As a child, I grew up loving computers. I was the first kid I knew who was into BBS's (Bulletin Board Services). These electronic bulletin boards were hosted on a local computer and connected by modem to the rest of the world. A BBS could only provide for text and only one connection at a time: back in the day if a BBS had more than one line at a time it was way ahead. The idea of being able to download a file, much less a workable program, was there, but at 1200 baud, it would have taken days. While in, today's fast past internet world, this sounds ridiculous; the ability to contact someone remotely and form a strong basis for communication and sometimes connection with them on a personal level was intoxicating.

Flash forward to college. I started college with a major of Computer Science and graduated after 6 years with a Bachelor of Science in Ecosystem Assessment. I was a computer geek who also happened to have an affinity for nature. I also learned a love of the trades in college, working with several different contractors throughout my six years there. This love of nature is what led me to Park City, Utah after college. My love of the trades led me to several subcontractors and a property management company. However, the work was fierce and consumed all my time. Thankfully, I was introduced to something utterly foreign to me; Sales.

Never had I worked outside of an industry that did not require your physical labor to make a paycheck. While I loved the construction trade, I liked people and thought sales were an easy way to make a buck and allow me ample opportunity to ski/mountain bike and a viable means to a season lift pass.

The first thing I realized in the service industry was “nothing is constant”. There were days I would make $500, and there were days I would make $75. That was bad, but nothing compared to real estate sales; one day I could make $20,000 and then for months I could make $0. How had I allowed myself to stray from computers and nature? Simple, sales provided a good living, the natural resources field was flooded with more educated applicants and computer technologies and the internet had rendered my limited education humorous by the most generous of observers.

Through the end of 2007, my gamble on the real estate industry seemed a streak of genius! I was on top of the world and had come full circle. The son who picked and poked his way through college and played the ski town card afterward had returned to the East Coast to form a family business in construction and real estate. Having established the foundations of a perfectly vertically integrated company with my brother's landscaping company anchoring the landscape design aspects; we seemed destined for success. Then the greatest Recession many of us have ever experienced landed with a thud. The cuts could be deeply felt throughout the real estate industry and all those industries that fed off it. I was devastated.

However, with a baby on the way and a new bride I counted myself lucky. The construction company was not stuck with inventory. My real estate company had virtually no assets and little debt. So, I temporarily folded the companies and took a job doing homeowner association management. The initial thoughts were, "hold this job for a year and then get back to it." Looking back at it some three and half years later, who could have thunk it? Managing for condominium associations enlightened me to three common threads: one, it made me amazed at how many people purchased inside these communities who had virtually no idea of what they had committed to; two, had no idea of what their Board of Directors was up to; third, had no idea how their money was spent and what it actually covered. The communication between the parties is non-existent, but they both have good intentions. However, they are very distrusting of the other. Another realization I have made recently was that my job created a mean, aggressive, and upset person; none of which had ever been me in the past. After three years of this, I decided it was finally time to change my future and start my own business.

For some years, I had been programming my various company websites on the side and trying to keep up with them. I learned the fundamentals, but my programming mostly consisted of modifying templates. However, with the advent of CMS (Content Management Systems) I could apply my understanding of computers to assist home owner associations in resolving their greatest conflict, communication. I began programming at night vigorously.

I was a property manager with 500 doors to manage, and a real estate agent with over a million in sales a year, by day; a delusional, internet success by night. Creating content at a furious pace, I was determined that having created several homeowner association websites through work, I was the next savior. At the very least, I was going to be able to quit property management. So, began my struggles of trying to build, from scratch, an internet business that could satisfy many of my professional goals at night; while trying to crank out 60 to 70 hours a week at my full time job.

My job was clearly getting in the way of my business. My job was clearly wearing me down. However, there had to be an exit strategy before I could relinquish the security of the salaried position for the freedom of self employment.

This is where I find myself today, growing my fledgling business, while gradually trying to wean myself from property management and my salary. Feeling empowered again to make healthy decisions for me personally that will ultimate carry over into other facets of my life feels terrific. Having discussed my feelings with my boss and having determined a path forward I feel a great catharsis. My spirit has been lifted, though my self-doubt is speaking loudly. But, to do nothing would have been unacceptable and for once in a long time, I placed my business in front of my job.

Author's Bio: 

Brian Barrett is CEO of HOAConnections a HOA Website Development company.

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