JD Parkman: before becoming an Entrepreneur
Since 2005, I’ve used the power of internet marketing to build several multi-million dollar businesses with nothing more than a laptop, phone, and a dream to be creative and successful. All the things I’ve done in life leading up to now is what defines me. Some things are good, others I cant say I’m too proud of, but nonetheless it’s who I am and what led me to pivoting MMW to a results driven home improvement digital marketing agency.
I normally don’t look back at my life, but now that I’ve taken the time to I realize it’s been a long, hard road. One filled with more potholes, losses, and pain than I care to even admit to myself.
Sometimes, while sitting here, all alone staring at this screen, I wonder if it was worth it.
If you’ve never had someone laugh at you, ridicule you and leave your side when you needed them the most, then this isn’t an article for you, this one is.
However, if you’re the type that’s not had an easy journey building their best business and can resonate with what I’ve said thus far, read on.
I’m not here to brag about the money I earn because my dream is bigger than that. Money comes and damn sure goes a lot faster. Money is of little importance, it’s the thrill of being creative, of overcoming the struggle and coming out the other side scratching your head wondering how the hell you did that.
It’s about personal pride. Knowing deep within that you and you alone did something.
My ambition or goal in life is to build something that helps others, that somehow gives back to those less fortunate or perhaps capable. Either way I’ve always wanted to improve society and Ive yet conquered that goal. Not even sure anymore if I ever will or if it’s even attainable.
My start as an entrepreneur wasn’t anything most would want to talk about. In fact, I’ve never told anyone about it till now.
It’s not embarrassment nor shame that kept me from speaking, it’s just that I don’t think many people would or could understand or give a flat out shit.
And honestly, they probably still won’t.
Im a deeply private person, rarely use social media, and will admit here that all my social channels were grown using scripts I wrote. Performed really well, was very shocked. But that ain’t me, I prefer to stay behind the curtains and strategize. Do all the thinking so to speak. I’m an INTJ personally type on the Myers-Briggs which simply means I’m the uncool introvert lol.
Actually, I’m pretty dope. Sometimes
But if there’s at least one person out there that this could lift up and help out, then it’ll make it worth it in my opinion
JD Parkman: United States Marine Corps
My adult journey started off with the events of 9/11. I was in college living the fraternity life and on that day my life changed forever. I left school to enroll as a US Marine so that I could join the other fearless men, in the protection of our beloved country.
The events of 9/11 royally pissed me off and I knew that deep down I had what it took to go get some. I joined the United States Marine Corps as a machine gunner in an infantry line platoon.
My career lasted five and a half years until I was injured and medically retired from service.
JD Parkman: 1st Time Lead Generation Experience
After that, I chose not to fall down, quite frankly I got more motivated because I couldn’t stand the thought of being anything other than fully capable of kicking ass.
I started my career briefly working at AIG before being recruited as a door to door salesman in a healthcare technology startup.
Sales just isn’t, or I should say, wasn’t my thing and I wanted a way out of it. So, true to my form, I used my creativity and developed an email marketing system that switched my role of chasing around doctors to having them call me instead calling them. It took 9 long months of hand typing email addresses and names into a spreadsheet, but when I completed it, I never had to do the parts of this job I despised.
That was my first inbound lead generation funnel and I fell in love with using mathematical reasoning to make money. That made sense to me, I enjoyed building mouse traps, and it just worked so I never stopped.
Fast forward four years, and I had successfully built up a multi-million dollar healthcare tech startup by using just a laptop and phone. Zero marketing dollars were spent by the company which forced me to create my first lead generation funnel, which directly contributed to where I am today. It was through those struggles that I developed my ability to build mousetraps to guide a buyer through an educated decision making process.
JD Parkman: Education Technology Entrepreneur
After my usefulness in building this company had come to an end, I felt that it was time for me to go on my own. I left the company and started an edtech company called MyAcademicProgram.
During this time, I worked even harder (20 hour days, 7 days a week for 4 years straight. Not one day taken off) and I filed 2 provisional patents (both algorithms – 1 being the MAPScore which evaluated the cost to benefit ratio of attending a college and degree program to the outcome of it, which was how much you would make coming from that school and degree program.
I raised half a million dollar seed round from angel investors which I used to feed the high cost of development.
A couple of years passed, so did the many ups and downs such as losing all employees and contractors due to cash flow shortages.
This forced me to learn to code in multiple programming languages such as Ruby on Rails and Angular.js so I could build the product myself. Failure just wasn’t an option. Never has been nor shall it be.
In under 90 days from when i first started learning how to code, I had finally built the app my damn self.
I published it and that’s when I learned I had a lot more work to do in order to get traffic through both SEO and PPC marketing, because not a damn soul (other than my mother) knew about it or visited it.
I spent the next 6-7 months building both marketing campaigns.
In the end, I found success through Facebook Ads by targeting students in India with study abroad affiliate marketing promos.
The application was being used as an international student portfolio and recruiting app where the slogan was: “You are more than a test score, show off your individual talents which make you unique.”
I ended up having great success bringing in Indian students by the tens of thousands day to the application.
Everyday I’d speak to 20-30 of these young students, hear their plight for help to come to America and receive an education so they could provide the basics for their families. All they wanted was just a better life.
All was fine and dandy, until it wasn’t anymore and the app and startup I had spent years building were gone.
JD Parkman: Failure & the Birth of an Online Marketing Agency
My day of reckoning came mid-December, 2015, and with 2 weeks left until Christmas, I was fucked. I was in substantial personal debt from trying to keep the business running.
In fact, I was so broke I can remember looking at my Charlie Brown Christmas tree and the bare floor around it because I couldn’t afford Christmas presents for my kids. The hardest memory that still hits me hard to this day is how I felt about myself not having my kids Christmas presents.
To top it off, the utility bill was due in 3 days, which meant the power would be shut off, and it is was cold outside. Certainly no place for kids.
Talk about the ultimate feeling of failure. I led my now ex-wife and kids into the foxhole with me and now they were about to pay for it dearly. I never cared about myself, but to have done this to my kids was unbearable. But still, I never pitied myself.
I knew I was going to get out of this, but had no idea how. I’d always relied on my ability to solve any problem, but for this I had no answers. While I was touching up a resume I hadn’t used in years, while I felt the full force of the shame and guilt of putting my family into such bad financial terms. It was all my fault we were where we were and I couldn’t look any of them in the eye.
While miserably applying to be an assistant manager at a title loan store, which I didnt even get an interview or call, I went to a freelancing job board where I landed my first client within about 24 hours of continuous applying to over 100 gigs.
I even had to borrow, I think around $40 from my mom, and using her credit card I bought enough credits to keep applying to jobs.
That’s when I came across this one job posting for SEO and website work and the job poster had left a site url so i went to the website and after poking around I found that the contact form onsite was broken, so I reached out on Facebook to my first digital marketing client – Pam Didner
She does’t know it till this day, well nobody did until now, but Pam saved me by paying me $25 an hour to rebuild her website, conduct onpage SEO work, as well as advertise her upcoming conference event that was held in Switzerland.
I worked my ass off, even on Christmas and New Year’s Day, but in the end I had enough money to get my kids presents, pay the bills in time, so our electricity didn’t get cut and most importantly, have food on my family’s dining table.
Since that day, I’ve spent over the past four years building MMW to what it is today on the basis of integrity. My clients know that they can trust what I’m telling them and that’s been the main ingredient to my success, as jt outta be for anyone.
JD Parkman: It’s Far From Over
Since 2015, I haven’t looked back. I have made my living as an digital marketing engineer by building my online marketing agency which services Fortune 500 companies like Intel, and grinding it out in pure entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve had the pleasure to work with some of the best people I’ve ever met, and even call most of them my friends.
They lifted me up at my toughest moments, gave me an opportunity and of course, they gave me the referrals I needed to succeed.
Now, as I continue to fight my ongoing battles, I’ve realized that the struggle is continuous and is just part of the job title I have now. I welcome it.
Along the way, I must say that I learned it’s all about the people, helping other ambitious people succeed, just as I had been given that opportunity, now 4 years ago by Pam.
Thank you, Pam. I never told you what I was going through because I was always dedicated to completing the job and true to Marine fashion I leave my personal problems checked at the door. But I will always remember you for giving that 1 opportunity I desperately needed to keep from becoming homeless.
Digital Marketing gave me freedom. It gave me a life. It gave me purpose and a reason to stay up and grind for 3 days in a row. I do it for my kids and the wonderful clients I have the pleasure of serving
This piece goes out to all those who are either starting out and struggling or facing new hurdles in their career path. Never pity yourself, and stop doubting. It’s wasted energy that you need to focus on solving your current issue to keep on keeping on.
Remember, nothing comes easy, nor should it. But you cannot ever give up, because giving up is the only true failure in this life. To all those who have chosen this life and all of its struggles: fight like hell until your very last breath, because if you quit you quit on people like me and all those that come thereafter.
And that’s just not acceptable in my book. Embrace the struggle because one day it’ll be your story to wow people with.