How to Start a Kick-ass Marketing Company While Skiing Out West for 6 Months : Under30CEO How to Start a Kick-ass Marketing Company While Skiing Out West for 6 Months : Under30CEO
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How to Start a Kick-ass Marketing Company While Skiing Out West for 6 Months

| August 12, 2010 | 7 Comments

skiingStarting any company is tough, but starting a company while living at the base of the gondola in Breckenridge, Colorado makes it near impossible. However this is exactly what happened when Under30CEO co-founder Matt Wilson decided that it was time to start a digital marketing firm even though he was in the middle of the rocky mountains spending his days skiing fresh powder.

This was about 9 months ago when the first ideas for Shadow Concepts were being tossed around the Under30CEO offices. At the same time Matt was seeing the opportunity he had always dreamed of to go out and live at a ski resort as a ski bum for a winter. These kinds of dreams are the reason he became an entrepreneur. No one could hold him back and it was 100% up to him.  Needless to say he went for it.

The Under30CEO team had realized that they had created something special online and were now being asked by many about social tools, community and creating an online presence for a brand.  It was the perfect opportunity and at the time even seemed easy as they already had people asking them about these things. So a hurdle of 1500 miles seemed like something they could overcome. Well nothing goes as planned and like everything lessons are learned along the way. Here is what Matt learned about starting a company and being thousands of miles away from his home and business partners.

1. Take it slow

You don’t have to dive into things headfirst and never look back. Matt spent his days skiing and his nights working on small client projects like training while developing future plans on how to grow. This not only fit the schedule but built credibility, experience and case studies before going after larger accounts.  This past winter was all about lifestyle design for Wilson.

2. Sacrifice

We mean lots of it! Skiing all day sounds great but don’t expect to go to the party at night.  And don’t expect to not get harassed by all your ski buddies going out for apres-ski dollar drafts. You have to buckle down and give something up. But don’t worry hopefully your day of running a company and skiing in some great conditions is exciting enough. And please, Wilson insists if you are going to do this, don’t be the guy on your Blackberry while riding the lift.

3. Network

You may be skiing all day but don’t forget to network with every person you come across. Just think what those people do who are staying at the suite in the resort or the parents who drop their kids off at ski school in the Range Rover. What about the full time staff at the resort who know the big time clients that roll through? You never know who you might end up talking to so make it a point to put yourself out there to everyone. Wilson also mentioned something about “snow bunnies”, but we are going to leave that part out…

4. Don’t piss off the business partner

If you have a business partner who is back at home working away day and night on the company you don’t want to piss him/her off. They won’t care if your off living a dream by being a ski bum for a winter because that is why were creating this lifestyle in the first place. But make sure to show them your working, building and being responsive to everything each day. They know you might be a little behind but don’t disappear for a week with no contact.

5. Bend the rules

Don’t use that sick day because you are hungover from a crazy party or exhausted from a huge day of skiing. Save that sick day for when you have a huge sales call or a speaking gig at the local college or chamber of commerce. Remember your in a whole different part of the country and this is the best chance you have to break into that market right now. And if your calling in sick it better be because your taking a local business owner out to lunch to sign a contract.

6. Don’t crash

Look it is OK to go out and have fun and push the limits. But use your head when there are backcountry avalanche warnings until your business has more of a foundation. At this point everything is riding on you and if you end up out of commission you not only will lose your clients but will be set way back when you head back home after the winter. Oh, and this will also piss off the business partner from lesson 4…

Check out the end result 9 months later

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Category: Startup Advice

  • Roy_Roca


  • Roy_Roca

    (Excuse the first post…)
    As an aspiring entrepreneur I’ve had a lot of ideas that have either failed or never made it off of the ground. This site has given me the tools to make it past the hurdles and is a great resource for any questions I may have.

    The problem I am having right now is #4 on the list “Don’t Piss off the Business Partner”. What if your business partners piss you off? I’ve considered just finding new partners or just going ahead on my own but loyalty is something that I really value and just can’t do it. I live this stuff because my goal is to drop the 9-5 and begin generating my own income. The problem is that we’ve yet to find a niche and the times that we have we’ve sat on the project for too long to where the excitement for the idea faded or realized someone had beaten us to the punch. So I am constantly researching everything under the sun learning about different markets and industries to be prepared for when that time comes. My partners don’t! They just sit idle and wait for me to come up with the ideas and make the moves. I’m beginning to consider them “free-riders” who will reap the benefit without paying the fare. They say two heads a better than one, well it’s three of us I feel we should’ve taken over the world by now or at least have more to show than an LLC. & DBA.

    Any thoughts on how to genuinely motivate them.

  • @torbjornrive

    Starting a company is easy, guys. You can do it online. You fill in a form. Register a name. And, bingo – you have a company.

    Roy I think you need to consider #s 1 and 3 again. Instead of thinking about what idea, and searching for that idea that will get you going you have to get going on why you should be in business. What do you have to offer as a person? What do you have to offer the business world?

    Forget your so-called partners. Take the time alone, then network to find like-minded people. Screw those who slow down your preparation. If they can't even help you to the execution stage then what good will they be when you get there.

  • Roy_Roca

    Thanks for the response. You are right about taking more time with #1 & 3 because I’ve had better conversations at bars just listening to other people’s ventures and giving them feedback and feeding them potential ideas for their projects while I ponder mine. I love silly clichés and the one that comes to mind right now is; “You’re only as good as your weakest link” I have to give it more thought while I continue networking and preparing myself on whether to cut the chain and continue on my own or find their talents and skills and engage them through their. Because I just figure I’m good at researching and coming up with random ideas maybe one of them is good with numbers and that’s how the relationship will work. But in the mean time I will take a step back and reflect on what I have to offer and figure out the real reason why I want to be in business opposed to only the monetary benefits.

    Thanks again.

  • @torbjornrive

    You got it man. The best thing you can do is first brainstorm on why and how you fit in. And you're right, your partners and friends may have more to offer than deadweight – you may have to have more honest conversation and brainstorming to find out.

    Lucky for me I remain an idiot. Good luck!

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Roy, I think you should think very very seriously about who you go into business with. It's one of the most important decisions of your life. Probably only second to the choice of whom to marry.

    I was lucky enough to find someone who shared the same values. We started Under30CEO so that we could “Live the Dream”. To me that was going and skiing my ass off, while working hard at night to try to grow my business. I can't think of anything cooler. When we spun off the digital marketing company we said you know what–business is a means to an end–the end goal being to have a life that we really want to live.

    Anyway, every young entrepreneur needs to find someone who is as passionate about the business as you are. It'll be a tough decision and could easily ruin friendships, but you might need to cut them out.

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