Running a business and having realizations go hand-in-hand. It’s often difficult to know what the right answer is to many of life’s questions until you try multiple things. For Everette Taylor, the path to launching his own business was one wrought with realizations and life lessons.
Growing up, Everette was a natural marketer with an inclination for branding, selling and consulting, even when it was just with candy bars and mixed CDs at a tender age. It wasn’t until he grew up and tried working in other fields that he realized his passion and innate abilities were something he should pursue as a career. After chasing job security in full-time positions in the tech industry, he changed gears and adjusted his focus on what he loved, rather than what he felt like he should be doing, and his company, MilliSense, was born.
Although his road to entrepreneurship has resulted in many sleepless nights and has been the cause for missing myriad social and family events and get-togethers, the lessons learned on the journey towards launching and running MilliSense have been invaluable ones. Today, Everette is opening up and sharing more about his experience with entrepreneurship and the nuggets of inspiration and knowledge he’s gathered along the way. –Sabrina
Photography by Devan Anderson
Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?
Interestingly enough, ever since I started MilliSense I always maintained another job — even if it meant barely getting any sleep when it came to getting it off the ground. I remember working from 8 am until 7 pm at my day job, grabbing a bite to eat, and then working on MilliSense until 3 or 4 am. I started the company because I was often being sought after for marketing consulting, particularly for startups, trying to grow. The demand started to become too much to bear on my own, so creating a company allowed me to bring in reinforcements, and, thus, MilliSense was born.
Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how you knew it was what you wanted to do?
That’s an interesting question because, in the beginning, it was less about learning and more about being naturally curious about entrepreneurship and marketing/sales. In grade school, I was a natural salesman, selling candy and mixed CDs to my classmates. At the time I didn’t really know what I was doing was marketing and branding. My first official job in marketing was with United Way when I was 18, and that’s when I truly started to learn marketing and I began to hone my skills. It actually took years for me to realize that marketing was what I wanted to do. I fought it for so long; I aspired to be an engineer, and then an IT specialist — I just wanted to make money to help my family. I didn’t think marketing was the best way to do so because there was more money, in my mind, in the tech industry. I soon began to realize that I could bridge my talent for marketing with my passion for tech, and that’s when I really started to embrace marketing and focusing on doing what I love rather than focusing on financial gain.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Honestly, I didn’t really receive any advice in the beginning, I was actually discouraged at first, which only motivated me more to make things work. So I guess the best advice was the discouragement I received initially, because it made me determined to make this company successful.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
The most difficult part was dealing with sleep deprivation and lack of a social life, honestly. I had no work/life balance at all. I suffered with depression, I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t until I got more help and some of the burden was taken off of my shoulders that I was able to become more stable. It was an extremely valuable lesson to learn that as a leader, you have to be able to trust people. You can’t do everything yourself.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
That I have to be selective with what companies I work with. In the beginning, anyone who wanted help with their business I would work with them, no questions asked. I’ve learned that if you’re selective, it makes things a lot easier and will save you headaches later.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?
There was a point when I was trying to do too much and it started to affect my work. I started losing contracts with a few companies that I highly valued. I had stretched myself thin and some of my best clients were unhappy. I had to take a step back, humble myself, and ask for help.
If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?
If I had 3 more hours per day, I wouldn’t dedicate it to working at all. One hour I would dedicate to sleep, the other to basketball, which I miss playing, and the last hour would be spent talking to family and friends back home.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
I was just about to touch on that in the last question — the biggest sacrifice has definitely been being able to talk to and spend time with the ones I love. When starting my business, I had tunnel vision and some of the most important relationships in my life suffered. I don’t have many regrets in life, but that’s one of them. I used to think it was a necessary evil, but now I realize that you can’t take the people you love and care about for granted. Tomorrow isn’t promised, I’m now making a concerted effort to do better.
Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?
I think the fact that business has grown over 300% in revenue since the first few months we started, and doing so while increasing personal happiness.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
Wow, there are so many, but two of my recent favorite books is Hooked by Nir Eyal with Ryan Hoover and Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. Although the book hasn’t released yet, be sure to be on the lookout for Unlocking Growth by Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis: that book will have tons of great knowledge in it.
Has failing at something or quitting ever led to success for you? Walk us through that.
Right after college, I disregarded my natural talents in marketing and took an IT job. I went there and absolutely hated it. I quit only after one week. I decided from there on out, that I would follow my heart and do things that I was passionate about. It allowed me to truly embrace what I was meant to do. This helped my career flourish when I became 100% dedicated to marketing as my craft and doors have continued to open for me ever since.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
The first thing you should consider is: does your product or service have market fit? Meaning, are you entering a good market with a product/service that can excel in that market?
Secondly, are you passionate about what you’re doing? Starting a business isn’t easy and takes tremendous sacrifice. Make sure that whatever you’re doing is something you believe in and are passionate about.
Lastly, consider if you have the money and resources to get the business off the ground, and if not, can you realistically make it happen? I, for one, wouldn’t take no for an answer. A resourceful and dedicated entrepreneur will find a way.
What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?
Honestly, it varies day-to-day, but I would have to say my top three are Gmail, Google Analytics and Twitter. ESPN, Snapchat, and Instagram may or may not frequently crack that rotation :)
What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?
Due to the nature of the business, I think the hardest part is the unrealistic expectations that some clients have. Some people look at “growth hackers” (growth marketers) as these unicorns that can magically grow their business. The truth is, growth is a process and a team sport. One person can’t turn a company around. Getting clients to understand this is by far the most difficult part of my job.