B2B ID: Jess Greene, Seek Your Course, Easthampton
NAME: Jess Greene
JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Founder, Seek Your Course, Easthampton
WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: January 2011
WHAT YOU DO: I run a young online company that provides resources for adults wanting to be more creative. The Seek Your Course website hosts a database of upcoming art-focused learning opportunities and a store of downloadable ebooks. As a solopreneur, I have a hand in all the tasks involving the website. I write the blog posts, approve listings in our database for new classes that come in from around the world, edit the ebooks, plan live calls and market the website.
EXPERIENCE: I started life after college as a middle school science teacher, but soon after I started painting and making mixed-media art. I started reading art blogs and was introduced to the idea of living a creative life. Then I realized that there was the potential for me to create a life and a job within the online creative community, and I leapt at the chance.
THE MARKET: Seek Your Course serves those wanting creative experiences – like art classes, workshops and retreats – to enrich their lives. The website mostly appeals to women, although we don’t exclude men by any means.
HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: I connect with my audience through my weekly newsletter, blog posts and Facebook.
WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? Seek Your Course is all boot-strapped, meaning I have so far started and run the company without any outside funding. This summer, I traveled around the country for four months, running free art-making events and meeting art instructors who list their classes on the site. I ran the “Jumpstart Creativity Tour,” funding it with donations and an Indie Go Go crowd sourcing campaign. It was an amazing experience and strengthened my connections and mission.
KEY TO SUCCESS: Try something. You will learn something at the very least. I learned a lot on my road trip this summer because I took the risk to go. And don’t be afraid to let your expectations go in the face of something different.
CHALLENGES: My key challenge has been finding the best way to make money from my site. I started the site planning to make money from advertising, but that wasn’t very successful, so I have now moved into providing products and services that align with the mission of the site. It’s been about trying various strategies and getting the data to figure out what to continue forward with.
MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: This summer I went into my road trip with the idea that the reason for going was to meet quantities of people through my events so they would become aware of Seek Your Course. I learned quickly that playing the numbers game was only going to be disheartening. The trip became much more about stories, relationships and networking. Being flexible to see that happening was my salvation.
WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: Be brave. I don’t always feel brave, but I know others see what I do and are inspired by the leaps I take. So even if you don’t feel brave, do the things that get you out of your comfort zone and demonstrate your vision to others.
WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: I have been part of Valley Venture Mentors (http://valleyventurementors.org/) and worked with some fabulous mentors there.
TOP GOALS FOR 2013: My goal is to continue providing creative resources for those desiring it while also building stronger relationships with the creative instructors who are members on my site. I want to know how best I can help them be amazing teachers and inspire thousands more.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Keep moving forward.
PARTING THOUGHT: Creativity makes all the difference. It makes a difference for me as an entrepreneur and as a painter. Do what you need to do in order to give your ideas flight.
B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at email@example.com.