Will Mitchell is the creator and Chief Bro of Startup Bros, a platform providing content and information for those seeking to break out of the 9-5 and make a new start as entrepreneurs. Today, Will shares what it takes to leave the 9-5 and make a go of it as an online entrepreneur.
Successes at a glance:
- Serial entrepreneur since age 12
- Creator and Chief Bro at Startup Bros
- Launched 6 multi-million dollar businesses selling both physical and digital products
- Will started his first online business at 12-years old! Will was like a kid in a candy store but instead looking at shiny things to buy, he was looking to sell. Will dove headfirst into the world of e-commerce and soon discovered that he could source products from China on platforms like Alibaba. At first, Will’s market were kids at school; connecting them with products that were in demand. Will later got into counterfeit goods (which neither I nor Will endorse or recommend to any Moving Forward listeners!), selling knockoffs of brand name purses and other items. While the counterfeit business got shut down after a year, Will had his proof of concept that e-commerce works and is a viable business pathway. As Will explains, he was so young at the time that he didn’t have the reputation or street credibility to sell door-to-door to local businesses. Thus, e-commerce allowed him to get skin in the game as an entrepreneur without his age being an issue. Will shares that e-commerce is a great equalizer as a starting point for a business. You can get started without a reputation, without much experience, no matter how old or young you are. Will’s next venture was selling airsoft rifles which netted him $200k by age 16. By age 21, Will and several of his friends purchased their first e-commerce company and for the next several years, things really blew up. However, Will eventually found himself in the exact spot he wanted to avoid. All his life, Will determined not to have a traditional corporate job but his success with e-commerce led him right to that spot. With scale, success, and now investors, Will was morphing into a corporate executive. Even though he was making a lot of money and reached a pinnacle of success that many would dream of, Will was unhappy. He felt confined and suffocated. As a way to escape and get back to his entrepreneurial roots, Will started the Startup Bros blog, documenting his journey as an entrepreneur; sharing many of his secrets to success, and lessons from his failures. Unexpectedly, the blog blew up which led him to his big why.
Will’s big why:
- Will’s big why is to constantly “move forward” and never stop. From an early age, Will knew that the last thing he wanted to do was work for someone else or go to college. At 12, Will started his lifelong quest of not getting a job or going to school and yet, still be successful. So where did this mindset come from? Will attributes part of this to his parents who were entrepreneurs and had him when they were 17-years old. For a while, Will’s parents lived on public aid, eventually starting their first business at age 21. By the time Will was 7, his parents sold that company and so Will was exposed to a completely different way to live your life than most grow up witnessing. Ironically, Will’s parents discouraged him from entrepreneurship, wanting him to go to school and pursue a more traditional career path. Will cautions though, it’s not all dollars and roses and it’s not for the faint of heart. For every successful business, Will counts 30-40 failed ones. He shares that he “burned the boats” so to speak by making himself the most unemployable person possible by dropping out of schooI. In doing so, he made a choice that removed a choice. The only path left to him was to succeed as an entrepreneur. Moving Forward listeners, you’ve heard it from Will and so many others, this is not an easy path to take. It requires determination, hard work, and a thick skin from the naysayers that will try to derail you along the way. Will has all of these qualities and continually makes moving forward his daily goal. With Startup Bros, he is sharing his knowledge and expertise to inspire the next wave of entrepreneurs.
Biggest challenge today:
- The main problem that Will is dealing with today is exposure and continuing to grow the reader base. Will has created a really strong brand that is “holding the torch” and leading the way. The mission of Startup Bros is to destroy the paradigm of school -> job. Not an easy task but the message is resonating with a lot of followers. Will also faces the challenge of limited time. As his business grows, there aren’t any more hours in the day than when he started.
Moving forward past that challenge:
- It’s all about hustle. Will is putting himself out there with podcast interviews, guest contributor opportunities, and more. In this day and age, it’s all about being your own PR department to get the word out on your message. The formula Will shares is simple: don’t go out there simply to promote yourself or your business. Instead, make adding value your number one goal. To address the time issue, Will outsources to very talented team members who can help keep the machine running.
- Inspirational source for moving forward:
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – Will embraces this as a template for any new project. Your goal is to either fail as quickly as possible or get to your MVP (minimal viable product).
- Getting started with selling digital or physical products as a side hustle:
- Know your style and what makes your heart sing. Generally speaking, those under the age of 30 may resonate more with digital products. Those over the age of 30 may feel more comfortable with physical products. You can have success with either so make sure you choose something that you can fun with because it’s a lot of work and a grind.
- Favorite business tool of choice:
- Google calendar: free up your brain space and hard code tasks and goals by living by your calendar.
- Hijack your brain chemistry to be productive: Will places a video light behind and above his monitor that shines a super bright light into his face which keeps him super awake and alert.
- How is Will moving forward today:
- Getting on this podcast! Afterward, Will be sitting with his Director of Content Marketing to continue building out systems and expand the platform to systematize getting guest contributors.
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Who is Will in five years?:
- Will plans to take Startup Bros to the level that people like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk are at. Will isn’t simply motivated by money. He wants to change the narrative about careers and choices. To do so, he will have to achieve the massive scale and reach that influencers like the ones named above have achieved. Will predicts that in 5-years, startup and entrepreneurial experience will matter more than academic credentials.
- “After listening to this, if you are inspired, if you are primed and ready to take action, you should stop listening to podcasts, don’t go to my website, don’t go to the next podcast. If you are inspired right now, you have to capitalize on that. Inspiration is a fleeting feeling and when you’re inspired, it feels like you’re going to be inspired forever but it will go away and there’s going to be points in your entrepreneurial career where there are 6-12 months that you’re just not feeling it. So when you have that inspiration, you need to stop learning and start doing. I always think of this consumption vs production hat. We’re all consumers … but to be a successful owner, you have to be a producer … so make sure after a session like this, or whenever you feel inspired, you have the courage to take action, just stop learning and start doing, and if you’re inspired, I think that’s the next step to take right now.”
Connect with Will: