How I Became a Successful Entrepreneur
Several years ago, I learned that working for just an hourly wage is to accomplish nothing other than to trade your most prized possession, your time, for money. Talk about a waste of time. As a young boy, I quickly learned that I could go off and get a job and be paid $3.35 per hour (minimum wage at the time), or I could sell my products or services and work a whole lot less and make a whole lot more.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I took a job flipping burgers at a local hangout called Country Ranch. This burger place served the best burgers and frozen cokes around. However, after I figured out the amount of effort I was putting in to make only $3.35 per hour, I soon realized there had to be a better way. That better way was to get into sales.
In the winters of my earlier days, I would go door to door with my shovel in hand and sell homeowners on believing that my back was strong enough to shovel their driveways and my time was worth about $20. Most of these jobs took me about 30 to 45 minutes, and then I would go back up to the house, ring the doorbell, and retrieve my $20 bill. I remember one huge storm we had in Michigan that winter where I did this all day long, and I made $200 in a day. Now, for a 12-year old kid, that is a lot of money. I remember taking this money and going down to the electronics store and purchasing my first boom box, complete with detachable speakers and a cassette player…Wow, it didn’t get any better than that.
During the summers, I would do the exact same thing, except instead of a shovel, my father let me borrow the family lawnmower (of course, only after our own lawn was mowed). I would then go throughout the neighborhood pushing our family mower while looking for homes with tall grass. I would do this anytime during the summer when I was bored, usually whenever I couldn’t find any of the neighbor kids to play wiffle ball or home run derby. The life of being a kid – how I sometimes miss the simplicity of that lifestyle: my only concerns were what’s for dinner, what time do I have to go to bed, and do those cute girls in my class like me as much as I like them? A pretty good life I must say.
Entrepreneurial lessons learned in my youth…
Looking back at my youth and applying those lessons to my adult life of becoming an entrepreneur, the biggest “Aha!” moment I have had is that at a young age, I learned you could make far more money in sales than you can as an employee trading time for dollars. Not only that, but you become your own boss, set your own calendar, work whenever you are not playing wiffle ball, and have a much better life.
The lessons served me well because as soon as I graduated from college, I entered the sales field, selling corporate travel against other travel agencies. Next, I sold overnight air express against other delivery companies. Finally in my last sales career, I sold printed circuit boards against other circuit board manufacturers.
During those years, I had a huge awakening: As long as I left it up to someone else to manufacture the product, (circuit boards) or perform the service (overnight air express), as a salesperson, I could not control the finished and final experience for my customers. This final product or service was always left in the hands of other people. As a result, I can’t tell you how many times while working in the air express business I had to call my contact and apologize for their payroll not showing up (this was before the days of direct deposit) due to an “act of God”, which was usually just a snowstorm at the main hub in Ohio, where hundreds of planes would fly each night, sort all the freight, and then return the next day with all of the packages. Also, I often would end up taking calls from Intel (my biggest client), explaining to them why their circuit boards would not be delivered on time, thereby causing them to miss their build schedule.
These continued headaches over the years led me to have two epiphanies:
- If I were going to maximize my wealth and true earning abilities, then I needed to pursue a career in sales.
- I needed to be the one who creates the product or performs the services so I can be in complete control of the results my customer wants.
As a result, I no longer sell for anyone else. What I do today is market my services as a professional keynote speaker, and as a book publishing, book marketing, and speaking coach. Additionally, I market copies of my book in large volumes throughout the world.
As a result of pursuing this model, I am the only one in complete control of the product or service that my clients experience. I am in control of my destiny, I am in control of my earning limits (or no limits), and I am the one ultimately in control for providing for my family. This last experience is especially important to me because when I was laid off at 9/11 and again in 2002, I was left feeling I had no control over the situation.
The most important principle you as a future Affluent Entrepreneur can take away from hearing my story is that you too must create your own product or service so that you can be in complete control of your customers’ level of satisfaction and your full income potential.
This is an excerpt from my book: “The Affluent Entrepreneur”
As a Motivational Keynote Speaker, I can speak on this subject or adapt my subject to your audience.