Jesse Willms is an experienced founder and business professional. He has a “wide range of expertise across a number of industries and areas of interest.”
As a business man, Jess Willms is a “well-known business owner, entrepreneur, internet marketer.” He is also a “car history aficionado.”
Jess Willms has made a name for himself “not only in Las Vegas, Nevada,” but also “throughout the United States and Canada as well.”
When he was 15 years old, Jesse Willms began his business journey. He founded his very first company called eDirect, where he sold “computer software online.” After only its first year, he “grew eDirect into a multimillion dollar business.”
eDirect earned Jesse Willms “more than $40 million in sales.” Then he went on to explore more business opportunities.
In 2007, Jesse Willms built on the massive success of eDirect. In four years, he “founded more than 22 multi-million-dollar supplement brands, reaching more than $500 million in sales.”
Among these brands founded by Jess Willms is WuYi Tea, which was “one of the most successful and popular of its time.”
Jesse Willms led WuYi Tea in building up a “massive following and a tremendous reputation as a provider of delicious, high-quality teas that people were willing to go out of their way to purchase.”
I’m grateful that so many people have stuck with me and we’ve been fortunate enough to create a successful company.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Jesse Willms: I initially got interested in business when I was 15 and started reading business books. Once I was done with each book, I sold them online. I quickly learned that this business wouldn’t be a success, as shipping prices were far too costly. These were difficult lessons that greatly helped me when I started my next business selling computer software. I bought software on eBay and then sold it on Craigslist and Amazon marketplace. This was my first successful venture, and it turned into a million-dollar company by the time I was 18.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Jesse Willms: My current business, VehicleHistory.com, was inspired by my frustration each time I checked whether a used car had been in an accident and had to pay $40 for a report. By making VehicleHistory.com free and supporting our site with ads, it quickly became a success. We were the first company to offer completely free vehicle history reports.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Jesse Willms: Soon after starting my software company, we got sued by Microsoft. We were buying software using Microsoft’s business volume discount programs to provide individuals with discounts. Often, software was priced cheaper in different regions around the world, so we could get better volume discounted pricing and then pass those savings to consumers in the United States. Although it was a successful business, this was cutting into the software company’s profit margins, and we quickly became a target. Ultimately, my legal costs became too much for our small company, and we decided to settle the case for over a million dollars. This was my first big challenge in business, but I knew that I still loved internet marketing. After taking a month off, I decided to open a new business focused on health supplements. Again, the lessons I learned early on became key to my future success.
Manage costs closely in the good times, so you have a nest egg to protect you in the tough times.
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Jesse Willms: Today, three million people use Vehicle History every month, and we have established a business that is really helping used car buyers. I’m grateful that so many people have stuck with me and we’ve been fortunate enough to create a successful company.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Jesse Willms: When I started out, I was too concerned about impressing others. I felt that once my business was successful, I needed to buy expensive cars and get tables at clubs to show how well I was doing. Looking back, I’ve learned that material possessions alone don’t bring happiness.
Let your employees know how much you appreciate them.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) You will often have poor judgment, even when you think you are 100 percent correct. As a business leader, it’s important to look and listen for where your assumptions could be wrong. There are typically warning signs, but you will only notice them if you keep an open mind.
2) Manage costs closely in the good times, so you have a nest egg to protect you in the tough times. Often, we only cut costs when it’s too late, but managing your budget should always be a priority.
3) As a business owner, spend a lot of your time recruiting. Too often, we have a role to fill quickly, and then, we move on. By taking our time and anticipating our hiring requirements, we can make much better hiring decisions. In the long term, this will make our jobs as business leaders so much easier.
4) Only take on the most important projects. As entrepreneurs, we often want to try out many ideas. Over diversification can lead to less success. Determine what you’re best, most profitable ventures are, and ignore everything else. This discipline is so important to maximize your success.
5) Let your employees know how much you appreciate them. As CEOs, we are nothing without our staff, and we must never forget that. You should be a cheerleader for your team and always acknowledge the great work that they do.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jesse Willms: You can follow me on Instagram @mrjessewillms and Twitter @jessewillms.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!