I was 25 years old and just coming to the realization that working a job at a warehouse was not going to be enough to support my growing family. I’ll admit it took quite a bit to point me in the right direction. A pregnant wife and 2 kids, and I was still barely making enough to cover the bills.
At first I thought a second job would do the trick, but after almost a year of overnights at a convenience store I was only able to put a small amount of money into our savings.
It wasn’t until a co-worker suggested I start my own business that things began to change for the better.
I’d always wanted to go out on my own but there were two problems. One: I had very little money to do it. And Two: I had a reverent fear of losing what I did have. But with my friend’s encouragement, and my own desperation, now seemed like a good time to take the leap.
So I did it…I got a job cleaning offices and used it as a spring-board for starting my own business.
It didn’t take long for me to learn the business and within a short time, I quit and started out on my own.
That’s when the real struggle began.
I thought working 2 jobs was a pain…but, that was nothing compared to this. Being in business for yourself means you have to be 5 different people all at the same time. I had to create and distribute marketing material, do cold-calling and answer the phone, provide every service my business card said I provided, and do all of the office work as well. It was a huge undertaking that, at the end of 6 months, had me wondering if it was really worth it.
Then one day as I was walking out of a ‘hopeful customer’s’ office with my tail between my legs, my old boss was walking in. He knew why I was there. I was now competition. This customer was one of his most loyal, as were many I’d attempted to sway.
We stopped and talked for a moment and then…I couldn’t help myself. I began to wail about my problems. He listened and didn’t hold any animosity toward me and even commiserated a bit, and then suggested nicely that—Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be an entrepreneur. And as we parted ways, his words got me to thinking.
I thought about all the trouble I’d had over the past 6 months, and that I had no one to rely on but myself. I thought about all those closed doors, seemingly closed opportunities. And I became very pessimistic about my chances to really make my business work. I still called on potential customers, but every time I did, in the back of my mind I played out a scenario where I was rejected over and over again. And each rejection sent me further down the spiral of negativity.
And day after day I let it get to me until I found myself loathing my new business. Each morning I’d get up and get to work but the excitement had drained from me. It was now replaced with fear of rejection…failure, and not being able to pay my bills.
And it didn’t take long before I decided to ditch the idea of being an entrepreneur and to get my old warehouse job back. I no longer needed the headache and misery that owning my own business had created.
So after finally making the decision to separate myself from the entrepreneurial world I felt totally relieved. It was like a weight was lifted and I could breathe again. I then went home and began the chore of going over the books. My plan was to pay all the bills and collect all the money owed me, and say, “Goodbye cruel business world.” But that’s when I noticed something I hadn’t before.
You see, being young and naïve in business, for me, meant that I gaged my success or failure by one factor only…by the amount of money I had in my checking account. And since it never seemed to increase during those first 6 months, I thought I was a failure. But what I noticed that day as I was going through everything…Was, I was actually making money.
I ran the numbers again and again and saw that, even though my checking account wasn’t overflowing with cash, due to the fact that my receivables were continually growing, my sales were going up and up every month. I was making a profit.
That’s when I came out of my funk.
It was then that I realized that my old boss was right, when he said “Maybe.” Maybe I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur. Of course I wasn’t cut out, or born, to be an entrepreneur. No one is born that way, you must work at it. And if I was going to complain about the business of being in business for myself, and not get to work on it, then I was doomed to fail.
So I stopped playing those negative scenarios in my head. And when I did get rejected, I made a conscious effort to not take it personal. I knew what I was doing was working, and I didn’t let rejections suck my energy and stop me from plowing forward.
That was more than 20 years ago. I sold that business and applied what I learned to grow and finally sell my towing business. And now I help others in the industry. But the stories never change.
Many times, when people contact me for help, I hear the same despair and helplessness in their voices. It comes through in the words they use. They talk about the competition, and the barriers that keep them from getting what they want. And I’ve learned to discern between who I can help and who is irreversibly immersed in their misery.
And the people who are making it? Well they know that when you decide to stop complaining and get to work that’s when things miraculously unfold and start happening for you.
Maybe the first time you try something it doesn’t work. So What? Try it again and again and if it still doesn’t work…then try something else. And if that doesn’t work, then try another business, but don’t give up on being an entrepreneur. No one is born into it, you have to work at it.