What were you doing when you were 13? Playing basketball? Going to the movies? Teaching yourself programming and design? Wait, what?
Well, my good friend James Simpson was doing just that. After building and selling his first game at age 14, James officially incorporated GoldFire Studios in 2008 (while in college), which later on became a full-time startup in 2011.
GoldFire Studios is a web-development startup with the goal of turning the web into a big gaming platform for people all around the world. Since I love showcasing millennials that are doing cool things, it was hard not to ask my friend James a few questions about money and success.
1. What has been the biggest hurdle you have ever encountered and how have you overcome this?
Losing focus on my goals has been my biggest hurdle because it almost caused my business to go under. It sounds like something that is easily corrected, but finding laser focus on the specific goals you’ve set for yourself and your business is incredibly difficult. I had gotten into the habit of starting exciting new projects and putting the ones that mattered most on the back burner. The “ah-ha” moment was when these other projects started draining precious resources of the business nearly to the point of bankruptcy. Ever since then, I’ve made it a priority to always focus on what drives my business forward, and we’ve seen tremendous growth ever since.
2. Who is one of your role models and why?
I’ve looked up to Elon Musk of Tesla/SpaceX for quite some time. He’s a really fascinating figure for a few reasons. His background didn’t lend itself to breakthrough entrepreneurism, yet he found a way to make it happen regardless. He also didn’t have a background in building cars or rocket ships, but he dedicated himself to learning outside of the classroom to the point that he was able to make impossible dreams a reality. And finally, he isn’t afraid to tackle those seemingly impossible goals and take on ideas that can and will have an impact on the future of civilization. This is something that more people should strive to do.
3. You are a successful Millennial Founder and CEO, what advice do you have for millennials that are just getting started in their careers or wanting to start their own business?
Don’t try to be the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Find the area that you find most interesting and then figure out how you can do it better than anyone else. I see a lot of people trying to chase ideas that don’t excite them, and there’s really no bigger waste of your time and everyone else’s than that.
4. When you first started GoldFire, how did you manage your money? What has changed since then?
When I first started the company it was essentially like the corporation and I were one in the same. For all sorts of reasons this is a bad idea, and I quickly learned that the corporation absolutely must act as its own entity. Not only for legal and tax reasons, but making the finances totally separate gives you a clear picture of the lifeblood of your business — cash. Now we always know where we stand financially, where we can dedicate resources and where we can’t. Through these principles I was able to stay lean in the early days, and remain lean even as we continue to grow today.
5. At what point did you feel successful?
I don’t think I’ve reached that point yet. There’s still so much left that I want to accomplish, and I feel like if you are setting your goals high enough, you should never really feel like you’ve found true success. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate the milestones and smaller successes along the way, but feeling successful as a whole sounds like a risky proposition.
6. What money splurge makes your life easier?
Anything that saves me time and frustration. I live in downtown because it is convenient, certainly not because it is cheap. I spend extra on the best equipment because it is less hassle and just works faster. There’s lots of little areas I could save money, but the marginal extra cost is more than worth it for the significant time and frustration savings.
7. What is something you refuse to spend money on and why?
Credit card interest. For both the business and personal cards, I pay the balance 100% at the end of the month. No excuses and no exceptions.
8. What is next for you?
We’ve found a small level of success with our latest game, CasinoRPG, so the next step is to take that to the next level and double the team by the end of 2015. This is the next step required to make all of my future goals possible.