This post is a few years old now, but I still think the points made here are very relevant… I’ve disabled the comments because of the age of the post.
My cousin ‘Dennis’ was murdered a little over a week ago and we just buried him over the weekend (Jun 16, 2012). I bring this story up because it was his death that triggered memories I had all forgotten — funny stories of how he and I got our butts kicked attempting to become entrepreneurs.
These stories are true and will have you on the floor laughing — so enjoy!
My cousin came and lived with us while growing up in Georgia. He and I grew up learning and failing at lots of things. We’ve done our fair share of dumb and stupid stuff, and when I look back on those things, I realize how much God really looked out for us.
Of course the older you get, the wiser you become.
At 18, I joined the Air Force for 4 years and when I got back home, my cousin Dennis was there waiting for me!
He was working at a supermarket and I was delivering pizzas for Pizza Hutt (i was 22 at the time). We both worked long and hard hours, and after getting our weekly paychecks, we were still broke.
It was during this time we figured that in order to get ahead, we had to drastically change what we were doing…
With that thought in mind, we started our first legitimate business together… I say ‘legitimate’ because I’ve dabbled in other stuff prior to this, like mail order, selling candies and wholesale stuff at flea markets, but this was our first ‘real business’.
We went out and got our business license, sales tax id numbers, business cards and everything — we were the real deal. It still amazes me how the blind and naive ones go out there all fearless and all — but as soon as we get a little knowledge, we get all scared and wouldn’t dare do some of the things we used to do…
Anyhow, I can’t remember the name of our business, but it was a carpet cleaning business — I wanna say we named it DC Enterprises. His legal name was ‘Deans’ and of course, mine was Cartess, so DC Enterprises sounded like a winner. Everything we got into had DC in front of it — thus the carpet cleaning biz was DC Carpet Cleaning Services (if I remember correctly).
We didn’t know what the heck we were doing, when we decided to get into that business, but we figured we’d learn as we go (plus I had a couple weeks experience cleaning carpets at a job I held for about 3 weeks).
Anyhow, we went out and purchased a carpet cleaning machine along with all of the chemicals and supplies.
We paid someone to come to our apartment to clean it so we could see how they used their machine and we wanted to see their routine and sales pitch.
We asked that guy all kinds of stuff — this is how you get intelligence (by calling up and ordering from your competitors. This allows you to see the back-end. It allows you to see their sales and marketing processes — I’d encourage you to order from your competitors so you can see what’s going on too). I still do this to this day — it’s very valuable ‘Intel’.
If I recall correctly, we called 2-3 different carpet cleaning companies to come out so we could figure out their system.
After we felt like we knew what was going on, we made up some flyers and passed them out at a bunch of apartment complexes and waited for the phone to ring.
Would you believe our first call came in a few hours later?
Well it did. And we were so excited.
Imagine that — starting a business and landing your first client within hours.
We knew we were onto something at that point. And not only did we get just one phone call, we received several that day…
But, just as quickly as we got ‘into business’, we got out even faster…
When we went to the first person’s house to give a quote, we lost our mind.
Let me preference this with the following — we were YOUNG, DUMB and full of testosterone!
I’m not saying it was an excuse — but it’s just what really happened.
When that woman opened the door, my cousin and I just stood there looking.
Put it this way… That woman was so FINE, you’d probably offer her FREE carpet cleaning for the next 30 years… And essentially, that’s what we attempted to do.
As she showed us the rooms she wanted cleaned, it came time for us to give her a price.
So my cousin and I stepped out to discuss how to charge her.
Keep in Mind — we didn’t have a lick of sense. All we wanted to do was just look at her all day, so to ensure we got the job, we told her we’d clean her carpet for FREE.
I’m for real… That’s what we did.
Now, it wasn’t half-way into the job that we realized we made a terrible mistake.
The work was much harder than we anticipated, and we didn’t know what we were doing.
We made a total of 5 mistakes…
Doing her carpet for free.
Messing up her carpet was mistake number 2
Not having insurance to replace the carpet was the third mistake. In the original version of this story, I made the indication we paid for it — we didn’t. We gave her a business card to ‘the company’ and told them someone would be out to get an estimate to replace it. We left and changed our phone number. I know, I know, I know… That was wrong and dirty. I was young and STUPID. I didn’t have any sense.
Still none the wiser, we took on a 2nd carpet cleaning job. It was all white and it was high-end. We screwed that up too — it was after this tragedy that we realized the carpet cleaning business wasn’t for us.
Doing her carpet for free was our 1st mistake… Halfway through the job, we realized we were messing up her carpet (2nd mistake). We didn’t have insurance (3rd mistake), and had to pay for the damage.
Still none the wiser, we took a 2nd job (4th mistake)… All white carpet — it was high-end, I can’t remember the name of the carpet type. But, we screwed that up too… It was at that point we realized the carpet cleaning business wasn’t for us.
After the last fiasco, we decided to take all of our equipment to a pawn shot and sold it for pennies on the dollar.
Now … I’m the first one to admit how stupid we were. Yes, we made some dumb and stupid decisions — but in my own opinion, we were smart enough to take action…
While everything didn’t go the way we planned, this action alone set everything else in motion for our future successes (and failures).
It was this initial taste of entrepreneurship that set us on course to working for ourselves.
We were free — we were working on our own terms. After getting a small taste of what was possible, it was hard to go back to the old way of making a living.
We later started a pager company reselling pagers and collecting a percentage of the monthly billing from those pagers… We later expanded into cell phones too.
While we didn’t make a fortune, it was our hustle and it kept us from having to work traditional jobs. I will admit though, we eventually had to go back and start working for employers again, but it was to build up cash-flow to fund our new ventures and ideas.
I bring this up because so often, I hear people ask for money. And when they don’t get it, they get all mad. Don’t get mad. If you have to get another job or two, in order to fund your business venture, then do it.
No one owes you anything — you gotta get out there and believe enough in yourself. If you don’t believe in your own ideas, how can you ask someone else to put up their hard earned money.
Don’t wait for handouts — prove your model first and then if you need some investors, seek out the money… But you better have your act together (such as having your business plan together, marketing plan, etc…) If you don’t have the basics together, you shouldn’t be asking anyone for anything.
When our ventures didn’t work out well, we went to work… Made some money, saved it up and tried again. That’s how we did it … nobody gave us anything and we certainly didn’t wait around for it either.
Our hunger for success was enough to motivate and drive us.
We had a few hits, and many misses — but I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences at all.
After my mom turned me on to the t-shirt biz, I later left and started my own t-shirt biz (we had a difference of opinion on how to grow the business).
As the new t-shirt business started to get traction, It was my cousin Dennis who I later brought on-board to help me run the company…
You might have heard a portion of this story before — but as our t-shirt biz grew, my cousin Dennis and I flew in another cousin to help us with the growth spurt we were experiencing.
Bringing that cousin into the biz would later prove devastating; it later turned out he was stealing from us and basically sabotaged and destroyed the company we both worked so hard to create…
But we never gave up — we went back to work, saved up some money and started over again.
I bring all this up because I believe nothing happens by accident, and every action we take in life is for a reason or purpose.
Never in a million years did I think the actions I took back then would be the same things that allowed me to become successful. It was my many failures that allowed me to become a better person and a better businessman.
I am a husband. My wife and I have 5 children. We support them with the revenues generated from the businesses we’ve started… Some of it’s passive income. And some of it is earned from the time we spend working the business.
If you want to have your own business — and it doesn’t have to be t-shirts, you must take some type of action. You can’t sit by hoping, wishing and daydreaming.
You gotta take some calculated risks. You gotta be willing to put yourself out there.
I’m not saying be irresponsible — because honestly, some of the stuff I did was just plain stupid. I was fearless. I didn’t have enough sense to think of the consequences. Obviously, I’m much older and wiser now. Many of those things I back then are things I wouldn’t even think about doing now. My methods and decisions would be much different today.
My cousin was fearless, and together, we were unstoppable…
Whenever I had some crazy way to make money, the only thing he asked was… “Cartess, will you have my money back to me back in 2 weeks so I can pay rent”.
If my answer was something like, “I think I’ll have it back to you by then…”
He would give it too me… He didn’t hesitate. And even though I rarely had the money back to him in a timely manner, he’d always do it again the next time I asked. We both went on to have our own successful businesses, and like any biz, you’ll have some ups and downs.
When he was up, he was always there to bail me out… When I was up, I was always there to bail him out of financial trouble too…
We didn’t have much growing up, but my God — he and I enjoyed some of the finest things in life… There were times when money was coming in so fast we couldn’t spend it all… Whatever we spent during the day was often being deposited into our bank accounts the following morning (that’s the power of the Internet — having customers all over the world).
BUT…. there were many times where we didn’t know how we were going to pay the rent/mortgage… It came in waves.
We were young and only knew what we knew then. We didn’t know about investments. We didn’t know about diversifying money/assets. We didn’t know about saving for a rainy day.
We blew it all on foolish stuff — absolutely nothing to show for it when it was all said and done!
Put a kid in a candy store and he’s going to eat as much candy as he can … and that’s essentially what we did.
My cousin and I lived and took chances. Some were calculated, and many were just downright foolish. But it was those foolish ones that seemed to give us the greater return … and they also cost us the most in terms of loss.
My cousin Dennis was my best friend. My brother. My cousin.
I miss my cousin.
YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE FOLKS!
Don’t live another day hating your job, or hating your life or circumstances. Change it, and change it now — you have absolutely nothing to lose.
Looking at him in that casket made me realize how important it is to be living the life you want to live RIGHT NOW… Tomorrow ain’t promised and I never saw this coming.
Plan like you’re going to live forever … and live like you’re going to die tomorrow. You never know when your last day will come.
Fortunately, the older he and I got, the more responsible we became.
He had a life insurance policy that took care of his burial expenses without having to be a burden on his family. After he was killed, I immediately contacted an insurance friend of mine to upgrade my life insurance policy because I hadn’t done it in a long time. I wanted to make sure everything was square for my family.
If you don’t have a life insurance policy, call a life insurance agent RIGHT NOW!
Don’t leave your family members holding out cups to collect money to bury you… It happens more often than you think.
As much as I’d like to sell you my t-shirt course, I’d rather you put that money into getting a life insurance policy. So that right now before you even think about buying my course. At a MINIMUM, get enough to cover your burial expenses at least. This was the first funeral I went to where monies didn’t have to be collected — we were able to mourn without the added stress!
Whether it’s starting a t-shirt business, or starting a home daycare business, do whatever makes you happy. Whatever actions you take today towards reaching your goals will set in motion the life you’ll have 5, 10, 15 or 20 years from now.
It’s starts today — but you gotta take action towards achieving whatever goals you’d like. It may require you moving in with a family member across the country — or it may require you getting a part-time job.
Whatever it is — you gotta make the tough decision to do it. You might now want to move across the country, but if you stay where you’re at, doing what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get, what you always got.
If t-shirts is your thing….. Take a look at our course – my experiences will help you move along faster!
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