Seth Spencer has always been fascinated by technology. In middle school, he started learning how to develop websites and worked hard to learn programming. After successfully creating multiple competitive gaming tournament websites by age 15, he started to wonder how his skills could translate into a career — and maybe even a business.
“I had never thought that my job would develop into anything more, but I quickly realized how much a service I could provide was needed in the communities surrounding me,” Spencer recalls. He founded SERA Solutions and “set out on a mission to grow and develop a brand that would help businesses transition into the digital era.” SERA Solutions provides technology assistance and consulting to local businesses through website design and social media management.
SCORE showed Seth Spencer how to juggle college and running a business.
The challenges of being a young entrepreneur
Spencer attends college full time at Purdue Northwest, and he’s grown his company with little capital.
“I face the challenge of being young in age, but not in knowledge,” Spencer says. “I am often met with the misconception that someone my age could not be knowledgeable or capable of performing a valuable service, let alone managing a business.”
Spencer sought guidance from SCORE’s Northwest Indiana chapter to “broaden my vision for my business and [determine] how to achieve that vision, something I had no idea would be possible.”
Mentor Jack Phelps advised Spencer on the best methods of delivering marketing materials. “I also sought advice on sales, specifically how to handle approaching new customers at their door, email or by phone.” Mentor Jane Szymczak provided sales advice, while Jim Hubbard answered questions about business structures and expansion options.
“Jim has proven to literally be only a call away,” Spencer says. He meets with his mentors every month or two, as it “gives me enough time to establish new goals and then meet and evaluate how they went.”
Steady expansion leads to success
“I started my business in my house, expanded into an office in the nearby city of Valparaiso, and recently obtained an office in Michigan City that will allow our team to work in a collaborative environment,” Spencer says. Along with putting a team in place and increasing revenue, Spencer has begun to implement a new process to serve customers more effectively. “All in all, I am sure that nearly every aspect of my business has benefitted to some degree from my mentors.”
Spencer encourages other would-be business owners to determine what talent, hobby or personality trait can help them offer value to others. “You will be able to do what you love, with the ability to provide it with passion,” Spencer says. “That business will be priceless.”
While the chance of criticism may deter aspiring entrepreneurs from talking with a business mentor, Spencer says it’s all part of the business growth experience. “They are qualified to give you advice and critique your current methods,” he says of SCORE volunteer mentors. “Remember that you are not perfect, nor are they, but two people having an open mind to a business idea can lead to amazing results.”