I used to dream of the day when I’d have a full route. All my problems would be solved if I could just fill up that daily sheet with names and addresses. So I worked and scratched and clawed trying to achieve this goal.
Along the way my journey was fraught with problems. Some I knew would come and some I had no idea. A few were border line devastating and my dream was on the brink of collapse more than once. Most of my hurdles were not so deadly per se but relentless, – I’m not sure really which was worse. Day after day and week after week turned into months which led to years. Slow growth, rejections, hurtful cancelations, broken promises, idle times and even seeds of doubt planted by those I trusted most. Add to this equipment failures, mounting bills and loss of pride that always accompanies just barely scraping by– well you get the idea.
Still, I never gave up on my goal, I just knew my problems would all be behind me, if I could just fill up that sheet. Fast forward a few years & yes– I hit my goal. But no, my problems didn’t cease.
Words of Wisdom
At one point in my company I was stuck at a level of growth and nothing I tried seemed to help. I was doing great- I had a pretty good route and for once I was actually paying the bills and my wife could slow down on her 12 hour shifts. But I just couldn’t seem to go any further. It was like I was in one of those souped up jeeps that could climb any hill but I was bogging down about 1/2 way.
Seeking advice, I asked a good friend of mine (friendly competitor) & he told me. With each level of success comes a new set of problems. A brand new company has its set of challenges. Mainly just making it past the first year or two. Then, when you’ve hit say 50 or 60k you’re confronted with another set. Taxes are now a bigger dilemma, you think about hiring but you’re not quite there. Advertising costs are the same for you as the big boys so you want to go with at least a 1/2 page yellow book ad but that’s a serious bite.
He went on to 250 range and the first employee dilemmas and the compounding factors when you’ve hit the 500’s the 750’s and the the grand daddy of them all-”just wait till you get to the million dollar mess” he said with a red face– (he was there already & I think he didn’t want to blow his cover of just a good ol country boy bug guy) He’s still pretty humble to this day.
Listening intently I noticed he skipped quite a big gap- the gap that I was in. He grinned when I asked him and told me not to get mad at what he was about to say. “ You got it pretty good right now Jerry, he said cautiously. I watched you from the start in that little truck whipping around town, chasing down clients where ever you could find em – we’ve had a few conversations in the past when things weren’t so rosy. Do you remember? I nodded as he continued, and now- you’re in a sweet ride with a nice rig. You tell me how busy you are and how the phone actually rings in your office rather than gathering dust. You’re getting bigger jobs, termite work, and is that you I saw pulling into the federal prison complex? That’s a sweet account! I know you weren’t there just visiting. Your days are almost all full, you’ve hit a nice sweet spot that many never do. But this gap has its set of problems just like the rest. This level might even be worse than just starting out. It’s the place where growth meets decision & that’s what you have to figure out.
While you don’t quite have it (on paper) to hire a new guy, get a new truck & equipment. The time has come when you need to make a decision. You need take on the new role of boss and force yourself to advertise or knock doors or just whatever it takes to surge ahead and hit this new level running. This is a territory that won’t allow for you to passively wait for new business. It won’t be patient for lingering decisions. What effort you put into starting your company–now double it. That’s the new set of challenges you’ve now come to. You Have To S&%T Or Get Off The Pot.
Well, he didn’t really say it that way but the point was well taken. It was time for me (if I wanted to grow) to gather up my strength and almost “start again.” Cruise control wasn’t gonna get it for me. If I wanted to get over that hill, it was time to pop my business into 4 wheel drive and hit the gas.
Well, long story short I got over that mound and it wasn’t really that steep when I look back down. However I haven’t reached the top of my mountain yet & I’m determined to one day reach the top. Until then I’ll keep striving as I take on the newer challenges that this level presents.
Along the way, if I can, I’d like to inspire you get over your mountains and reach your goals. Hey, if a good ol country boy can make it–we can too!