How to become an entrepreneur with no business background

Woocommerce web developer

Join host Sheelagh Caygill as she explores the obvious - and less obvious - trends and influences in communications, PR, and marketing. Also explored are writing and upping your game as a creator of prose. In this essential listen, she interviews senior comms pros and thought leaders to reveal insights you can incorporate into your work.

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Mitchell Callahan
Saucal CEO Mitchell Callahan

This is part one of a two-part interview. You can find part two here.

Mitchell Callahan had a decent career in finance in Toronto, but turned away from it, heading west to Calgary to start a business. In a matter of months, he was seriously broke and working long days, without much of a glimmer of a break.

Living in a small two-bedroom apartment with his business partner Dominik Sauter, Mitch was driven more by curiosity, tenacity, and hope than ambition. Meanwhile, he heard plenty of stories from friends who all know someone who’d  launched a business and . . . well, it had failed. 

This was Mitch’s life in 2012. Today, he is CEO of one of the most successful web development agencies in the world, Saucal. Dom, meanwhile, is Saucal’s CFO. Saucal specializes in WooCommerce for WordPress. They’ve worked for Amazon, Facebook, Salesforce, and a diverse range of eCommerce businesses large and small. 

How to move beyond fear, doubt

In this episode of the Communicate Influence podcast, Mitch shares his story and gives actionable tips on how to:

  • Maintain focus
  • Counter doubt
  • Embrace fear
  • Deal with negativity
  • Take advantage of the right opportunities
  • Not feel overwhelmed when you have a lot going on
  • Be curious!

Mitch discusses his early years in Canada’s north, working for the government, and his transformative time with Canada World Youth. He explains how travel is essential for his personal growth and explores his pre-Saucal career years in Toronto. For Mitch, his diverse experience and journey through life have laid the foundations for the company Saucal is today. 

Back in 2012, Mitch was just finishing off a role in finance and about to begin law school when Dom, a close friend from university days, told Mitch he was launching a web development business. “Want to join me?” asked Dom. 

To Mitch, who met Dom at the University of Calgary in 2005, this was a no brainer. Mitch knew that should the opportunity arise to be in business with Dom, the answer would be an unequivocal yes. Dom had a sharp business mind, an unusual way of looking at things, and had grown up in business. Bags packed, Mitch headed west to begin this grand adventure that would become the Saucal success story.

Pushing through dark days

While this all sounds happy and merry, there were plenty of dark days. Mitch recalls dark periods of doubt. He was mired in debt, to the point of trying to pay for lunch one day, only for his debit card to be rejected. 

Says Mitch: “I’ll never forget when I applied for a third personal credit card, and got rejected. I knew that was a good thing, but at the time I was not sure how I’d get more money.

“Looking back though, I made some of my BEST decisions here. I bought Bitcoin and Ethereum when they were super cheap. In my lowest moments, I was making my smartest decisions.”

In the first year or so, Mitch and Dom had little to show for their doggedness. But in year two, something shifted. And on a deeper level both men always knew a day would come when the grind would pay off and they’d make money, build a team, and have the lifestyles they wanted. 

The way through the darkness and doubt? Maintaining focus, moving through fear, and watching small wins come slowly, and then more frequently over time.

A global, remote team

Saucal’s team is spread around the world. As a fully remote company, they hire globally and therefore can – as Dom likes to say – pick the best of the best. Mitch and his family have just moved from Toronto to Portugal, Dom is based in Calgary, CTO Matias Saggiorato is in Argentina, HR lead Olga Kuvshinova lives in Portugal, COO Rico Aiello is in Argentina, while Marketing Manager Kamilia Cerniak is in Warsaw. Other team members are spread across Canada, South America, and as far east as Greece.  

Growing up in the remote Northern Canadian city of Yellowknife, Mitch was around 10 when the internet arrived in the mid-1990s. He was dazzled by this new technology and quickly embraced it, appreciating the web’s ability to connect and level the playing field in so many ways. Today, Mitch is a strong believer in, and advocate for, an open internet and open source software. 

Mitch wasn’t raised in a business culture and it was only after working for the government and then in finance in Toronto that he yearned for the freedom, challenge, and responsibility that having his own business would bring. That, along with some really intense travel experiences, convinced Mitch that he could only live by his values and be fulfilled if he went into business for himself.

Mitch’s story is incredibly inspiring! If you don’t come from a business or entrepreneurial background and want to be in business, or have just launched a company and feel overwhelmed with challenges, this story will persuade you that it’s worthwhile and possible!

Find Mitch at Saucal and LinkedIn.

Here’s the link to the podcast show I mention in the intro! The Animal Guide For Curious Humans.

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