Young Entrepreneurs - Q & A with Raj Lahoti
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
Raj Lahoti (27)is the chief guru, chairman and co-founder of Online Guru, a San Diego-based Internet marketing and Web publishing company that develops world-class online sites and Web portals. (www.onlineguru.com) His company employs over 30 people and generates over $15 million in revenue. In 2007, he was named by Inc. magazine as one of the Top 30 entrepreneurs under 30.
Raj attended and graduated from Cerritos Community College from 2000-2002.
Q:What do you think the most important things community colleges can do to help encourage and support young entrepreneurs are? Why?
A:Making it fun. I think, like anything in life, people are looking for a community or group to share ideas with, learn from, and grow with. People enjoy when there’s energy and enthusiasm backing anything up. That’s why I think it’s important that the entrepreneur groups on campus hold socials to bring diverse groups together. Ultimately, people will be able to share and cross-pollinate each other with new ideas and perspectives.
Q:What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were starting your business?
A:Whether you grow a team of employees, hire individual consultants, or bring on full equity partners, every one you decide to do business with IS a partner. It’s super important to partner with people with whom you can establish a relationship of mutual passion and trust. When the right partners are missing, OR you have the wrong partners involved, you will never be able to achieve your potential. It is impossible.
Q:What were the critical success factors that helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
A:Taking care of myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and nutritionally. I cannot expect to grow a business if I am not taking care of myself. When I’ve seen my own health decline, so the business went as well. It’s important, even as I write this, to remind myself of this message.
Q:What advice would you give to a community college student who has no entrepreneurship experience and wants to start an online business?
A:Now more than ever before, the Internet has opportunities for ANYONE to start a Web site. From free micro-blogging sites such as Facebook and Twitter to full-on, free Web site builders, such as Yola.com, there are countless ways to push your message and content to the right audience.
So, what does that mean and how is that a business? Well, whatever you end up talking about, whether it be healthy living or how to solarize your house, there are plenty of companies that are looking to get in front of YOUR audience. And THESE COMPANIES are willing to pay YOU for it. How do you get paid? Well, simple: Contact them and ask them to advertise on your site. You can even charge them PER customer you refer, so that there is little or no risk to them, and you have an opportunity to generate revenue from a subject you are passionate about.
Q:Where resources would you recommend to students starting an online business?
A:AffiliatePrograms.com - www.affiliateprograms.com
SitePoint.com - www.sitepoint.com
Yola – www.yola.com
Michael Simmons (28), a bestselling author and award-winning entrepreneur, is the co-founder and CEO of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (EET) and a past keynote speaker at NACCE. EET brings the country’s top young entrepreneurs to college campuses to spread the entrepreneurial mindset during a half-day conference. Started in 2006, the tour (www.extremetour.org) has visited over 130 schools nation-wide.