Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Our names are Holly and Greg Johnson of Club Thrifty (CLUB THRIFTY LLC). We are thirtysomethings who have been happily married for almost 10 years, and we have two darling little girls. For the first several years of our marriage, we felt like we lived fairly frugally. Even though we were making a nice living, we realized that we weren’t saving any money. So, we decided to take control of our finances – slashing our expenses and sticking to a tight budget. We became very deliberate with our spending, and started paying off all of our debt at lightning speed. Soon, we became debt free – except for the house, which we hope to have paid off before we are 40. We wanted to help others find the same sense of financial freedom that we had. So, we created our website – Club Thrifty – where we encourage people to, “Stop spending. Start living.”™ Holly has been working on the business full-time since March 2013. Greg just left his day job in March 2015 to begin working on the business full-time, as well.
Why did you want to own your own business?
The main reason we wanted to own our own business was to create a sense of freedom for ourselves. We wanted to take control of our own destiny, both personally and professionally. We enjoyed working at our previous jobs, and we were really good at them. However, something just kept gnawing inside of us because we knew that we could do better.
When did you start the business?
We launched our website, Club Thrifty, in May 2012. We continued to work on it before and after work for months. Of course, there were several times along the way where we questioned if it was all worth it. We nearly gave up. However, we kept pushing forward and began to see a return on efforts around the six month mark. We officially formed CLUB THRIFTY LLC in December 2012, which is also about the time that Holly’s freelance writing career took off. In addition to CLUB THRIFTY LLC, we also own a second company, EPIC REACH MEDIA LLC and two rental houses.
What training/experience did you have in your business field before you started?
Honestly, we had absolutely no training prior to the start of the business. What we’ve learned, we’ve learned through trial and error. We also have a great group of friends and colleagues that we bounce ideas off of. However, we wouldn’t have it any other way. People often get paralyzed because they are afraid of doing the “wrong” thing. Sure, we’ve made mistakes, but we’d rather be moving forward than not moving at all.
What challenges did you face when starting up your business?
We faced a couple of major challenges when we started the website. First, neither of us really knew much about creating a website. Greg had created and designed one website prior to our launch, but our knowledge was very limited. Second, it was difficult to find the time to make the website really go. We were working 40-50 hour weeks at work, then coming home and working on the website for an additional 20-30 hours a week. That will wear anybody out. Which brings me to our last major challenge, which was staying positive. It is really difficult to keep a positive attitude when you are working so hard but not seeing any return. The key for us was that we just kept producing content because we were having fun. Luckily, we found an audience and our hard work paid off!
How long did you have to run the business before you saw a profit?
The great thing about our business is that there is very little overhead. At first, our only costs were our domain name (about $20) and our hosting fees (about $12/month). So, whenever we made any money, it was basically all profit. Like I said earlier, I think we made our first profit about six months into the process.
How did the business startup affect your marriage/family?
There were times when it was difficult. We were spending so much time and energy on the website that we were completely worn out. However, we are best friends and we’ve always enjoyed working with each other. In fact, we worked together at our day jobs before Holly quit, so we are used to it and love it. Over the last 6 months, our business had grown so much that it was taking up all of our free-time again. That is why we decided it was time for Greg make a career change and work at home as well.
What’s the best thing entrepreneurship has done for you?
The financial rewards have been incredible, and they just keep coming the harder that we work. However, the best part about being self-employed is that we have a lot more personal freedom and time. Sure, we may end up working a little on vacation. Sometimes, we have to work at night and on the weekends. But, we only work when we need to. When we’ve finished our work, we can quit for the day. We never have to ask off for vacation, sick leave, anything. When you work for somebody else, they are buying your time for money. We are making money to buy more time.
What lessons have you learned about entrepreneurship along the way?
You have to be decisive. You cannot fall into the trap of decision paralysis. So many people wait for the right time, or the right situation, or the right whatever. Instead of thinking about it and waiting for it, you need just do it. Do something, anything that helps move you toward your goal. You have to go out and take it. Nobody is going to give it to you.
What advice do you have for those considering entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship isn’t all butterflies and roses. It is hard work. It isn’t your regular 9-5 job. Nobody is there to motivate you, there is no paid vacation, and you don’t make money just by showing up. You have earn every cent you make. But the rewards are there, both personally and financially. If you have the right mindset and the proper work ethic, nothing provides you with more freedom or satisfaction than becoming an entrepreneur. At this point, we could never be anything else. We absolutely love it!
To learn more about Greg and Holly’s life as entrepreneurs, you can find them blogging over at www.clubthrifty.com.
Note: This is part of a series called Entrepreneur Success Stories, which features people who took a chance on starting their own business. If you have an Entrepreneur Success story, I would love to hear about it. Please visit the contact page to let me know the details.