Lost My Job, Started a Company

Bryan Heathman's Path from Employee to Entrepreneur

Bryan Heathman lost his job but had already been working on a Plan B to start a company of his own. Today, he is the founder of Made for Success, an audio recordings company. He's also written a book that helps other entrepreneurs to make the most of their ecommerce websites.

If you think you may lose your job and are considering starting a business, don't wait to lose your job before you start working on starting a company of your own.

In this crazy world of employment, a good job can be outsourced at a moment's notice.

That's what happened to Bryan Heath's position. But he's bounced back with a thriving startup and an excellent book. Here's his story of his transition from employee to employer and entrepreneur.

Bryan, what type of firm were you working at when you were let go? Was it part of a downsizing or was there some other reason given by them? How long had you been there?

I was at a manufacturing company supplying the Photographic Industry with high-speed digital printers. The photo business has been in a prolonged downturn over the previous 8 years, with 25% annual declines in volumes. My title was VP of Sales & Marketing and my job was outsourced for financial reasons. I was with the firm for 3.5 years.

Well, sounds like that unfortunate event worked out for the best. You've got your own company now, right? What is it and what do you do there?

I have been working on a start-up for the last 18 months. The company is called Made for Success, and we are based in Seattle, Washington. We license and distribute audio recordings from prominent professional speakers including NFL quarterbacks, Navy Seals, fighter pilots, authors and other high achieving millionaires.

I run the company, with the help of 5 part-time contractors.

We have 3 revenue streams: 1) Physical retail distribution into mass merchants like Costco and Barnes & Noble. We have licensed certain titles to a Publisher, who manufactures these retail products in exchange for back-end royalties; 2) Digital distribution network of audio downloads in the form of MP3 audios. We currently have our products in catalogs representing 85% of all spoken-word online retailers in North America, including distribution in the UK, Germany, Japan and Australia; 3) Our direct-to-consumer website where consumers can subscribe to receive 4 audios/month for a $20 monthly subscription

Working from home has given me the flexibility to write a book and start a consulting practice, helping companies build profitable ecommerce websites. The book is called "Conversion Marketing" and is about how to convert website visitors into buyers.

Wow. You've been busy. So, why did you decide to be an entrepreneur instead of just looking for another job?

I have a passion for taking ideas and turning them into profitable companies. I have a high tolerance for risk, combined with the skills associated with integrating small companies into large companies.

Did you buy a business or start a business from scratch? Why did you do one instead of the other? Which do you think is the best approach?

Starting a business from scratch is hard and expensive. However, I have now done this twice versus buying a business.

I am quite skilled in taking new ideas and building them, which is why I prefer this approach. However, starting a business is not an approach for the faint-of-heart, as there are many pitfalls associated with doing start-ups.

How did you decide what kind of business to go into?

A friend of mine introduced me to the Personal Development industry. After researching the marketplace for 6 months, I saw an opportunity for content aggregation that was being ignored by traditional publishers.

After seeing the breakaway success of several experts and authors in this arena, I decided to venture forward leveraging my expertise in the form of a book and consulting practice.

Is being an entrepreneur at all similar to working as an employee? What are some of the biggest differences you've noticed? What do you miss?

One challenge in starting a company is the isolation associated with not being in an office environment.

I find myself joining local associations, just to get out of my home office and interact with others. I also regularly network with other like-minded people at the local coffee shops near my home office.

Any advice you'd care to share with others who are leaving the life of working for somebody else to start a business of their own?

The hard reality of starting a business is that they typically take two years before generating positive cash flow, if you are really good.

Realistically, going from a salaried position to a start-up requires a cash cushion to cover monthly living expenses. There are also non-tangible challenges such as isolation, getting stuck, time-wasters in a home office that are not present in an office, etc.

That's very true. Hey listen, we appreciate your time for this, and sounds like a great business you've created and a great book. We will start recommending both of them to people we know and folks who visit our website for entrepreneurs.

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