Young Entrepreneur Profiles
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of profiles of young entrepreneurs prepared for Community College Entrepreneurship by best-selling author Michael Simmons, co-founder and CEO of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (EET), http://www.extremetour.org, and a past keynote speaker at NACCE.
Warren Jolly (26) is CEO of Affiliate Media (http://www.affiliatemedia.com ), an interactive agency specializing in international marketing, publishing, and online ad integration solutions. Warren fueled over 1,300% growth in the company in the past three years, driving his company to the 129th spot on the prestigious Inc. 500 list in 2008. In 2008 his company had over $8 million in revenue. Warren graduated from Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA, in June 2003.
Q & A with Warren Jolly
Q: What programs at your school were the most helpful in starting and growing your business? Why?
A: I really enjoyed Statistics and Psychology. The first because it helped me understand how to make data-driven decisions on growing the business instead of guessing what I think would be the perfect marketing campaign or product survey. The second because it allowed me to better influence people, which is a key ability of any successful entrepreneur. You can’t build a successful business by yourself – it requires the help of people who are better than you in specific roles. They will only perform and be loyal if you understand their psyche.
Q: What do you think are the most important things community colleges can do to help encourage and support young entrepreneurs? Why?
A: Develop a curriculum around real and relevant business experiences in this day and age. The Internet is so powerful for any would-be entrepreneur. It is key to help them understand it better and teach them how to leverage it. One way to do this is providing real internship programs with local businesses that are bootstrapped and fast growing so the student can get true exposure to the same environment they will soon be jumping into.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were starting your business?
A: Focus, focus, focus. Entrepreneurs are ALWAYS spreading themselves too thin. It’s the #1 reason why most fail. I also wish I knew it’s not all about the money – it’s very important to pay attention to your health and the critical work/life balance.
Q: What were the critical success factors that helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
A: I surrounded myself with really smart people who were hungry and motivated. I believe it’s 90 percent the people and 10 percent your product or service. Beyond this, I was able to identify a niche that no one else was really focusing on properly. Lastly, I had the support of an amazing family who believed in what I was doing and acted as a sounding board for the decisions I needed to make. I regret some of my decisions, but these were the ones where I didn’t think to consult others. Take advantage of people who care about you and your business and always bounce your decisions off others if you are not 100 percent sure about what to do. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true.
Q: What advice would you give to a community college student who has no entrepreneurship experience and wants to start an online business?
A: Read Four-hour Work Week and subscribe to Tim Ferris’ blog: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/. If you’re smart and can learn his principles, you should have your own business in no time with minimal capital investment.
Q: Which tools do you think that no Internet marketer should be without?
A: The tools I absolutely can’t live without are Google Analytics, Google Apps, Basecamp, Skype,Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Wordpress. I use these tools on a daily basis and find them instrumental to my business.
Michael Simmons Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour 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 has visited over 60 schools nation-wide and has received the Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations and the Program of the Year award from Northern Michigan University.