Sushant: Hey TREPS! This is Sushant, founder and host of TrepTalks. Joining me today is Mr. Zeb Welborn. Zeb is the President of Welborn Social Media and also the Tutoring Solution. Basically, through his social media company, he helps business owners become successful by harnessing the power of Internet and social media, get more customers and make stronger relationships with existing customers. He is also the Founder and Host of the Defining Success podcast. Today I wanted to speak with him because he has a very interesting entrepreneurial story, and I thought that any aspiring entrepreneur who wants to start his own business, will probably find it interesting and probably can learn a few lessons from it. I really appreciate your time today Zeb. Welcome to my show!
Zeb: Of course. Thanks for having me.
Sushant: Let’s get started. As I understand, you started off as a high school teacher teaching History to students. And what happened then? You decided to start a business? What happened that made you decide, “No I don’t want to teach anymore, I want to do something else.”?
Zeb: It’s kind of a long story. I think as with everything there’s always multiple reasons why you kind of change paths. So when I first started teaching, I was a teacher and I got married to the girl that I was dating since college. While I was teaching, I really had a stronger sense that I wasn’t able to have the impact that I wanted on certain kids. I would work an exorbant amount of hours. And anybody who’s been a teacher, and if you now that you want to be the best teacher, you know it takes so much time and effort and energy. So I really wanted to be that best teacher best teacher, you know I had a hundred and sixty five students, but then the wife that I had at the time, it took its toll on the relationship I guess you could say. So we ended up getting divorced mostly because I was so committed to being the best teacher that I could. There’s other reasons mixed in there, but anyways, her and I got divorced and I kind of came to the conclusion that there was no way that I could be the best teacher that I wanted to be and still live the lifestyle that I wanted, which was to have a family, a wife and things of that sort. So right after the divorce I finished out the next school year and then I actually got my 2007 Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck and traveled the country, just kind of on a whim, trying to see if there’s anything I could find out there and this isright when the recession happened so basically there were no jobs anywhere. I would send out resumes to every possible place I could imagine and nobody was hiring. I didn’t even get responses back.
Sushant: So basically before heading out to travel the country, you basically resigned from your job and that was it.
Zeb: Yes, and that was it. So I couldn’t find a job anywhere and I came back home and I moved back in with my parents, which is a very humbling experience.
Sushant: One thing that I want to ask because that is a very critical step. A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs out there who may have a job right now, and they may not enjoy the job but they may already know that there is something out there that they’re passionate about and they would like to do. But it is the fear that they have of letting go of a stable salary that they are getting bi-weekly or monthly. Did you face any of that kind of fear in that moment? What was your thought process? What made you really make the decision “I want to resign and do whatever I want to do?”
Zeb: That’s a really good question. Absolutely there was a lot of fear associated with it. I never wanted to be a burden on anyone. I was fortunate enough where my family is very loving and supportive and they would do anything for me, and I know that. I always did have that fall back opportunity. But it absolutely was very scary. But in my heart I knew that I couldn’t live that life and be the type of person that I wanted to be, so I knew that it was just a step that I had to take. Even though it was scary and I knew that it was going to be difficult but I just made that decision regardless.
Sushant: So you started traveling and then what happened?
Zeb: Okay, so I travelled the country, couldn’t find a job and moved back home, moved back in with my parents. Now as I moved back in with my parents as I said, it was still difficult to find a job even here locally, so I went back to what I knew, which is education. There were a couple of postings on Craigslist, people looking for tutors. I responded to one of them and I went to tutor this one student, and it was just me and this one student and I was going to tutor him for two or three hours a day, and I really enjoyed it because in the classroom I always felt that I was letting students down. With your focus on the kids that are over achieving it’s kind of to the detriment to the kids that are underperforming. And If you focus on the kinds that are underperforming you’re missing out on opportunities to teach the kids who are doing very well. But in this one on one scenario, you can really work to improve that one student and make sure that he becomes successful. Now when I started with him, he was failing all of his classes. He failed all of his classes his freshman year and all of his classes in the first semester of the sophomore year, and that’s when I took over. By his senior year, he was on the honor roll, he had made up all the classes he had failed, and it really was a very fulfilling experience because I had a huge impact on this student’s life and on their whole family. So it was great. And I knew that first semester when I started working with him, I really knew that I wanted to make a business out of it. So I started figuring out ways to book my business. One of the ways that I did that, my sister, she was learning website design classes at the time, so she put together these very rudimentary websites for the Tutoring Solution, and my thought process was that, “Okay I’ve got a website up. Everybody’s going to come and check it out.” But as you know, that didn’t happen.
Sushant: With the website, did you want to achieve that people will visit the website and they will see that you are available and they will give you a call and hire you? Or were you trying to do some online education thing?
Zeb: That’s a good question. No, I was all local based. At first, I was hoping that people would find my website and then hire me to do tutoring services. So that was the first step and it progressed and I did start to do some online stuff later on. But that was the first basic concept.
Sushant: So that was the big problem that you faced at that time. You thought, “I have a website and people will start flocking to the website and I’ll start getting phone calls.” And I think that is a common misconception for any amateur online entrepreneur. They think, “I have a website, I put a blog out there, I’m going to write a few blog posts and there will be a lot of people reading it.” I think that’s a humbling experience. Please go ahead. What happened next?
Zeb: Yeah, absolutely. And I have come across that now that I’m in Internet marketing, you come across that all the time. Everyone is like, “Oh I have a website out there.” Or a blog, they think that writing a couple blog posts is going to get them tons of traffic and everyone is going to be aware of their business. But that’s just not the case. It takes a lot of work and effort to do that. So we built the website up, fortunately enough for me, and I think this is a critical component, analysis tools. So my sister knew enough to install Google Analytics onto our website. Because you need to know how many people are checking out your website and so I would go and check out the Google Analytics and realize that there were four or five people checking out