I didnt know about setting goals, short term goals, and long term goals.
But I have not given up. I do believe I would have made it if I hadn’t listened to other people and taken their advice on my business ideas. I should have followed my dreams and my thoughts and took the chance to succeed or fail, instead of doing nothing and not even trying because they (my friends and I thought they were smarter than me) told me it wouldn’t work or it can’t be done. I realize now that they meant they couldn’t do it, therefore, I couldn’t do it.
I found out later that If I make my mind up to do something and I believe I can do it, I do it.
I remember early in my business carrier that not having the money to do something never stopped me from doing it. I just started it and figured it out as I went and never looked back. In 1983 after being on the road traveling a lot, covering 11 states and not being home much, selling Vinyl Siding and Replacement Windows. I took another commissioned sales job in Monroe LA. for a company that did fundraisers for high schools and Parish Maps for the Chamber of Commerce in different Parishes. Both were funded by selling ads to local businesses.
I worked three projects and completed each one in a week for a total of three weeks and earned $9,000.00 in commissions so I took the next week off and went home. I was living in a small town in Arkansas at the time. I deposited my three checks feeling pretty good about the new job. I wrote checks to pay my bills, Toward the end of the week I was getting ready to head back to Monroe when the back called, they had frozen my account because all three checks had bounced. Now I was in the red with my bank account. I was upset, as a matter of fact, I was beyond upset, I was mad. I couldnt reach the guy I was working for so I headed to Monroe and I had no clue what I would do if I found him but I knew I was going to get my money, one way or another. You could say I had a burning desire to find him and get my money. I did find him and he had no money, he lost it gambling and doing drugs. I knew I was not leaving until I got paid. What he decided to do was go to a department store and charge items and give them to pay me off. That was better than nothing so I loaded my truck with appliances, stereos, tools, etc., and went home broke with a truckload of goodies.
Now that I was back at home what was I to do. I could sell the stuff but it wouldnt be enough to clear the overage at the bank. Getting a job would take forever to make the money up. So I headed to see an old friend that I havent seen in years, he helped me out once when I was in the junk business. He co-signed a $4,000 note so I could buy a bunch of scrap metal in Helena, AR. And I made out like a bandit on it. Sorry I got off track there for a minute. Every detail has a story behind it. Anyway, when I got there I found out that he had passed away, I visited with his son for a bit and figured I had a better head home. I had $17.00 to my name, just enough for gas to get home and maybe a light lunch or snack.
I drove around town looking at the old store building where dad put in a second-hand store, another story there. I drove by where I had my scrap metal business and remembered I started that with a $100.00 and the man sold me the property with no money down and a little time to get it started. Here I was in worse shape and I wasnt going home empty-handed. So what does a guy do when there is no opportunities? Thats right I made my own opportunity. I did fundraisers for a thief and druggy, so why couldnt I do the same for myself. I went to the local high school and met with the football coach. I told him I would like to do a fundraiser for the team. I told him I would give him a three hundred stadium cushions that he could sell for $10.00 each at the gate at their first game which would make them $3,000. All I needed him to do is write me a letter of introduction stating I was doing a fundraiser for the athletic club and he appreciated all their support.
I went back right after lunch to pick up the letter and get started. I didnt think it all the way through.
I didnt know where to get the cushions or where to get them screen-printed or most of all how much it would cost. But I had a plan now.
I didnt have a business name any contracts, receipt book or nothing. So I took my bankroll of $17.00 and went to a local store and bought a note pad and a receipt book. Now I was in business, I came up with Star Promotions as my company name and started calling on the local businesses. I made a sale on my first call. And they paid me in cash, I was on a roll. I was selling pretty good almost every call. After an hour or so I was making my presentation and the store owner wanted to know if I could do windbreakers with their logo on front, Of course, I said with a smile. I was thinking, what am I doing, Was I digging a hole that I couldnt get out of? I never could say no to a sale. I had no idea what I should charge, so I started asking questions, like, what was wrong with the company that they have been getting them from and were their prices too high? If you ask the right questions in the right spirit people will share a lot of information. So I not only sold an ad for the stadium cushion but I sold two dozen windbreakers, prayer does work. I had a great desire and a great need to make a lot of money quick. Well, it was a lot of money to me. My next stop was the only real grocery store in town It was an IGA store. I got to talk with the owner and he wanted to know how much the big space in the middle of the cushion was, I told him and he bought it. Then he wanted to know if I could do caps with his store name across the front. Your right, I said sure I can, he said how much. I ignored him because I had no clue, I had to stall. We kept talking, I ask questions and he kept asking how much. So I said it depends on which style of cap, how many he wanted, and if he wanted multiple colors for the screen printing. Then I just came out and ask him if he had any of the old ones I could see. He went out for a minute and came back with one. He said the company that he got them from did a poor job on the screen printing, the printing was crooked and off-center on about half of his order. Then he asked me can you do a better job?. I said yes I could but I couldnt guarantee that 100% would be perfect. But I would replace any that was not satisfied with. Again he asked How much per cap? I said I didnt know if I could beat the other guys’ price but I could sure beat them in quality. How much did he charge you for these? And he told me. Hallelujah! That was what I need to hear. So I did what any professional salesperson would do, I added twenty-five cents per cap and assured him he would be satisfied with them. Then I ask how many do you need? When he answered and said 3,000 I almost chocked. Why so many I asked. He explained that would be enough to last him all year. He gives them to customers at different times, and he has a big cookout in the parking lot once a year and invites the whole town and anyone that stops by gets to eat free, it was his way of saying thanks for their loyalty. Well, I thought I had made a good deal but now when he said 3000 caps I thought maybe he got a good deal what if he low balled me. All I could do now is be thankful for all the sales. The Good Lord was watching out for me that day. I sold out the stadium cushion and had orders for caps and windbreakers. I had, and get this I started with $17.00 in cash and at the end of the day I had $1700.00 in cash besides the checks.
The next day I got on the phone and found a supplier of caps and windbreakers and where I could get the screen printing done. I ordered the windbreakers and caps had them drop shipped to the screen printers and they shipped them to my customers. And I made sure that I was there when they received it and collected the balance owed me. My customers were all happy and so was I. I felt so good and so blessed and thankful that I went to the local radio station and got them to air the first ballgame and help the school sell the cushions. The coach let me know later that that was the first time the radio station broadcast the game live and they sold every cushion that night. Oh, and I cleared a little over $3,000 that day.
I decided I was going to open my own store where I could be home every night. So I opened my store and copied the format from Kinko’s but also offered screen printing T-shirts, caps, windbreakers and a whole lot more. And that is another story in itself to be told in my next post.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes.
You can get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want. ~Zig Ziglar
I wish you all, all the best life has to offer.
We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences be they positive or negative make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.- B.J. Neblett