Something you may not know about me is that I was once a school teacher. I taught fourth grade then worked at a high school. After that, I was hired by NC A&T State University to teach nutrition and healthy living to children and teen parents. Because of this, I have a passion for education and a deep appreciation for great teachers.
That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to Andrew Fisler. Up until last summer, Andrew was a math teacher but after twenty years of teaching, he left to pursue his dream of full-time web development. However, Andrew’s story is different from so many who get an idea and go off after it, without a plan. Andrew started his web development business back in 2004 and spent over a decade building it up before walking away from teaching. Over the years, he found ways to use his day job to strengthen his dream and even found inspiration for future business ideas at school.
Andrew, what can you tell us about your journey so far?
Around 2004, I registered Fisler Data but even before then I was involved with technology. I was teaching math in New Jersey but was also part of the technology department and helped with building websites. It was one of those opportunities where you get to take your current job and apply something you are really interested in –which for me, was building websites.
But then I moved back to Pennsylvania and wasn’t part of the tech department at the new district. I was, however, able to do side projects for the old district and that gave me ideas for other things to do on the side, like create Time To Sign Up.
Yes, I want to hear the actual story behind that! I know it has something to do with your daughter’s soccer team.
My daughter was on a soccer team and we would lose the sign-up sheet every practice. So I thought, “Let’s put it online.” There are other sign-up-sheet websites out there, but I didn’t even look for them. I just figured I could build one, and I am glad I did. There are some other ones out there, some I really respect, but I think Time To Sign Up fills a need. It’s one of those things where I’d like to be the biggest but if that doesn’t happen, I still know there is a place for Time To Sign Up.
I love that! So now six years later, how has your life changed?
For the past 20 years, I was a teacher and hustled on building my web business. As it started to take off, I knew I either needed to hire someone or quit my day job. I knew I wanted to make the transition from teaching to self-employed, so in June, 2014, I resigned from teaching to become a self-employed, full-time web developer. I now have a couple of sites that are subscription-based; plus, I do consulting work for people who need help with their websites.
Congratulations on being a quitter!! But I know it wasn’t just that easy. What have been some stumbling blocks along the path of this current adventure?
Sometimes feeling as if I’m in way over my head. My background is in education, not business, not databases, not programming.
You are not alone in that feeling! I think that A LOT! Do you have any “haters” or negative voices in your life? How do you handle those situations?
Once in a while I get a complaint about the sites. Sometimes it’s deserved, sometimes it’s because the customer doesn’t know how to use the site properly.
One specific example is people who create an account on Time To Sign Up but can’t figure out how to actually create the sign-up sheet. I would LOVE to help them – in fact, I’ve emailed people offering help and also have used a chat window offering assistance, but instead they move on and never return to the site. I tell myself that eBay probably deals with the same issues all of the time, but nobody outside of eBay sees those things. I hope I’m right.
Wow! That’s a great way to look at it. I’m going to have to remember that. So what has been your proudest moment since setting out on this adventure?
Seeing the sites grow from year to year. Watching Time To Sign Up start as an idea to help my daughter’s soccer team and eventually lead to local groups using it, and now it’s being used throughout the country and the world.
How would you finish this sentence? The best thing I have ever done for my dream is…..
Build my business slowly while keeping my day job so that I was able to comfortably make the leap to full-time self employment.
“Define your enough” – Jon Acuff
It’s futile to keep chasing after “what’s next” or “just a little more.” Be content with what you have and be thankful for what you have.
In honor of the year 2015, if you could hop into the Delorean and go back in time (or to the future), when/where would you go and what would you do?
Be a teenager and relive some of the fun things I used to do and also take advantage of some of the opportunities that I missed such as participating in more sports, taking chances with running my own business.
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1. Run the Boston Marathon 2. Retire comfortably 3. Go on a cruise
Do you have any final advice for dreamers?
Some people are doing, what seems on the surface, these really interesting and exciting things. Everything looks glamorous until you’re into it. Then you’re thinking, “Hold on. Why did I choose to do this?”
Just the other day I was telling people “I quit teaching and now I am running Time To Sign Up and teacher conference sheets” and I thought “How unglamorous is that? It’s parent teacher conferences and online sign-up sheets?” But I am my own boss. I enjoy what I’m doing and I love the flexibility and freedom.
Want to learn more about Andrew and his services?
Andrew gave 20 years to teaching and over a decade to building and planning out his business transition. I only lasted three years in the classroom before jumping into this wild adventure with a rough outline. There’s no right or wrong but, tell me, which type do you tend to be? Are you more like Andrew or more like me?