We hear a lot about twenty-something wonder kids creating the latest internet success story. There are also some who strike out on their own in smaller (and arguably more impressive) ways.
John Connors of Milwaukee, WI is 25. He started his direct marketing company, Campaign Now, after finishing college and his company has been revenue positive since year one. Three years after graduation he now employs 25 people, five of whom are full time. Unlike his internet startup peers, John has no worries about scaling, being replaced by a board, or being diluted by investors. This is because John saw an underserved niche in a very big market and he jumped in to address it.
How did he do this? John took the inspiration that comes from being part of a family of entrepreneurs whose timber mill business goes back two generations. John’s path began by volunteering for Scott Walker’s gubernatorial race—great training for almost any job in his estimation. That led to internships with other political campaigns, non- profits and small businesses in the direct marketing field. Internships are something he believes to be so critical in this job market that he feels if you haven’t interned by sophomore year of college it is almost too late for immediate career potential. Impressed by his work, various organizations and companies hired him as a contractor, giving him occasion to see market opportunities.
Upon graduating he opened his own direct marketing firm bringing laser focus to the nonprofit sector which, among other advantages, was an underserved market for direct marketing services and subject to less regulation than for-profit companies.
Today he is debt free, self supporting, contributing to the economy by adding real jobs and has a very clear plan for growth over the next five years.
Pretty impressive. John laddered his way to every opportunity and along the way he kept his eyes open for market needs which he then used to his own advantage. Whether a current student or unemployed, find a way to be involved in a real organization and while there, look for customers whose needs are not being met, market dynamics that are changing or new technologies that could improve efficiencies. Who knows, it might just be the business idea you and the American economy need.