When I was ready to leave teaching (read: burned out) and get back into technology, I landed the most amazing work opportunity I’ve had yet. For over three years, I got to work alongside a serial entrepreneur. It was like startup bootcamp.

The first order of business was growing and optimizing our existing content site. I designed a bunch of internal site management features, took over our AdWords campaigns, and learned and implemented best practices for SEO.  Once our flagship site became a finely oiled machine (6M uniques/mo, but who’s counting?), the fun really began.

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Our process was this:

  1. Identify the resources we were willing to invest and the type of site/product we were aiming to create
  2. Toss around ideas until we found one we liked
  3. Hash out a basic feature list, revenue model, and user/content/product acquisition and growth strategy
  4. Wireframe
  5. Review, optimize, refine
  6. Build it
  7. Implement the user/content/product acquisition strategy
  8. Assess feasibility within resource constraints and demonstrated success
  9. Wash, rinse, repeat

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Over and over and over again. It was awesome. Some ideas died with step 1. Some made it all the way to step 8 and are lively, profitable little businesses in their own right.

The best part about this opportunity was that as my experience and insight increased, so did my opportunity to make business decisions and manage and establish processes. I began managing AdWords and SEO, and three years later I was solely responsible for strategy and business development, feature design, user support, content strategy, managing a remote team of developers, and training and managing a team of remote content producers.

What an amazing, hands-on way to learn about the entire universe of factors that can cause a business to succeed or fail. It was intense work, and the experiences were invaluable in shaping my business philosophies and my ability to identify, analyze, and refine strong business strategies.

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What to read next: From startup bootcamp to steering a cruise ship, I talk about my experience working for a tiny marketing agency with huge clients.

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