Anyone can become a self-employed financial success, and social media business guru Martin Dasko has been spreading that message since the early 2000s. His blog, Studenomics, has been helping millennial audiences “achieve Financial Freedom in [their] 20s” for over a decade. “I’ve always wanted to share my story,” Dasko reveals, “and convince other people that they could go into business for themselves.”
Martin started his blog during college to share his journey toward financial independence. Pre-Myspace, blogging was the Internet’s revolutionary social platform. As a twentysomething in the business of social media before social media existed, Martin had to get with the times—many times. “Not everyone wants to read the blog,” Dasko laughs, “so I’ve expanded. I’m producing regular content for my podcast and YouTube series. I’ve written e-books. Of course, I have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m currently working on an online course.”
The Internet can be a great networking and marketing tool, but it can also swallow a life whole; there aren’t established “best practices” for social media usage, and overindulgence is normalized. “Millennials have to produce results,” Dasko insists. “Too many people talk, and share memes, and post inspirational quotes and check-in at the gym. There’s no results. It’s easy to be busy all day.”You can’t lead a successful social media business if you’re getting high on your own supply!
Alex Phillips founded Streamline Seattle after 10 years of interior design experience in New York and L.A. convinced her she could offer a more affordable service to clients. She operates out of The Riveter, an all-women entrepreneur co-working space. Her Seattle-based company offers a broad suite of in-home services, including interior design, personal assistance, home organization and general help.
Phillips fondly recalls her early jitters about jumping into a social media-heavy field: “I used to worry, like, is this a real job? Family, friends…I had to tune everyone out.” Social media businesses create online personalities that engage customers, and must show they relate to their customers on a personal level.“Organizing your home is expensive and emotional,” Phillips notes. “My whole organization provides a lightness, and so we set that precedent with social media. The natural tool is humor. It makes them feel normal—like, this person isn’t going to look down on me because my life is a mess.”
In the future, millennials will have more business acumen than any generation previously. Now is a great time for millennials to join in on self-employment; “Internet-savvy” is an ideal skill set to start with. In the age of technology, there’s never a bad time to start hustling. “Do you!” encourages Phillips. “Don’t give a fuck about anything you are told to do. If you’re going to chase something inauthentic, you’re on a bad path to unhappiness. Be clear with yourself about who you are at your core—and get moving!”
How to Start Your Own Business
The following is Martin Dasko’s “American Pie” strategy for a business startup. I used this strategy in 2014 to move across the country to somewhere completely unknown and start my own company, which now employs me full-time. It really works. Your biggest obstacles are “no” and “can’t.”
- Dream up a specific service you think you can offer—tutoring, financial advice, coding, etc.
- Think of where you can find people who might be willing to buy this service.
- Forget market research; charge any price you deem fitting.
- Find someone willing to pay you.
- Over-deliver on the service and ask for a referral.
- Congrats! You are in business. The scariest part (outside of tax season) is over. If you make it this far, you can make it all the way to self-employment.