7 Years of Building: Products, A Team, A Company, And Myself

A little over seven years ago, I started a business doing what I love — building apps. It started small. $50 WordPress project on Craigslist small. I didn’t know then that this dream of mine, building things, would turn into my life’s work.

Over the years I’ve spent building this company, I’ve learned by watching, reading and talking — but mainly by doing. By doing I mean burning my hand on all of the entrepreneurial hot stoves until I got things (mostly) right. I want to leave you with some lessons I’ve taken away in my seven years of blood, sweat, and tears at Rose. I hope something here inspires the next entrepreneur on the brink of something great.

You can’t survive the long desert of toiling for years unless you love what you’re doing. If you’re going to dedicate years of your life to something, you had better be sure you love it. You also have to be honest with yourself. If you fall out of love with what you’re doing, there is no shame in cutting losses and doing what you need to do to feel happy and be fulfilled.There have been times I wondered what I was doing and whether it was worth it, but I always returned to the tech and why I got started in the first place.

During the growth curve of Rose, there isn’t a job I haven’t done or a hat I haven’t worn. That wasn’t always for the best. As the firm grew so did my “job description.” I became manager, HR Supervisor, Salesperson, Lead Engineer, Design Director, Chief Snack Selector, Janitor, and a million other roles in between. While that ethic of being willing to be flexible with what your “job” is on any given day is important; what I realized quickly is that by being a jack of all trades, I was a master of none. As a founder it can be hard to delegate and even harder to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know. Focusing the scope of your role as a founder and executive is key to the success of any endeavor.

This one is simple. You have to hire the best people you can find. They will make your life easier and your company better. The trick is knowing how to find and evaluate people and there is no easy way to do that because the target keeps moving at fast-growing companies. The right person for a job at 5 people might not be the right person for the job at 15. I’ve found that finding sharp people who are ‘roll up your sleeves’ type folks can roll with the punches and adapt to fast-changing times.

The first few years of my business I always felt like I was the kid in a room full of adults. This pushed me, but didn’t make certain conversations any easier. Learning how to not be hesitant to send invoices and having hard client conversations had to be done because my company was worthy of the work we were winning. Once you’re in the room, nothing else matters. You are in the room for a reason and you have to own that and take any opportunity that comes your way.

Becoming happens somewhere in the process of doing. The doubts about whether success will come, or the doubts about whether you’re good enough, in those moments is where you find yourself and your business. There were many late nights, hard decisions, failures, and successes in the last seven years, but I would not choose to change any of it.