Tell me a little bit about your background and how you ended up choosing the social media marketing field.
I’m Michael Gardiner. I don’t have an extreme rag to riches story like a lot of entrepreneurs seem to have, I was born in Stuart, Florida, into a very loving and supportive family. I did not have the luxury of having entrepreneurs in my family to follow; however, I did have the privilege of always having my needs met which is something I don’t take for granted.
It is a bit of a mystery to myself and my family how I turned out like I did, as my entrepreneurial interest and borderline obsessive ambition was a surprise. I think I have always had some entrepreneurial interests as a kid (starting little businesses for fun), however, I think how I got into social media was a bit of an accident.
At the age of 15, I started some themed Instagram accounts based around things I liked, such as luxury watches, cars, and travel. To my surprise, these pages ended up gaining 100,000+ followers and eventually a combined 1,000,000+. At this point, I was 16 and had companies paying me to use my audience to promote their product. This was the beginning of my entrance into entrepreneurship and social media marketing.
What made you decide to pursue entrepreneurship full time instead of finishing your degree and getting a job?
I had started college as a dual enrollment student in my junior year of high school which allowed me to obtain my AA degree upon graduating high school. I ended up getting some good scholarship offers and going to a college not too far from my home. I spent 1 full academic year there and although I made some amazing friends, and acquired some good connections, I truly hated school. I was simply angry and frustrated at a lot of the hoops college made me jump through and the non-relevant information I was forced to learn. I ended up doing one more semester the next academic year as a study abroad student (which I am very glad I did) and at that point, my business was doing well enough I made the decision to pursue entrepreneurship (and travel) full time and put college to the side.
I simply wanted to do what I felt would make me happiest and most fulfilled in life, and college was not that. The idea of wearing a dress shirt and commuting to work made me feel awful, and I would much rather work shirtless with swim trunks on by the beach in Thailand (as I am right now).
What are the 3 best practice tips you can share with our readers as it relates to your industry?
Although my main business is a social media marketing agency, I want to provide some tips that can help anyone who wants to run an online business and/or travel the world.
1) Don’t underestimate the power of small improvement.
One of my favourite sayings is “1% better every day”. It’s easy day-to-day, to look at yourself and your business and feel like you have not gotten better or improved, and then put less effort in as a result. I believe this is the death of most entrepreneurs. Taking action (even if it’s a small action on a day you don’t feel motivated) is key. Most people who are “overnight successes” have been preparing for years. Try to go through every day getting slightly better as a person and a business owner.
2) Calculate the cost of your ideal lifestyle.
Many people think that being an entrepreneur means making $100,000s of dollars and living a luxury playboy lifestyle. While that certainly can be the case, I think it’s important to understand that someone who makes $50,000 a year with their own business but uses their time freedom to be a better father is just as successful as the person who makes $500,000 a year and drives a Lamborghini. Consider the life you want, figure out how much you actually need to live that life, and use this figure to set your goals. For myself, if I made $1,000,000 a year I genuinely would not know what to do with the money, I am a very low maintenance person, who values freedom over anything else, so I base my cost estimate and goals around this.
3) Be obsessive about learning.
Learning is free. You have books, podcasts, YouTube, and many more forms of content that can be used for learning free and at your fingertips. There is no excuse to not learn; you don’t need to go to a fancy private business school to learn the cutting edge strategies; you just need to do a YouTube search.
How do you personally define success?
I personally don’t see much of a correlation between success and money. I think a successful person is someone who is working towards what they actually want in life and focusing on their happiness. Whether that means building a charity, becoming the best skateboarder, starting a 7 figure business, or being the best dad possible. Someone who follows their passion and lives a life of happiness is a success.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business’ success?
I think the biggest factor was my consistency. I have easily had 20+ failed businesses, and while my marketing agency has consistently been my “cash cow,” it took trying new things, implementing, failing, and learning to get to where I am today. I think a lot of people like the idea of being an entrepreneur and have this perception of it being something that is really sexy and glamorous when in actuality it can be physically and mentally draining and incredibly difficult. Over my roughly 5 years of being an entrepreneur I have had so many people ask for help or advice with starting a business, and over and over again I see people quit halfway into their first attempt or when their first attempt fails. The people who are consistently successful in business will always be the people willing to fail, get back up, and try again.
How can you be reached if someone is interested in continuing the conversation?
If you are interested in continuing the conversation, you can reach out to me directly by visiting my personal website at www.michaelrgardiner.com.
You can also connect with me on social media linktr.ee/michaelrgardiner.
I would love the opportunity to connect and answer any questions.
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