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Alumni News

Darrell Keezer

Want to be your own boss? Go for it. But don’t sit down

November 30, 2016

You’ve got a business idea, and you want to be your own boss, but you don’t know where to start. The trick, according to Darrell Keezer, is to just start going for it. The founder and CEO of Candybox Marketing arrived at Sheridan College in a 1983 Mazda that he says ran on “hopes and dreams.” Now, 11 years after completing the Business Administration, Marketing Co-op program, he’s turned Candybox into an award-winning web design and digital marketing firm, written a book, and learned more than a few lessons along the way. In November, he shared insider tips from the entrepreneurial world with students in the Pilon School of Business as part of Entrepreneur Week. His top tips:

• Being an entrepreneur is lonely and hard, and you’re going to want to stop and just sit down. Don’t.

• Go work for someone else first. You can learn some of the best lessons on “someone else’s dime and with someone else’s clients.”

• If you want to start a company, do it quickly. “I didn’t know how to start a business, but I Googled it and figured it out.”

• “Get startup clients, not startup capital.” If you can, build a business without a big bank loan.

• Fail forward: If something’s not working, just stop. Don’t keep trying if you can’t get customers.

• Surround yourself with people who can encourage you and give you good advice.

• Your customers are always right – but they don’t know what they want. Give customers what they need to solve their problems.

• Keep connecting with real people. Building relationships really is the key to success. “Companies don’t buy from companies. People buy from people.”