Persevere, Don’t Get Discouraged & You’ll Succeed

Typical advice given prospective new business owners is to (1) have previous direct experience in your new business and (2) be prepared to work harder and longer than you ever imagined. Let me add to that with (3) pay attention to cash flow, (4) treat customers like kings, and (5) don’t get discouraged and give up.

On that note, let me tell you what happened to a friend of mine. His name is Bob. In his mid forties, he decided to forgo corporate life and become an entrepreneur. He quit his job as a manager at a Fortune 500 company and started fooling around with mail order products.

In two years, Bob lost more money than he made. Then he came up with a super idea for a catalog — one just right for the times.

He decided to spend all of his money on samples to attract financing. He wrote a business plan and soon found an investor — a major corporation who saw the potential in Bob’s idea. They even advanced Bob $20,000 to keep him developing the idea while they made a decision on how much money they were willing to invest.

After about a month, on a Monday morning, the company representative called. He said they were anxious to get going and everything was to be wrapped up on Friday. Bob was elated. He went out, signed a lease on an office and started shopping for office equipment. Champagne would soon be on ice.

Friday arrived and the phone rang. It was the company representative. He had terrible news. The head of the investments department had proclaimed he was not about to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars with anyone without a track record and direct experience in the new business — no matter how good the idea.

Bob was crushed. He was also broke — both financially and spiritually. For the first time in his adult life, he felt real defeat. He went to bed early that Friday night. For the rest of the next day, Bob stayed mostly in bed.

By Saturday evening he was feeling a little less sorry for himself and started thinking about fixing the problem. By Monday morning Bob was rejuvenated – he had a plan. He called it his “red-pencil” plan.

First, he called the Direct Marketing Association headquarters in Chicago and asked if there was anyone in California who was a nationally know figure in catalogs that might be able to help him out. Yes, they said, there was Jim, a famous cataloger who had just retired to San Diego and might be a perfect fit. Bob called him immediately, and as he describes it, “The two of us had instant rapport. Jim saw the potential in my idea within minutes.”

Bob then explained his “red-pencil” plan, which was intended to re-sell the concept to the investing company that had turned him down on Friday. Bob would send his business plan to Jim via Federal Express. Jim was to take a red pencil and boldly cross out and/or amend the plan by writing in the margins, etc. He was to have that completed in 24 hours or so. Bob was to arrive at Jim’s place on Wednesday and the two of them would compose a cover letter along with Jim’s credentials to go with the marked-up plan. By 4 PM Thursday they would mail the whole package so it would arrive at the investing company’s office by 10 AM Friday morning. — less than one week after the original rejection.

On Friday, after his “red-penciled” plan arrived at that company’s office, Bob called the company representative. Bob admitted that the investing firm had been right. Yes this idea was too good to be put in the hands of an amateur. So, he had gone out and hired Jim, a man with vast experience and an impeccable track record. “Look, in just a few days,” Bob explained, “Jim spotted all the flaws in the plan. Imagine how successful this business is going to be now that Jim was going to be Bob’s executive assistant.”

Two weeks later, Bob got his money.