You will remember from the last post that I went from a stable life in a wonderful town to a mountain of debt, a 5-year lease and a career I didn’t understand at all. All of that happened in under a month and I couldn’t have been more excited. Yeah, that’s right, I wasn’t worried at all. I was fired up beyond belief. I think that there are 2 kinds of people in the world. One group likes to find a routine that is safe and comfortable and the other group can’t stand doing the same thing over and over and just has to keep things changing all the time. As you can imagine, I am in the latter group. I thrive on change and I LOVE new things. Unfortunately, my sweet wife falls into the first group and REALLY, unfortunately, I didn’t pay any attention to her feelings for a really long time. She is the definition of stability and consistency and I was about to ruin her world without any consideration for her and her feelings.
I had the money, I had the location, now I needed to figure out what next. Honestly, I didn’t even know what tools I needed. I had no idea what parts to buy, who to call to buy those parts I didn’t know. I didn’t know what tax I would pay, if I needed a business license, where to get a sign. NOTHING! I was clueless but I was a business owner (sort of). So I just started. I called the City of Montrose (I didn’t even know that I wasn’t in the city limits yet), I called parts distributors, I called SnapOn (that was expensive), I called everyone I could think of and started writing checks. Big checks that didn’t really have money behind them. Sure they had credit behind them but no real money. I was like a mini version of our country, borrowing money I had no idea how I would pay back but I just figured I could sort it out. I personally remodeled the building I had rented to make it work as a shop and parts started showing up. One of the biggest early mistakes I made was in listening to one of my parts reps without really doing any research.
I won’t mention names or companies but I got taken for a $10,000 initial order which I was told was the minimum to get started when in fact it was $2500. I ordered from the 3 major distributors and within a day or two, thousands of dollars worth of parts started showing up. Pallets and pallets of parts and I didn’t know what to do with them. I hadn’t learned about merchandising or how to set up a retail space. I just started putting them on the walls and displays. I built a front desk from scraps of stuff (the same one we still use) and bought a computer and cash register. The SnapOn guy was happy to sell me a new toolbox and a boatload of new tools that I “needed” on credit too. Man, this was easy, I just signed my name on some papers and people brought me cool stuff. As I began to get the shop put together I needed to come up with an opening date.
I figured I could get everything put away and set up in a week so I decided that I would swing the doors open on March 7th, 2007. I knew I needed to advertise that I was in town since no one knew me or that I was opening a new shop. I didn’t have Facebook yet and I had absolutely ZERO marketing training so I called a radio station that I had heard before and signed a very expensive contract for ads that I hadn’t even heard. I even scheduled a live radio event at the shop for my “Grand Opening.”
I was driving back and forth every day and working like a madman to get this thing open so that I could absolutely CRUSH the motorcycle industry. The industry that I hadn’t even participated in as a consumer until 5 years prior and hadn’t been an employee in more than 2 years. Yeah, you think you have done some stupid things??? This was bordering on insane and I was risking everything, including my marriage, on a whim. As I document the way I went about starting this thing I am realizing that it is like an anti-manual. It is a list of what NOT to do when starting a business. I hope that it is helpful or at least entertaining to you guys.
Looking back on it now I see how dumb I was but I also remember how exhilarating it was too. Like Darren Hardy describes in his book “The Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster” I was on the ride of my life, one that continues to this day and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything! I wish I could have saved my wife some of the pain and suffering but God has delivered us from some terrible times into a marriage that is stronger than ever and for that, I am more than grateful. I also have a business now that I love to be a part of and I am more than hopeful for its future.
Thanks for reading, I really hope you are enjoying this journey as much as I am. I will try to write more often. It’s painful for sure but man is it real. If you know someone who might enjoy it too, please share this around. I know that there are more of us screw ups out there! If you have every messed up and want to talk about it you can comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to talk about things and maybe we can support each other as we move through this crazy life!
Today I am grateful for my boys, clean clothes and a warm house