Most small businesses are lifestyle businesses generating less than $1 million in annual revenue. In fact, more than 80% of all businesses are considered to be non-employer businesses (where the owner is the only employee) by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Moreover, a recent survey found that over 54 million Americans, or 34% of the workforce, are either full-time freelancers by choice or part-time entrepreneurs generating income from a side hustle. However, most sources of advice for entrepreneurs looking to start a small business are based on the assumption that the entrepreneurs are starting a highly scalable business and they require some form of outside capital such as a bank loan or outside investment to get them started. Unfortunately, this kind of advice leads these entrepreneurs down too many wrong paths, wasting valuable time and money. Most lifestyle and side hustle businesses are bootstrapped and require different advice than that postulated by many of the so-called startup experts.
At SteveBizBlog, we understand what lifestyle and side hustle entrepreneurs need and we are dedicated to providing a regular diet of digestible business advice and resources for lifestyle and side hustle entrepreneurs looking to start and grow their own business.
Steve’s Professional Background
Steve is a seasoned entrepreneur. His first foray into the world of small business came as an Invisible Fencing dealer, where he operated the business on a part-time basis. That business was not too successful for him, but was an opportunity for him to learn some very valuable lessons about business in a relatively low-risk environment. For the next two years he worked on a business plan, waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. In 1994, when the company Steve was working for fell on hard times, he quit his day job. Steve founded Horizon Interactive, a documentation and training company, and became a vendor to his old employer. Over the next few years Steve and his partners executed the business plan and grew the business to over $3 million in sales. Horizon Interactive was acquired by Interleaf, a publicly held company out of Massachusetts, in 1999. Steve was offered the position of VP of Operations, where they acquired two more businesses like Horizon Interactive. The company grew the services side of the business from a combined $8 million in revenue to over $32 million in sales during the next two years. Interleaf was acquired by Broadvision, a company out of California during the height of the dot com bubble, for their XML engineers on their product side of the business. Steve and a former business partner acquired the assets of Interleaf’s service business in 2001. They operated the business for a few more years until they sold it in 2003. Steve essentially retired from working for money while he was in his early 40’s.
Being a serial entrepreneur, Steve has started and still operates a business focused on real estate, one focused on oil and gas, and also a financial advisory company designed to help high net-worth investors understand the ins and outs of investing in oil and gas direct participation programs.
Steve has volunteered his time since 2003 as a mentor for SCORE, a local organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, and has acted as their Chapter Chairman for several years. He is also a member of the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center (SBDC) advisory board, and has acted as a counselor since 2003. In 2012 Steve acted as the interim director of the SBDC while they conducted a national search for a permanent director. Currently Steve is the Entrepreneurship Director and Pikes Peak Community College.
Steve’s Personal Background
Steve is a flaming dyslexic, which has its good points and bad points. Growing up, he remembers undergoing a board of education evaluation. The evaluator told his parents he was not normal. When asked to draw a tree Steve drew a series of concentric rings like you would see if you cut down the tree and looked at its entire life history through it’s growth rings on the stump. The evaluator told his parents he should be more like the other kids and draw the tree from the side view. But rather then conform to the crowd, Steve embraced his out of the box thinking style as an asset. The upside of being dyslexic is exceptional spatial awareness. An object viewed from only one point of view creates a 3D image that can be easily manipulated and evaluated in a dyslexic mind. While a non-dyslexic would see the letter “b” as a single letter, the dyslexic person sees b,p,d, and q as the same shape viewed from different perspectives.
Being a dyslexic in school prevented Steve from becoming a good reader, and even today spelling and grammar are not his strong suits. Academically, Steve struggled in traditional schools. When he graduated from High School he knew that traditional classroom education was not for him, so he joined the United States Coast Guard to learn a trade. Graduating near the top of his class in tech school, Steve realized that he learned by doing.
Steve tends to be an overly logical person. He likes to explore, document and measure nearly every aspect of a project to find out what works and what does not. He has a propensity to focus on understanding why things are the way they are, rather than how to duplicate what others have already done. Once Steve obtains a reasonable level of mastery in a specific subject area he internalizes the knowledge and moves on to his next area of interest. Growing up in New York, Steve always identified himself with a local journalist by the name of George Plimpton. Mr. Plimpton made a career of become proficient in different professions, from professional sports to acting, and then reporting on the experience.
Everything of substance Steve knows today he learned by reading books, listening to audiobooks, or watching others, taking the salient points, then rolling up his sleeves and putting them into practice in his own business or situation. Once Steve perfects a lesson he makes it a point to document the lesson he learned and then shares the lesson with others. He calls these “Sea Stories”, leveraging his old Coast Guard days. These serve to help further solidify his learning in his own mind, while continuing to grow his knowledge base and help others understand what he was able to synthesize.
This process has served Steve pretty well, having reached a point of business success by the age of 42 such that he really no longer needed to work for money. Cresting this income milestone has not only allowed him the luxury to spend even more time to ponder and digest life’s lessons, but also the freedom to tell it like it is without the fear of losing a job. He proudly wears jeans nearly every day, and sports facial hair to remind himself and the others he encounters every day that being a nonconformist and not subscribing to traditional values has its merits.
Steve constantly listens to non-fiction audiobooks about politics or business related topics, and consumes current events from a huge basket of news sources every day so he can relate their messages in new and innovative ways. After internalizing a message and testing out any new theories, he then shares his new-found wisdom with people willing to listen. Since 2003 Steve has mentored and counseled thousands of fledgling entrepreneurs through his volunteer efforts with SCORE and the SBDC, and volunteered his expertise to help organizations like the ARC, which helps individuals with developmental disabilities. As cliché as it may sound, at this point in his life it is all about using the skills and knowledge he has obtained to helping others to succeed, so they can have a better life. Steve loves the appreciation he receives from the people he has helped, with no expectation of remuneration, and lives vicariously through their success. For Steve, sharing his knowledge is akin to the feeling a billionaire might have handing out $100 bills to random strangers on the street. He knows that by sharing some of the wisdom he has accumulated with clients he can often make a substantial positive difference in the person’s life. Steve is not particularly religious, so helping entrepreneurs is his way of giving back and making a positive impact with his life.
At his core Steve is a free market capitalist who believes that “one size fits all” interventions and policy decisions by our federal government produce a series of unintended consequences. He considers himself to be a fiscal conservative and modern day Federalist. Furthermore, Steve believes that life in the US has made us soft, and too reliant on Government programs for security at the expense of our civil liberties. Moreover, too many Americans have gotten lazy about fact checking, and have become sheep by accepting what politicians and the media tell us without question. In addition, too many Americans simply think in the short-term and act on self-interest, without considering the context and ramification of their actions in the big picture.
To that end Steve has embraced a somewhat counterculture viewpoint, challenging conventional wisdom. He embraces the motorcycle sub-culture and vehemently defends and supports his 2nd Amendment rights.
Join Steve in his journey of discovery.