Monday, February 23, 2009

Take A Risk!! Entrepreneurial Risk!

Although I have not found huge success as of yet, I think I have always been somewhat of an entrepreneur! I can remember in elementary school trying to sell candy. At that young age, I dont know how I stumbled across the idea and what made me actually try it. I would walk to the local store and buy the most candy I could with whatever change I could scrounge up. I would take it to school and sell it to the other kids for huge profits of like a penny to a nickel a piece. As I got old enough you could find me mowing yards, raking leaves, and washing cars to make some extra money. I might have tried the lemonade stand once too--but coming from my family I had to stick with jobs that didnt require much start up costs!As I noted in other post, I would eventually take on two paper routes around the age of 12 or 14--somewhere around that age. I worked the concession stands at church camps before age 16 as well. You can see, as I do now looking back, that from very early on I was willing to try to make a dollar for myself.
I started working regular jobs at the age of 16 while still in school. Over the years I would always be thinking about what business I could start and what I could do extra or on the side to make some money. Books, magazines, the Internet-- you name it and I was reading , looking, and thinking of a way that I could make it out of the poverty from which I had came. Well you know I fell into ruts and thinking patterns that so many others do -- I didnt wont to lose what little I had accumulated, I didnt have any support financially or psychologically, and fear would shut me down,etc. Fears can shut many people's dreams down. Fear of failure, fear of what others think, fear that I didnt deserve success. I could rattle off other things like lack of money, lack of self esteem, and lack of that one Great Idea. I continued and still do today dream about what I could do to own my own business.
A couple of years ago I decided that it was now or never. You know, all the cliches! I'm not getting any younger! Its better to have tried and failed, rather than not to have tried at all! I have nothing to lose! If they can do it, why cant I? I would hate to look back in life with regrets of not trying. My mantra became Be a Doer! Not just a Thinker! I tried a couple of ideas and they didnt work out as planned. I wonder now if I just gave up too easy on the ideas or on myself. What I choose to believe is if God had meant for it to be, then it would have been!
First, I tried to set up a social club network here in the Triad area of Greensboro, High Point, & Winston Salem, North Carolina. I had run across the idea in a magazine article or something several years ago. I then got on the Internet and researched the idea some more. I found that there was actually someone running a site and an Adventure Club in the Charlotte area(only an hour or so away from me)--plus he had other clubs in his network. It is still up and running today--its called . To my surprise, he was offering to sell "franchises". I contacted him and he said that he could sell me one for $2000. I was excited about this and I proceeded to contact all of the other clubs in his network from around the country to see what they had to say about their experience with the site. Long story short, I bought in with $1000 from a tax refund I received one year. Also,while also working,I was attending college at the time. In one of my business courses I wrote a business plan for my planned club.I printed up a couple of thousand fliers and made contacts with local venues to start the club out. I will not go into too much detail about everything that I did to get it started. Needless to say,I think fear and worrying if I was doing the right thing started to shut me down. I guess thats what happened ! Plus $2000 was alot of money to me , so I let it go. I never did pay the other $1000. However, now I know these type of social clubs arent a booming industry on the Net, but I still think that it is a good idea.
My second adult try at starting a business came in the form of furniture retail. I had a full time job with my uncle's business delivering furniture making tons of money at the time. I thought I could be much more that just the delivery driver. Well, I decided to go for it. Around this area ---High Point is called The Furniture Capital of the World---you can buy furniture for wholesale prices. So I went to a few companies and got some prices on some furniture. I ended up buying some with a credit card(I know--not the best way to do things). Then I needed a truck and I found a used older style step van that would hold a small amount of furniture. Definitely more than a pickup truck. My brother went with me to pick it up and I remember telling him that I had to try if I was ever going to be somebody. Neither of us were mechanics or really good with that kind of thing, but we looked it over and decided to take it(mistake number two).The transmission went out on the truck about 3 or 4 months later. By the way, I took out a personal loan to be able to buy the truck(mistake number three). Anyway, I tried different ways to sell the furniture during the time the truck was running. I set up at Flea Markets and on street corners and I actually sold some. I was ecstatic about that! Even though it was only small money, I was on my way--or so i thought! At the same time, I started to post furniture on EBay. EBay was huge and lots of people were making tons of money, so why couldnt I? Well to my delight, I started selling a piece here and there. Man, it was an exciting time for me! People all over the country took interest and started to contact me and some bought(in small numbers--but still yet I was on my way!). I had the connection of my uncle to deliver the product out through his delivery company. Plus he had extra furniture that he said I could sell and keep the profit over the selling price! He also had heard of other people from around here being successful selling furniture on , well it was working for a few months! The amount sold was not that high yet, but I was selling and making a little extra money.When my customers received their furniture, they were very happy with the whole process.Heres where I started to go under. My uncle had a legitimate business with big stores supplying alot of business for him. He didnt think of my small amount of deliveries as priorities. I needed the pieces delivered in a certain amount of time to make customers and Ebay happy. This in turn would keep my EBay status as excellent. He and/or the company started to be slack on making my deliveries and I had to keep a good reputation.So with this problem combined with my truck breaking down, I decided to stop pursuing it. I couldnt afford to keep up my regular bills plus pay for the repair of the truck. I would eventually sell it for much less than I paid for it.
Well in conclusion, I learned alot and even had some fun. Some of that fun came from the fact of knowing that I tried something that actually worked to a degree. Of course, neither situation worked out exactly like i wanted it to. There were alot of negatives and I lost out on some money. I put things on credit cards and opened personal loans and racked up debt like crazy. Live and learn! Honestly, I dont have regrets in trying to accomplish my goals. Although I still am paying for some of those credit cards today, I can say that the Entrepreneur is still inside of me. I have just had to lay low for a few years, lick my wounds, try to pay off some of these debts, and learn from my mistakes.Owning my own business may or may not be in the cards for me and I might have to work a job for the rest of my life.We will see!

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