Matthew and Adam Toren grew up learning the entrepreneurial lifestyle from their grandfather, Joe. In fact, he set them up on their first entrepreneurial venture, selling stunt airplanes at a local folk festival. He taught them the proper way to use the stunt plane to really “WOW” the audience, and they sold out of them before the folk festival was over. What a great feeling for a couple of kids of seven and eight years old! So it began – the entrepreneurial bug had taken its bite.
They then went from mini-venture to mini-venture throughout their schooling years. From importing stereo equipment to magic kits from Hong Kong, they learned a lot and made some money along the way. As soon as they graduated from high school, they took the money they had earned and bought a struggling billiard hall in an up-and-coming part of their town. This is where they learned the saying that you hear so often from entrepreneurs: “They put their blood, sweat, and tears into that business.”
The Torens put a lot of long hours in, performed a huge re-branding, and devised a number of creative promotions for the venue. They eventually expanded it into a place where people can enjoy a game of pool and a nice glass of wine, while listening to a live jazz band on stage. With their hard work, dedication and creative marketing ideas, they soon became the “place to be” on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, and they had lines at the door nearly every night.
The buzz about this cool new night spot continued building, and they then started doing some private parties for the movie industry, as they had the ideal location and the space was big enough to accommodate large groups. The steady stream of nightly customers, coupled with the corporate business they were able to attract, equaled success beyond anything they had hoped for, and before they ended their first year in business, they had received an offer to sell. It didn’t take long for them to realize that the long nights of sleeping on the couches of their venue had paid off!
Adam and Matthew took the deal and then moved on to their next adventure. This time it was a totally different industry that they knew nothing about: printing and graphics. They found a struggling downtown printing and graphics company, and they used the same philosophies and ethics to overhaul and brand that business. Success came quickly again, as they sold it on their eleventh month in business for a sizable profit.
From the printing company, they took their graphic team with them and started a publishing and media company, which has been one of their main focuses for the past 5 years. They have owned and operated several niche market, luxury lifestyle magazines in Canada, Arizona, and California. With a combined readership of over 500,000 per issue, the publishing business has remained strong, even while many in this sector have struggled.
Throughout their entrepreneurial lives, the Torens realize that some things have never changed since their first business venture. Their passion to help others start, manage, and grow successful business ventures began early on and continues to drive them to this day. During the time while they were working hard on some of their first business ventures out of high school, they were written up in several media outlets and were noticed by the Junior Achievement Association. The association asked if they would be willing to go into the grade 11 and 12 marketing and entrepreneurship classes in local high schools to speak about their experiences, and they gladly began speaking to students on a regular basis.
They were thrilled to share their stories, and they regularly dedicated a few days every month to visit community high schools and talk about the real-world entrepreneurship stories that they had experienced. It was a nice break from what the text-books had been trying to teach the kids, as it’s always powerful to hear real stories from people actually doing it.
This was a very rewarding experience for Matthew and Adam, and it drove them to want to help as many entrepreneurs as possible. In 1999, they set out to build what has now become the largest and fastest growing social networking forum for entrepreneurs in the world, YoungEntrepreneur.com. Young Entrepreneur has since become a must-visit resource for startup CEOs, founders, aspiring entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors worldwide, reaching an audience that very few can match.
Their social network and blog properties also include Blogtrepreneur.com. Blogtrepreneur is a site dedicated to helping online entrepreneurs find success. On the site, they showcase entrepreneurship, marketing, online business strategies, entrepreneur interviews, and a wide range of features, solutions, and support. They also work with small business owners from a wide variety of industries to start, run, grow, and even sell their businesses, through their consulting firm, Biz Warriors. One of their specialties is improving profitability of under-performing businesses with a unique “bottom-line” approach. Through their consulting work, they also provide instruction in management concepts and finance to emerging and distressed small businesses, covering all phases of operations. In short, almost all of their efforts now are designed to assist small business owners with starting, managing, and growing successful business ventures.
One thing the Torens have learned through all their entrepreneurial adventures is that good advice is priceless. That’s why they wanted to write Small Business, BIG Vision. It is their mission to help entrepreneurs succeed, and in the book, they fulfill that mission. Adam and Mathew have had a lot of mentors and teachers along the way, and they hope they can do for their readers what their inspirations have done for them – provide the insight and knowledge necessary to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.