Today is the best day to strike out on your own and launch your business; but, I must warn you—you will be told by your family, friends and colleagues that your idea will not work. They will say the risk is too big, that most businesses fail in the first three years and on and on and on. You must guard yourself against this negative thinking and stick with your gut.
I graduated from Radford University in 1990 with a degree in Economics. Without goals, interviews or direction in my life, I took the first two jobs I could find: I was a waiter at night in an Italian restaurant and an office coffee salesman for a family friend’s company during the day. After working 24 hours a day at these two jobs for about one year, I made exactly $19,800. Disgusted with my earnings, I promptly quit both jobs and announced that I was starting a boat cleaning service. I had always wanted to do something on my own and now seemed like the right time. With my last 200 dollars, I bought a book on boat cleaning, visited the area marine stores, built a floating raft and printed some flyers. The following morning, I drove to the local marina, jumped the fence and put a flyer on each boat docked at that marina. “Barnacle Jim’s Boat Service” was born.
Upon starting that venture, I was reminded by everyone about the bad decision I had made. “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of…” from one of my best friends, “What will you do for money? What if it doesn’t work? What if you fail?” from my family, and (my favorite) “Why don’t you buy a lawn mower and start cutting grass instead?? No one will pay to have their boat cleaned…” from a neighbor who I had gone to for advice. I ignored them all and plowed ahead.
That company I started from the trunk of my car in 1991 is now called “Sharp Details, Inc.” We currently have 60 employees in seven different states cleaning corporate and private jets for some of the biggest corporations in the world. In 2009, in the middle of a recession, Sharp Details, Inc. had revenues of more than $3,500,000 and maintained profitability. More importantly, this business I have worked so hard to build now gives me the freedom and financial stability to spend my time however I choose to spend it. I enjoy quality time with my wife and four children, and have the ability to pursue other ventures such as writing my book, The Practical Guide to Exceptional Living, surfing, golfing and extensive travel.
As entrepreneurs, we are perceived as adventurous, creative and unorthodox thinkers and, to those in the cubicle world, we may even seem a bit reckless. The truth is, we are doers and movers and shakers, we learn something from every mistake, we change direction when met with obstacles, and we find a way to make it work when the odds are against us. Some of us do it for the money, but we all also do it for the freedom and the independence.
Do not spend another minute of your life working at a job you dislike, for a boss you dislike, and/or for a cause you dislike. Take your idea, your passion or your skill and turn it into the business you always dreamed about and remember the only way to truly fail is to never have tried.
Jim Garland, CEO and President of Sharp Details, Inc./ Author of The Practical Guide to Exceptional Living.