The successful web entrepreneur talks turning points, sticking to your vision and mastering your niche.
5 min read
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When Evan Britton was a marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, he decided to embrace a new frontier that had appeared: the World Wide Web. He narrowed in on the market, started the site Famous Birthdays — which has been called the Wikipedia for Gen Z by The Atlantic — and built a widely successful business. As an entrepreneur himself, Britton shared his tips for focus, niching out and embracing new technology to build a successful business.
1. Embrace the new frontier.
Britton’s success hinges upon the decision he made in college to move and groove with a new idea. “I remember being fascinated that I could publish content on the web,” he recalls. “It was a new frontier happening right when I was starting to think about my career. What really fascinated me is that you publish something and it’s accessible everywhere. I was thinking that this was a new way to put up media or content. Thirty years ago, how would you be able to do that? It was an easy, accessible ocean right when I was at that point.”
By taking the risk to use a new resource, Britton was able to start building a business by being ahead of the curve. Without hesitating to try something new, Britton leaned into the new frontier.
2. Niche, niche, niche.
While chasing avenue upon avenue can be tempting, niching really is the way to go. By making yourself the primary expert in your field, you’re able to build yourself as the go-to person, site or business. Britton learned that niching allowed him to begin to make an impact, and he harnessed it.
“About eight years ago, I had a company where I owned a network of seven or eight websites and nothing was moving, nothing was growing,” he explains. “It was a lot of work to keep everything afloat, and it taught me focus. To actually succeed on the web, considering there’s such a low barrier to entry, it’s really good to have a really great niche. Everything was stable, but I wasn’t making an impact.’
3. It’s all about the consumer.
Business and brand building is nothing without the customer on the other side of the screen, which is something Britton has honed in on from the beginning. “I focused on making our mobile experience better well before major sites did, and I didn’t do that for revenue,” Britton says. “I did that for user experience. We are very user-focused. If you focus on the user and the customer, there are long-term residuals.”
By putting aside vanity and focusing on the user-friendless of his site, Britton has been able to build a dedicated audience and substantial traffic.
4. Come out on top.
A huge piece of advice that Britton has for young entrepreneurs? Don’t be afraid of embracing technology, because new advances in the social media and tech world can help you to come out on top. Every time a new platform comes to town, jump on it and become that expert.
“The advantage of being apart of a new frontier is that one has a head start,” says Britton. “If somebody wants to become a TikTok expert today, you don’t have to have 20 years of business experience to do it. You might just have three months of experience on the platform. If you go where things are headed versus where they’ve been, you can make a bigger impact at a young age.”
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5. Know your vision.
Britton’s decision to focus on Famous Birthdays almost exclusively is the reason for his success today, and he encourages entrepreneurs to hone in on an area and be able to discuss it openly. “Be able to consistently articulate your vision and focus on it,” Britton says. “Resist the urge to take on more outside of that vision. There are going to be things that are a good idea, and people are going to ask why you aren’t doing it, but if it doesn’t fit the vision, you have to say no. Once entrepreneurs start having success, it becomes even harder to maintain that vision. It takes a lot of discipline to focus.”
6. Consume your passion.
As an entrepreneur, it’s imperative to spend your time learning as much as you can. However, it’s more important to enjoy consuming content that goes along with your career. If you can’t find joy in your work, there’s simply no point.
“When I jog at night, I listen to a podcast about digital media,” offers Britton. “I’m essentially working at that time, but I enjoy it.” If you cannot stomach the thought of consuming content related to your career outside of work, you’re not in the right line of work.
From working on something you love to honing in on a vision, these tips from Britton will set you on your path to entrepreneurship.