So round 2 of “Young Entrepreneurs Making Moves” brings us Rick Hoskins, owner of On The Map Marketing, a full-service web develop and internet marketing firm. Ya, “he makes websites and shit” is what you might be thinking, but it’s truly a lot more than that. Rick is actually a good friend of mine and the kid is doing big things. He rents out half a floor of an office building in downtown Miami with over 15 people working there and oh yea…he’s only 22 years old.
So for those lucky few to be reading this right now, Could you please explain briefly what On the Map Marketing is all about Ricky.
Surely. On the Map Marketing is a full-service internet marketing company that does everything from building custom websites, creating SEO (search engine optimization) campaigns, email marketing and even creating Google Maps pages for businesses. If it has to do with the web, we’ve probably done it in some capacity.
What inspired you to start your business at such an early age, and what was the hardest barrier to entry?
I have always wanted to run my own business since I was a kid. When I was 16 and in high school near Cape Canaveral, Florida (space ships!), I had an internship at an internet marketing company called Labitat. They were a small SEO company that had been in the game from the mid 90’s. I learned a lot there about the world of SEO and internet marketing, and after talking with my parents, I decided I could really start a viable business.
I made the decision to not go to college (felt it was a waste of time if I knew what I was doing and how to do it). So, at 18, I packed up my stuff, and headed south to Miami. I started working out of my apartment, and as things began to grow rather rapidly ,I leased a small office space and took on a partner (a former attorney). Things grew exponentially at that point and then we moved into our current office. At any given time we have around 15 people working (I also recently bought out my partner to take things in the direction I wanted to).
Probably the hardest barrier to entry for me was defining a product that had a worthwhile return on investment for my clients (there’s a million things you can offer in regards to internet marketing). The second hardest thing was interviewing people. I had only been on one in my whole life, and the people I was interviewing were on average twice my own age!
Why do you think younger people are starting more businesses in their 20’s instead of later on after they have the “experience”?
When you’re younger, you have way less commitments (I am married already though haha). It’s so much easier to take a big risk when you’re younger than older, have a mortgage, kids, etc. Within the past 5 years, new job growth has tanked so people our age are having to be more creative in finding ways of supporting ourselves, that, or staying in school for a graduate degree (an over educated, under experienced workforce is going to be an issue very shortly in my opinion). I also think our generation is adverse to the thought of a “career job”, i.e. sucking it up for the next 30 years just to be able to retire sooner. We are the first people to really grow up with the internet and this in turn has sped up exponentially how fast we get fed our information. I don’t know about you, but my attention span is short, and I think with many corporate jobs at big companies, things take forever to happen (interview process, moving up the ladder, etc.). There are too many walls.
What do you think the most important factor affecting your success has been thus far?
Following through and doing what I say I’m going to do. There are so many people that talk a big talk and then never finish or do what they say they are going to do, and I think “under promising, over delivering” has hugely impacted my success. Most companies won’t answer the phone and are very fly-by-night. With the internet, there is so much supply for services and products that a lot of companies don’t want to waste their time talking to people as there is always someone else on the other line “ready to buy”. This has hampered quality service dramatically and I take pride in making sure people are happy. Google feels this same sentiment as they promote user reviews of people and places pretty seriously too.
Who has been your strongest influence/mentor in the process of starting your own business and what is the most important thing they’ve taught you?
I’d have to say my dad. He was always an entrepreneur himself. He owned an air conditioning company and always offered great customer service, and I try and do the same.
Where do you see yourself and your business in two years?
The Walmart of SEO! I want the business to be a complete one-stop shop for all things internet marketing. We are currently looking to open a new sales office in Florida, and then we want to open an office somewhere else in the country, either NYC or California.
What is the most important thing you would tell someone in their 20’s starting a business to do?
Just do it. Don’t spend unnecessary money until you’re making money (office space, expensive advertising, etc). Get your first client, set up something that is generating at least a little money and then handle the logistics (registering you’re business, accountant, etc).
Business plans are bs; you can plan out what you want to do, but until you test and evaluate, you’ll never know. It’s pointless to make some 20 point business plan, because in my view, there are just too many external forces acting against you for them to really work as planned.
Also, don’t reinvent the wheel. There are too many young people trying to start some new idea. My theory is it’s best to learn what’s out there and build upon it. Stay focused on one major project. Know your direction and visualize!!!
What was your most recent trip?
I actually just got back last week from a little vacation in the Dominican Republic. I had a nice time, it’s a pretty relaxing place!
A big wet thanks to Rick for answering my questions, and just remember Happy Gilmore, “You Can Do It!!!!”