From Minimum Wage to Supporting His Family: How One Man Found His Success

Somewhere deep inside every person is a dream. Maybe that’s a dream to live debt-free. Or a dream to own a nice home or have a fulfilling career. A dream to provide for your loved ones and give them more opportunities than you had.

Every dream is different, yet they are all based on the same principle: we want to succeed. How we define success varies from person to person, and that’s okay. Once you find your vision for success, the real question is will you hold on to it, or give up?

As an entrepreneur you will face this question every day. When you decide to start a business, you also need to decide if you will give up on your dream, or see it through to the end. Online entrepreneurs who succeed cultivate that strong resolve to hold true to their dream, even and especially when times are hard. When things don’t work out as they planned, they keep moving forward until they find their success.

One entrepreneur, young T.J. Fannin, experienced this for himself as he started his online business. Despite his circumstances and lack of technical abilities, Fannin created the successful life he dreamed of. It wasn’t the idea of success that he initially started out with, but one that means even more to him today.

When Dreams are Shattered

Like many, Fannin’s plans didn’t pan out quite like he hoped they would. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Fannin’s life was put on hold after high school when Hurricane Katrina hit. He was evacuated to Missouri after his family lost their home and their livelihoods.

When the aftermath of Katrina calmed down, Fannin decided to go back to Louisiana, living with friends and family while working manual labor to get by. Making minimum wage wasn’t the life Fannin wanted for himself, but he wasn’t sure where to go next.

Looking at what he was passionate about, Fannin decided to pursue football, which meant moving back to Missouri to earn a college scholarship playing football in a smaller division. He even had some NFL scouts paying attention to him. Fannin admits that his heart wasn’t in the right place at this point in his life. His definition of success was completely dependent on making it to the NFL. This was not the right mindset to have, especially when another disaster hit, this one much more personal.

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Fannin’s dream of playing football for a career ended when he ruptured his Achilles tendon. This was an injury he wasn’t coming from. What had been a bright future for Fannin was suddenly destroyed.

After his injury, Fannin started to victimize himself and wonder why this happened to him. He says, “I did whatever I could to disguise what was going on inside.” That included some heavy drinking and drugs that would eventually put Fannin into a coma for four days. The doctors didn’t think he would wake up from the coma because his condition was so poor. What had began as a few negative decisions after an unfortunate outcome, turned into a downward spiral that Fannin couldn’t get out of.

When You’re Given A Second Chance

But Fannin did wake up, and he decided to make a change. He says, “I woke up and I was a different person. I realized I was given a second chance at life.” Fannin’s awakening let in a new sense of purpose, and a realization that negative habits and influences were not going to create the life he wanted to live.

Fannin saw just how much he had been focusing on the bad in his life ever since Katrina. He was uprooted from his home, then uprooted from what he loved. Before his coma, everything seemed to go wrong in Fannin’s eyes. He began to register that it wasn’t just his circumstances that made him unsuccessful, it was his attitude. He says that, “The way I perceived my life literally affected how it turned out.”

So he decided to think differently. He moved back to his beloved New Orleans after graduating from college, ready for his new start. Using the law of attraction as a guide, Fannin began inviting more positive influences into his life to create a more positive life. As he explains, “You’re creating your reality by the way you focus on things in life.” Finally Fannin felt like he “was focusing on building something better” than the life he had before.

When Success Doesn’t Come Right Away

Even with Fannin’s new growth mindset in place, finding his success was still a process. It began when Fannin started building up an Instagram following, where he found a mentor and online business opportunity. These opportunities, though, came with quite the learning curve.

Fannin didn’t even have a computer or laptop when he began pursuing this online business with a team of other entrepreneurs. “I started my business from a tablet,” Fannin says, without an ounce of tech savviness or know-how.

Completely out of his comfort zone, he kept pushing on. He learned how to create what he needed from his tablet, read up on how to run a business and always kept cultivating a positive focus for his life. It was a totally different lifestyle that he had years earlier. But as Fannin points out, “In order to create a life that you’re not living you have to do something that you’re not doing now.” So Fannin continued to leave his comfort zone and try something new each day.


Even with how hard he was trying, Fannin still didn’t find success in his online business right away. He was still working full-time making minimum wage with only about $15 in his bank account. He was seeing little to no results from his business. That’s when his girlfriend found out that she was going to have twins.

Now with the pressure to provide on his shoulders, Fannin wondered, “Is this really for me?” He was ready to quit.

But the day after he learned he was going to be a father, he earned just enough money from his side hustle to keep it going. To Fannin this felt like the sign he was looking for to not give up.

Pretty soon, Fannin went to his first live networking event with Digital Altitude. Hearing speakers just like him not only gave Fannin a new boost of energy, but also provided sound tips for success. After going to this event, Fannin made had his first $5,000 month the very next month. And he only keeps on growing ever since.

In October, Fannin went to another Digital Altitude event, only this time he was presenter. He shared his story at a Rising Star Panel, giving hope and advice to hundreds of entrepreneurs just like him.


When You Need Some Real Advice

Fannin learned a lot on his sometimes rocky road to success. Here are a few last takeaways he shares with you:

If you want a change, make a change. 

Change begins with you. Fannin’s coma was an eye-opener for him, but it wasn’t what changed him. He was the change. He decided to do something about his life. That decision opened the door for change to actually occur.

Take a chance.

Fannin didn’t know what would come from taking a chance on Digital Altitude’s resources, when he reached out to his online mentor or when he joined a team of others starting an online business. Yet he took those chances anyway. And look where it got him. There will be chances and opportunities in your life that will influence the course of your future. But you have grab hold of them before they pass you by.

Control your thoughts, because they matter.

Fannin began his journey with the mindset that nothing went his way. He was merely getting by. But when he changed the way he looked at his life, that’s when he started to make it better. He says that in his crucial moment, he decided that, “I’m not going to worry about how things are going to happen for me. I’m going to focus on the fact that I control my own happiness. If I can control my mindset the how will come through me.” And that’s exactly what happened.

Develop grit, grit and more grit.

Fannin didn’t even own a computer. But that never stopped him from fulfilling his dream. Grit is that perseverance of a dream that keeps you going. But you should focus your efforts where your energy will be most worthwhile. Some business ventures don’t make it past it drawing board or past the first month of launching. Does this mean that grit isn’t valuable? Absolutely not. Like it helped Fannin, grit will help motivate you to not give up until you find that success you’ve been hoping for, even if you have to rewrite its definition a couple of times.

Life’s not a straight road.

Your path will be different than Fannin’s, in fact it should be different. He says, “You can’t compare your results to someone else’s.” That is not how success is defined. Your journey is your own. Fannin reiterates that your path to success is “not a straight arrow.” It’s full of twists and turns, roadblocks and hurdles. But if you don’t give up on it, you’ll hit your target.

Because Fannin refused to give up, he now can work from home to stay home with his twin boys while he provides for them. “My schedule is based around my family and my passions,” he says, “rather than how it used to be where I had to fit everything in around a job.” He says this success came in part because he “had a strong reason why.” He did it for his boys.

Find your own why and create the life you want. You don’t need to be a tech expert or live with the perfect circumstances to succeed in an online business. Fannin surely didn’t. Yet he says, “[Today is] an exciting time. I can enjoy my days now rather than worry about my future.”

Will you?

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