By: Andy Levitt
Four years ago today, on February 20th 2007, I spent the best $35 I've ever spent and purchased the URL HealthTalker.com. I had been searching for just the right name for a word of mouth company I was thinking about launching, and after countless searches, I had found the one I wanted. And at that moment, I made the commitment to pursue my entrepreneurial endeavors, and give this a shot.
Over the last few years, I have been living through such an incredible journey, full of exhilarating highs and challenging lows that come from running a small business. As I reflect on this experience, I thought I'd share a few things that you may not have known about what happened along the way:
- When I announced my plans to start my company, most people gave me a weird look, wished me luck, but didn't think it was going to be possible to succeed. The people who have stood by me all along, cheering me on from the sidelines while on my shoulder, hold a special place in my heart. You know who you are.
- I spent more nights than I care to remember, sleeping on friends' couches and in second bedrooms, traveling to meetings with agencies and pharma companies in the New York-to-Deleware corridor. In particular, my dear friends Daniel and Marcie Carchedi cooked me countless meals and always opened up their house to me whenever I was traveling.
- In my first year in business, I depleted my personal savings, maxed out a $50,000 American Express card line of credit, took zero salary, and came perilously close to going bankrupt with only $112 left in my bank account. I had to tap into my 401k reserves from my previous corporate employers, and then gratefully confirmed my first sale.
- I am so fortunate to have earned the confidence of two angel investors who believed in my vision for HealthTalker, and whose early investments made a significant impact on my ability to grow the company.
- I've been influenced time and again by Seth Godin. But you probably know that by now. Yes - the man is a genius.
- The night before our first son was born in April 2009, I was sitting in the delivery room, sending emails to a potential client, trying so hard to make a sale so that I could afford to buy all of the diapers we were going to need to purchase. I'm serious.
- I've made dozens of great friends along the way, and have re-connected with a number of old colleagues in the industry. It really is a small world; always treat people with respect and honesty, remain true to your word, and show gratitude where it is due.
- I have hired and worked with some really smart people (and still do!), have had to say goodbye to a few who didn't quite fit, and have been humbled repeatedly by observing the enthusiasm in people's eyes when they share the passion for what we do.
- What still gets me out of bed every day is the belief that we are doing something meaningful. Guy Kawasaki teaches that in chapter one of Art of The Start, and that lesson has stayed with me since the beginning.
- As we push ahead into our 5th year, I am so proud of the team that I've assembled, and of the improvements we continue to make in the business.
I can't wait to see what happens next!