Answering the question, “What do I need a computer for?” The story about launching my online entrepreneurial career.
Back in 1995, my wife badgered me to buy a computer so that we would be able to connect to the Internet. We went round and round, and all I could say was “What do I need a computer for?” This conversation went on for months.
I finally broke down in August 1995 and purchased a computer on a Friday. I brought it home only to find out I did not have a modem to connect to the Internet through a telephone line. So, I got on the phone and called a friend who had me come over to his house and show me how to get connected. Fortunately, he had a modem that he lent me, allowing us to connect at around 7 PM.
What do I need a computer for? Connecting to AOL
We used one of the AOL disks that everyone would get in the mail and logged on to their “bulletin board” service. From there, we had an option to connect to the Internet, which I did, and started building my first website.
The idea for a website centered around creating a directory of limousine companies around the world allowing limousine businesses to network with one another.
What would I name that site? Well, I planned on linking limousine companies together, so I created LimoLink. I did not know what a domain name was at that time, so I used shared hosting on AOL, making the address http://www.aol.com/~limolink/. About a year later, I registered the domain, limolink.com and moved the entire website over to a company then known as ianet.com.
I kept on working on that site until 7 PM the next evening when I could no longer keep my eyes open. The Internet hooked me.
My site listed limousine services from all around the world. I worked on that site all the time. Plugging in every limousine company I could find. By 1997 I had typed in over 31,000 companies (I did it in HTML because I had no database experience and WordPress did not exist) and had people hitting my site from all over the world.
Everything changed on a Friday morning in 1997. I stopped in to see an investment banker friend because I wanted to ask him a personal question.
The question had nothing to do with the website, which he immediately started talking about when I entered his office.
Our conversation about the site lasted around four hours, and I never got asked the question I wanted to ask.
What do I need a computer for? Creating big business
He drew out how we could create 9 million dollars a year business on his whiteboard causing an incredible amount of excitement and anxiety at the same time.
Steve suggested that I go home and think about it over the weekend and to let him know if I wanted to pursue the opportunity. I knew right then, but I went home anyway and came back in on Monday, with the answer being a definite YES.
He showed me the way to take my obsession(hobby) and turn it into business doing 9 million a year in the nineties. Today, the business is doing several times that number. The company employs hundreds of people.
That hobby turned into a real business allowed me to seed and start several other companies since. And, I'll do more in the future.
All this, from a guy with no college degree, who barely made it out of high school. Not so bad, don't you think?
Imagine, what if I would not have bought that computer, after all, “what do I need a computer for?” I found out. I got my answer, and you will have similar questions you will ask in your life. Are you willing to take a chance as I did?
Go for it!