Entrepreneurs must learn from their experiences and continue to drive forward.
About 15 years ago, my husband and I started a tree trimming and removal service. We both had other full-time careers and he’d worked on the side for local farmers during planting and harvest. We had a little girl at the time and lived in a small community in southwest Missouri. Word got around pretty quickly that my husband was a hard worker and always looking for a way to make some extra income. Prior to beginning this new endeavor, he was being asked to trim or remove trees and we just didn’t have the equipment to do it safely every time. He had to turn down some jobs. Which meant turning down extra money. We didn’t like doing that, so we ended up buying an old, used bucket truck from a neighboring municipality, a couple of chain saws, a small trailer, some liability insurance and went to work.
The very first job was almost the last job. We’d bid to remove a tree that sat right next to a house just on the edge of our little town. It was fourth of July weekend and we thought the job would be complete in 12 to 16 hours. It wasn’t. After three very long and hot days, my husband pulled the bucket truck into our drive. I met him outside to help him clean up. He laid down on our deck, exhausted. He looked at me and said, “I think we made a mistake. I don’t think we should have started this business.” He’d worked tirelessly over the weekend. I’m pretty sure we barely broke even on that job. We’d under bid it. We had some unanticipated expenses. These challenges created some discouragement and fear. But we weren’t quitters. We knew we had to buck up, learn from our experience and continue to drive forward. In a short amount of time, we found our groove and became successful entrepreneurs.
We learned a lot in the 5 years we owned and operated that business.
Here are 5 things we picked up along the way:
Work ethic is worth a lot more than advertising.
When a job is well done, clients will tell their friends. Your work will become overheard in conversations all over town. A good recommendation is more valuable than any paid advertisement.
Go above and beyond.
Treat every client like you would treat your grandma. Be kind. Be respectful. Be sincere. Most of all – be honest. Integrity is crucial in business.
Opportunity appears when you look for it.
An entrepreneur must always be seeking. Engage with people in your community, at your church, in your workplace, at your kids’ ballgame – everywhere. Talk to people and let them know what you are doing.
Its okay to say no.
Call it fear, intuition, whatever; when something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Use slower times for prep.
Business may not always be hopping. Use your slow time wisely. Do some preventive maintenance. Learn something new in your industry. Check out your competition. Take advantage of slower times and use them to better yourself.
It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to go out and start a business of your own.
Being an entrepreneur is both scary and exciting. You get to be your own boss, but you’re always on duty. It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to go out and start a business of your own. It is also very gratifying when you begin to taste that salty sweetness of success.
For more insights like these, sign up for the Monday Morning Coaching Memo.