Tag Archives: Networking

Small Footprint. Big Shoes.

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The mirror has been my best friend lately.  That sounds pretty vain right?  Well, the mirror is my best friend because the mirror holds the one opinion lately that I actually listen to: my own.  If I like who I am when I look at myself in the mirror, I’m doing pretty good right?

Ever since we moved into our downtown office a lot of people have been super complimentary, it’s like suddenly we have 500 new friends.  There are certainly folks we talked to before but when we “made it” and started hiring and started expanding it brought with it a lot of attention.  I wanted to write this to really look back and talk about where we’ve been.

In April of 2009 I moved to San Antonio and knew one person in the whole city.  We started with his realtor, we moved on to his realtors interior decorator, from there we worked with home cleaners and landscapers, we grew.  We spoke to anyone we could.  I was living in a little one bedroom apartment and doing my best to keep the lights on.  It was the Wild West and I loved it, every day was an adventure.

Eventually I decided that I should peel back, hold onto as much cash as humanly possible so I could invest more in the business, more trade shows, more seminars, more training, etc.  I rented a room for $200 in a house with three other guys.  Geeky guys not unlike myself, gamers, we had a good time.  I liken that time to living in a frat house.

People tell me I’m in demand, they tell me I’ve changed, I’ve been asked what the secret was, that one move was probably the most important.  It’s all about footprint.  How big is your cost of living footprint?  When I reduced my cost of living to pennies of what it was, it freed up so many options for me that I hadn’t considered.

For the first time, I’d had the funds to go to those conferences, take that training, enroll in that online class, or sign up for that Pro Membership.  I had the funds to better myself, because let’s face it so much of the best educational resources out there aren’t free.  You can’t exactly go to school for SEO as by the time you graduated the information would be out of date.

Reduce your footprint, go without TV, go without those fancy things and just like Dave Ramsey says “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else”.  I’ll tell you, I went without for so long that I second guess every purchase even now.  It’s fantastic, I save a fortune.

I am sitting on my Mac Mini right now typing this in my living room, the Mac Mini is plugged into my TV and I’m typing from a Bluetooth Keyboard on my lap, on the couch.  Feet up and all.  I didn’t need to buy a big computer for the house, I didn’t need to get another laptop, I just needed access to the internet in some form.  I did what I needed, not what I wanted, and it freed me up to do other things with those dollars.

Yesterday I paid off 90% of my worldly debt.  Old credit cards, some student expenses, you name it.  I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t peeled way back.  So when you ask me why things are working out for Image Freedom, when you’re curious why Matthew has that big stupid grin on his face, it’s because I decided that only my opinion mattered when it came to my life.

Don’t worry about appearance, don’t worry about the shoes you wear or the car you drive, worry about taking action, about being the example of excellence you want to set.  Make a product, offer your service, plant your flag and declare yourself for who you are.  The second you stop, the second you look back, or God forbid let someone SHOULD on you, that is time you’ll never get back.

Pick a direction and act.  You’ll fail only until you succeed.

What are you waiting for?

Don’t Forget to Breathe

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I think I’m going to look into Yoga.  It’s hard, given all that is going on, not to think three or four steps ahead, when of course I need to stay in the today and focus on what I can impact today what I can change.  I forget to breathe, I forget the moment.  Always on to the next crisis, the next issue that needs to be resolved, etc.

Don't Forget to BreatheI haven’t taken a break for a while, but this past Monday night I decided to take an overnight trip to Corpus Christi with a friend.  I’d never been to Corpus, having grown up in Southern California I always assumed Texas beaches could not compare.  I was pleasantly surprised running through the waves late Monday night, full moon overhead, warm water at our feet.  It was like something out of a Diamond Necklace commercial, that perfect escape.  I needed it.

I think they teach us all about how to get things done, how to be productive, efficient, how to organize, etc.  I need to find that class that teaches me to stop and breathe.  We’ve been so blessed with amazing news, amazing opportunities, but of course with all of that opportunity come new problems and new hurdles to leap.  It’s exciting, and it’s terrifying.

I’m not ashamed to say that.  Maybe I’m supposed to sit here and say I have all the answers, but if you’ve ever read this blog before you know I do not.  The more I work with other business owners the more I learn that NO ONE has any clue what they’re doing.  I kinda wish non-entrepreneurs would take a few days to shadow a business owner.  See just how all of this lives or dies by the skin of our teeth.  Anyone could do this, everyone SHOULD do this.

It’s exciting, and it’s scary, for sure.  Someone not too long ago warned me to be careful who my friends were, which at the time I took as honest advice but over time I started to see all these little lines drawn around town.  The US’s vs. the THEM’s.  The cliques.  I’d like to think a lot of the success we’ve had is because we never played that game.  I’m just Matthew, and this is just Image Freedom, take us or leave us.

I’m tired, and we’ll be working into the weekend this week for sure, BUT I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be and I know that I’ve been making the right choices for Matthew.  At the end of the day that is the only question that needs answering.  Am I proud of Matthew?

Absolutely.  Now don’t forget to breathe, and get it done.

Growing Pains, Part 2

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Social Media is a pain in the ass.  Writing a blog, posting actually RELEVANT stuff to your Twitter page, getting fans to care about your Facebook page.  These are all important things!  The problem is, you wind up doing them for a while, they generate some buzz for you, your business grows and you lose the free time you had being without clients, to keep all that crap updated.

Hire a Ghost Tweeter you say?  Don’t mind if I do!

Just kidding.  I’ve been neglecting my blog a lot lately, and I think it comes from that perfectionist paralysis monkey on my back.  Sometimes it’s hard to publish ANYTHING for fear of it not being a hit with my massive (read 34) subscriber base.

I need to get over it, need to get back on the horse, or back on the tweet, as it were.  There is so much going on, we’ve been busier than we’ve ever been and I know I owe that to our social media efforts.  One of the things I’m working on right now is getting approval from our clients to start sharing their success here on the blog.

That can be a tough sell at times because you don’t want to share too much of what you’re doing in your marketing plans, if that gets out to the wrong people then by essentially bragging you’re helping the competition.  On the other hand, screw em!  Knowing what you’re doing is only part of the equation, and without knowing how to counter it there isn’t much gained by learning what would have been obvious sooner or later anyway.

So yea, working on that as what is a blog if not the rantings of an overshare.

Hard Wood Floors

On the personal front, I’ve moved from my home in Alamo Ranch to a new place in Olmos Park.  I love Alamo Ranch and there are a ton of great shops and resources there in town BUT it is just so far from everywhere I go on a daily basis.  The Olmos Perk on McCollough for example, is a good forty minutes from Alamo Ranch.  Now I’m within walking distance of the Perk and only ten minutes from downtown San Antonio.

Hardwood floors are fantastic, and as someone who spends a lot of time in his home office, it is just so important to be comfortable in that space.  Big beautiful windows surround my home office and I couldn’t be happier.

Plenty of good news lately, some that I can talk about, some that unfortunately I am sworn not to mention, BUT I’m back on the horse here in the blog and returned to the focus of making SEO approachable to business owners of any experience level.

Stay tuned!

Growing Pains

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I have been a freelance web designer for a decade now.  When I was 15 I met a woman who really liked a site I had done for a video game and she asked me to develop her web site.  I was paid $20 an hour and designed what I feel is still one of my very best sites, one of those examples of great that you base all your future success on.  My communication wasn’t great, I was a bit flakey, but hey, I was 15!

Since Image Freedom formed last year, we’ve grown very quickly, and I am often amazed at the decisions I made just six months back, or only three months back.  My priorities have changed so much, sometimes even day by day.  There was a time when I scrambled for clients, in a constant panic trying to keep food on the table and thanks to the work back then it set us up for the major players we’ve been working with in 2010.  I am very grateful, and very proud.

What I think is catching up with me lately, is the growing pains.  I was responding to an e-mail today from a time when my communication wasn’t what it is today, and repairing and clarifying a relationship from very early on in our business.  I had to remind myself how unsure I probably was when I created the scope for that project, how unsure I was as to exactly what to include, or what to promise.  It was very humbling to be reminded that while I write big ticket proposals now, several pages long, I was practically begging for business not long ago at all.

My assistant laughed while I talked about this e-mail, she told me it was growing pains and I needed to go through this because I wasn’t the business man I used to be, I’m a lot smarter and coming from a lesser place to where I am now is going to leave some marks.  The perfectionist in me wants to make sure everyone is satisfied 100% of the time, but when you set unrealistic expectations that becomes nearly impossible.  Can’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Every day I try to be the best businessman I can be, the best optimizer, the best friend, the best family member, etc.  These growing pains have really been taking their tole, and I’ve finally come to a place where I can clear my slate and take a few days to reset the board because the pieces have changed.  I’m not a pawn anymore, but I’m far from the King.

I’m excited to see where the pieces fall in all of this, because I’m not the man I was at 15 designing web sites for fun, and I’m not the business man I was just six months ago when I really got serious about my business.  Growing pains will come and go, but as hard as they can be, they’re proof I’m moving in the right direction and that is a pretty slick idea.

Do you have an Accountability Partner?

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This blog post does not apply to you.  You were born without fear.  You were born knowing which task to choose when you only have time to complete one task, and never needing to ask for advice.  This blog post does not apply to you because you never doubt yourself, you always know the right path, and you never make mistakes.

Oh, really?  Well, this blog might apply to you afterall.

My name is Matthew Egan and I am not perfect.  I’d like to think I’m in the top tier of my industry, my customer service is great, and I’ve gotten to the point where my reputation often proceeds me.  I am still far from perfect.  I have countless people whom I look up to, and I have been blessed by meeting some of the greatest minds in San Antonio who keep me honest, keep me focused, and keep me accountable.

I have an accountability partner for this reason.  I’m never alone.  It is so easy to forget that, so easy to get hung up on all of the impending To-Do list items, but if we feel truly alone we’re going to fail.  Some would like to say we’re always alone at the end of the day, that it is only up to us to get the job done, but that is only partially true.  If you surround yourself with positive, forward thinking, funny, wise, remarkable people you will never be alone.

Every week I have lunch with my accountability partner.  She and I talk about my business, we talk about her business, we talk about our families, and about our goals.  There isn’t a whole lot of structure, but we’re honest enough, and open enough where we can show fear, and show weakness, and be stripped to our elements however embarrassing that might be.  It’s hard to not be perfect, it’s hard to be flawed, but it’s all made easier when you can share that part of yourself with someone who will not judge you, someone who… wait for it… is just as flawed as you.

Who are you accountable to?  Your customers?  Your boss?  Your spouse?  Do you need someone in your life who has no stake in your success outside of your friendship?  Find that person, find that support, and you’ll be surprised how freeing it can be.

I may be a business owner, I may often work alone, but I am still a part of a team.

Are you?