Visualize what you want. Without a strong vision, there are too many obstacles that will eventually make you quit.
Joseph Edwin Johnson is a 23-year-old entrepreneur working out of the Chicagoland area. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in entrepreneurship and launched his startup business, Total Comfort Medical while he was still in college.
Total Comfort Medical specializes in creating comfort products in the healthcare field for both medical professionals and patients. In addition to his startup, Joseph is the owner and operator of an ilovekickboxing franchise in Illinois. He also owns a medical distributorship selling capital medical equipment across the midwest.
Ever since he was young, Joseph had an invention notebook and some new idea rolling around his head. His love for innovation and discovery started young and continues to this day. He’ll be the first person to show you his plan for the first “iPad” that he wrote out when he was 10 years old.
He learned about investing from a young age because of his parents who taught him the lessons of saving, investing, and letting your money go to work for you. Today Joseph works to continue growing his companies while learning as much as he can about business throughout the process. This is only the beginning of his dream, with his ultimate vision of becoming a great entrepreneurial figure in history.
Where did the idea for an updated Total Comfort Knee Pad come from?
Initially, the idea came from my Dad who is a Nurse Practitioner and sees a lot of Knee Replacement patients on a regular basis. Every one of the patients would inquire about kneeling after surgery and asked what knee pad he recommends wearing. His normal response would be to go to a local hardware store. The problem was patients had already been there and couldn’t find one that wasn’t bulky or uncomfortable. After consistent complaints about not having a comfortable knee pad option, my dad called me up to tell me about the problem. I was a junior in Loyola Marymount University’s entrepreneurship program at the time and was actually brainstorming startup ideas. I looked into this problem and saw that Knee Replacement surgeries were going to increase by over 400% over the next 15 years, so I knew it would be a good market to get into. It was then that I decided to build a company around comfort products in the medical field, and the rest is history.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There really is no typical day for an entrepreneur in a startup. There are a hundred different tasks to get done, and in most cases including mine, I am the only person running the show. My days are mostly categorized based on the stage of the company. At the beginning, it was all about researching materials, finding manufacturers, building prototypes, etc. After that, it was about creating packaging, graphic design elements, building a website, and getting customer feedback among a lot of other tasks. My days now are filled with website analytics, marketing, sales, and SEO. Staying productive is easy when you see your friends getting a paycheck every month. The harder I work, the closer I get to build a profitable company.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Try to build a minimum viable product as fast as you can, get customer feedback, and refine your product/service based on the feedback. It’s also important to always have a source where your drive comes from, whether it’s a goal, a vision, or some other area of inspiration.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
It’s exciting to see what Elon Musk is doing. He basically created his own trend of going against the status quo and breaking through previous boundaries in business. Did anyone ever think they would be able to buy a car directly from the manufacturer? Or buy a ticket to space from a private company? Or get their own personal battery pack to store energy from their own home? Elon is showing everyone that a true innovator can accomplish anything in this world or even another planet…
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I get tunnel vision when working on specific projects, so I can work deep into the night until I finish what I need to get done. My stubborn persistence helps me block out distractions.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I had an internship the summer going into my freshman year of college at a hotel’s marketing and sales department. I was stuck in an isolated office with no one to report to and no guidance on what I should do. It taught me how to create connections and open up to new people. I had to go around and search for work to keep me busy. It was eye opening to see that people don’t utilize resources even when they are at their fingertips. I learned that I wanted to start my own company one day and make sure I use all the resources I have at my disposal.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I waited too long to launch my website and blog. I thought I needed a finalized product before I could reveal anything online. It’s much better to at least set up a blog to start gaining some authority with google and maybe even get people to sign up for a newsletter or future company updates. You have to start generating interest as soon as possible.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Visualize what you want. Without a strong vision, there are too many obstacles that will eventually make you quit. With a dream, a vision, or a goal, you have something to reinforce your decision to keep pushing forward, no matter how many disappointments and frustrations you encounter, because believe me, you face so much more than you can anticipate. I also read a lot of business books, and I have learned a lot from them that helps me keep a competitive edge. You can never have too much knowledge. It’s one thing you can control in business that is easy to gain and can never hurt you. Just look at Warren Buffet. He read almost every book on investing at his hometown library before he even started high school and still spends 80% of his working day reading. That says a lot about the power of knowledge.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I am still in the pre-market phase, but I can say that learning about search engine optimization (SEO) is going to be very important in growing the business. SEO is always changing, so you have to stay on top of new updates and strategies, but they can prove to be very helpful in getting recognized and ranking on search engines. The primary part of this strategy is first developing a great product people will want to learn more about, then creating content that people will want to share, and finally optimizing your website for users.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Failure is a big word that I think is only appropriate if you quit at what you are doing. I have had hundreds of setbacks though. The biggest obstacle so far was finding the right manufacturer, at the right price, using the right materials. They don’t teach you about manufacturing in school, so it’s all about staying persistent, reaching out to as many factories as you can or finding the right people who have the necessary connections. Oh and of course, find your inner zen, because you’ll need a lot of patience during the process.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I keep a notebook of ideas I think of throughout the day. The silliest one I just thought of is a sensor for convertibles that can automatically close the top when it senses rain. More realistically though, the next idea currently in development at Total Comfort Medical is individual memory foam pads for yoga or similar activities to cushion knees, elbows, hands, etc.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
I just ordered a Fitbit online, so I’m really excited to start tracking my activity levels and sleep. It will be super cool to have all that data and see if I can make any connections between the stats and how I feel each day.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Google Analytics and Webmaster tools are great for getting a detailed view of the backend of your website. It helps with identifying problem areas or even opportunities like what pages or posts are performing the best. The Check My Links Chrome extension is great for broken link building campaigns, and the MozBar Chrome extension is also really helpful with SEO work.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I can’t recommend just one book, but I can list the best books depending on the business category. Company Culture: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, Thinking Big: Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Marketing: Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday, PR: Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday, Managing: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, Selling Wholesale: Retail Detailed by Merril Lehrer.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Guy Kawasaki is a great speaker and even wrote a couple really awesome books. His concepts are simple, direct, and on-point. He is also the most active entrepreneur on social media and always posts really interesting business articles:
David Meerman Scott is also an expert in the marketing and PR fields. He does a lot of speaking that you can find online and also wrote a great book:
Total Comfort Medical on Facebook:
Total Comfort Medical on Twitter: @GetTotalComfort
Total Comfort Medical on Google+:
Total Comfort Medical on Youtube:
Joseph Johnson on LinkedIn:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.