Entrepreneurs making up only .32 percent of the US population, a number that has remained relatively unchanged over the last several years. A little more than 10 years ago as a college sophomore I started a small VFX website called ProductionCrate. It started out as little more than a passion project and a way to practice my skills.  As the company grew, I quickly realized that my website had the potential to become far more than just a hobby. I quit my job, leaving a comfortable paycheck, in order to take my project to the next level. 

Quitting my job was one of the biggest risks I ever took. It was a risk, but I was confident I could make it work if I approached it with the right moves. Here’s what I learned.

Trust Your Gut

I never went into this with the intention of making money, it started out as a hobby. Once I began seeing how quickly my website was starting to grow, I realized that there was a need for what I was providing, even on the relatively small scale that I started at. There is a community of like-minded individuals who embraced my early initiative, many of whom are still with us ten years down the line. I was always willing to pivot my content to work with their needs and requests, which I’m sure is why so many of them stuck with us. Today I have a team of seven creating music, sound effects, visual effects and mobile apps to help creators make better videos and content. 

Celebrate the Wins No Matter How Small

In the first year I started to average about $2.00 in revenue each day. I couldn’t believe it, if I just kept making the content, I was already making I would have ‘free’ coffee for life! Then $2.00 became $7.00 and I celebrated the idea of free lunches. I kept this same mentality going until I reached the point of all my meals being paid for. Then the electric bill, then rent, and then finally, my entire life.

Each milestone you encounter is cause for a celebration, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. Numbers are intangible and hard to get excited about, but if you just shift your way of thinking they can symbolize whatever keeps you elevated. I still celebrate the wins no matter how small, but now I get to celebrate them with a team of people who are just as excited as I am.

Listen to Your Customers

A large portion of the content created for our website is a direct result of user suggestions. We are constantly adapting and creating new content based on feedback from our community of over 850,000 users. We have a goal to reach one million by the end of the year. Our users began requesting tutorials, so we created a YouTube channel that now has over 123,000 subscribers and nine million views. Whenever multiple users request or search content that we don’t have, we prioritize it above all else. If more than 50 users can’t find a specific asset they need, we go on Red Alert and try to make it by the next day. Our community knows what they need better than we do, so we’ve trained ourselves to pay attention.

Being an entrepreneur was never anything I set out to do, but now it’s’ hard to see myself doing anything else. Each day is exciting, full of rewarding moments and small celebrations. I hold on to my curiosity and passion, grateful that I embraced those qualities when I did, and knowing their value is just as important as ever.

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you have any questions and are interested in turning your passion project into an empire.