So, Barack Obama doesn’t think business owners did it on their own.
Well, here is a largely incomplete list of the things I did and do every day to run my business. And lemme tell you something – I didn’t get a God-damned bit of help from anyone.
Things I DID NOT Get Help With To Start and Run My Business:
(Don’t miss the bit of commentary at the end – you won’t want to miss it.)
- Spend thousands of dollars on government bullshit just to set up the business.
- Worked for no pay while I was starting up.
- Cashed out 401k and savings to cover my start up costs.
- Attended as many business networking events as I could find.
- Cold-called businesses: (Plumbers, Roofers, Counselors, Consultants, Landscapers, Dentists, and Home Builders trying to find new sales.
- Learned how to build my own website.
- Wrote all the content for every page of my website.
- Figured out how to run Internet ads on Google.
- Paid for Internet ads for Google with a credit card.
- Went to sleep every night wondering how I was going to pay the mortgage.
- Completed the production work for all my clients.
- Figured out how Quickbooks works and how to use it to track accounts payables and receivables.
- Set up company bank accounts and corporate lines of credit.
- Learned how to use outsource service providers.
- Take calls from (sometimes) angry customers.
- Figure out how to make angry customers happy.
- Set prices for all the products.
- Learned what it’s like to lose money on a product.
- Work on client campaigns every Saturday and Sunday morning in my pajamas.
- Drive hundreds of miles for single sales calls.
- Drive hundreds of miles to handle a few hours of consulting.
- Read, re-read and re-read contracts, hoping my decisions were the right ones.
- Signing contracts the bind me to years of obligation, without knowing if I’d be able to meet those obligations.
- Convinced my wife that what I am pursuing is real, and that it will work eventually.
- Found and attended speaking engagements at industry events.
- Wrote and delivered speeches to industry and peer groups.
- Created order forms and customer contracts.
- Created social networking profiles for the business and used them to get new customers.
- Wrote informative blog posts for the business blog.
- Took out ads in the local newspapers trying to get new business.
- Created the ads for the local newspapers to run.
- Wrote press releases for the business.
- Learned the basics to dozens (hundreds?) of other industries in order to serve those industries.
- Had hundreds of conversations with wife about how the monthly cash flow is shaking out.
- Built a business process using no employees.
- Re-built business processes using technology partners.
- Learned how to use offshore technology help.
- Created over 80 websites for other businesses, individuals and non-profit groups.
- Handled well over $2 million in online advertising budgets for businesses of all sizes.
- Sacrificed college funds for my kids in hopes that I’ll make it back.
- Learned email marketing programs and helped clients use them to further their business goals.
- Developed training programs for various marketing programs.
- Advertised training programs to businesses across the globe.
- Worked with business partners in the USA, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
- Spent every night for 6 months from 10:00 pm to 11:30 pm on conference calls with business partners on the other side of the world.
- Spent hundreds of hours working on new products only to discover they are not market-ready and had to scrap them.
- Figured out how to monitor expenses so that we can pay bills, eat and pay taxes.
- Set up a billing system to automate payment processes and improve cash flow.
- Engineered five of my own company website re-designs in 3 years.
- Learn how much harder it is to look at myself in the mirror when I screw up, versus having to tell a boss I screwed up.
- Figured out how to use virtual office space to handle customer meetings.
- Pouring over spreadsheets completing margin analysis to see if I am going to make a car payment in a given month.
- Creating job listings for Monster and Craig’s List.
- Conducting job interviews with prospective employees.
- Setting up partnership agreements with other marketing companies.
- Learning that people – customers and business suppliers – will not always tell you the truth.
- Over-delivered on as many projects as possible.
- Watched family members shake their heads at me when I start talking about a new business idea…another business idea.
- Spent hundreds of hours reading books by Seth Godin, Tim Ash, Tony Robins, Napoleon Hill, Robert Kiyosaki, Steven Covey, Frank Kern, Perry Marshall and so many others I can’t begin to list.
- Flying high when customer receipts are flowing in.
- Crashing in depression when a few customers bail at the same time.
- Waking up at night doubting every decision.
- Figuring out how to leverage every dollar of cash flow to grow the business.
- What it means to take action.
- Struck up conversations in coffee shops to explore new business opportunities.
- Bought business and entrepreneur magazines 5 at a time in the search for new ideas.
- Create budget plans in durations from one week to 5 years.
- Learned how to create sales projections that are accurate.
- Learned the hard way that some clients should never have become clients.
- Made business decisions that affected other people’s lives.
- Let help go when the revenue and margins could not support the headcount.
- Spent days, nights and weekends tweaking spreadsheets containing product definitions.
- Negotiated contracts with service providers.
- Went on joint sales calls with white-label partners.
- Accepted negative-margin clients hoping they would buy something more in the future.
- Managed the return-on-invertment (ROI) for countless marketing and sales schemes.
- Spent a 100 degree summer afternoon moving offices from one space to another – alone.
- Did one office move with the help of another small business owner (Thanks, Greg!).
- Did NOT get paid during those office moves.
- Learned to handle the frustration that when I don’t work, I don’t get paid. No Paid-Time-Off (PTO) or family leave crap for the small business owner.
- Had a logo designed and printed on T-shirts, pens, hats, then just gave it all away.
- Created flyers for businesses and found kids to hand deliver them.
- Accepted that my fancy car was an expense I could not afford.
- Learned how to focus on money-making activities instead of busy-work.
- Learning to run a business and still find time for family, wife and kids (still learning).
- Seeing the goal, envisioning the future and taking action to get there.
- Feeling the thrill when I sign a huge new contract.
- Waking up at 4:00 am to complete a project that the client needs first thing in the morning.
- Handling the phone call when a client’s credit card is declined.
I think I could do this all day… so how about this…
There is no body – NOBODY – who did this for me. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I got more negative encouragement than positive. My parents were worried sick about how I would do. My siblings thought it was okay, but I could sense the skepticism. My wife supported me, but there were many days when (I’m sure) she wished for a corporate paycheck.
Teachers? Ha! I was a crappy student in high school and college and had maybe 3 teachers worth even having a conversation with. I am successful now in SPITE of my teachers.
If anybody did anything for me it was my Mom and Dad.
My Mom always believed in me, even when I was making a bad choice. She told me when I was being an idiot, but she always encouraged me. Always. My Dad was a shining example of what a Dad should be. He got up every day and went to work. I once asked him if he had any career regrets…he said no. He worked his tail off to provide for his kids and his family. That type of example has a way of rubbing off on a kid. It taught me what you are supposed to do – work, and work hard.
The government encourages receiving unemployment – I never received a day of it. The bureaucracy in the way of merely starting a business is overwhelming. The system is set up to dissuade people from taking the leap.
Yet I, and millions like me, take the plunge every day. Against all odds we sacrifice our time, our savings, and risk our livelihood – and that of our families – in an attempt to create something that will last. A business that will generate income. One that will allow us to reach the goals and aspirations that we lay awake at night and dream.
And along the way we have paid our taxes.
We pay for the stupid stickers for our cars. We pay the 5% sales tax for every coffee, newspaper and tank of gas we buy. We pay thousands of dollars for accountants to make sense of our business receipts and spending. Then we write the check to pay those taxes. We then pay taxes again when we scrape up enough to buy some stock here and there. We pay and we pay and we pay.
So, we risk it all and we pay our own way.
Then this son-of-a-bitch has the audacity to tell me I didn’t do it alone!?
I have two simple words for you Barry.
Anyone want to guess what they are?