Today’s Featured Gentleman is one of my best friends, Nate Robinson. Not to be confused with former NBA player and slam dunk champion Nate Robinson, Nate is a 27 year old that founded and owns multiple businesses.
Nate grew up in New Jersey with his 2 brothers and 2 sisters, and has been a life-long athlete, playing soccer, wrestling, and other sports. Nowadays, Nate is happily married to an amazing wife who, in his words, supports him in all of his crazy ideas.
Nate is a fitness fanatic as well, and has been a huge advocate of calisthenics as a great, natural way of training for the past few years. You can generally find him busting out handstands, front levers, and other calisthenic movements whenever he can.
While I’ve discussed business with Nate plenty of times, and currently work with Nate on a few of his businesses, I wanted to take the opportunity to get him to go into further detail about the process of starting one’s own business and becoming a successful business owner. Let’s dive into the interview.
When did you start your own business?
Nate: I started my first business when I was 18. It was my dream to start a personal training company. I did it, and it was successful, but to me it wasn’t enough. I was always pretty good at computers and technology and heard about people making money doing affiliate marketing.
I would pretty much rank a website on Google for a certain keyword, such as “Buy Ipad” and if anyone clicked on my link and bought an Ipad I would get a commission. I did fairly well with this but, like the personal training, I wanted more.
I heard about people creating websites for business owners. Having developed a ton of websites for affiliate marketing purposes, it seemed like a no brainer. My biggest hurdle to overcome was being taken seriously. Almost every business meeting I went to they mentioned my age and I immediately lost credibility. So I started targeting big cities where I wouldn’t’ have to meet face to face. I never told anyone how old I was. Most probably thought I was in my 40’s.
After awhile I built up a solid client base and portfolio. By doing this I would let my work do the talking if anyone questioned my age.
When did you realize that working for yourself was the best route to take?
Pretty much immediately. I never had plans to work for someone else. It never made sense to me. Even if you worked really hard you might get a small raise here and there, or maybe a promotion. But the amount of work you put in didn’t really dictate how much you earned. That would infuriate me.
I like how, being self employed, what I get is what I put in. Plus, I choose my own hours. I work a lot, but if I decide I want to just watch a movie or go to the beach I certainly have the freedom to do so.
I think I have a different mindset than most and it has helped me achieve great things so far.
How many businesses do you own today and what are they?
I own a handful now. I would rather not mention them all, but a newer one I am working on is Elev8 OPT, which is an online personal training service site. The site is for those that may not have the time or money for constant in-person training sessions, or may not be able to head to the gym every day with their schedule. Elev8 OPT provides online personal training and accountability to maximize workouts and help individuals reach fitness goals.
Most of my businesses involve digital marketing or fitness, as they are both topics I am passionate about. I also dabble in Cryptocurrency. I foresee 2018 being an interesting year for that. Basically, if I see some opportunity for money to be made, I pounce on it.
What advice would you give to people looking to start their own business, or venture away from the corporate world?
It’s not easy. You will probably fail. Seriously.
Not everyone is cut out to run a company. Stats get thrown around but in general 30% percent of business fail their first year. 50% fail after 5 years and around 70% after 10 years. On top of this, a lot of the ones that don’t technically fail are struggling and barely pulling in enough money. Still want to start a company?
However, with that said, there are people in my opinion that are working for a company and wasting their talent. A lot of them are just afraid to take the leap.
Here is what I would say to do. Start a business on the side and work during the morning and at night at it. Once you start making a comparable amount of money to your current salary, or enough to live off of, then the only thing stopping you from progressing is your job. At that point, quit and go all out with your new business!
Did you experience difficulties along the way?
My first 2 years with digital marketing were a bit of a struggle. I didn’t make a whole lot. I tried a lot of different techniques until it started to click. In my defense I was a full time college student. I would even create websites during class. Once I graduated and went full time things really took off. I was actually considering dropping out of college my last year and a half because I started to do well and felt I was wasting money. But I decided to just finish it up.
I would not recommend just cold turkey quitting your job with just a business idea and nothing solid in place.
Any other thoughts on making it as an entrepreneur?
Having a business, or businesses, is tough work, but it is extremely rewarding. I really do hate the phrase “money can’t buy you happiness.” That was probably written by someone who was jealous of wealthier people around him, I don’t know. The way I view money is it gives you the ability to do the things you love. Which will in turn make you happy. Do you like traveling the world? Does that make you happy? Well guess what? You need money for that. And the more you have, the easier it is for you to do those things.
I believe money can help buy you time as well. Our time is limited on this earth and most people spend it slaving away at a job they hate for 40+ years so they can retire in the golden years with their 401k! Absurd.
You are wasting some of the best years of your life. What are you going to do with that money if you are old and unable to do the things you love now?
I can go on and on with stuff like this. I tend to ramble. I’ve actually considered a Podcast or something like that to talk about things like this. Who knows. I guess the bottom line is that starting a company can be risky, but it can also be an amazing life changing thing if you put the work in and are smart about it. You have to hustle.
The Entrepreneur Mentality
Nate mentioned that he has “a different mindset than most”, which has helped him to become the young, successful business owner that he is today. I can remember back when we were in our early 20s and Nate’s businesses started to take off. However, I remember the countless hours Nate put in to get the business to take off. Working on weekends and long into the nights were a regular occurrence in order to ensure that his businesses became successful.
Now, like Nate said, relaxing for a day or taking a trip to the beach without worrying about putting his businesses in jeopardy is something he is able to do without a second thought. Are there still long days and some weekend work? Sure, but where Nate is now is completely different from where he was years ago. That is a testament to his hard work and business savvy, always capitalizing on opportunities.
Nate is a great example of an Influential Gentleman, and I’m proud to call him a friend. Nate balances a great work ethic and successful business life with a successful home life with his wife, and exhilarating travel and leisure. I look forward to continuing to work with Nate, as I continue to learn more and more about breaking away from the norm and seizing opportunity. And with plenty of discussions in the business world today, we’ll be sure to have Nate back in the blog to discuss future issues.