A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Old skool

I was digging through my Documents folder today, and I found the following essay that I had written in college for my Business 10 class. I’m going to reprint it word for word, minus company names, here. It is dated September 21, 1999. I was 18 years old when I wrote it.


Career Plan
Erica Douglass

What do the next ten years hold in store for me?

To go into my future hopes requires knowing a little more about me, as well as my past. I am very much an entrepreneur, and “creative” has been the major word that teachers and friends alike use to describe me. I am currently running my fourth company, ShakaDesign.com. I have made enough money with these companies and Internet jobs to live on my own.

Right now I work at [a small startup company] as their web marketer. Basically, my boss hired me to redo their website, which is currently three years old and aging fast. Like an person getting old, some things have slowly started to bend or break with the website. To “rejuvenate” it, we plan to switch web hosting companies as well as give the site a badly-needed makeover.

That is where I come in. I do all of their “web stuff.” Anything directly or indirectly related to the Internet goes through me. I work 20 hours a week, get a free work laptop, and eat a lot of pizza sitting in front of my computer. It’s a great job.

I also get paid $20 an hour to do that, with a raise to $25 next month. I’m very pleased.

I am always coming up with ideas, and my father has suggested to me from a very young age that if I go to Silicon Valley and capitalize on these ideas, I could become very successful. He has implanted these concepts so much into me that I constantly write down new ideas I have.

My dream is to own my own Internet company… but it seems that now every teenager who is even slightly computer-savvy is a “web designer” and wants to be the next Jeff Bezos. However, I’m a little different in two ways. For one, I’m female. Two, I don’t want to be like Jeff Bezos because Amazon.com is not profitable! I want to be famous like Jeff Bezos, but I won’t envy his entrepreneurial skills until he can prove that his company can turn a reasonable profit by doing business solely on the Web.

I don’t want to sell books or over-the-counter drugs. I want to radically change the way people use computers and the Internet. I want to change the business model for the Internet instead of making “just another portal” or a bookstore. I want to help make it easier for the world to come online, and I don’t think WebTV is the answer. I honestly don’t think the answer has been invented yet, but that is what I’m here to do.

I’m also going to write a book someday. I don’t know what it is going to be about, but I will write it and it will be good.

I may sound cocky. Honestly, though, if at the age of 16 I had decided that I wasn’t a good web designer, I might have not emailed ten local design companies with a resume and some graphics work I had done. I might have also not gotten hired for my first real Internet job, a summer internship at a Cincinnati, Ohio web design company called [name removed]. (I lived in Indiana until recently.) I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had decided that this whole Internet thing was just too hard and that I was going to go back, sit down, and watch cartoons. And I won’t be the owner of an Internet company in ten years if I start slacking off and not learning new technologies and exploring new options now.

In the end, it all comes down to this statistic which has been at the front of my mind recently: 60% of the people in this world don’t have a telephone. Yes! It’s true! So how do we expect them to get on the Net?

I’m Erica Douglass, entrepreneur, and I’m going to help solve that mystery.

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After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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