How the worst can come without warning

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I had a job for six years. I started as a bookkeeper and quickly became the company’s controller. Within two years, I had become the director of business affairs. Then I bought the business, just six years after joining the firm as a bookkeeper.

I used employment as an opportunity to learn as much as possible. I set up the network server. I loaded Novell version 1.0, a program that, back then, came on about two dozen 5¼-inch floppy disks. I spent an entire Fourth of July holiday learning how to program Microsoft Access databases, building my own CRM systems to track member contact information, dues payments and conference registrations.

While my job was a great learning ground, I soon figured out I’d never get paid what I was worth. My salary took money out of my boss’s pocket by lowering the amount he could take out as dividends from profits. And what’s worse, I was building his business, his machine to generate profits. If he fired me, I’d have to walk away, and everything I had built would be out of reach. I knew I had to work for myself.

I met my boss for lunch on Labor Day, made him an offer for his business and within a few weeks I owned the company.

I started working more than 90 hours a week. I flew more than 100 flight segments around the country, meeting with clients and building important relationships. Yes, I was working a lot harder, but it was my company now.

To keep my family time in balance, I’d come home for dinner every evening I was in town, except Fridays. On Fridays I’d stay at the office and work until dawn on Saturday. This way I missed as little family time as possible.

I was woefully unprepared to take over a business. I had a lot to learn, and I had to learn it on the job. While I had a good team assembled, with employees who wanted the company to succeed, I also had others who were bitter and frustrated that the previous owner had sold the company to me. Often it was difficult to tell who fit into which category. After a lot of tears, frustration and angry fights, I had things running smoothly within a couple of years.

Most important, the business was mine; I owned the keys to the door. It was my responsibility as well as my opportunity to succeed. I learned more in a week as an owner than I did in a year as an employee. This was my company. Most days it felt like we were “building the airplane while flying it,” but I was going to do whatever it took to make it work.

None of us are prepared to know everything it’s going to take to run a business until we do it. There’s never a way to get enough experience until you take the plunge and do it.

Sometimes when I see my friends who hold regular jobs, I get a twinge of envy. Many of them make great money, $200,000.00 or even a lot more. With jobs they have a whole lot less to worry about. While I’m negotiating salaries, running marketing campaigns, innovating to stay current and working to keep customers happy, they work their jobs and get several weeks of vacation a year.

Yet I know my friends’ high salaries can disappear in a second. Businesses close without warning, law practices break up and new business owners come in to clean house.

When it’s sunny and 73 degrees outside, it’s hard to believe the weather forecast predicting a bad storm will arrive tomorrow morning. It’s the same when you have a good job. It’s hard to imagine that tomorrow it can be gone, but experience proves it can happen to anyone.

The only solution is to create a business for yourself. To create a business you own. To learn on the job and build it as you go. You’ll have a lot to learn, but you’ll never get your freedom and become successful until you make it happen.

Many coaching clients have come to me with feelings of being overwhelmed because of the pressure of business ownership. Some are overwhelmed because the success of their marketing has created fulfillment and customer service challenges. Others have achieved one level of success and are looking to make the next leap. While I understand and implement today’s most advanced marketing systems, I also understand the processes that need to be implemented to fulfill your promises and give you that great business owner lifestyle everyone wants. If you are looking to take your million-dollar business to $5 million or more, I can help you. You can book a telephone appointment with me here: https://www.timetrade.com/book/G17YM

Has business ownership given you personal freedom? Do you long to have your own business? Or do you have the perfect job? Scroll down to the bottom of the page to leave me a comment. I read every comment and reply when appropriate.

About Robert Skrob

The problem with subscription membership programs is that members quit, I fix that problem. For more than 20-years I have specialized in direct response marketing for member recruitment, retention and ascension in diverse subscription members environments including non-profit associations, for-profit publishers/coaching, subscriptions and SAAS companies. For an evaluation of your current churn rate and how I can improve it, contact me here. I discover there are often two or three quick wins you can implement within a week to lower churn immediately, let’s talk about your quick wins.
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2 Comments on “How the worst can come without warning”

  1. Robert, I started a business on a shoestring, in a basement with just a phone and a used computer and zero clients, and like you, struggled with 90 hour weeks, enlisted a partner, and in 5 years we were #51 on the INC 500 list and had 450 corporate clients and an equal number of employees. Then a weird uncontrollable sequence of incredibly disastrous events made the bottom fall out, my partner/CEO died (4 packs a day will do that), a family bought a majority of the stock, put their incompetent son in law in charge, and my baby went bankrupt in less than a month. Hundreds of famiies lost their income; it was tragic, but I couldn’t have prevented it, and I even got a long call from the FBI investigating that son-in-law CEO!

    That was then, this is now. Now I’m starting my own business, again from scratch. As an old saying goes, anything can happen, and usually does.

    1. Wow, I’m sorry to hear about your first business experience. Congratulations on your new opportunity. Keep me informed about how your business grows! Best wishes.

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