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Testing 1, 2, 3. Is this thing on?

Oh, hey there! I’m Jeff. And to be honest, I’m a little rusty at this.

It’s been almost two years since I sold Forge3, a company that I founded 18 years prior.

Work is now optional, yet I find myself drawn to it. Drawn to the challenges, relationships, and creative process of building something from nothing. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed (and needed) work, until I didn’t have it anymore.

To me, business is a sport and I enjoy playing it. As I’m writing this, I’m 46 years old and have a lot of “fire in the belly” (as my dad would say). I’m far from hanging up my cleats.

But the question is, what’s next? That’s what this site aims to capture, in a raw, unfiltered kind of way.

But first, a quick look back

I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur. I was essentially forced into it after being downsized from a big company. More on that and all of my subsequent failures another time, but eventually Forge3 was born from the ashes in 2004.

The first 12 years were brutal. I had plenty of big ideas and swings for the fences, investing a ton of time, energy, and the little money I made from building websites for people, but nothing worked.

I failed over and over and over again.

Until 2016.

At this point, I had a few people helping me out with various website projects. I couldn’t afford to pay salaries, so most were subcontractors. We sat in a room and created something we called ActiveAgency, a website platform for insurance agencies. It quickly took off and we never looked back. 馃殌

Ultimately, after nonstop growth over six years, a competitor acquired Forge3 in July 2022.

At the time of the sale, we had ~1,500 clients paying us monthly, a team of almost 30 across the country, and were the clear leader in the industry. Forge3 was highly profitable from day one, grew every single month since launching ActiveAgency, and was entirely bootstrapped (meaning we never took outside funding).

The entire team went to work for the acquiring company, except me. In my mind, it’s like I jumped into a lifeboat in the middle of the night and started paddling toward the shore while the rest of the team continued to sail away into the distance.

Why didn’t I join them? Well, I sold Forge3 so that I could take a step back, reset, and be with my family. Building a company for 18 years is not for the faint of heart. I enjoyed the heck out of it, but it was time for a change.

I have mixed feelings about all of this, which I’ll get into another time. But for now, that’s how we got here.

Jeff and Connor Go-Karting

From beautiful chaos to deafening silence

Since the sale of Forge3, I’ve been workless. The purpose and passion I once had working with my colleagues to build Forge3 was replaced with an emptiness and deafening silence. I wasn’t prepared for this.

I bought a boat. That was fun for a little while, but it gets old. Everything gets old.

Two years later, I still miss the people and playing the game of business. I’ve filled some time mentoring companies and serving on boards, but it’s not the same. I need a place to call my own. A place to journal ideas, talk about things, and document the journey of what’s next.

So that’s what I’m doing here.

My reasons for doing this

I’ve been thinking more about the mark I’ll leave on this world. How many people I’ll have touched. How many hands I’ll have helped.

Entrepreneurship is often shown through rose-colored glasses, similar to the highly-edited and polished photos we see on social media. That’s not reality though. Life isn’t perfect. Things don’t always work out as we’d like or expect. I want to show that part along with the fun stuff and eventual glamorized success story.

I also think a lot about my kids. I want to show them that anything is possible if you stick with it. And, more importantly, I want to show them that the path to “success” (however it’s defined) is filled mostly with uncertainty, doubt, and setbacks. The only way to fail is to give up. Progress is perfection.

And, if I’m being honest with myself, this is for me. It’s a place for me to throw my energy, refine my thoughts, and better understand why and how things go the way they do.

This is my therapy. My journal. My diary.

What’s next

To start, I have a lot of thoughts and “lessons learned” building and selling a company that I wish I knew before I actually did it. Some of it is business related, but there’s a surprising personal component to it, as well. I’ll share all of it.

Then, once this site catches up with the thoughts in my head, I’ll be able to really think about what’s next.

Is there another business waiting to be built? I’m not sure. But we’re going to find out. Follow along.

Welcome to what’s next.

Jeff Teschke Signature