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Meet Frank Barragan of Ad Inicio Digital in San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank Barragan.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I feel like I’m a late bloomer. I’m 42 years old now, and I took the entrepreneurship plunge only recently, at 38.

I had a checkered past, dropping out of High School in the 12th grade and roaming through community college for a while before transferring to Cal State L.A. and finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.

It was definitely one of my proudest moments. Not just because of what it stands for, but because it was one of the first things I stuck with and saw it through until the end. I didn’t quite halfway, like I had most other things in my life up to that point.

I went on to get a job at a big financial investment firm in downtown L.A. And while I felt like I had “made it”. Something was lacking. I was not satisfied. I felt like my work made no impact on the world and I was a very insignificant part of a company of hundreds of thousands of employees.

An opportunity came along to work for a non-profit shortly thereafter, and lead my own IT department. I excitedly jumped at the opportunity and stayed there for close to 8 years.

Working at a non-profit has its challenges but it’s very rewarding. However, there was not much advancement and I came to the conclusion that the best route for me was to pursue my own business. I had always wanted to do so, but had always been clueless about how to start. I had a big disagreement with my CEO at one point, and that was the straw the broke the camel’s back. I turned gave my letter of resignation and decided to go full time pursuing my Web Design business. I had been “moonlighting” with it part time, but I knew I had to jump in with both feet if I was going to make it successful.

It’s been a very challenging, a very rewarding, and a very eye opening experience that I feel everyone should go through. It’s been about 4 years now and I’m happy that I’ve been able to bring on my brother and a couple of contractors to help me grow this business.

If I had to do it all over again, I would do it 10 years earlier. Alas, I’m here, and I’m enjoying the ride…

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all.

It’s hard going into a venture where you have no clue where to start, what to focus, or what to prioritize.

If I was to go into a second business venture, I would certainly have a better idea of where to start. But when it’s your first time, and you’ve never done this, it’s overwhelming. There are so many things you can focus on, that it is head-spinning!

And then there’s little “cruxes” you get caught into, or “catch 22’s” where you have to make risky decisions on how to invest your time and money. One case in point, is where you have enough cash to support yourself, but not enough to hire someone else. However, you have an amount of work that makes you feel overwhelmed, but not overwhelming enough to where the revenue allows for a hiring of additional staff.

Another big struggle is that you can get sucked into your “project work” so much that you neglect other business activities or hardly allocate time for them. Focusing on proactive sales/marketing is one great example. Because you love what you do (Web Design for me) and you have little experience with these other business operations, it’s very easy to avoid them and instead focusing on the actual work that you like doing.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Ad Inicio Digital – what should we know?
My company is called Ad Inicio Digital and it’s a sole proprietorship.

I have the pleasure of working alongside my brother as well as a couple of contractors.

We focus on Web Design & Search Engine Optimization for small businesses in the L.A. area, although we have clients in Chicago, New York & Boston as well.

I guess the thing that I am most proud is that we’re still in business, which leads me to the last question.

What sets you apart from others? I think communication is the biggest asset I have. I learned early on, by failure, that communication with clients was key. I lost a couple of clients because my initially introverted ways were not panning out. I had to set systems and processes in place to force me to communicate with my clients at regular intervals and make them feel at ease by constantly informing them of the status of the projects.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I feel that the following two characteristics are the most important.

Communication

Whether it’s written or verbal, communication is a key factor in building and maintaining business relationships. It’s imperative that the clients know what’s going on at all times and know that their site is going to be delivered in a timely manner.

Determination

Without a doubt, determination has been key in sustaining this venture. Without it, it’s very easy to give up, especially when it gets tough, which happens quite a bit. And determination isn’t something you jump out of the womb with. It takes practice; constant, focused, practice. You have to be confident that you’ll reach your goals. If you’re not, the whole house crumbles.

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