Skip to main content
BusinessOnline BusinessReflections

My 5-Year Online Business Journey: Highs and Lows

By September 21, 2023No Comments5 min read

During a recent workcation in Dénia (1 hour south of Valencia), I found myself strolling towards the Knowhere coworking space on a beautiful, sunny morning ☀️. It was in that moment that I realised, “you are living the life you could only dream of 5 years ago.”

When something becomes your new normal, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the effort you’ve invested and sacrifices you’ve made to reach this point – it all tends to fade into the background.

In today’s post, I will reflect on the past five years. Whether you’re contemplating the start of your own business journey or already navigating it, I hope this retrospective offers you some insight and inspiration.

The First Six Months

My full-time entrepreneurial journey started after I was fired from a great job in a tech company in April 2018.

Rather than apply for other jobs straight away, I decided to take the opportunity to finally explore my passion for business.

With €17k saved at that point in my life, the first six months of my entrepreneurial journey were exhilarating. The feeling of freedom that comes with realising you could potentially make a living without having a boss was amazing.

However, at the same time. My savings began to deplete quickly during this six month period while I was working on a ladies fashion startup idea, TrendFriend. On Sep 31st, 2018 with my tail between my legs, I made the decision to move home to parents’ house.

The Second Six Months

Although lucky that I had a loving family to fall back on, moving back to my parents felt like a massive step backwards in life. People said it was a step back to go forwards but you don’t really know for sure at the time.

I was embarrassed when people asked me where I was living. The initial feelings of excitement had between replaced with feeling quite lost. Perhaps even though I really wanted to, maybe I wasn’t cut out to run my own business?

It was at this point that I reset my goal from trying to become the next tech billionaire to something much more simple:
– run my own business
– make enough money to pay rent and work from a coworking office.

I remember being in the gym near my parents house and just thinking over and over again about how could I make €3,000 a month.

Uncertainty
This was the first time that I had to learn to accept uncertainty. This uncertainty mainly came from the question “will all of this effort and sacrifice ever pay off in the future? Or is it completely wasted effort?”

There are so many expressions which suggest that you should “Never EVER quit!” and then a nearly equal number which suggest that you should “Know when to quit.” As you can imagine, understanding whether you should or shouldn’t quit can be quite difficult.

Year 2

Things begin to work

In May 2019, approximately a year after embarking on my solo journey, something cool began to happen. Casually building websites for friends and acquaintances for about 2 years in my evenings and weekends had led to me becoming almost inundated with website development requests.

This period marked a transformation from the disappointment of one dream (TrendFriend) seemingly failing, to the exhilarating prospect of forging a new dream. I began to realise that running web agency could allow me to achieve my now much simpler business goals.

It was during this time that I felt a surge of excitement and clarity again.

Building on what was working
Since then, so about 4 years now, I kept building good websites, and more requests continued to come in. Around this time I began experimenting working with freelancers to deal with the growing demand of requests and start actually creating a system. You can read more about how to grow a service business here.

Year 3 – 5

Going from a solo journey to a shared one

In June 2021, garymelican.com took a significant step forward by welcoming its first full-time team member, Kier de Dios.

This decision was not taken lightly. Now the company was responsible for more than just myself and it signified a long-term commitment to growing this business.

Now, over two years into our daily collaboration, I can safely say that shared part of my business journey has been the best part.

This year, our team has continued to expand, with an additional part-time member joining our ranks.

Reflecting on this progress, I can’t help but feel thankful for where the path has led me and hopeful that it continues.

Conclusion

If you’re trying to do something difficult, the way forward can often seem unclear and very uncertain.

Perhaps your initial goal isn’t actually going to be where you end up.

However, if you remain courageous and true to yourself in all of the little decisions that you need to make along the way, there’s a good chance that you’ll be happy with where the road takes you.

Thank you for reading as always,
Gary