Is Your Business Planted or Buried? – By Shawn Collins

by Colleen on May 29, 2015

I was chatting with some people at the recent SXSW conference about the origins of Affiliate Summit, and they were surprised to hear that we started with nothing, but some passion and ideas.


Our initial investment was literally the domain registration. The rest was a matter of using our hosting and email accounts, calling in favors, and making things up as we went along. The whole thing came together as a solution to a problem. The industry didn’t have a professional event.

Also, Missy and I were sort of bored with the “right” way to do corporate events. We had our own ideas on how to start up a business that was all about the attendees/customers. We don’t get lost in the problems, but rather focused on solutions.

Affiliate Summit was planted on May 19, 2003 when we bought the .com. That began a long season of cultivating the business for our first harvest, which was the inaugural Affiliate Summit in NYC on November 3, 2003. We didn’t make any money with that one, but we didn’t lose any, either. We did, however, grow our experience and list, as well as connections.

More than a year after we started, the second Affiliate Summit took place, and another year passed before the third one. By this time, we were finally making more than minimum wage, but still working full-time at other jobs.

There were options to grow faster. We had offers from people to invest in Affiliate Summit over the years, and we could have leveraged credit cards to speed things up. Instead, we opted for organic growth.

We started small by throwing some seeds in the dirt. How about you? Are you willing to dig deep to plant your business… to be patient through the darkness and uncertainty? Sometimes there will be conditions beyond your control and unpleasant circumstances, but you can’t stop if you are dedicated to your harvest.

There are no shortcuts when you plant your business. A lot of people like to believe they can reach that end result without the various mundane processes. Those businesses are buried from the start, whether it be by debt, grandiose plans, or other factors.

It all comes down to your perspective and how you design your business. Are you planning for the future and taking the time to develop things slow and steady, or are you trying to do too much too soon?

You know that sinking feeling when money is going out faster than success is coming in? When that happens to you, it’s by design. You have buried yourself, and only you can push away some of the things that are getting in the way of your success.

Figure out what you need for your business to move forward and not want you want. Cut your spending, become more efficient, and outsource things you are lousy at doing if you have the funds to do so.

You reap what you sow, so don’t obstruct your own growth.

Shawn is Co-founder of Affiliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, and blogs at

This article appeared in issue 30 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2015.

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