Lessons Learned in Starting a Business

Friday, October 15, 2010

By Joe J Griffith

When I talk to people about why they got started with their first business I get all sorts of answers like: I want to be my own boss, I want more freedom with my time or I want to make more money. And sometimes I hear stories like my own, a story where a business is born out of desperation and fear.

The whole thing started while I was completing course upgrades for college programs around 1992. I had this glamorous part-time job repairing water beds and it just wasn't paying the rent. One morning I woke up looked in the fridge and saw there was nothing to eat. I checked my bank account and discovered that I had less than $600, which meant I had to choose between paying the rent or eating.

I did what most scared and desperate people do...I threw my hands in the air and said, "I give up!" Then an amazing thing happened! All the stress and fear fell away because nothing mattered anymore. I found by just letting go of these feelings some kind of inner voice or consciousness took over and started guiding me (no I wasn't smoking marijuana!).

Fear and desperation can be great motivators

I woke up the next morning with a great plan. In fact it was so brilliant, I was certain I couldn't have come up with it! I decided to use the bookkeeping skills I had acquired through my college courses to get contract work as a bookkeeper. I knew that I didn't have time to look for a job. I needed money NOW not in 3 or 4 weeks. Out of fear and desperation, I mustered up enough courage to visit local businesses and ask for work. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done -

I spent 4 days calling on business owners

Day One: I talked to 25 businesses owners only to be rejected by them all. I went home feeling disappointed and concerned my *great* plan was a failure. I ate popcorn for supper.

Day Two: I barely slept the night before, I felt sick. I needed money. I went back to town early in the morning and stepped up my game plan. This time I talked to more than 35 business owners only to be told they wouldn't hand their books over to someone who just walked in off the street. At 6pm, I called it a night and just went to bed.

Day Three: I finally slept, probably just because I was feeling exhausted and stressed out! But today will be the day! Today I'm going to find just one business owner who will take me on as a bookkeeper. I headed back to town excited that today will be the day...at 8pm, I went home feeling tired and certain my plan was stupid.

Day Four: I woke up thinking that this plan just has to work. It's a numbers game. As long as I talk to enough people, surely someone will hire me. I went back to town again and really stepped up my efforts. I talked with over 50 business owners only to be told that they won't deal with me because they have never heard of me and don't know anything about me.

Creative thinking wins the day

On day five the cool inner voice came to the rescue again with another plan. I had heard "we can't do business with you because we don't know who you are" so often, that I knew I had to overcome that objection.

I used $500 of my $600 life savings and took an advertisement out in the local paper. I created a company name, JP Financial Services and along with a big picture of me, the advertisement said, "JP Financial Services is proud to introduce Joe Griffith, please welcome Joe to our community."

The following week, I took a copy of the paper with me and revisited several of the businesses from the previous week...only this time when they said they couldn't do business with me because they didn't know who I was, I held up my paper and said "I'm Joe Griffith, and see, it says right here that you should welcome me to the community."

I managed to collect more than $1200 in prepayments that week. So, I not only managed to pay the rent, but I got to eat too! It was a week of gratitude.

Lessons learned in starting a business:

1. When you just have to get started now, take inventory of what you already have. What skills do you already posses that are marketable? I had just added bookkeeping to my repertoire and felt confident I could market this skill.

2. Create a simple action plan. The simpler it is the more likely it will be that you will actually to do it. My plan was easy, talk to enough people and eventually I'd find my right people. Social media makes this faster and easier then 1992.

3. Persistence is valuable. But it's not everything. Like the old saying, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If what you're doing isn't working, it's worth looking into to see if changes are required. Obviously, after 4 days of talking to people and getting no results, I had to reevaluate.

4. Be creative when problem solving. The main objection I received is that "the business owners didn't know who I was." So to overcome this objection, I ran the newspaper advertisement. It reassured them that I was who I said I was and that I had a legitimate business with a real Company name.

Joe Griffith

It is my mission to guide business builders into action through education and empowerment. learn more about how I can get your business rolling, visit me http://www.theactiondude.com


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