Five years ago, in 2012, a dream, even a fantasy if you will, was started. With a year of challenging work in the city of Michigan City Indiana a business plan was developed, modified, tweaked, vetted, and tweaked some more. Change was wanted, and needed, in the web design and marketing space. Having worked for several years at a printing company that did marketing I saw a lot of great old school things that still worked well today but could be enhanced with software and an eye on the future. After a year of work, saving money, the dream started to become a reality. This is the story of the four-year journey that JM2 Webdesigners & Marketing has made.
On December of 2012 everything was finalized and the business applications were all started. On March 8, 2013, everything became official and JM2 Webdesigners, LLC (pronounced JM Squared – we are software developers after all) came into existence. Started with two friends and their wives. The goal at the time and still is in 2017 is to help small and medium-sized businesses grow.
When our business plan was developed back in 2012 we looked at every major national player in the web design and marketing spaces. We made lists of what they collectively offered as well as individually offered. We are proud of our growth and that we now offer everything that we wrote down in the year of our inception. These solutions that are offered now are:
There are two ways of growing a business. You can borrow money, you can seek investors, or you can do as we did and bootstrap your growth. The last option is the hardest as there are times where you barely breakeven, have no marketing budget, had to borrow from our savings, etc. We would not change anything we have done as it has made us stronger than we would if we would have borrowed or sought out investors. The borrowing would have strapped us and made us think solely of paying that back and ourselves so that we can live. With investors, they would have dictated who we are. As a non-traditional company that breaks every mold an investor or investors would have made us a company solely out for money.
The items that have helped us through all of this was something new in Northwest Indiana that we learned about through the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. This was a solution to help starting businesses out called co-working. The co-working was called Zoseco co-working. The model we were originally scared about as the model we had never heard of before and took yet another leap of faith. With co-working you share the costs of rent, electricity, internet, gas, water, etc. Co-working allowed us to grow without a huge capital expense and being we were bootstrapping ourselves was a good fit. When we signed up we stated we would only be there for two years as if we stayed longer our model of growth and making a difference was wrong for us. Some companies will stay in co-working longer, some shorter. To us we set it at two years to prove our model works. Eighteen months into co-working we had reached a point we wanted to be at and started looking for a larger space.
In the fall of 2016 we increased our square footage from 100-square feet to over 2,000-square feet. This has been the best decision we could have made. From purchasing the space, we are on a pace of doubling our client base while also offering more to our customers. We did have to borrow for the mortgage but the costs were worth it and we appreciate what we've done and we have control of our destiny.
To this day our model is continually questioned as we keep costs low while making certain we produce the most beautiful products that are also efficient and grow with companies. We have now had over 48 months of learning and growth. Not one month has been in the red for the company which makes us even more proud. We have been close in the beginning but we always came out in the black. Each month is better than the last and I can say that we have a team that works together, is devoted to our customers, and most importantly each person is the top in what they do.
Our advice to those that want to start and run their own business you have three options. You have borrowing, bootstrapping, or getting investors. We strongly recommend using co-working places, like Zoseco, to test your plan, work with other entrepreneurs, and see if what you are offering is something that will work. You need to find which model works for you and your objectives. If you are focused, devoted to your customers, and have a passion for what you do you can truly accomplish anything! We are looking forward to our upcoming 5th anniversary and the many more beyond that.
The last recommendation is to have a strong support system. For myself, my wife Holly, has been my cheerleader throughout the process. When you have a support system that believes in you they also believe in your dream. They will support you, help you, and will be honest (super important!!!!) with your decisions to keep you on-track and moving positively forward. You will run into many nay-sayers who do not believe in your vision. Your support system will help you get past these people that will do everything within their power to disprove you. Stay strong and be the best you can be.
As I end this I want to give a huge thank you to our current customers for believing in us and our dream. With your support, we have proven that small and medium-businesses can grow without spending the amount of money that traditionally people had to spend.