Your pest control business, your baby. You started this thing from just an idea. And through all the hard times and the great break throughs– it was you who saw it through. You nurtured it through the infant stages, chased fleeting leads across one end of town to the other. Ignored the nay sayers even when all the evidence said “they were right and you are wrong, you were just spinning your wheels.” Oh and the dark times, ah yes the dark times. There were so many of those you at times almost believed that the sun had set on your dream never to rise again. Like a final black curtain on an act cut short before it could ever really shine.
So tempted, so close were you to calling it quits and relinquishing your aspirations of having something great, something to be proud of and a legacy that would say long after you were gone. “Here is a company! A success that I BUILT and that stands and works like a well oiled machine.” The end was ever so close, but you just wouldn’t let it die.
Do you remember those days? They weren’t so long ago. Sometimes it’s just good to just think back and relive hard times and struggles. Not just a passive “do you remember when” conversation and a chuckle about how your 300 foot hose had more duct tape repairs than a MacGuyver rerun marathon. But a real soul searching of sorts. Of where you are, and maybe more importantly, where you were and the times in between. It can keep you grounded in reality- and perhaps if you’re like me, it is one of my greatest motivators to keep pressing on.
Compare Then & Now
Money? Extremely scarce and what little was there was usually spoken for weeks or even months before. You contemplated a second job and even filled out a few applications. But between your new start up company, the kids and your wife’s full time job it hardly seems feasible. The cost of day care and the time away would bring too much stress to an already brittle situation. You couldn’t believe the prices of even the smallest amounts of chemicals you needed. Man!!-when you worked for ‘the man’ you’d blow through a jug of permethrin like it was nothing…. now, you mete that stuff out like it was liquid gold.
All the books and websites you read give the same advice. Some with a different twist but all require money.Oh sure, get a web site, do some advertising. SEO and web design isn’t that much. Shoot, you can even get a routing program for $49.00 a month! (as if your index card or free quick books system can’t do that?) Is this before or after I actually get a ‘real’ truck to run in? Before or after I have enough customers to even come close to justifying the cost? Your lack of places to go gives you far too much time to think, far too many opportunities to become down trodden.
Customers? Wow what an eye opener! You thought for sure you’d have at least 1/2 a route built in the first year or two. Broken promises from all those who said they’d sign on. Long days chasing fleeting leads and in such a short time you’ve heard almost every excuse there is. “Call me in a month, I just want a one time, I found it cheaper, your pretty small what if you’re not around in 6 months”, and the list goes on and on. For the lucky few who do sign on! – you treat them like gold and they’re very very happy, Why wouldn’t they be?, you have all sorts of time and are never rushed like you were when you ran the companies route.But with the numbers of your clients being so small, the few referrals you do get from them don’t seem to amount to much.
Perhaps what hurts the most are the cancelations. When just out of the blue a good-solid customer decides to cancel. Perhaps they tell you why but most avoid giving the answer or just stop returning your calls…either way, cancelations EAT at you and you mull them over in your mind again and again never coming to a conclusion as to what you could have done to save it.
Pride? Perhaps that first day and a few after that. The thrill of officially ‘opening a new business’ and the slap on the back and “good luck” calls from friends and neighbors. (the same ones who don’t sign up for your service.) You’ve got a new tool or two and the lettering on your car turned out pretty good. Yes it’s a proud day for sure. But not so long after and when you realize the phone is more silent than you hoped. When you spend a bit more time in front of the TV or computer because you don’t have any real place to go and wasting gas is not an option. It begins to sink in that you’ve embarked on a journey and you have little to no firm footing at all. The ‘thrill’ of the hunt and the victory of the sale used to motivate you but it’s suddenly not so easy when YOU have to create the places to go. Pride quickly is replaced by one or more of many things. Depression, worry, fears, doubts, uncertainty and uninspiring thoughts take up way too much time in your head.
Money? While back then you just barely scraped by, today it’s not unusual for you to have a couple big bills in your wallet. ($20.00 is is pretty big right?) No longer do you unnecessarily fret over a truck repair bill. And now when you go to the distributor, buying products by the case is now the norm for you, if for no other reason it just saves you time.
Customers? Oh yea you’ve got plenty of them. So many in fact you turn some people down who maybe are just a few miles too far away or someone whose made your hair stand on end just with the introduction. You are now in a position of power that you could never have had back then. Besides, you have plenty of places to be and many many people who actually want to see you, you don’t have time for those folks anymore.
Pride? Oh sure you’ve always been proud of the fact that you struck out on your own but here lately! Man, friends look up to you and say “what a long way you’ve come.” Clients stand in awe as you bound out of your truck and they beam when they exclaim” I must be important, I have THE OWNER out today.” Banks at least will have a sit down with you and this time, you’re not nervous at all and you can tell the loan officer is a bit surprised at your numbers as he rocks back scouring your computer printed business plan. “hmmm, pretty impressive” he says with an approving nod.
And while a cancelation back in the day would have KILLED you! Today, you just smile and say-”I get to get home a little early today, maybe I can take the boat out”. You’re not Donald Trump mind you but there is no doubt– you hit your stride.
Comparing The Two
Hopefully with this mindful look back at where you were and now where you are… This perhaps will become a powerful motivation for the day. The reason you’ll continue put in 10 hour days, work Saturdays and even a Sunday or two. You’ll not go back to the ‘dark ages’, you’ll fight tooth and nail to preserve what you have. It’s not with a haughty pride that you admire how far you’ve come. It is with a thankful heart and a realization that you avoided the most damaging pitfalls, trudged through the harshest conditions and perhaps most importantly, were just to damn stubborn to say “I quit.”
With that– with your perseverance. You sir or madam have reached– NO YOU’VE EARNED a special place where not a lot of would be entrepreneurs attain. Be proud of where you are, be proud of what you’ve done and be vigilant and prosperous going forward.