Ian Ippolito founded Rent-A-Coder and grew the company to millions of dollars a year in sales. That company became one of the leading websites in the world that connects businesses and entrepreneurs with high quality freelancers, contractors, and virtual assistants.
Now Ian is ready to share his most valuable tips and ideas for success when it comes to starting and growing a business.
How to Start a Business
Ian first got the idea to become an entrepreneur selling egg rolls with his mom to raise money for his school, but it was years later before he started his first “real business.”
One of his first businesses was creating and selling software online, which was a cool idea but didn’t really solve a problem for his customers, and that business soon failed.
Your business must solve a problem for your customers!
How to Pivot After a Business Failure
After that initial failure, Ian started Planet Source Code, an advertising-driven website. Internet advertising was skyrocketing at that time in the late 1990’s because of the internet boom.
But then Internet Crash in 2000 obliterated that business.
Timing matters in business. The right idea at the wrong time could cause your business to fail rather than succeed.
Always Look Ahead
A few years later, Ian picked himself back up and started vWorker (which was originally called Rent-A-Coder, and is now freelancer.com). It was one of the first websites that connected freelancers with business owners and entrepreneurs. He founded the company from the bedroom of his house.
That company is now worth over $100 million.
Ian wanted to be an entrepreneur from that moment that he saw his mother sell egg rolls at $5 a piece to raise money for his school.
From that moment on, Ian was always looking for opportunities to be his own boss. His ideal plan was to build a business on the side, ramp it up so that it replaced his working income, quit his job and run his company.
Ian’s first three businesses all failed, but each of them provided a great learning experience that allowed Ian to succeed massively with vWorker.
Failure in Business is More Typical Than Success
Ian’s entrepreneurial journey is very typical. Most entrepreneurs experience failure and temporary setbacks multiple times before they find their groove and develop a profitable business that solves the problems of their customers and makes them incredibly wealthy.
If you fail once in business, you’re on the right track.
If you fail twice, you’re starting to get somewhere.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
And don’t bother starting a business if you’re not willing to fail, because you’re going to spend most of your life on the journey of entrepreneurship, and most of the road will be paved with mistakes and failures.
Don’t look for certainty when you start your business, because you won’t find it until you create it by conquering the chaos of life and business. For Ian, and for most of us, that journey takes years or even decades before you get to a point where you “have it all.”
Every Mountain is a Stepping Stone in Business
Ian has achieved incredible success in business, but Ian he is always looking for the next mountain to climb. You always have to have goals for the future to maintain any level of success.
“Often times it’s traveling to the next goal that is the exciting thing. You’ll find that achieving the goal itself isn’t as exciting as you thought it would be.” – Ian Ippolito
Always set goals, and always work towards your goals. No matter how successful your business becomes, you must constantly push it forward.
In business, you’re either growing or dying. There is no middle ground.
Advice for People Who Want to Start a Business
Delayed gratification is crucial for business success.
“Are you the type of person that will wait for delayed gratification? Building a business takes a lot of hard work. It’s not an overnight success. For an entrepreneur, the only thing that matters is that you get back up.” – Ian Ippolito
There’s a way to test children to see if they have it in them to become successful entrepreneurs. It’s called The Marshmallow Test.
Researchers would offer children a marshmallow. They told the kids that they could have that marshmallow right now or if they waited to eat the marshmallow when the researchers came back they get another marshmallow.
Two-thirds of the kids ate the marshmallow within the first 30 seconds. The children who had the willpower to delay gratification were more likely to be successful in the long run.
Building a business is hard work and you have to be willing to do hard work with no promise of reward insight if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.
Note: The marshmallow test has been debunked as bad science, but there is still loads of truth in the idea that you must be able to delay gratification in order to succeed in business. Eat all the marshmallows you want now, but you have to be willing to save and invest money for the future or your business will be doomed from day one.
In order to be successful as an entrepreneur you have to be persistent in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. You have to look at failures as lessons that will help you be successful on your next attempt.
Because you will fail. There’s no doubt that you will make tons of mistakes and get knocked down in business.
The question is: “What are you going to do once you get knocked down?”
Some people get completely deflated my failure. These people don’t have what it takes to be entrepreneurs. You have to make up your mind to be unstoppable regardless of how many times you fail.
“If you want to double your rate of success double your rate of failure.” – Thomas J Watson Sr.
What to Do When a Business Fails
Planetsourcecode.com is a programming site. It’s still live on the Internet but it doesn’t produce revenue for Ian anymore.
At the beginning planetsourcecode.com produce revenue because people were paying ridiculous amounts of money for advertising. Microsoft was paying for 60 CPM just to show a 468 x 68 banner ad which is unheard of in today’s market.
When the dot-com bubble burst Ian’s revenue dried up overnight and he had massive bandwidth bills to pay. Back then bandwidth was much more expensive than it is today. Ian was paying between $5000 and $6000 every month to support the traffic that was coming to his site.
When Ian hit that roadblock, he took stock of all the resources he had. Ian had a team of programmers and he began looking at what types of problems they could solve that he could be paid for.
Throughout his time running planetsourcecode.com, he constantly had people emailing him asking for his help developing programs. Before planetsourcecode.com stopped generating revenue Ian didn’t want to divert time or resources into fulfilling these requests. When planetsourcecode.com stopped making money, these requests for help with solving programming problems became the genesis of his next business.
That’s when he began brainstorming the idea of putting together a website that would be a place where programmers and businesses could connect.
That became vWorker.
If you want to come up with a good business idea right now all you have to do is answer two questions:
- What resources do I have right now?
- What problems can I solve using those resources?
“A great entrepreneur is someone who fails quickly. You do that by creating something based on your ideas, which most people don’t even do. Then you put it out into the world and let people touch it and interact with it. Then you see what happens and adjust. As long as you keep in mind the idea that your first attempt is probably not going to be successful and don’t get discouraged by it, you’ll have the right mindset to be successful eventually.” – Ian Ippolito
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
http://www.ianippolito.com – Ian’s website.
https://www.planet-source-code.com/ – Ian’s coding site. It’s still live but no longer producing revenue.
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.