When you work like a slave, you will eat like a king.
With a college loan and credit card bills, I was nearly $100,000 in debt. A lot of people say "it takes money to make money." However, with nothing in the bank and a heart filled with love, I knew that no obstacle would defy me.
I was only 22 years old, but my girl was devoted to me. She was always there for me. She became my first business partner and is now my beloved wife. Actually, this is my first time publicly acknowledging her. She keeps me going. We have one of the greatest love stories, which I will detail in the future.
Without her, I wouldn't have been able to start my business. She helped me organize my business and did a lot of graphic designs. She also develops my websites, hires our employees, helps me at my events, and encourages me greatly.
In our first year, we sold my books from our car. We visited over 100 cities and I gave over 200 speeches. I knocked on thousands of doors. Many people chased me out. I got banned from certain areas. I got parking and speeding tickets. A guy pulled out a gun on me for knocking on his door. I still kept a smile on my face.
Every day was a struggle financially, but we knew we had to keep on going. As I kept on giving speeches, my confidence and skills improved substantially. After realizing that selling books wasn’t going to pay the bills, I started a branding company.
Expanding the Business
The branding company started when I heard an old man speaking at a conference. This speaker didn't know what he was talking about. He was telling his audience of 100 people how to use social media. We knew he was wrong and decided to start a branding and consulting business to help local organizations. We even picked up a few clients from his audience!
In my speeches, I would talk about the importance of a personal brand. People would ask me questions after the speech and I would offer my services. The process was seamless. We started hiring people and business began to prosper. Many of these people are loyal friends because they followed my ideas and kept up with my work. If you’re reading this, I love you!
By the way, in my first year, I went to 20 different conferences and read over 100 books. I took notes all day, every day. I always believed in developing my mind and developing better study habits. For a fun fact, I gained 30 pounds because I ate a lot of food when I traveled! I've removed the weight since then, which was a challenging endeavor.
I would go door-to-door and sell relentlessly to random businesses. I also worked the phone books and online directories. Instead of making $20 book sales, I was selling $2000 packages. It felt good as I kept receiving signed contracts on a daily basis. I began writing articles like this one, which helped my business blossom.
These big sales set me up for major success in the subsequent year, in which I netted well over 6-figures. Without this secondary business, I would have lost everything. Bluntly put, I would be someone else’s full-time employee if I hadn’t succeeded in my own business! Business saved my life.
Half-way through my first year I sold my car to a drug-dealer for $7,500. Of course, I bought a more reliable car to replace it. I needed the car money to hire a business coach, buy products, and go to a conference. I also used leftover money to build my own personal library. Selling my car was an extraordinary sacrifice, but I had to do it if I wanted to succeed.
Either way, my first year of business was not easy. I worked from pillow to pillow, missing many family events. I didn't mention this, but I actually dropped out of my MBA program and moved out of my parents’ house to move in with my wife, which was another huge risk. Sacrifices are well-rewarded in due time.
Dealing with Criticism
Everyone thought I was crazy for my actions. My church even condemned me for doing it. They said that I was making a huge mistake. By the way, I still follow God closely and knew that what I was doing was right. Plus, there were many inexplicable miracles to prove it.
I also moved twice and faced an empty bank balance almost every day. In fact, I accrued dozens of over-draft fees within a few months. Actually, all the financial pains of my first year taught me the fundamentals of money that I know today.
Whatever it Takes
My entire wardrobe was from the Salvation Army, but I was proud of my $5 suits and $1 ties. Moreover, I did invest in $200 Florsheims and my $100 top coat. Despite my budgetary restrictions, I still had impeccable taste and style!
My intention of this article is to bring attention to the tenacity of a true entrepreneur. Excluding my car sale, I earned only $31,000 in my first year of business. That kind of money didn't go far considering that I spent over $40,000!
Believe in Yourself
Regardless, I still believed in myself. Almost everything I did was illogical (to other humans), but I had complete faith. Some people disowned me, but I knew what my vision was. I saw where I was heading and was fully focused on making it happen.
Eventually, I'll write about my 2nd year in business, which was a very prosperous time. In fact, I'll tell you everything about my life as time goes on. Each year set me up for something greater and I multiplied my income every consecutive year.
If you're in your first year of business, keep going. Go all the way in and never give up. Keep educating yourself and take risks. Stay away from negative people and follow your inner self. Most of all, be sure to make sales.
Sales is King
Without sales, you lose everything. Also, be sure to market relentlessly. Use the social media channels that work for you. Follow up with your customers and don't stop, even if they say 'no.' Also, hire professional people and have a loved one to hold you accountable to your goals.
In summary, start your business with the mindset to be the best in your industry. This doesn’t mean that you’ll come out sprinting and earning big bags of cash. If anything, you’ll face severe challenges which will build your character and test your integrity.
What I’m saying is to approach business with the right intentions. Not to get rich, but to serve and learn about the needs of other people. Many entrepreneurs want to make it big, but don’t take the time to amass the knowledge they need to be successful.
If anything, study voraciously for at least an hour or two per day. Ask tons of questions and look for the right mentors. Attend conferences and buy all the resources you need to be successful.
Make it happen and enjoy your first year of business!