Highlights from #imakealiving Austin and Looking Ahead to 2019!

FreshBooks is on the road! Last month, we hosted #imakealiving in Austin. We’re looking forward to continuing the North American #imakealiving Tour in 2019!

With great risk comes great reward — and for small business owners everywhere, this couldn’t ring truer! Plenty of heart, soul and labor goes into the creation and day-to-day of a small business. And guess what? FreshBooks is here for you every step of that journey.

Last month, we hosted two #imakealiving events: one in Austin and the other in Portland. Here’s how Austin, Texas went down!

Highlights from #imakealiving Austin

Our amazing panel included Ben and Camille Arneberg (Founders of Amazon store, Willow & Everett), Hal Elrod (Motivational Speaker and Author of The Miracle Morning), Benedict Dohmen and Santiago Nestares Lampo (Founders of Benitago Group and inventors of Supportiback) and Allen Walton (Founder of Spy Guy).

The audience and our panelists were welcomed by FreshBooks’ Events Manager Paco Arizmendi and the event was moderated by special guest, Elaine Pofeldt.

Elaine is a veteran journalist who has contributed to publications such as Fortune, Money, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Forbes. She recently published The Million Dollar, One-Person Business, which explores the rise of the one-person/non-employee business and the strategies taken to successfully do it alone, from automation to outsourcing.

Coincidentally, Tim Ferriss was in the audience, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and Tribe of Mentors. Tim has been a huge inspiration for Elaine and many other small business owners on how to create a location-independent business and break free from corporate America.


It was only natural that to kick things off, Elaine invited Tim to come up and share his thoughts on starting up a successful, one-person business. According to Tim:

“In the last 10 years, what’s really struck me is how much easier it is to build these solopreneur or one-person businesses that grow to tremendous size. There has never been a better time, from my perspective, to try things. You can really test on evenings and weekends and come up with some tremendous solutions.”

He later added: “Entrepreneurship is not a one-size fits all. It’s kind of like being an artist. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or artist, you are creating something from nothing. And you can choose the tools you use or the outcomes you want. It’s all up to you.”

After Tim’s special appearance, Elaine asked the panel, to share if there was anything they did to help set themselves — and their business — up for success.

Author of The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod started off by sharing: “For me, it was being willing to simply learn from other people. It wasn’t so much seeking out mentors, but investing and going to events.”
He added how important it is to invest the time, money and energy and not always try to figure it out on our own, but learn from the experts.

“Books for me were the fastest but least expensive way to grab a mentor for twenty bucks and learn from all their knowledge and years of experience.”

In contrast, Ben Arneberg had a different experience on what helped set him and Camille up for success when starting Willow & Everett.

“You pay money for college courses, right? When we started Willow and Everett, we approached it as let’s just put in as much money as if we were doing a college course. And even if we lose it, we’re going to learn so much. We probably going to learn more than if we did in a college course.”
He also mentioned: “Once you find something that works — focus. Drop everything else and really focus and double-down on that because there can be so many distractions that arise.”

Elaine then steered the conversation toward how the panelists were able to fund their ideas and launch their businesses.

Benedict Dohmen and Santiago Nestares Lampo, came up with their idea for Supportiback when they were both college students. Benedict explained how they got creative in trying to raise the money for prototyping:

“We had about $2,000 to start up it off with — we each put a $1,000 in. We honestly knew that we couldn’t do a production run with $2,000 so we made up a story that we were a massive company outside of Boston and we had a big board meeting coming up and we were going to distribute samples to all of the board members. And they were going to give their opinion on the product to see if we should proceed with this bigger run of million-dollar purchase. It was good enough to make that first order and to prove that concept. And that’s how we hit our first hundred units.”


To wrap-up the discussion, Elaine asked the panelists to share a big mistake they made early in their business and what they took away from it.

Allen Walton of SpyGuy went first and shared an error he has made multiple times:

“I made the mistake of not hiring soon enough. I’ve made that mistake multiple times. I’m up to 5 employees now, but I should have hired my first employee, a customer-service person, months before I actually did. My Dad says to hire people three months before you really need them since it generally takes three months to get them trained up to where they need them to be so they can be valuable to the company.”

Camille Arneberg of Willow & Everett also shared a mistake that she and many other entrepreneurs can fall into:

“[It’s about] not knowing when to cut loose and pivot away from something that wasn’t working. I think as an entrepreneur, it’s really easy to get emotionally attached to your ideas and products.”

She closed with some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “A winner is a loser who just kept trying. We have to continue being persistent.”

Looking Ahead to the 2019 North American #imakealiving Tour

In 2019, we’ll be continuing on our #imakealiving tour across North America. Each and every #imakealiving event helps to facilitate and inspire connections between small business owners — and we’re honored to be a part of it all. Ready to get the conversation going? We can’t wait to meet you!

Our next stop will be in February. Check out our events webpage to see where are first stop will be!

about the author

Senior Content Marketing Manager, FreshBooks Lisa is passionate about small business success, having managed funding programs for hundreds of Canadian start-ups and entrepreneurs. She is presently Senior Content Marketing Manager at FreshBooks.