mortgage payments. It was that site that led to a five figure online annual income and made me realize the full potential I had as an entrepreneur.
Diversified Income Sources
One thing that you will see finance bloggers write about again and again is diversifying your income sources. As someone who not only shares great advice, but also follows it, I took steps to diversify my income.
As someone who always does my own IT work, I learned quite a bit about HTML, CSS, and PHP, the core programing languages of WordPress and nearly all websites today. That led to Eric Rosenberg Design, where I’ve been able to help awesome people build incredible websites to help their businesses and blogs grow and flourish.
It was also in the same vein that I hatched Denver Flash Mob, the premier flash mob planning company in Colorado. While I am no longer living in Denver, I am still helping plan awesome events there with the help of an awesome local manager.
All in, my blogs, web design, and flash mob businesses brought in enough last year to cover my entire year’s housing costs.
Where from Here?
As you can tell, I have that entrepreneurial itch. I love starting new projects and watching them grow. I can tell you without a doubt that I will always be working on some project, trying to grow another, and have several ideas for more in the back of my mind.
I am thrilled to have a fiancé that supports me, friends that encourage me, and a family that is proud of what I have done outside of my full-time day job.
Have you ever followed an entrepreneurial dream? Do you have one that you have yet to begin? What has made you excited, and what has held you back from following the dream? Please share in the comments.
Photo by stevendepolo / flickr