In 2000, I bought my first business, A-1 Cleaning.
A-1 Cleaning was a commercial cleaning business where my wife and I went to office condos in the evening and cleaned the offices.
I really enjoyed the work.
Even now, I find it strange that I thoroughly enjoyed cleaning toilets, emptying trash cans, vacuuming, and mopping floors.
One thing that was fulfilling about the work was seeing the offices nice and clean after my work was done.
The other part that was fulfilling was earning some good money.
Good money is relative.
Every person has a different definition of relative.
From my perspective, I was making three times what I had been making when I was in the Army the previous year.
Upward mobility was alive and well in my life.
The other aspect that was great about A-1 Cleaning was that I was working about half the time I did when I was in the Army.
I also had the flexibility of when I could work.
I didn’t have that much flexibility when I was in the Army.
There was a four-month transition period when I committed to buying A-1 Cleaning from the previous owner.
During that transition period, the business owner showed me all the ropes on how to operate the business.
She also showed me how she got new business.
I still remember the first time I went to go new business for A-1 Cleaning.
The previous business owner and I went to an office condo park and started knocking on doors and introducing ourselves to the owners of the business in each of the offices.
Almost every one of the office parks had signs that said No Soliciting.
I pretended like I didn’t read them.
I even remember some of the office doors that I knocked on would have No Soliciting signs on them.
Most of the people said no to me.
However, every now and again, I would get someone to say yes.
I can’t describe the high you get when you close a sale.
No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
Whoooh. It’s amazing.
If I could always remember to ignore the nos and focus on the yeses I would be a lot more successful.
The nos don’t matter.
I dreaded every single time I made the decision to go door to door selling for A-1 Cleaning.
When I owned A-1 Cleaning, I had no knowledge of marketing.
If I had known about marketing, I would have spent time promoting my business.
There I was in my mid-twenties as a business owner.
I was living the dream.
My wife and I had our days free and worked a few hours in the evening.
Then I finished my accounting degree and decided on the “responsible” thing to do was to get a “real” job.
I’m still trying to figure out why in the world, I thought it was necessary to become an employee after my experience of being a business owner.
It must have been all that programming I received in my formative years.
Get good grades so you can go to a good school so you can get a good job.
Owning A-1 Cleaning ruined me from becoming a good employee.
There was no way I could have been a good soldier in any other business after having run a thriving profitable business.
I did my fair share of butting heads with my superiors.
I thought I knew better.
I cringe now thinking about how disrespectful my bosses thought I was.
Now that I think about it, I was a real idiot to think I had any right to run my boss’s company.
More on those failures in a different article.
Part of the reason I chose to pursue full-time employment as an accountant was because I didn’t want to work evenings and weekends anymore.
I thought I wanted a regular 9-5 job.
I learned so many lessons owning A-1 Cleaning that have helped me be successful later in life.
I wouldn’t trade those early days of owning A-1 Cleaning for anything.
It was the perfect proving ground for what I built the rest of my business career on.
One of the beauties of owning a cleaning business is nothing stays clean for very long.
Recurring revenue is a beautiful thing.
That one lesson about recurring revenue is probably the best lesson I learned from A-1 Cleaning.
I knew with intimate detail that all future businesses I would own would be built on a recurring revenue model.
Here’s where things went south for me with A-1 Cleaning.
I stopped selling.
There is no such thing as a permanent customer.
As wonderful as recurring revenue is, there will always come a time when the customer no longer does business with me.
In order to keep revenue where I want it, I learned I have to sell to new customers regularly.
The only real security of a business is a consistent sales and marketing business.
If sales and marketing are so important, why didn’t I sell?
Selling can be uncomfortable at times.
To get new business, I have to put myself in a position where people are going to reject my offers.
When I’m not objective, I take the rejection personally.
Facing rejection has been demoralizing for me in the past.
Then there is the fear of talking with new people.
With me being shy at times, it takes real gumption for me to open up to people.
To sum it up, the reason why I didn’t keep selling is because the pain of rejection prevented me from the rush of closing a deal.
As I write that just now, I recognize how short-sided that thinking pattern is.
I know that tomorrow, I could make more money instantly by selling something to someone.
I also know what methods of selling work for me.
So then the question I leave myself with is this.
Am I going to let fear and pain of rejections prevent me from achieving the life of my dreams?