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I met Dani Schnakenberg in our Facebook group, Make Money and RV. Dani is a blogger, podcaster, and entrepreneur with a lot of stories to tell, like this one about how she sold her web hosting business using Facebook. You can follow Dani over at Big Family Minimalist.
The Accidental Business Venture
Being an entrepreneur is kind of a funny thing. My grandpa would probably tell you that I’ve had an entrepreneurship gene from a very young age. Somewhere around early elementary school, I organized every tool I could get my tiny hands on in his barn…and then charged him to use them. My kids tell me that the evidence is still out there, covered in decades of dust.
During the years of growing my family, I tried the whole 9-to-5 thing, but quickly found it didn’t suit me. I went on to dabble in owning many small businesses, and even a handful of direct sales companies. I would even say I was quite successful at everything I tried, but nothing set my soul on fire, so I kept moving onto the next. That is until I found graphic and web design.
It was the web design that really did it for me. The blend of creativity with technology, and the added bonus of having an expertise that allowed me to help solve problems of others…well, it lit me up inside. I built a thriving design business, and in an effort to help those clients even more, I started doing more site maintenance, which eventually lead to running a small web hosting business.
Running a web hosting business was never really planned, but I so desperately wanted to help my clients that I took it on. Those design clients started referring people, and before I knew it, I had more than thirty hosting and maintenance clients. I never made any effort to promote this section of my business, but it wasn’t long before I was so busy with it, that I had no time or energy left for taking on the creative design work I loved.
Will where you are now will get you where you want to go?
Eventually, the lack of boundaries and almost desperate need to help my clients would bite me. I became burnt out, and the more I sought to reclaim my life, the more I started to get my priorities in line. And the clearer my priorities got, the easier it was to see what parts of my life were creating roadblocks.
A priority in our life is more family time and travel. A day or two sneaking away here or there really wasn’t cutting it. And the constant need to have my laptop and decent wifi in the case of a client emergency was a total buzzkill.
We eventually landed on the very specific dream of becoming a full-time RV family. As we researched and talked with others on the road, it became abundantly clear that my web hosting business was not an asset, despite the income it brought in. I feared I would be somewhere amazing but have a server go down and need to leave my family to their adventures while I sought out wifi to take care of a client issue. That vision didn’t mesh with what we dreamed of and I knew I had to find a new income source that would support our dream.
Building an Exit Strategy
Realizing you need to make a big change and actually doing so are two very different things. It was a good couple of months before I worked up the guts to actually do something with this information. I researched all sorts of ways to close my web hosting business, but one thing was super important to me: making sure my clients were well taken care of. I turned down offers from large hosting companies for fear that my clients would be lost in their masses. What I had created was a web-hosting concierge service of a sort, and my exit strategy had to include ensuring the integrity of that service. I started posting in other networking groups hoping to find just the right person.
Just setting the plan into motion was a huge step, and I celebrated by sharing in Heath and Alyssa’s Make Money & RV group that we were making big steps toward a dream of full-timing in about a year. When I shared that I had put my web hosting business up for sale, I didn’t expect anything other than some congratulations and well wishes. But sometimes puzzle pieces fall into just the right place when you least expect it.
Another couple working to become full-timers was actually looking for just the sort of clients I was working with. While a web-hosting business wasn’t a good fit for our family to take on the road, it was perfect for this young couple. I expected to feel nervous about handing over my beloved clients to someone new, but by the time we completed the transition, we knew without a doubt that everyone’s dreams were benefiting.
We thought that selling the web hosting business would be an early step in a year-long process to become full-timers, but I think the Universe took my willingness to let go as a sign to send more good things our way. Within a matter of weeks, many other puzzle pieces have slid into place and we expect to be on the road by the end of summer now!
While documenting our family travels on our blog, I’ll also be working on establishing a new business helping entrepreneurs streamline their business and processes. It’s near and dear to my heart, because what good is being an entrepreneur if your business is controlling your life and choking away all of your free time?
Photos: Paige Rynberg Photography