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This is probably going to be a bit different…
The truth is, I’ve been staring at this blank screen for weeks now trying to tell my story and haven’t found the words.
But recently I heard that when you are struggling to write you should write about why you’re struggling, so here we go.
It would be easy to say that I’m having a hard time because I write very often these days. In fact, the last major piece of writing I did was my law review article that was published over five years ago.
But if I’m honest with myself, I think the issue is that talking about what I do and the career choices I’ve made has always been a little bit…awkward…
Here’s how the convo used to go when I met new people.
Them: “Where did you go to school?”
Me: “Texas A&M University”
Them: “What did you study?”
Me: “I got a law degree.”
Them: “Oh wow! What kind of law do you practice?”
I always dreaded this conversation when I first left the practice of law to be an entrepreneur.
For one, people have a hard time wrapping their mind around the online business world. Hell, even my Mom used to tell me, “I never know how to explain to people what it is that you do.”
People have an even harder time wrapping their mind around why I would give up being a career as an attorney.
I get it, it’s a great profession. I worked hard to get tack that J.D. onto the end of my name. Most people would kill to have a career like that and can’t contemplate walking away from it.
Every time that conversation came up, I got this “look” and felt like I had to justify my decisions to whoever I was speaking too.
So despite all of my success as a business owner, and despite how happy I am with the career decisions I’ve made, when I sat down to write my “story” a lot of these things came up for me.
And it’s probably good they did because I never want to paint this picture that starting a business is all rainbows and unicorn farts. It’s up, it’s down, way up and way down, and sometimes that’s all in the same day.
I also think it’s important you know this little backstory in order to understand what has driven me to get to where I am today.
Every time someone would ask me, “Why would you stop practicing law?” or “When are you gonna get a job?”, I would get pissed off. It created this chip on my shoulder that propelled me forward.
If you ask Bobby, he’ll tell you that I walk around with a chip on my shoulder, whether real or imagined, and let that fuel me.
I like to think of my story as a happy accident. A series of events and decisions that seemed insignificant at the time, but led me to find my life’s work. The work I was truly passionate about.
Unlike Bobby, I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur. I fully intended to practice law for a living. My side businesses were always that…things that I did on the side that I would walk away from one day.
I figured I would do it for a few years, make some extra cash toward my loans, and then shut it down. But that first business kickstarted a series of events that led me to become a stay-at-home dad, quit law practice, and build an online business that completely changed my family’s life.
Growing My Fitness Business
I naively started my first business back in law school as a way to help pay down my substantial student debt. It was an online fitness business, and like most things on this journey, I kind of stumbled into it.
During my first year of law school, I went through a pretty significant weight loss transformation. Going into year two I looked like a totally different person and people at school started asking me for advice on how to get in shape.
So I started helping some of my fellow law students get in shape by designing programs for them. I didn’t charge anything, I was just helping my friends.
But when a fitness website that I was a member of decided to hire coaches and roll out an online coaching program, I saw an opportunity to make some cash.
Up until that point I hadn’t considered starting a business, but my friends that I was helping were getting great results and I figured, “I can do this.” So I applied to be a coach, surprisingly got accepted, and my online fitness business was born.
I immediately went to work designing my coaching program, and more importantly, reading everything I could about marketing.
Now I want to stop for a minute and explain something. I could write a book about this part of my journey, but there is a lot more to this story, so I’m going to give you the bullet points instead.
Here’s what happened next:
The things that I learned while building my fitness business laid the foundation for everything I’ve done since then. I spent nearly as much time studying marketing to grow my business as I did for my classes at law school. Which was a lot.
Because my clients were getting such great results and my sales page was so effective, I had one of the most popular programs on that website I told y’all about. I was filling my coaching programs with groups of 50-100 people every time I launched.
Eventually, the size of my coaching groups started to dwindle as the site got oversaturated with coaches, among other things. I realized that I couldn’t rely on one source of traffic (the website) and I set out to make it on my own.
I started using Facebook ads to fill my coaching programs because I didn’t feel like I had the time for blogging. (What most people do to grow an audience.) I used a combination of paid advertising, Facebook groups, and email marketing to grow both my 1:1 coaching and group membership style programs.
By the time I got ready to start my career as an attorney, I had built myself a nice little business that was pretty easy to manage from a time standpoint. I decided to keep my side hustle for a few more years.
My Short Legal Career
This part of my story is going to be very short, which is appropriate given how quickly I transitioned from being a lawyer to a full-time entrepreneur.
I graduated from the Texas A&M School of Law in 2014, and then the real fun began. And by fun, I mean studying every hour of the day, for months on end, preparing for the Texas Bar Exam.
It’s pretty much a blur. I’m pretty sure I ate enough food to stay alive and slept from time to time. It sucked. I don’t remember much else, except that it definitely sucked.
But I passed! And got sworn in at the capital, which was pretty cool.
I took a job at an Oil Company that allowed me to work from home for all but a few hours each week. It was perfect because I was able to pretty easily balance my job and side hustle at the same time.
Fast forward again.
Shortly after starting my new job, a funny thing happened. Other entrepreneurs started noticing the quick growth of my online business and they wanted help using paid advertising to grow their own businesses.
It was just a few online fitness guys at first. I was spending a couple hours each week creating and managing their ad campaigns for a nice $1,000 per month fee. It was a nice boost to my income, but I didn’t quite yet realize what a huge opportunity I was sitting on.
How One Ad Campaign Increased My Income By $5,000 Overnight
My big break came the first time I ran an ad campaign for a local gym.
I did a commission deal with a guy in the UK that had been introduced to me by a friend. The deal was pretty straight-forward. I managed his advertising campaign, he closed the deals, we split the money.
The campaign was a home run. We spent £40 for 40 leads in 48 hours. In that same 48 hour period, my client closed a few thousand in sales. Needless to say, he was pleased.
What happened next changed my life…
I woke up one morning, grabbed my phone off the dresser, and opened Facebook.
My inbox was flooded with messages.
It turns out that while I was sleeping my client had posted in a Facebook group about the results of our ad campaign. With the six-hour time difference his post had gotten some serious traction and by the time I woke up a bunch of people were wanting to know about my services.
Thus began the marathon of phone calls.
I spent the next six hours or so on the phone with gym owners negotiating deals. By the end of it, I had five brand new clients, each signed to a $1,000 per month contract.
I was still in shock when I called my wife to tell her the news.
This is the first time that I realized that I could make life-changing money as an entrepreneur.
My Totally Unplanned Transition From Lawyer To Stay-At-Home Dad
In April of 2015 my oldest son Cooper was born and I became a Dad.
Pretty much the best thing ever.
I made it all through college, all through law school, without really knowing what I wanted to do for a living. But I’ve always known that I wanted to be a Dad.
So far it’s exceeded my expectations.
One of the biggest perks of my work-from-home job with the oil company, and now being a full-time entrepreneur, is that I’ve been able to stay home with my wife during her maternity leave for both boys. Most Dads don’t get to experience that, and I’m eternally grateful for all the extra time I’ve been able to spend with my boys.
With all that said, being a stay-at-home Dad was never part of my plan.
In fact, about the time that my wife was getting ready to go back to work, I was starting to look for a new job at a big law firm or in the corporate world.
I was getting tired of my current job and I was starting to hate my fitness industry and my first business. I really enjoyed the marketing, the sales, the strategy, and the work of building my business, but I was ready to walk away. Once I landed a new job I was going to shut down my side hustles and the little man was off to daycare.
Then he got sick.
My wife hadn’t even been back to work for a week. He got this fever and it kept getting worse. Wouldn’t go away. Next thing you know we are rushing to the hospital. They had the little guy hooked up to these tubes and machines.
He had some sort of infection or virus or something.
We were there for a week.
Coop fully recovered and in the three years since then, he’s only been sick once. He’s as healthy as can be. But that scare changed things.
When we brought him home and I stopped looking for a new job.
The doctors told us that putting Cooper in daycare would put him at a greater risk of getting sick again. My wife and I didn’t even have to talk about it. We had a wordless understanding. I was going to keep my job and stay home with our son.
With that decision to become a stay-at-home dad, I also changed my mind about dropping my side hustles. Instead, I decided to go all-in with my businesses and take them to the next level.
There came a time where a full-time job, two side businesses, and being a stay-at-home was just too much.
At that point, I was earning more from my side businesses than I was from my real job. More importantly, I had finally realized that I was more passionate about being an entrepreneur than I was about the practice of law.
So I quit.
I officially became a full-time entrepreneur and stay-at-home Dad.
The Year Of The Digital Marketing Agency
It wasn’t too many months after I quit my job that I made the decision to shut down my fitness business as well.
My heart just wasn’t in it, and I had a feeling in my gut that if I was able to focus on my marketing business full time that it would explode.
That’s exactly what happened.
Once I was able to focus all of my attention on a single business it just took off. It seemed like my client roster doubled overnight.
So going into 2017, I set my sights on a single goal – train a team and build a real digital marketing agency.
I hired the first member of my team early in the year and we went to work.
We created systems and documented everything we did inside the agency. We optimized our processes from point of sale to service delivery.
As our client roster grew, so did our team. By the end of the year, I would have two full-time employees, an ad specialist, and a copywriter on staff.
I was making more money than I ever could as an attorney, was working from home while taking care of son (with another on the way), and my team was strong enough that I was finally starting to cut back on the hours and find a better work/life balance.
Then at the end of November, I hopped on the phone with an old buddy of mine…
The Off-Hand Comment That Led To Laptop Empires
Bobby and I went to high school together, but we didn’t really keep in touch after we went off to college. It wasn’t until the last year or so that we started talking again.
We reconnected because we had this crazy thing in common – we had both started online businesses, were both doing really well and didn’t know anyone else from “in real life” that was doing what we were doing.
Neither of us could have predicted that our phone call would lead to us starting a business together. I was just answering some questions about Facebook Ads for a project Bobby was working on, and an off-hand comment I made at the end of the call sparked an idea.
I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like…
“Bobby, your audience is always looking for ways to make a little extra money on the side and help pay down their debt faster. I bet they would love it if you taught them how to make an extra $1,000-2,000 per month running Facebook ads.”
I didn’t really get the impression that Bobby liked the idea all that much, so when we hung up I totally forgot about it.
But a few weeks later he hit me up and said, “I can’t stop thinking about your idea. Do you want to make this course with me?”
So we did, and it’s been an incredible success.
The course was such a hit, and we’ve had so much fun, that we decided to start Laptop Empires together, and here we are.
It’s been a wild ride, and we have BIG plans, but you will just have to follow along and find out what we have in store for you.
In the meantime, read more about the Laptop Empire story here.
Catch y’all soon.
(shhh this is Bobby – I chose the featured image for this post because this is totally how Mike would stand after dominating a random mountain)