I have been asked multiple times by others this same question I got on Saturday night so I decided rather than just respond via email I would share the question and my response.

Hey Stu, what’s going on?  So I’ve been working in the family real estate business for a few years now and I’m starting to look for something else to do.  I’ve always been interested in tech or doing stuff online and, remembering that you founded a SEO company a few years ago, I thought I would ask you a few questions if you don’t mind.

I’m considering starting an web marketing company, or social media marketing company or something along those lines.  Is there much money to be made in that?

Short answer “yes.”

I’d obviously try to niche down (like how you were primarily doing SEO for dentists, I believe).

Yep. In the beginning of Get Found First, I was trying to just do PPC and local SEO for dentists.

Ya I guess the big question is, can this be a viable, self-sustaining business that would could grow to generate an impressive income?

Can it be? Yes. Will it be? Maybe. What do you define as impressive?

Or would it mostly be freelance work where I would always be chasing business and I could expect to make like $50-75,000/year?

So, at this point I have to assume that $75,000 isn’t a lot to you. Okay. Cool. You have hopes of being a 6-figure income. That is possible with an online marketing business. Obviously, if you can help a company make millions through their online marketing efforts, they will be willing to pay you a six figure income for the work.

If you could take a couple of minutes and give me your thoughts that would be awesome!  I’m 30 years old and still have no idea what I want to do when I grow up, so any information I can get from someone who has been there is much appreciated.Thanks again, {name omitted}

Here are the next “couple of minutes of my response,”

Having interest in online marketing is not enough of a reason to start a business doing it.  There are fairly low barriers to entry and you definitely could, but people that want to hire you to do their SEO work want a guy with years of experience in 2013.  The ones that don’t care if you have experience are very naive, usually awfully difficult to please, and don’t pay enough to even hit the $50k/year mark.

If you were to go for it, taking the niche approach is not a bad idea, especially if you have connections in that vertical.  The only way for businesses to succeed that go after a niche is to do volume. You have to pick up lots of clients.  That is what I found with dentists.  They wanted my work for so cheap, that the mark up on my employees time was very low. The only way to win was to scale and get hundreds of dentists. Unfortunately, after I had helped about 100 dentists I realized it was so much work for so little pay. Luckily, at that point I had years of experience, and picking up clients that were not dentists and had a lot more money got a lot easier.

Okay, this has taken a lot more than a couple minutes, but I am very passionate about this stuff and want to help you.

Here are a few more things to consider:

Do you like service-based business?

Can you bend over backwards for people that are really hard to please?

Do you have a few clients to get started?

Have you considered finding an expert that is just getting started and helping him on the sales and business side so he can provide a higher quality service in exchange for some equity?

SEO and social media companies are a dime a dozen. There are a lot more $50k/year types than there are six figure income types.

Are you willing to go work for another company and learn from working with them first?

Products are worth more. Companies that have products (not just a service) usually sell for a lot more.

Have I talked you out of it yet? I HATE TELLING AN ENTREPRENEUR THAT HE/SHE CAN’T DO SOMETHING. The fact is, all that does for true entrepreneurs is drive them to prove me wrong and make it happen.

I guess in the end, my off the cuff answer would be, “No. Our industry is loaded with guys like you and making it go will be way harder than other business opportunities that will come your way.”

But, I am of the abundance mentality. I know that there is always more work than there are people to do it, and that if you want it bad enough, you can find a way.

The great Walt Disney was full of good quotes. I like this one a lot:

Somehow I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.

And, here is a song lyrics from one of my favorite country music artists, Tim McGraw:

tim mcgraw

Image from GACTV.com

People always ask me
“Son what does it take
To reach out and touch your dreams?”
To them I always say

Are you hungry?
Are you thirsty?
Is it a fire that burns you up inside?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
With that one thing on your mind?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You’ve got to lay it all out on the line

I get to make my living
Doing what I love
Every night I give my heart and soul
Sometimes that ain’t enough
But brother, if you’re like me
Looking down that road
Be careful of that wild wind, son
Sometimes it don’t let go

Can you feel it?
Can you taste it?
Can you hear it knocking at your door?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
With that one thing on your mind?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You’ve got to lay it all out on the line

There’s always a price you pay no matter what you do
If you’re gonna climb that mountain to the top
It always comes down to

How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
With that one thing on your mind?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You’ve got to lay it all out on the line”

Hear the song on Youtube.

Yes, if you are crazy enough. No if you are not. And, it is okay if you are not because there are so many other entrepreneurial opportunities out there.

So there is my answer. As confusing and sporadic as it may be.

Do you have any other advice for my friend? Be opinionated and leave a bold comment for my friend. Tell him why you agree or disagree with my thoughts.