About six years ago, a good friend and I were both at a point in our careers where we weren't overly satisfied. We both had risen in the ranks and made very comfortable salaries for many years at that point. My friend had just moved him and his family back west and he had found a similar position there.
At the time we both had this "itch" that was gnawing at us to do our own thing. We were both pretty confident in our abilities. We both had, or at least we thought we had, a lot of contacts that would do business with us. We had accumulated a lot of knowledge and skills through our working history. We said let's go out and start a business.
I was really excited about this venture. I had real estate at the time, but I never really thought about it being an actual business. This was now officially going to be a real business. A Legal business, with a name, a legal corporation.
As of writing this today, I was looking at some of our emails that we were sending back and forth at the time. The way we were bouncing ideas off of each other, the way were emailing thoughts on the name of our company. There must be a thousand emails that stated what our company would offer, what our mission statement would be. And, oh yeah, all of the content and information for our website.
I can remember at that time, that I was so excited that me, "Brian Willett", would have a business. This was far beyond what I had ever even thought I would do in my life and career. It wasn't that I didn't think I was smart enough. I had just never even thought about it.
Oh yeah, the business. At that time, the federal government was cracking down on the sector that we both had made a career in. The government was trying to basically pick winners and losers in a highly competitive field. And the government had already decided who the winners and losers were going to be.
Our business was a secret shopping company that helped schools that the government had already decided were going to be the losers in this crack down, in ensuring compliance of their admissions teams. Our pitch was simple, "Do you know what your people are saying to prospects?" The answer was usually no. And at that time, there was recordings going all around about how rogue admissions personnel were misleading students in to enrolling at schools around the country.
Our product provided security, data, and peace of mind to school owners and operators that they were not out of compliance. It also provided a great tool and resource for these school owners and operators to use to make their teams better as well.
From the very beginning my partner and I never wanted to be only a secret shopping company. Nope. Our plan was to flip clients, who bought the secret shopping from us, into full-time clients that we would do consulting with.
We started this journey at the end of 2011, around December, and the goal was to build the business up from then until June, and then we both would quit our full-time jobs.
For six months, we worked before work, after work, and the weekends trying to get everything in place, as well as trying to land some clients. It was hard since we were now moonlighting in a business where we were known as one thing, and we were now selling a product in to those same people who knew us. Not to mention, that my current company as well as my partners, didn't necessarily want us doing this. Well, we never asked, we just did it. Needless to say, it was risky and it wasn't overly efficient in the way we had to go about it.
We landed a few secret shopping clients by June, and we had several pending bigger consulting deals on the schedule as well.
My friend quit his job first. He just couldn't take it any more. He hated everything about it. Mainly the ownership. Now it was my turn to quit my job.
Looking back on it now, I can remember how scared I was. I had saved some money up, we had some things in the works in the business, but I was about to walk away from a very safe and secure six figure salary and go to zero for the first time in many years.
Well, I did it. I quit my job. I think it was around July or so that year.
At the time, I think we had two clients that were buying some minimal things from us. All secret shopping clients. Now, remember, we had no desire to be a secret shopping company. We actually hated that part of the business. We wanted consulting deals.
As fate would have it, a couple of the big deals we had in the works, fizzled out. Also, I had been offered a very sound consulting deal that was taking up more time, which took my focus off of the business. Even though this deal was going through the business, it took my focus off growing the business.
By October, both my partner and I were back to working full-time jobs. The funny thing is though, is our business has continued to operate since then. Even though both of us have been working full-time jobs since, our business has continued to provide us both with additional money for the last six years. Actually, as soon as we went back to work several of the deals we had been working that didn't come through, actually came through.
I learned so many lessons from this venture. Too many to put in this one post, however, I will give you a few of the bigger lessons.
- When starting a new business, be ready for at least two years to go without a paycheck.
- Even though we spent six moths preparing for the launch, we could have done more to be prepared. Looking back, we should have spent more time preparing or doing more during the preparation.
- Dont be afraid to take risks. Nothing is final. As you can see we both bounced back.
- Dont quit on your business too soon. As I shared above, My focus got pulled away in the consulting deal, which essentially forced me to quit on the company.
- Don't quit your full-time job until you have outgrown your ability to manage your side business part-time.
To your success and your future.
Check out mpactgroupinc.com to learn more about the business that we started and is still operating today.