John Rampton didn’t set out to create a global payment processing company. But today some 50,000 customers around the world use Due, a business he created out of necessity. He’s not alone. Some entrepreneurs run multiple businesses because they can’t settle on just one. Others, like Rampton, identify a need and find that the solution they create is something other business owners want.
If you’re thinking of branching off into new territory, consider these three lessons Rampton learned as he created a successful new business while running another.
Build What You Love
Rampton owned a digital marketing agency that provided content and other marketing-related services. He found invoicing customers and paying freelancers incredibly frustrating.
“We had a lot of contractors in foreign countries,” he explains. “We could not pay them because PayPal wasn’t accepted.” Plus, he said, PayPal required a systems integration that made it a clunky solution for his business. The other rub? When his company made a payment, “the money came out of our bank account that day but sometimes it didn’t clear our contractors’ accounts for like seven days,” he said, something those workers weren’t too happy about.
So his team started working on an internal solution that would make invoicing, receiving and making payments faster and simpler. The solution they developed worked so well that his customers loved it. It was easier to use, and in the case of vendors, allowed them to get paid faster. Before long, they wanted to know where they could get it for themselves.
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Make Sure There’s a Market
Due was bootstrapped from revenues of Due’s other company initially, then from paying customers who used the early version. But it required a significant commitment. “Just the domain name Due.com was $130,000,” he says.
Before he invested in the domain name, though, Rampton says he made sure the service worked well for his own company’s use. When he started rolling it out to others, he made sure it worked for them, too. “We had probably 12,000 customers before we knew it worked really well,” he says. It was at that point that he and his team began to get serious about marketing it to a wider audience.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Big Boys
One of Due’s biggest competitors is behemoth PayPal. But rather than get stressed about going up against the big boys, Rampton focuses on a much smaller base that wants what his company has to offer. He doesn’t worry that the PayPals of the world will crush him. While he’s built a healthy business, in the world of payments processing, he says, “We’re not even minnows. We are more like small organisms in a big pond.” And he laughs.
One of the reasons he’s not afraid of that competition is because he knows his team can be more nimble and move more quickly. “Small businesses underestimate how quickly they can move compared to how slow these big corporations move,” he says. He also knows he has a competitive advantage in that his company’s expertise lies in content and marketing. Indeed, Rampton is frequently interviewed in the news media and, as a writer himself, contributes to numerous news websites, furthering his reach.
Above all, Rampton encourages entrepreneurs not to be afraid to take (smart) risks. “As entrepreneurs, if we don’t take chances, nothing is going to happen for us,” he says.