In 2013, I dreamed of starting my own business and working from home. I knew what I wanted out of life. I could see my dreams crystal clear on the dance floor inside of my skull. But my problem was a common one: I knew what I wanted. I just had no idea how to start a business!!!!! And that’s kind of a big problem if you dream of being self-employed!
At the time, I was going to interviews looking for a new job. It was at one of these interviews that I received some advice that would change the trajectory of my working life forever. Here is the story what happened:
The owner of a small business responded to my online resume and invited me to coffee for an interview. His company specialized in promotional products and branded apparel like t-shirts, jackets, and hats. Their business model was simple: They bought the already-manufactured clothing from wholesalers; printed or embroidered companies logos on them; and then resold the printed products to their clients who were looking to promote their organizations. After talking at the coffee house for an hour about a job, he looked at me point-blank and said:
“I can give you a job. But I can tell you have natural people and sales skills. Rather than being an employee, you’d probably have a lot more fun starting your own business and being your own boss. If you’d like, I can teach you how to start your own sales business, and then you can sell my products and work from home full-time.”
My brain cells sparkled like a strobe light hitting a disco ball. My eyes and ears perked up as I explored this idea in my mind. I could start my own business, and work from home? I had someone to teach me, and I wouldn’t have to take on any financial risk to get started? That would be cool! I could actually live my dream! The only things I’d have to invest into it were time and energy, and I had those things. I at least wanted to try it! So for the first time in my life, in 2013, when I was 32 years old, I stopped going to job interviews looking for a steady paycheck to support my lifestyle. Instead, I applied all of my time, energy, and brain power toward starting my first business.
My First Lesson On How to Start a Business: Sales Are Everything!!!!!
My first lesson was that sales are EVERYTHING to create a successful business!!!!! Sure, you need a good product to sell. But without sales, you’ll never have a business. Without sales, your ideas will never leave the realm of a hobby, passion project, or ministry. Sales are what turn dreams into a real business.
Don’t believe me? Think you can start a business without sales? Watch a few episodes of Shark Tank where a group of entrepreneurial billionaires look to invest in start-up businesses. Watch how fast their questions shoot toward uncovering the most vital number revealing the health of the business they’re thinking about investing in.
“What are your sales?” They immediately ask. That’s because sales are what gives a business life. A great product is like a heart of a business. But a heart can’t survive without a body, or mind to give it life. Sales are what give businesses life to stand up from the idea table and become alive in the world.
What did this revelation about sales tell me? If I wanted to create a successful business, I had to go out into the world and create some sales! I had to go out and find some clients if I wanted to be in business.
My Second Lesson on How to Start a Business: So How Do I Create Sales?
I realized right away that if I was going to create a business, I’d have to create sales. But my problem was I had never sold anything in my life. So how was I going to create sales?
The next step in my training was how to create sales. I was mentored by an old-school door-to-door sales guy who had learned all his tricks from his first job as a financial adviser earlier in his life. He taught me the same steps he was taught during his training period. It didn’t matter what business you were starting, whether it be a financial practice, or a promotional apparel company, the steps to build a book of business from scratch was the same. Here they are:
- Meet a minimum of 10 new prospects each day, and 50 per week. It’s best to do this in person if you can. Add additional contacts via phone.
- Categorize these prospects you meet as green/yellow/and red. Contact the green (hot or immediate needs) at least 3 times within the first ten days of meeting them. Yellow (good prospect in the long term) three times in the first month of knowing them, and Red (not confident at all about them ever doing business with you) leave for a rainy day.
- Concentrate first on dominating your local (city) market. Your street campaign should first start in the city you live in. Your phone and email and referral work can then spread out across the globe.
- Finally, he said, “Set goals for your first order. For your first $10,000 sales month. And then for your first $25,000 sales month. That will keep you motivated to keep going, trying, and building you business.”
I remember being nervous as he told me to set a goal for my first $10,000 sales month. I hadn’t even got my first sale yet! I remember thinking to myself, “How am I ever going to sell $10,000 worth of product in a month!” It seemed like an insurmountable task on my first day.
But rather than complaining, and giving into feelings of defeat about reaching my first $10,000 goal, I tried my hardest to achieve it. I started by following the steps above. I went door to door meeting with local businesses and I made ten new contacts every day. I then followed up with the contacts I’d already made, and over time, I achieved my first $10,000 month, six months after my first day pounding the pavement.
So what did I learn during this time? How did it go?
I learned this: “make 10 new contacts a day” period was the hardest part about starting my first business. But I really wanted to succeed, and the dream of being my own boss and working from home full-time, was enough to push me through the difficult moments. If you want the results bad enough, you can do anything.
At first, I fulfilled my quota of ten new contacts a day by going door-to-door to local businesses and talking to the receptionist. I’d try to get the name and contact information of their buyer from the receptionist, and then I’d call the buyer the next day to set up a meeting to introduce myself and my company.
But after going door to door for two months, I realized there was a more efficient strategy. Going door to door took a lot of time and energy. I realized it was much easier to prospect for clients at business networking events. If I was aggressive to meet new people, I could knock out my ten new contacts a day quota in an hour.
This strategy inspired me to start googling, “Free Networking Events In Twin Cities.” A list of dozens of events would pop up, and I went to as many events as I could. Some events were great and I met new clients at them. Others weren’t so great, and I felt like I wasted the night.
Here is a funny story I have during this time:
After googling, “Free Networking Events in Minneapolis,” I found a free event that was happening at the University of Minnesota. It was a networking event for agricultural people. They advertised a speaker for it, and I thought it could be worth my time to attend. You never know who you’ll meet at these things. Agriculture is big business, and it was possible I could meet a new buyer, and score a $100,000 order, or land a massive new account just by getting lucky and meeting the right person.
I signed up for the event, and when I got there, I found a seat in the packed crowd. As the speaker began, I realized something wasn’t “right.” This wasn’t a normal networking event. The speaker was going on and on about motivational subjects, and talking a lot about preparing for your future, and after about 10 minutes I suddenly realized what was happening.
I was sitting in the middle of a crowd of graduate students from a special segment of the university, and this was their graduation event where they were being presented with special pins from the colleges leadership for completing their program!!!!! Haha!!! I had stumbled into a private ceremony recognizing the 2014 graduating class. So rather than make a scene by walking out in the middle of it, I did what any good sales person would do: I faked it until I made it!!! I shook hands with all the presidents of the college, accepted my pin, and networked with college professors the rest of the evening. LOL.
But honestly, attending these networking events were the best thing I did to start my sales business. I walked into them with an attitude like: This is business. This is not personal. I am not here to make friends. I am here to make new contacts and meet potential clients that have a budget already in place for the services I am selling.
This is ultimately what I learned: Looking for new clients for your business is a lot like fishing. Some days you get skunked. And other days, you land a trophy catch. On some nights I didn’t meet anyone and didn’t make a dime. But on other nights, I’d come home with a random business card that would lead to a $10,000 order, or a new $50,000-a-year account. Sales is just like fishing. You’ll never know how big of fish you can catch unless you put in the time out in the boat and try.
I proved these steps still work, and it’s how I sold my first $1,000,000 dollars worth of product over the last three years. They’re the same sales methods that have been around since the first caveman went to the neighboring caves, showing them a new fire stick he invented, and trying to sell them one. These were the same skills I used to start my first business and sell a million dollars worth of product in the modern internet era.
After my first year of grinding, I started to have clients, my role began to change. My job became less about getting new clients, and more about servicing the clients I had to make sure they were happy every time they called me to place an order. That’s currently what I do most of the time now: Delight my customers, manage relationships, and make sure everyone is happy and getting their orders completed on time.
My Third Lesson On How to Start a Business: Innovate
Now that I have established a successful business that has generated a million dollars in sales, and I saved most of the money I made, I am now pursuing my next goal, which is: Innovate, and start pursing what I really want to do with my life.
I just love to write, and I want to write every day for the rest of my life. There are a lot of opportunities to be profitable writing on the internet, and I think I could be really good at this. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am doing a lot more than just writing articles here at, Wealth Well Done. I am also using this blog as practice for me to learn how to succeed at internet writing. I want to use what I am learning here to eventually scale my sales strategies and sell future products to a much larger online audience.
For example, I am currently experimenting with SEO strategies and keywords when I write certain articles. My goal is to get some pages ranked in google’s search engines, so I can get high volumes of organic viewers to this blog. I want to build an audience, and then write books and sell books from this platform. I am nowhere near an expert at this yet, but I am slowly getting better and learning as I go. I am trying to get good at this because I love it, and I feel like it’s what I am meant to do.
I’m starting to be successful with the experience I’ve gained writing over the last year. For example, here is the first page on this blog that started to rank in google’s search engines a few months ago for certain keywords. I wrote it March 2017, and it now brings about 200+ organic viewers a month to this blog: Wealth is in the Mind: 4 Secrets to Attract Money With Your Subconscious Mind.
Here is another page I wrote that is starting to rank in google’s search engines, and is getting more and more organic clicks every day: My Five Best Investments to Make You a Millionaire.
I am sure more articles will start ranking in the next few months and years, but I just need time to climb up to higher positions in the google search system.
I am putting all this work in to innovate my sales strategies, because I enjoy writing and marketing way more than I enjoy door to door selling. Door to door selling got me to this point, but I hope writing on the internet will be my future. It may take me 5 or 10 years to build this blog up into the powerful machine I want it to be. But because I love doing it, and since it’s something I feel like I am meant to do, I am willing to put in the time, pain, and sacrifice to be great at it.
In conclusion, this article is about the steps I took to start my first business that generated a million dollars in sales. Now that I have accomplished that goal, I am starting my next goal, and trying to innovate my sales strategies, so I can spend the rest of my life doing what I love to do (write), rather than do the things I hate to do. (door to door selling)
I just want to help, teach, inspire, and build businesses that will help make the world a better place for the rest of my life. Thank you for joining me on this journey.