My Economics teacher in high school gave us an assignment to write about whatever career we wanted to have when we graduated. I wrote a paper about wanting to be an entrepreneur, and she wanted me to elaborate on what kind of business I wanted to own. I was thinking any kind of business, but I wrote about a clothing store. I knew I wasn’t interested in clothing that much, but I didn’t know what else to write about. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. All I knew was that I had the desire to own my own business. That teacher told me that she wouldn’t be interested in ever owning her own business. I asked her why. She answered, “Because of all the red tape.” I didn’t understand that, but I did find out what she meant.
Turns out there was no way I could’ve figured out that one day I would own a heating and air conditioning business. Since we could no longer count on the paychecks from his job, we decided to go out on our own. My dad always taught me that all you need is ONE good account to own your own business. Flash Market (stores/gas stations) was our first good account. Kevin already had his Mechanical Contractor’s License in Tennessee. I made some phone calls, filled out some paperwork, paid the fees (red tape), and Arkansas grandfathered in his Tennessee license for our Arkansas Contractor’s License. He kept all the refrigeration, ice machines, heating and air conditioning equipment going in several Flash Market stores in Arkansas and a few in Tennessee. He worked all the time, but at least he was home every night. I became his salesman and landed a few more good accounts in Memphis. We didn’t want to have all our eggs in one basket. We had all the work we wanted, and probably a little more.
They say that 9 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 5 years, and 96% fail within 10 years. I call them “Negative Nancys,” even though they are telling the truth. I got to thinking about it, and we had already quit a few of our own businesses: babysitting, selling Tupperware, teaching piano lessons, mowing and landscaping, custom planting, and cleaning houses. I also started a “mail-out” business when I got my first computer. I offered doing mail-outs for car salesmen, but that one never got off the ground. I made samples and even had an official looking briefcase! After all the hard work and planning, I was ready to go talk to some salesmen and get my own customers! I found out they already did automatic mail-outs at the car dealerships for pennies on the dollar. I couldn’t compete. That was another business that failed!
I learned that failing wasn’t so bad, so I didn’t see any reason not to try again. Robert Kiyosaki says, “If 9 out of 10 businesses fail, start 10 businesses!” I agree with him. Kevin was working at one of the Flash Markets and started talking to a guy that was dressed in hunting gear. They hit it off, and that guy hired our company to do restoration work. This was not a coincidence, but another “God Incidence”. Soon after we began working for them, a huge storm hit Memphis. They called it “Hurricane Elvis.” There were straight-line winds greater than 100 miles per hour. It was horrific. People were killed and damage was everywhere! That storm created massive amounts of work for restoration companies. We made a lot of money that year and decided to incorporate our business in 2003. We hired a guy to help Kevin, and they made a great team. I called them the “Dynamic Duo!”
Our marriage at this time was strengthened. We worked in-sync with one another. He worked hard and brought in the money, while I kept us legal with business licenses, sales tax permits, insurances, etc. I did the accounts payables and receivables and kept records for our CPA and income taxes. I learned the basics of Quickbooks to help me keep up with all of it. And, of course, I sent our awesome customers mail outs saying thank you and Merry Christmas, etc. I was living my dream of owning my own business! Life was good!
One day we were at church and Kevin was talking to a couple in the hallway. He was much more sociable than I was. I usually tried to duck and hide and make a straight line out the door after church services were over. Kevin, on the other hand, was the opposite. He was going to talk to as many people as possible on the way out. (He’s helped me become a little better at socializing over the years.). I walked up, probably to pull him away from this couple, but Kevin introduced us and I instantly liked both of them. Kevin offered to watch their little girl while the dad had jury duty. I didn’t mind. I liked having other children over to play with my children. This little girl was two years old and my little ones were one and two years old at the time. They became our very best friends. This new friendship was our next Gate of New Beginnings…