Jared McKenzie was a 24-year-old Houston native attending University of Arkansas majoring in Entrepreneurship before dropping out his junior year to start a digital marketing agency. After garnering clientele in the residential solar industry, he became intrigued with the industry and its benefits to residents and the environment. He decided to start Headline Solar in 2018 in Illinois to educate homeowners about the State’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) which requires 25% of its electricity production to come from renewable sources by 2025. Entrepreneur and Illinois native, Kevin Gillespie, joined Jared as a partner of Headline Solar in 2018 and together they are now the fastest-growing solar company in Illinois.
Why did you drop out?
Opportunity and time. I realized, while in college, that everything I was doing from a day-to-day basis wasn’t helping me improve or progress into the person I wanted to be, or into being able to do the things I wanted to do. I feel like the first 2 years of college, usually called “basics”, are one of the biggest scams in America. The classes I was taking had absolutely no relevance to my major, which was Entrepreneurship, and every day, week, month, and year that passed was causing me to lose out on opportunities to better myself personally and financially by having to go to class and be in school.
I’ve always been a big thinker. Since I was 12 years old I’ve wanted to own a business and become extremely successful. More than the typical successful businessman or employee that makes a few million. I wasn’t able to do that by learning useless things and paying tens of thousands of dollars to be able to learn them when they still had no relevance to what I feel like my purpose is in life. Dropping out was the decision I had to make to expedite my success, my progress, and better myself personally to build my character into who it needs to be to achieve the goals I have set for myself.
But, I didn’t drop out without a plan – which is the mistake most people make. I told myself I wasn’t going to drop out unless I had a plan of exactly what I was going to do when I left school. I waited until after the 1st semester of my Junior year to drop out because I finally had a plan, and that was to start a digital marketing agency.
What 3 things contribute to growing your solar business so fast?
Team building, consistency, and focus.
In every successful business, if you take away the team there is nothing left, the business is worth nothing, and it is destined for failure. I have been blessed with a phenomenal team that my partner Kevin and I have been able to build through extremely hard work, day in and day out. Building a solid team that fully believes in your vision, puts forth 100% effort every single day, and doesn’t take no for an answer is a HUGE key, and I’d say one of the most important keys to success. Without the amazing team we have, we would never have been able to achieve the success we’ve had in a short amount of time. Only 16% of small businesses make 100K revenue in a year, with only 6% making a 1MM in revenue in a year; we’ve been able to double that in a ⅓ of the time. All because of our team.
The next thing is consistency. And I don’t just mean waking up and going to the office every day. I mean working your ass off every single day, 60+ hour weeks, on things that help you PROGRESS. It’s very easy to work all day long, but it’s not about how long you work, it’s about what you get done during the amount of time that you work. And with that, it’s about how much the things you work on help you progress and improve. You can always find something to work on, but a big principle in my life is that I only work on the things that I will be able to see the most results in the shortest amount of time. The rest of the to-do list gets pushed to the bottom until those are completed. That’s how I live my life every day, in business and personally.
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