Looking for stories about success? You’ve come to the right place.
Rich Christiansen has started 33 companies since becoming an entrepreneur Several have failed, others have succeeded wildly, and there have been some mediocre performers. Of course, the whole process has been a learning experience and has given Rich many stories about success to share with others. He’s learned to fail efficiently. He’s learned to succeed in a way they don’t teach you in business school.
Rich put it all together and called it The Zig Zag Principle. This process really works. It’s a sure way to make your own stories about success. Here are Rich’s stories.
I was an executive, and for a long time I loved it. Among my jobs, I worked as a product line manager with Novell, I was general manager of the U.S. Operations for Mitsubishi Electric, and general manger, web services, for About.com. Then one day I realized that the corporate world and I didn’t quite mesh. I was itching to get out on my own. And so I bolted. I began building companies. Along the way I discovered The Zig Zag Principle. Now I enjoy sharing the lessons, tools, and stories about success and failure with others.
Although I’ve started 33 businesses and although I have many stories about success, there are a few things I haven’t done. I haven’t built a $15-$25 million-per-year company. I admit, I’m not willing to make the personal sacrifice in time and family for that either.
My real passion is in working with little teams; as soon as I get to 15 people, I think it’s time to sell. That’s my magic number: 15. With that number, I can be aware of everyone’s needs. After that, politics start entering the scene, and you lose something.
That being said, here’s a look at some of the companies I founded (my personal stories about success) and what I did with each company.
EggNesters — an online lead generator for the mortgage industry. It was a success, and I exited it. I timed that exit perfectly. It wasn’t a big cash-out business, but I made money. I entered the market at the perfect time, when mortgages were heating up, and I exited it when things began to look a little iffy. I don’t know if it was raw luck or subtle left-brain smarts, but I got out of that at the right time.
Tornado Solutions — a web publisher on specialty topics; I sold out to my partners at the same time as Know More Media. It was a cash cow, and I did the right thing to exit this company. But just in time. Here’s actually one of my weak points: I tend to hold on to things too long. For all the many companies I’ve created, it’s crazy how many I’ve done that with.
Know More Media — a business blogging network. This company lasted a year. It was a good business. But, it ended in an ugly partnership meltdown. The New York Times was on the verge of buying it, but my partners wanted to grow it bigger. We should have sold it.
Cyclone Trading Company — a corporate event supplier and international trading company. We sold the company after 7 years. This was another good exit. It was actually a double-dip, because I got the company back. We sold it in about 2007, and were paid well, and we received a monthly fee for the company. But the buyer eventually stopped making payments, and because of a clause in our agreement, the company came back to me. We’re in that business now, and we easily do $4-$5 million a year.
Everest Web Solutions, a search engine optimization and engineering resource for several large organizations, including Warner Music and The New York Times, among others. We founded this company with $5,000 — this was a company we built to test the concepts that I was writing about (with several colleagues) in Bootstrap Business. We merged this with Interactive Acquisition to form CastleWave. This was a nice exit merger, a mashup, a doubling down, actually.
CastleWave LLC — this technology company, specializing in strategic web consulting, search engine optimization, technology development outsourcing and high purpose link-building, was a success from day one, and proved the sound principles of Bootstrap Business — in which we took $5,000 and created a multimillion-dollar business within a year. Here is a company I sold to prove that I could do it! To prove that in the worst downmarket since the Great Depression, you could create value and sell a company. This was another well-timed exit, however; we did well.
I’m also the owner and founder of The Storm Group, which is a holding company of several of the companies I founded.
Bootstrap Business — I co-wrote this bestselling book with Ron E. Porter, which teaches people how to build a business from where they are at the moment, how to avoid the big mistakes that knockdown most small businesses, and how to secure their financial future while also balancing their lifestyle.
I’ve figured out how to make start-up companies turn into stories about success, because I followed The Zig Zag Principle. I started small and grew. Then I got out. Weaving gold out of straw is a passion of mine. I enjoy taking the Bad News Bears and turning them into rock stars–these make great stories about success. I really believe in working with small unconventional teams, forming them, unifying them on common goals and values. Together we set those goals, we get the motivation systems in place, and then we build! I love the start-up phase of building businesses.
Read more stories about success as well as learn more about Rich and his strategies on the blog. Additionally, Rich has put together a series of events, coaching sessions, and even a new tele-seminar program, each designed to help you learn the ins and outs of becoming an entrepreneur (if you have the appetite for it, that is. Take the EAT test for free).