Hi, I’m AJ
I’m sure you’ve already heard a bit of my story, but I was able to start, scale, and exit (for multiple seven figures) my first business, an SEO agency called “The Guerrilla Agency.” Over that time, I made almost every mistake a person can make (choosing the wrong partner, hiring too quickly, not focusing on the right things, etc.).
Thanks for taking the time to watch/read my story. I hope I can help!
- Digital Marketing
- Small Business Growth Hacking
- Master Delegation
- Pizza Ordering
- Successful Multi-Million Dollar Small Business Exit
- Marrying the Girl of My Dreams
- Traveling the World Teaching Others to do the Same ^^^
University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN. 2010-2014
It has to start somewhere; it has to start sometime; what better place than here? What better time than now?
— Rage Against the Machine
When AJ isn’t trying to grow various businesses, he spends his time watching movies, trying new foods, cooking, traveling, riding his motorcycle, and going to the gym!
Hi! I’m AJ, and here’s my entrepreneurial story.
If we’re going to start somewhere, we’ve got to start in sixth grade. My dad was a small engine mechanic, and we lived on five acres outside of Rochester, MN. So it was sort of an all-hands-on-deck situation to mow the lawn.
After about my 14th time doing this, my neighbor came over and asked if I could mow his lawn. We negotiated $35 (In reality, it should have been $70, but I was 12).
The first Summer, it was two lawns, the next summer, it was three, you know the story.
Fast forward to my senior year in high school, and my brother and I had over $20,000 worth of equipment mowing anywhere from 30-50 lawns a week.
This was sort of an Ah-ha moment for me. I was making $5,000/month working two days a week, and my friends were all making $5 an hour at Sears.
After getting injured playing ju-co football, I went to community college in St. Paul, after pretty much partying for two straight years living on the University of Minnesota campus, I decided I needed to get my shit together.
I ended up going to the University of St. Thomas and majoring in entrepreneurship.
In college, I meant Braden Ericson (shoutout), and we started a mobile app with Broderick and Justy called JABB. It was a social events app primarily designed to be an anonymous party app.
After launching the app, it fizzled, and everyone ended up going in separate directions.
I took the concept and pivoted to create a different web app called Go-Rilla. The idea behind Go-Rilla was simple, it was supposed to be an event marketing app (think Foursquare with better tracking).
During my time working on both projects, I was always on the business/marketing side of the equation.
When I approached 612 Brew (a local brewery in Minneapolis) about Go-Rilla, they said they weren’t interested…But they needed someone to run their social media.
Hence The Launch (a digital agency) was born.
A few months later Go-Rilla fizzled out, but I was left with a new business idea (or at least, new to me). Hence, The Launch was born.
It took about six months, but I eventually (almost accidentally) scaled The Launch to a $10,000 MRR (monthly recurring revenue).
In talking with a mentor about a new software project I was thinking of starting, they opened my eyes to the idea that I was stupid…and I’m already doing something that was successful, and I needed to scale.
So, I did.
I changed the name (because I more or less just picked “The Launch” out of a hat) to The Guerrilla Agency. Which also, in retrospect, wasn’t the absolute best name because we don’t do Guerrilla Marketing.
I changed the focus of the company to Web Design and SEO and focused more on lead generation for Small Businesses over likes and comments on social media. Needless to say, it was a much more valuable service.
From 2017 to 2022, I scaled The Guerrilla Agency to 16 employees at a 50% profit margin.
Holy smokes, something that actually worked!
In 2020, I discovered the power of affiliate marketing and acquired Small Business Bonfire.
At first, I was using SBB and another site I own as a passive income machine my wife and I called “MailBox Money” (no shit, I own that LLC in Minnesota).
I think one of the things that always gets me jazzed is helping others on their business journeys. Throughout the years I’ve been fortunate enough to help several friends/colleagues with their businesses.
So, I re-thought SBB.
Now, I’m focused on building Small Business Bonfire into a small business field guide for would-be entrepreneurs.
I’m hoping it can be a better resource than what’s currently available and that our readers can learn form my many (many) mistakes.
My journey in entrepreneurship has not been a straight line but a series of zigzags, each, in turn, teaching me more about the game of business.
And that’s the thing. Any entrepreneur will tell you that the key to business isn’t a great idea, or some “silver” bullet strategy. It’s constantly working on it while you grow your skillsets over time.
My mantra is that if you never give up, you never lose.
I’m looking forward to what the future holds for me and for you. If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know!