I have a hard time sitting still, but that wasn't always the case. In college, I found myself really into a (new at the time) computer game called League of Legends. I had just built a gaming computer, and it sucked up more time than I could honestly calculate. As the months turned into years, I eventually found myself feeling a little more miserable at the end of a session, noticing that dopamine hit had faded. As time went on, it became clearer that a time investment to something constructive in my twenties would pay off tenfold when I was older. So, I gave my little brother my account, uninstalled the program, and got thinking.
At this point in my life, I had a few marketable skills. Some were picked up from classes, but most were gained through years of extracurriculars, competitions, experiences, and friendships. I had a mastery of Adobe Photoshop, could edit together a mean video, and had a solid understanding of marketing segmentation, customer behaviour, and knew how to articulate that. "Why not start a marketing company?" I thought to myself. Surely the world needed another one of those.
But mine was built to be different. Taking cues from my time in Enactus, I had my sights set on small and medium-sized businesses, that had already existed for longer than I'd been alive. Plumbers, electricians, construction companies- that kind of thing. They weren't the most profitable, but were a no-nonsense group of people who had a tried and tested business model. They just needed a little extra push to break into the digital world. And so, Toy Soldier Marketing was born.
I started out like many college students do, and undervalued the hell out of myself. I started canvasing to the parents of friends and my professors, offering a flat $100 fee for a website, hosting, graphic design, and social media posting. Over time, I managed to pick up a dozen or so clients, many of them I still work with today. I learned so much so quickly dealing with real clients and seeing the real consequences to my marketing endeavors. I had no safety net, and I liked it.
At Toy Soldier Marketing's peak, I had closed a few dozen clients, and had contracted an individual from the UK to manage my web design, and a friend from Toronto to complete my graphic design. This left me to manage the business, and spend my time attracting new clients. I was making more than I could've made at any typical "college job", and it reaffirmed my passion for entrepreneurship. But then I graduated.
As much as I loved running my own business, nobody prepared me for how lonely it could've been. When the only people you see on a daily basis are the faces of your clients on a video chat, you tend to crave traditional social interaction, even if it is just standard "water cooler talk". Humans are social creatures, and I found myself slowly shying away from the business I had once loved so much. It became formulaic. I needed an injection of creativity into my business, and a support network of like minded individuals. Let's talk creativity for a sec.