Making the Move from Corporate to Entrepreneur
Mark Ow’s story is a little different from other entrepreneurs you typically read about.
He didn’t drop out of college to start a business. He didn’t put it all on the line to dive head-first into e-commerce or app development. Instead, Mark’s foray into the world of online entrepreneurship came later in life, after more than 30 years of high-powered corporate gigs.
A Hui Hou – Until We Meet Again
Although Mark grew up in Hawaii, his computer science degree led him to other regions of the country for work. His resume includes roles at Hewlett-Packard, Apple, AT&T, Dell, Microsoft, and others. He excelled at leadership and management, receiving numerous endorsements from colleagues about both his people skills and technical skills.
While Mark certainly had a lot of reasons to feel accomplished, there was always something about having his own creation that had eluded him. He explains, “As I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten to the point where I wanted to do something myself, have something that I can manage, and grow, and be more responsible for my own efforts.”
Eventually, Mark moved back to Hawaii to be closer to family, but island life is different than major metropolitan cities. “Here, there just isn’t that much demand for my skills and my background,” which had included leadership positions in sales, marketing, engineering, and operations.
Instead of looking at life through a glass half full perspective, Mark looked for opportunities that made sense for where he was in life. Becoming an online entrepreneur made perfect sense.
Taking the Next Step
Now Mark had a decision to make – start from scratch or buy an existing business. A smart businessman, he weighed his options.
There are different risks and rewards for each, but ultimately Mark decided to buy an established business. He reasoned, “to be able to purchase a site that instantly has income-generating, that has the traffic, and that’s something that I can either simply just let run and produce income for me… I think that’s been really great because you invest, and then it immediately starts paying you back.” He continues, “there’s really nothing else in the world that allows you to do that.”
With the decision to buy a business out of the way, now came the tough (and fun) part. Mark had to find a business to take over. He wanted something appropriately priced, reasonably profitable, and something that wouldn’t be a logistical nightmare to run.
Mark elaborates, “The toughest thing is looking for something that’s a good fit.” For 18 months, he poured over listings. Every week he browsed our curated marketplace for opportunities. His patience paid off because he ultimately found a business to purchase that met all of his requirements.
“What I liked about Empire Flippers was their process.” Like all business buyers, Mark was assigned a project manager to handle the buying and migration. “They go through it step by step, making sure all the i’s are dotted, and the t’s are crossed.” The end result is a smooth migration process. “There’s absolutely no interruption in the business, and you’re able to get up and running very quickly.”
Having this level of support was critical, not only for Mark but for other entrepreneurs who choose to buy businesses with us. Though Mark did his own due diligence, knowing that we had also validated data like revenue, P&Ls, traffic, and other KPIs gave him the confidence to finalize the transaction.
You Bought a Business. Now What?
A major new purchase is exciting, but an online business isn’t like any other transaction. It’s not like a new car that you can take for a spin or a house that you can show off MTV Cribs style.
For Mark, it took discipline for him not to makeover the entire business. “The first thing you want to do is change this, change that, improve this…” He has a gleam in his eye when he says this, and we can imagine all the thoughts that must have been running through his mind. “That was one of the hardest things to do – just sitting there, and sitting on my hands, and letting it run.”
Ultimately, Mark let the business “do its thing,” at least, at first. “I didn’t touch it for a month, and it just ran like clockwork.”
Mark has discovered another huge benefit to running a company and being his own boss, especially in the online space. “There are sometimes days where I don’t touch the site. I don’t even log into it. I don’t look at it. And then I’ll check over the next few days, and it’s still earning money.”
The foray into digital entrepreneurship has been a game-changer for the way Mark views life and work. “Having a job since I was a kid, my income was [always] based on how many hours I worked, or did I actually go to work that day.” He adds, “so for a business to just generate income from people around the world – that’s super exciting to see.”
Now that Mark has discovered the joys of running an online business, he’s come to a realization that he’d like to share. Consider it a public service announcement. “Start much earlier,” he says, almost wistfully. “There’s a lot of people out there to help you, so just get started.”