Kaneisha Grayson, Tech Rancher, has been helping individuals work their way through the school application process since sixth grade when she was accepted into the Kealing Middle School’s magnet program. Since then, she has been helping other students, friends and acquaintances get into prestigious schools and get awarded valuable scholarships. After getting herself accepted to Harvard, she became bombarded with requests for advice and assistance, leading her to the realization that this could be a viable business opportunity. Extra special influence? According to Kaneisha, “. I was most encouraged and inspired to pursue my dream of location independent entrepreneurship by my good friend Laura Roeder (another Austinite who I’ve known since middle school). She is the founder of the 7-figure bootstrapped company LKR Social Media, and remains one of the peer mentors I most look up to for business and life advice today.”
About The Art of Applying:
The Art of Applying (http://theartofapplying.com) was founded in May 2010 at Harvard Business School with a $10,000 entrepreneurship grant awarded to Kaneisha Grayson, our founder and president. We help high-potential applicants from around the world get admitted to—and find the money to pay for—their dream schools. Our 10-person globally distributed team is comprised of go-to experts who help with every step of the process such as choosing which schools to apply to, editing the application essays, conducting mock interviews, and finding and winning scholarships. We currently serve applicants to the world’s top colleges, MBA, MPP, and JD programs, and plan to expand into more areas of study in coming years.
Hardest things about being an entrepreneur:
- Staying motivated to continue working consistently was very challenging in the first three years of business when I wasn’t earning consistent income and I spent a lot of time alone trying to figure things out myself. I often had a damaging sense of entitlement, that I should be working on more “glamorous” projects rather than tinkering with my website at 2 am.
- Keeping my eyes on my own paper has been very challenging. I find myself comparing my income with that of my classmates of Harvard Business School. The median income for an HBS grad five years out of the MBA program is $250,000. I make just less than half of that as of now (and spent the first three years of the business being outrageously broke). Of course, in a fairly affordable city like Austin, $120k is an abundant income—more than enough. However, it’s easy to get on the hedonic treadmill in Ivy League environments, and I definitely did. Though I am very proud of what I have built, it can be hard to not compare myself to my peers working in super-high-paying jobs and think, “Am I getting left behind? Am I risking my financial future?”
- As a multipassionate entrepreneur who writes, paints, likes fashion, and loves to teach, staying FOCUSED has been extremely challenging. I come up with what I think is a super-cool business idea at least once a month. However, I know I’m really on to something with the business I have RIGHT NOW, and there is still a ton of work to do, so I’ve learned that when I receive a stroke of inspiration, I write down the idea, buy the domain name, and then get back to the work at hand.
Advice for entrepreneurs (new or seasoned):
- Keep showing up. Consistency is key to building momentum. Your clients/customers/audience will learn to know, like, and trust you if you consistently show up for them and provide whatever your product or service is without disappearing or dropping in quality.
- Make sure you’re actually making money. Focus on generating revenue and becoming profitable over empire-building. I wasted a lot of money early in my business on a fancy website, fancy business cards, and outside consultants—none of which I currently use. I still love fancy brand identity items, but I don’t invest in them at the expense of focusing on revenue-generating activities.
- Save for the lean times. Set aside funds to mitigate unreliable income. It’s easy to fall into a cycle of debt if you spend money before you actually have it, or if you don’t have a nest egg of cash you can tap into during slow months.
Of course we have to ask…words to describe Tech Ranch 🙂
- Favorite Word: effervescent
- Favorite Activity: spontaneous stretching in public
- I lived in Cuba for five months in 2004 and hitchhiked on nearly a daily basis to get around Havana.
Finally, do you have any news or exciting opportunities for our readers regarding The Art of Applying?
Yes! The business was founded in May 2010, so May 2015 is our five-year anniversary. We made it through the five-year failure trap! I am also getting married in May 2015. Additionally, as of May 2015, I hired Henry Hedges, our second full-time employee (I was the first). Henry is my Executive Assistant and a full-time Tech Rancher who actually suggested we cowork at Tech Ranch.
In September 2015, we will be launching The Art of Applying podcast, which will be a twice-monthly free broadcast during which I will provide advice on applying to college and graduate school as well as interview past clients, my classmates from Harvard, and admissions officers from top schools. 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year of growth for the business, and I am so grateful to have made it this far.
Thanks and good luck to Kaneisha and Henry!