Entrepreneurship has been ingrained in Timothy Zercher’s psyche from a young age. While watching multiple people in his family build their own businesses — including his father and two sisters — Zercher always knew he would one day do the same.
In May 2016, Zercher graduated from Colorado State University-Pueblo with his master’s degree in business administration. Less than a month later, he founded his own business, Easy Social, a company that provides social media content generation, advertising, marketing and other services for businesses that need help ramping up their digital presence.
“It was really recognizing a need. My brother-in-law owns a business here called Integrity Dental. They asked me to take on their social media two or three years ago,” said Zercher, 23. “When I graduated I was looking at the job market and didn’t like it. There were boring jobs and things that wouldn’t really teach me much anyway and I thought, ‘If this is a need, I already have the skillset to do it. So why don’t I just solve this need for businesses?’”
As a Pueblo native, Zercher decided to start his business in the Steel City, even though his company could be operated from anywhere.
“Pueblo has a really supportive business community when it comes to wrapping their arms around new businesses and helping them. At least that’s what I’ve found. It can be harder for outsiders to get in, but once you’re already established and you know people, they are very welcoming and supportive,” he said.
“Pueblo is what I know. I figured if I was going to start a business, I should start somewhere I understand the market.”
In a little over a year since Zercher founded Easy Social, the company has worked with 45 to 50 businesses locally and nationwide. Zercher has already been able to hire 10 employees and will hire more as needed. His goal within the first five years of operation is to reach $5 million in revenue. He said word-of-mouth referrals and testimonials from previous clients have been a strong force in generating new business.
“It’s scary growing this fast because it’s like building a track as you’re racing down it. It’s great working for clients and satisfying them, but it’s really great when you have people on your team that can do things so much better than you can,” he said. “We can always learn from each other.”
Zercher plans to stay in Pueblo for a couple of years, but will see where things eventually take him. However, even if he relocates, he plans to keep Easy Social active and operational in Pueblo in order to continue to benefit his home community.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
It means a couple of things. The basis of entrepreneurship is solving a need. In my mind, to be a successful entrepreneur, your focus needs to be on the person you serve and not so much on your own business.
What has been your biggest challenge as a young entrepreneur?
I think fear is the biggest one. It takes a lot of guts to jump into starting your own business or taking on the biggest client you’ve ever had, or jumping into any of the things I have [during] my professional life. … The initial jump is always the scariest part.
What has been your biggest success?
Definitely the team that I have been able to build. I had a lot of good teams throughout college and I’ve been proud of building those too, but I’m proud of building my team now that makes money and serves clients well. That’s my biggest accomplishment.
What values have shaped your business?[The] customer [comes] first. If the customer succeeds, we can grow with them. Sometimes we do things for clients that are so much more than what they paid for, but at the end of the day they always come away knowing at the very least we did our dead-level best. That’s what determines a great company from another company. The ones that only focus on themselves never do well.
What have you learned from watching family members who are also business owners?
My father owns and runs an industrial construction company called ICM-Pueblo [Industrial Constructors/Managers Inc.]. We’re in totally different industries. One is soft-skill marketing and finesse and the other one is hard-skill math and stuff.
The biggest thing I’ve taken away is how he leads his people and structures his team. I’ve never known an employer who is so loved by all 200 people that work for him. Any one of those guys would do anything for him at any time. It’s pretty amazing. I try as much as I can to replicate how he leads people because he’s amazing at that.
I pick up other stuff too because my whole family, almost everybody owns their own business.
What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
There’s a couple. Freedom is a big one, but I think the other aspect is I like being able to set my own direction and being able to adjust and fix problems. If a client has an issue, boom, we can solve it. I don’t have to pass it up the chain of command and see what comes down in a couple of weeks.
Do you think that Pueblo will ever become a hub for startups and new businesses like Boulder or Denver?
I think it will. I think we have a lot of challenges getting there because of the mindset people have when they think about Pueblo, that it isn’t startup-focused. They think it’s industrial, which we are, but I think there’s a lot of potential partly because it’s such a skilled workforce, not only with industrial, but in terms of learning skills.
We have amazing colleges, [Pueblo Community College] and CSU-Pueblo that create talent constantly. Right now there are just not many businesses [for] the talent … so they end up migrating north or going to other states. I think there is a ton of potential, but I think it takes a lot of brave people risking their necks to start a business and jump into it.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
I would say don’t be afraid to take risks, because fear is the biggest obstacle people face. Most of the time, if you actually have the skills, if you just jump for it, you can land it. There’s going to be some falling flat on your face, but it can only hurt so bad.