After graduating college, most people have no idea what to do next. So they seek the advice of their parents, college advisors, and friends. The advice they typically get is to decide on a career path, get a job in that field and start to get experience so they can begin to climb the corporate ladder.
Above all, they are told not to take any risks financially and find a steady full-time job. Some end up working dead end jobs until they can break into their field. The lucky ones land a job in the corporate world in an entry level position of some sort.
I'm here to tell you that not everybody has to take that path. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jared Warren, an entrepreneur who took the road less traveled after college to finding career fulfillment and a happy life.
After graduating from the University of Colorado with a Biology Degree in 1999, Jared packed his bags and headed to Saint John in the US Virgin Islands. He became an entrepreneur and quickly began to expand his skills to be able to make money in an island economy.
Today, he lives on the island with his wife and daughter. He is a successful real estate broker specializing in investment properties and vacation villa rentals. Jared also owns his own property management company helping to maintain the villas he rents and sells.
He even plays in a band that travels regionally playing paid gigs!
Here's a piece of our conversation and his advice to those that might want to follow a similar path in life:
John White: What made you want to skip the corporate world and become an entrepreneur in a small island economy?
Jared Warren: At that time, it is not so much that I skipped the corporate world as I skipped the modern world. I think the initial decision was made in traffic on the highway. Instantly, it was appealing to me to be living simply. It turns out of course that even simplicity has an economy.
The beauty is, if you do it right, on a small island you can really make a distinct measurable difference in the community. If that difference is positive, the feedback loop affects your whole existence.
White: What's been your biggest challenge doing business in St. John?
Warren: Our biggest challenges are supply based when you boil it down. Everything must come to us from elsewhere. Initially, things as simple as finding a place to buy pen and paper was a challenge on the island. I remember a time when vegetables were only available on Tuesdays.
I credit the expansion of the main grocery store on the island and their ability to bring in more regular produce, directly for helping me meet my wife. She would never have moved to St. John prior to that. The supply chain has grown with the times. St. John is much more accessible now, but still, we are fully dependent on shipping.
White: What do you like the best about living on St. John?
Warren: St. John is so many things to me. I love how the blending of cultures on the island creates a level of respect for everyone. All of my business interactions no matter how small begin with kindness and pleasantries.
Living on St John also produces a fierce independence. You must be able to care for yourself in all aspects of business and life.
The freedoms afforded from that are hard to quantify. The history of this island is full of this quest for freedom, and you can feel the importance of those freedoms today.
White: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs that may want to move to an island and do business?
Warren: The expansion of broadband has given life to new types entrepreneurs on the island that can run their business via the internet. They have developed business ideas that enable them to live and work anywhere in the world where they can get WiFi. I would advise people to explore those options as they appear to be expanding.
For those attempting to open a business that is reliant on an island economy, I think the most important thing is to enter the community with humility. Small economies are driven by reputations. Small islands even more so. They say if you do something good or bad on one side of the island, the news will beat you to the other side.