Start meditating. It’s great for your mental health, and it’s made it a lot easier for me to fall asleep too.”
Thomas Jepsen is the CEO of Contractor Quotes with a Master’s degree in Accounting, Strategy & Control, although he urges young people to skip business school, especially if it will put them in debt. From a very early age, he was very interested in learning to make money by himself, and started his journey by importing USB sticks and selling them on Ebay. After failing at that, he taught himself SEO, and worked with this while studying both his Bachelor and Master’s degree. During his Bachelor, he went abroad from Denmark to University of Richmond in Virginia, and got entirely hooked on the idea of living in the US. While spending a couple of years figuring out the easiest approach to moving back and doing his Master’s, he found out that building his startup and applying for a visa through it would be the easiest way to achieve that. The day prior to defending his Master thesis, Thomas was granted an E-2 visa, which would allow his dream to come true, and relatively quickly after graduating, he moved to Raleigh, NC, after just visiting the city once and not knowing anyone there. Thomas truly believes that the last year of being an entrepreneur has been the most educational time of his life, far outweighing what he learned through college.
Where did the idea for Contractor Quotes come from?
There is no glorious story about where the idea came from. It started out by the fact that I bought a seemingly random domain in the construction space and ranked it for a bunch of keywords intending to monetize it with ads. At some point, I was then contacted by a company wanting to buy leads from me, and after trying that out, the numbers made a lot more sense so I stuck with it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m unlike most. If I make it up by 10am, it’s a good day. I make breakfast, and maybe relax for an hour. At this point, my day starts, and I get to work. When most people stop working at 5pm, I do not. As of the time of this writing, it’s actually past midnight, and I have no intention of going to bed before 3am. My most productive hours are at this time, and I often lie in bed having trouble falling asleep since my head is full of ideas.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As mentioned, a lot of my best ideas happen in the middle of the night, and if I ever get a good idea, I write it down. When executing on ideas, I always figure out what the end goal is, try it out, then pause and ask myself “How can I do this for half the price/spending half the amount of time?” The goal is always get a good idea and make it scalable.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The fact that we’re slowly approaching quantum computers. They’ll unlock things we previously thought were unimaginable. When it happens, all I hope is that the legislation will allow this development of man kind rather than slow down the inevitable.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Loving to compete. Honestly, I love to compete. When someone else tells me I can’t, I turn around and prove them wrong. When that’s said, you need stamina to be an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You should have started learning to code earlier. Preferably at age 8. In the future, if you can’t code, it’ll be like being illiterate in today’s world.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
We’re addressing human consumption the wrong way. Everyone wants to do good for the planet, but to affect our overall consumption, we’ll need to more aggressively address the growth in the human population one way or another. Cutting my consumption by 10% won’t be significant if the human population has doubled in 50 years.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Start meditating. It’s great for your mental health, and it’s made it a lot easier for me to fall asleep too.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Writing to-do lists. Honestly, put things down on paper. Whether it’s an idea or an errand, when it’s on paper and you get to tick it off, it’s a satisfying feeling.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We set up some processes in the company, that unfortunately led to a temporary sharp decline in business. We’ve taken serious measures to address these.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The most easy for you to execute on would be to learn to code. Start by taking courses on Udemy for $10-12 per course, and then become a freelancer on Upwork. It might not make you a millionaire, but it’ll open doors, and definitely be a nice side income, if not more.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Honestly, books and courses. At this point personal and professional seems to be one and the same thing. Everyone needs to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
My absolute favorite piece of software is Ahrefs. It gives me so much insight into online marketing, and I probably make 30-50 decisions per day on the basis of the data it feeds me. It’s excellent at reverse-engineering competitors too!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. Being able to get your idea across and convincing others is an extremely powerful skill to possess.
What is your favorite quote?
Here’s a bit of shameless self-promotion. My favorite quote is “Be f***ing newsworthy!” by yours truly. Life’s very much about being able to tell the right story, and if you want to succeed in business, stand out from the rest. If you can’t point out at least 5 solid, and positive reasons why you stand out from 95% of other people, you need to work on marketing yourself. The use of the word fucking is just to draw a bit of attention. For the majority of our lives, we’ve been institutionalized to fit within a given framework, while being successful in business very much requires you break down these barriers and define your own path.
- You need to figure out how you stand out relative to the next guy. If you can’t, work on yourself.
Start investing more in yourself. Don’t drink those 3 cups of Starbucks and buy an online course instead.
- Don’t be afraid to stick out and do things your way. You answer to yourself, and your happiness comes before the expectations of society.
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Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.