A $50,000 dollar risk, and what I learned from it.

“No risk equals no reward”. It is cliché to say the least, but clichés are clichés because they are accurate. This cliché is definitely true.

Throughout my life I have never achieved any kind of benefit, at least, a significant benefit that was worthwhile and beneficial, without taking some risk that included money, time, effort, energy, etc.

Two years ago, I started preparing for the next stage in my career.  When I say two years ago, I mean it was go time. I had been preparing myself for several years prior to that time, but now it was leap time.

At the time, I thought I knew what that next stage was it was and what it looked like.  I had been preparing myself for years for this next stage.  I invested the resources to enhance my current skills.  I made it a priority to seek out and develop new skills. I put in the work and time that was required to ensure I was ready to take the leap into this next phase.

Secondly, I also made sure that my personal finances and life in general was in order. I  didn’t want any financial concerns or constraints to prevent me from making this leap.  Nor did I want to make the leap and fall flat, because I didn’t have things in order.

So with everything in order, it was go time.  I did it.  I knew it would be hard, I knew there would be hardships.  I knew that in the short run, that things wouldn’t be the same as they were before.

I was used to living off of a six figure plus salary.  I was used to spending freely and doing what I want.  I was used to not thinking too much about how and where I spent every single dollar.  I had enough disposable income that money wasn’t a constant concern.

I took the leap, and now that I am on the other side of it.  I can tell you exactly how much it cost me.  I can tell you exactly how much less I had to spend this year, versus the previous ten years. I took a $50,000 dollar risk.

As I planned the leap I didn’t know what the cost would be.  Actually, I thought it wouldn’t have been that much.  Well, honestly, I didn’t know what it would cost.  You know why?  Because I had never been here before.  I had never taken a this leap before. I had never taken this risk.  It was all new.

Monetarily I know what the cost was this year.  It is easy to see.  What isn’t as obvious is the growth that I had this year.  The things I learned that I would have never known if I hadn’t taken the leap.  The things I learned about me and what I like and don’t like. My true strengths and some of my weaknesses.  What is best for me, and what is not good for me.  How business works and doesn’t work.  I learned about people.  You can’t put a dollar figure on any of these things.

Most of us never venture out far enough to actually see how far we can go. We instead have to play it safe, because we are afraid or because of our lifestyle, we have to stay close to the dock, and never really swim out far enough to realize we can swim as far out as our mind will take us.

As you wrap up 2017, let me ask you:  Would you be willing to take a $50,000 risk for your growth and development?  Or maybe a better question is this:  Can you even do it?

The second question is probably the more important one.  Have you put yourself in a position to know what you are truly capable of.  Or have you been doing the same things for so long and getting the same results, that you can’t even begin to fathom what it would be like to do something else.

Are your debts and obligations such, that you have to keep doing what you have always done? Again, I know what this looks like, I did it for many years before I learned that I had to prepare myself today for the future I want tomorrow.

If you want to learn more about how I did this, and how you can do it.  Reach out to me and lets talk.  We all need a little coaching in our life. Someone to hold us accountable and help us get to a place where we have never been before.  Are you willing to take a risk?

To your success and your future.

 

 

Quitting too soon, and the hard lessons I learned from it.

About six years ago, a good friend and I were both at a point in our careers where we weren’t overly satisfied.  We both had risen in the ranks and made very comfortable salaries for many years at that point.  My friend had just moved him and his family back west and he had found a similar position there.

At the time we both had this “itch” that was gnawing at us to do our own thing.  We were both pretty confident in our abilities. We both had, or at least we thought we had, a lot of contacts that would do business with us.  We had accumulated a lot of knowledge and skills through our working history.  We said let’s go out and start a business.

I was really excited about this venture.  I had real estate at the time, but I never really thought about it being an actual business. This was now officially going to be a real business.  A Legal business, with a name, a legal corporation.

As of writing this today, I was looking at some of our emails that we were sending back and forth at the time.  The way we were bouncing ideas off of each other, the way were emailing thoughts on the name of our company.  There must be a thousand emails that stated what our company would offer, what our mission statement would be.  And, oh yeah, all of the content and information for our website.

I can remember at that time, that I was so excited that me, “Brian Willett”, would have a business.  This was far beyond what I had ever even thought I would do in my life and career.  It wasn’t that I didn’t think I was smart enough.  I had just never even thought about it.

Oh yeah, the business.  At that time, the federal government was cracking down on the sector that we both had made a career in.  The government was trying to basically pick winners and losers in a highly competitive field.  And the government had already decided who the winners and losers were going to be.

Our business was a secret shopping company that helped schools that the government had already decided were going to be the losers in this crack down, in ensuring compliance of their admissions teams.  Our pitch was simple, “Do you know what your people are saying to prospects?”  The answer was usually no.  And at that time, there was recordings going all around about how rogue admissions personnel were misleading students in to enrolling at schools around the country.

Our product provided security, data, and peace of mind to school owners and operators that they were not out of compliance.  It also provided a great tool and resource for these school owners and operators to use to make their teams better as well.

From the very beginning my partner and I never wanted to be only a secret shopping company.  Nope.  Our plan was to flip clients, who bought the secret shopping from us, into full-time clients that we would do consulting with.

We started this journey at the end of 2011, around December, and the goal was to build the business up from then until June, and then we both would quit our full-time jobs.

For six months, we worked before work, after work, and the weekends trying to get everything in place, as well as trying to land some clients.  It was hard since we were now moonlighting in a business where we were known as one thing, and we were now selling a product in to those same people who knew us.  Not to mention, that my current company as well as my partners, didn’t necessarily want us doing this.  Well, we never asked, we just did it.  Needless to say, it was risky and it wasn’t overly efficient in the way we had to go about it.

We landed a few secret shopping clients by June, and we had several pending bigger consulting deals on the schedule as well.

My friend quit his job first.  He just couldn’t take it any more. He hated everything about it. Mainly the ownership.  Now it was my turn to quit my job.

Looking back on it now, I can remember how scared I was.  I had saved some money up, we had some things in the works in the business, but I was about to walk away from a very safe and secure six figure salary and go to zero for the first time in many years.

Well, I did it.  I quit my job.  I think it was around July or so that year.

At the time, I think we had two clients that were buying some minimal things from us.  All secret shopping clients.  Now, remember, we had no desire to be a secret shopping company.  We actually hated that part of the business. We wanted consulting deals.

As fate would have it, a couple of the big deals we had in the works, fizzled out. Also, I had been offered a very sound consulting deal that was taking up more time, which took my focus off of the business. Even though this deal was going through the business, it took my focus off growing the business.

By October, both my partner and I were back to working full-time jobs.  The funny thing is though, is our business has continued to operate since then.  Even though both of us have been working full-time jobs since, our business has continued to provide us both with additional money for the last six years. Actually, as soon as we went back to work several of the deals we had been working that didn’t come through, actually came through.

I learned so many lessons from this venture.  Too many to put in this one post, however, I will give you a few of the bigger lessons.

  1.  When starting a new business, be ready for at least two years to go without a paycheck.
  2. Even though we spent six moths preparing for the launch, we could have done more to be prepared. Looking back, we should have spent more time preparing or doing more during the preparation.
  3. Dont be afraid to take risks.  Nothing is final. As you can see we both bounced back.
  4. Dont quit on your business too soon. As I shared above, My focus got pulled away in the consulting deal, which essentially forced me to quit on the company.
  5. Don’t quit your full-time job until you have outgrown your ability to manage your side business part-time.

To your success and your future.

Check out mpactgroupinc.com to learn more about the business that we started and is still operating today.

 

 

My first business purchase and why you shouldn’t listen to most people

“Was that a roach?” My buddy said to me as we were walking through the property.  This had to be one of the nastiest homes I have personally ever walked in and he said the same.

As I walked through the apartment of this three bedroom and one and a half bath bottom unit of this duplex, it was hard to see the carpet because of all the boxes and trash bags piled on top of more garbage.   It’s as hard to tell what color the walls were because of  the layer of film on all of the  walls from years of smoking.  The smell that permeated throughout the twelve-hundred square foot of living space was a combination of old boxes, body odor, and food that had been sitting in the garbage can for days.

As we walked through each of the bedrooms, I couldn’t believe that children actually were allowed to occupy the space.  I also never understood how every single light fixture or wall socket, was missing the little plate that hides the electrical wires in the wall.

As we walked into one the bedrooms, a 1980’s television set was on, and had the old bunny ears were attempting to put a picture on the screen that was even watchable.  Keep in mind it is now 2006 when I was in walking through.

We walked out of that apartment to the upstairs apartment. This apartment was exactly the opposite of what we were just walking through.  It was the same size and dimensions. However,  this apartment was clean, uncluttered, and the white paint on the walls were white. We didn’t spend as much time in that apartment.  My decision was made.

As we exited both apartments:
My buddy said “What do you think?”
I said “Lets put an offer in on it.”
He said “What?”
I said, “Yes, I want to buy it.”

And about a month or so later, I now owned my first official business.   I bought that duplex and it was my first of many rental properties.  I didn’t know it at the time, because I was twenty-seven years old and didn’t know really what I was doing.   Nobody in my family that I was close with, at least not my immediate family, had ever owned rental real estate before.

As I was in the process of buying this property, I had many people in my family and my friends asking me the questions, of which you have either asked yourself most likely.  Or if you own rental real estate someone has asked you.

Questions like.  “What are you going to do if you don’t have a renter?”  “Renters will mess your place up?”  “Who is going to do all of your repairs?”  “How will you find renters?”  “What do you know about owning real estate?”  “You know that this will impact your taxes?” “You will get calls in the middle of the night.”

All of these statements, that are posed in a way of a question were asked of me.  Many of the people who made these statements had never owned rental real estate in their life.  Many of the people didn’t have a clue of what it was like to find a renter.  Paying taxes on rental properties. Doing repairs on rental properties.

This first rental property investment I made was such a learning experience for me.

First, I had to see through all of the muck and junk and realize that there was an opportunity to make some money.  The bad smells, the dirty walls, the ripped carpet that was so filthy that I was scared to even walk on it with shoes.  But I saw through it all.

And in life, most of the good opportunities and possibilities are usually covered up with a little muck and junk.  It is up to us to not listen to the conventional wisdom and to go against the grain and decide to pursue the opportunity anyway. Also, you have to work to clear out the muck and junk to expose the opportunity.

The second thing I learned was.  That most of the people telling you not to do something.  Or questioning why you would want to do something.  These same people are usually the ones that have no experience with whatever it is they are questioning you about.

I am a big believer in learning from other people.  However, many times I have listened to people who don’t have the experience with that of which I am trying to learn about or attempt to do.  Most of the naysayers in my life, and your life, are trying to tell you something they don’t have any experiences with.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now.  That for any of us to accomplish something that we have never been able to accomplish, we will have to do something that most people we know haven’t done or haven’t done well. Because we are all a product of our own environments at some level.

Quit listening to the people who don’t have the ability to help you to begin with.

To your success and your future.

 

 

Charms Blow Pops and Dum-Dums suckers

I am not sure how big Charms Blow Pops are in todays culture, but when I was a kid they were the best suckers you could buy.  They were two treats in one.  You got the hard candy part, just like all suckers, and then you got the gum in the middle.  Now, let’s be honest, you could only chew the gum for about five minutes or less and all of the flavor would be gone.  But they were still the best suckers.

At the time, the only comparison I had was the Tootsie Roll pop. Which I personally thought were gross.  They were similar to the Charms Blow Pop except they had a chocolate tootsie roll in the center versus bubble gum.  I personally never liked the taste of any kind of flavored candy on top of that chocolate.  So the Charms Blow Pop and the Dum-Dums suckers were my go to, and the Dum Dums didn’t have any thing in the center.  It was just a sucker.

It must have been when I was in middle school that these Charms Blow Pops became popular in my neighborhood in Louisville, Ky.  All of us kids loved them.  I loved them a lot.  To this day, my mom still teases me that I spent all of my money on candy while growing up.  While my older brother, the smarter one of us two.  Spent his money on actual tangible things that lasted and didn’t give you a tummy ache or acne.

Between my love of candy and my love of making money. At this young age, whatever middle school age is. Is when I started thinking entrepreneurial.   At the time my local grocery store and the local Walgreens sold a bag of Charms Blow Pops for ninety-nine cents.  For that ninety-nine cents you would get four Charms Blow Pops.  I would buy that bag and then take it to school the next day and sell the suckers for fifty cents a piece.  So I would double my money.

My biggest challenge was holding myself accountable to take my profits and invest them in to more suckers for the next day. Instead of, taking my extra dollar or my original investment of a dollar, and buying myself something.  I am not much different from I was then, I like to spend money.  And even then, I would be in that candy aisle and be motivated to buy myself a Hershey’s chocolate bar instead of buying more stock for the next day.

So each day, I would put those suckers on the inside pocket of my blue jean jacket and sell those four or eight suckers to my friends and other people on the bus, in the cafeteria, or in the halls.   You could only fit so many suckers in those pockets.

I am sure there were other examples as a kid when I thought entrepreneurial, but this is the one that sticks out to me most.  I am not sure how long I had this candy store business in the pockets of my blue jean jacket, but I do remember during my seventh and eighth grade years at my middle school being the guy that people would come to and knew they could purchase a sucker from.  Over time a friend of mine and I actually combined efforts and expanded our product lines to include candy bars and other little snacks.

To this day, although I have worked for companies for a long periods of time, and I have also owned my own businesses and still do.  I still have that entrepreneurial spirit inside me.

And it is a pretty simple philosophy that I have when it comes to business and being an entrepreneur.  How can I invest a dollar into something and get my money back and a dollar more.  My biggest challenge is that I have to continue to think bigger and say how can I invest two hundred thousand dollars and get four hundred thousand dollars back in return.   This is where I am today. Where are you?

I am curious to know what your first entrepreneurial experience was?  How has that impacted you to this day?  And are you running your own business because of these early life entrepreneurial experiences?

To your success and your future.