Do What You Love: An Internet Pawn Star
Ever dream about finding a way to do what you love for a living? In my "Do What You Love" column, I ask people who've done it to tell me their secrets. Here's hoping they inspire you to do the same.
Todd Hills is a real life “pawn star." The creator of the online pawn shop, Pawngo, has teamed up with the reality TV show “Pawn Stars” to allow viewers to pawn their own treasures through Pawngo’s site.
Hills started working at a local pawn shop when he was 17. Today, he’s turned the 3,000-year-old business model on its head. He loves what he does for a living and he tells BusinessNewsDaily readers how they can find a way to do what they love, too.
BusinessNewsDaily: Explain you what you do for a living.
Todd Hills: I’m the CEO and founder of Pawngo.com, the first full-service online pawn shop in the U.S. We’ve created a digital platform that gives everyone fast and easy access to money in a down economy. Pawngo provides an alternative financing option that skips the hassles and requirements of traditional lenders. We don’t care about credit checks or personal disclosures. All you need is a piece of collateral to qualify for a direct deposit of up to $1 million within 24 hours.
BND: How did you end up doing this for a living?
T.H.: When I was 17, I got a job at a local pawn shop to help my family make ends meet. By my early 20s, I opened my own shop, Jumping Jack Cash, and eventually ended up owning and operating more than 25 traditional pawn shops. A few years ago, I realized that the evolution of pawning involved taking the 3,000-year-old industry online. The goal of Pawngo’s business model was to meet the rising demand of alternative lending options for average Americans. Since launch, we’ve funded millions of dollars to individuals who are in immediate need of cash flow. Alternative financing services such as ours are on the rise, and I foresee that trend continuing.
BND: What was the crucial decision you made (age, place, reason) that led you to this place in life?
T.H.: I grew up on a farm in a small town just outside of Denver. My family owned and operated a livestock business so I started working at a very young age. When my family started struggling financially, I took the initiative to step up to the plate and do my part. I’ve never been one to just sit on the sidelines and food needed to be put on the table. There was pressure to think outside the box for ways to earn a living on my own and provide for my family. And I wasn’t going to fail. It was a pivotal time in my life that created a starting point for building a solid foundation as an entrepreneur.
BND: What did you want to be when you grew up?
T.H.: Growing up on a farm taught at an early age that work starts at sunrise and never really ends. My work ethic and level of ambition motivated me to build my own business. So I guess what I do now is what I’ve always wanted to do.
BND: Why do you love your job?
T.H.: There’s another side to this industry that most people don’t get to see. Our customer base is what makes me love what I do. When they’re happy, I’m happy. It’s also a great feeling to walk into the office every day and be surrounded by a team of creative and passionate individuals who believe in what Pawngo is doing.
BND: What's the biggest misconception about your job?
T.H.: Well, there has certainly been a stigma attached to the industry. My whole vision for creating the first full-service online pawn shop in the U.S. centered around making pawning more convenient, trustworthy and mainstream.
BND: Do you think having a job you love has made you a better person in other areas of your life?
T.H.: Yes, absolutely. I always tell the Pawngo staff, “You need to love what you do.” And loving what you do doesn’t just advance your professional career, it also improves your personal life.
BND: What's your best advice to other people who are trying to pursue their career dreams?
T.H.: The biggest piece of advice I always give is chase the idea, not the money. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who is looking to start a business to make money, it will ultimately fail. You have to be passionate about your vision. And, with that vision, you have to be 100 percent dedicated to making it happen. That means incredibly long work hours and investing nearly every dollar you make into building your business from the ground up.
BND: What's your idea of the perfect retirement?
T.H.: I’m still young! I’m not ready to think about my ideal retirement yet. For now, I’m focused on providing our customers with the best possible service and experience.
Jeanette Mulvey has been writing about business for more than 20 years. Know someone who loves what they do? Tweet me @jeanettebnd with the hashtag #dowhatyoulove.