Braxton Amundson: Entrepreneur That Didn’t Give Up
After college, Braxton Amundson knew he was not ready to be tied to a desk job. Longing for a personal growth and traveling, Braxton decided to dedicate his early 20’s to self-discovery. He established Academia Book Buyers and began trading university textbooks across the country, seizing a unique opportunity to explore the world while making a profit.
After few years of trading, Braxton decided to expand his business. He took out a loan, rented a warehouse, hired employees and bought more books. As a consequence, expenses started piling up unexpectedly, and increasing operating costs and salaries became a serious threat to his business’s financial solvency. Braxton met a fellow entrepreneur and together they were able to find a solution and increase the business revenue by 80 percent.
Now, Braxton not only sells books but also acts as a life coach, helping others achieve their passion despite the circumstances. Looking back at his mistakes and his rich life journey, Braxton offers people valuable life lessons based on how they manage their business or behave at work. Although only 27, Braxton is wise beyond his years and he begins each day with an insightful question: “What gifts and learning opportunities have I yet to experience?”
Hello Braxton. Can you please tell me how you came up with the idea to start your book business?
While at college, I was an independent contractor for Southwestern Advantage, selling educational books door-to-door. For three summers, I worked about 80 hours a week and I earned very solid entrepreneurial skills. Upon graduating from college, I was ready to take this skillset into my business and my life. I wanted to travel and I wanted to dedicate my early 20’s to self-discovery. While I was still young, I wanted to find myself and figure out what was important to me.
So, when my friend gave me an idea to build a textbook business, I really liked it. The United States is abundant with colleges and there are professors all across the country who have extra textbooks. I offered professors cash for their books and sold them online, making a profit from it. It was a perfect job because I wasn’t constrained to a single area. Colleges are located pretty much everywhere in the country, so as I worked, I traveled a lot.
As I traveled, I spent a lot of time in nature. I would hike up the mountains during the day and then spend the night in the back of my Toyota truck. I lived like this for years and I found it to be an amazing experience because as I got in touch with nature, I got in touch with my inner self. And as you get to know yourself, your whole life changes for the better.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while managing your business?
At age 23, I borrowed $25 thousand from my dad, rented a warehouse, bought more inventory and employed two workers. My mistake was scaling up too quickly: I invested too much in my business too fast. As a result, I ended up owing $4,000 to my workers while having only $800 dollars in my bank account. Everything was falling apart. At some point, I remember having a panic attack: I did not foresee so many problems coming at once.
How did you resolve these problems?
A friend of mine introduced me to Nate Goebel, who was also involved in the book business. He had a much steadier infrastructure and more experience in this industry. I was good with managing inventory and hiring people and he was good with the logistics, so we created a solid partnership. I paid off debt to my father, our revenue increased by 80 percent and we hired 23 more people. Today, we are renaming the business to Pay It Forward Media Services.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
I am a writer. In my spare time, I am writing a sitcom and philosophical works. To me, selling books is an avenue towards my passion, which is writing. I often tell people that they always have an opportunity to free up their space after work and focus on achieving their dreams.
You are often invited to events as a public speaker. What advice do you usually give to people?
My life journey gave me many insights on life: I look at every mistake and every interaction as both a blessing and a gift as they are all learning opportunities. I tell people that our behavior always reflects back on us. It takes courage to take responsibility for everything that happens. When I can take ownership for my actions, I am able to make a change; otherwise, I am just playing a victim. If you are complaining that your partner is not committed to you, you first need to ask yourself whether you are committed to yourself. The only person in your life that needs to love you is you. When you are committed to yourself, you attract people that feel the same way towards you. We should look at everyone as a mirror of our inner being. What we see isn’t the world as it is, but the world as we are.
Can you please tell me about your sitcom?
It’s called “Peaked in High School.” I play Braxton Amundson a 27-year-old former high school quarterback who hasn’t left his glory days leading his less-than-spectacular Punxsutawney Chucks to a 7-3 season ultimately losing to rival DuBois in the first round of the state playoffs throwing a game losing interception as time expired. It is a comical portrayal of what it looks like for one to be in his or her own way. We all get stuck in some places in life—some of us in high school, some of us in college, some of us get stuck in a job we don’t love—and it is important for us to recognize that so we can move forward.
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