4 Secrets of Success From a 32-Year-Old Who Started a Multimillion-Dollar Business

FultonFishMarket.com founder Jody Meade with scenes from the Fulton Fish Market in New York City.
Large photo courtesy Jody Meade. Other photos by Sam Becker. Collage by Mariam Abdallah

Jody Meade, a 32-year-old entrepreneur who runs a company shipping fresh seafood from New York City, has managed to turn a side hustle into a lasting, lucrative career.

Meade’s company operates out of the Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, which is one of the world’s largest seafood markets. After first visiting the market nearly a decade ago, he came up with the idea to allow customers to order online, and then he built the business apparatus to do it.

Meade now runs what he describes as “a technology company that sells seafood,” which employs more than 50 people.

Though it took many years of hard work, Meade is reaping the benefits: He says his company is earning millions of dollars in revenue, and he himself is making a healthy six-figure salary.

How to turn your side hustle into a career

For Meade, turning his side hustle into a full-blown business took years of hard work and dedication. Here’s what he says are four secrets to side-hustle success.

1. Put in the work

If you’re serious about building something, it’s going to require effort. You’ll need to get out of your comfort zone, make connections, and probably make some big sacrifices along the way. Meade spent years working 18-20 hours per day, often not seeing his own bed for days at a time. It was that type of dedication that made all the difference.

“Nobody’s gonna do it for you,” Meade says.

2. Set realistic goals

Keep your expectations in check, and set goals for yourself. Odds are, you’re not going to triumph overnight.

Meade built his business over a roughly 10-year period, which required working through legal issues, logistical barriers, and even technology-related problems. That meant breaking down large issues into small steps that he could focus on from day to day, like signing contracts with fish vendors, or establishing a sales quota.

Meade suggests creating a daily checklist and focus on tracking your incremental progress. Before you know it, you could be able to look back and see that you’ve made tremendous strides.

3. Don’t give up

“Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Meade says.

People may try and talk you out of your big idea; they could poke holes in it, tell you it can’t be done, or that you don’t know what you’re doing.

Meade’s friends and family tried to convince him to find a more lucrative job so he could stop sleeping in his car. But Meade believed that he was onto something and wasn’t fueled merely by blind ambition. He knew his idea had potential because he had done his research and knew what obstacles he needed to overcome.

Sal Ruggiero, a vendor working at the Fulton Fish Market and purchasing director at Joe Monani Fish Company, says that Meade’s dedication made a huge difference: “He was relentless.”

And he was vindicated when investors read through his business plan. Those investors recognized that Meade had thought the idea through and that, with proper financial backing, it should work. And it has.

4. Do it the right way

The right attitude, focus, and goal-setting can get you far. But to build something truly special, don’t cut corners.

Meade says that you should focus on organic growth, have a locked-in product or service, and maintain a competitive advantage. His company, for instance, has exclusivity agreements with the fish vendors in the Fulton Fish Market—no one else can sell the market’s seafood online.

You don’t necessarily need to be the cheapest, most experienced, or most traditional in your chosen field, Meade says, but you can and should strive to be the best.

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