This is a homework assignment. Just a journal more or less of recreating myself and my business after 10 years of semi-retirement inspired when our cruise from the west coast of Florida to Nova Scotia got cut short by Covid-19 — more to come.
Epiphany bridge story
I started my business career in the 1970s while in my 20s as an electrical contractor I wanted to be my own boss and not have to work for other people. I had dreams of eventually building a business empire.
I wanted to make enough money to support myself and eventually build a business that employed other people.
I was finding jobs and then doing the work and then doing the billing, ordering materials, trying to find more work, chasing people to collect payments, buying tools and trucks and eventually looking for people to hire. I would work on the job all day as an electrician and then put in another 40 hours a week as the business owner. You can do this when you're 25 years old.
While it was getting tired, the worst part was I had not achieved any of the things I went into business for, such as making more money than an employee (I made less) having free time or feeling like I was actually accomplishing. I had definitely reached a plateau where I could not work harder or put I more hours, somehow I had to work smarter.
I eventually did make this business work by getting a partner, he took care of operations and fieldwork and I took care of administration and finding work. This allowed us to expand into installing telephone systems, we already had all the tools, trucks and people to do the work but selling telephone systems was a completely different world than getting electrical work. We had a good product, good people and low overhead but we could not make many sales and had no idea why.
We put in a phone system for a company called Computer World, they sold computers. In talking with the owner of the local store I expressed how hard it was to make sales of telephone systems. He reached under the counter and pulled out a book and cassette tape package called The Art of Selling Anything by Tom Hopkins. The package had not even been opened. He handed it to me and said that the corporate office sent them to a program on how to sell computers but there was no need to sell computers because people just came in and bought them faster than they could keep them on the shelves. So he gave me the package and said take it. This changed my whole idea of how business worked.
I took the material and devoured it, read the book, listened to all the tapes over and over and over again and applied all the lessons as much as I could. This did allow us to make more sales and increase the business greatly. But we had plans to move from Boulder Colorado to Nova Scotia Canada. I sold my share of the electrical company to the partner and sold the phone business to someone else and we set off for Nova Scotia.
After creating two businesses with just a high school diploma, an electrician's license and just the money generated by the business we moved to Vermont where I stated another electrical business and then entered into an arrangement with an established electrical contractor and opened a telephone systems division. Through many twists and turns this eventually led to buying into a newly forming software development company in Halifax Nova Scotia. There were a bunch of partners, but by the second year two of us had bought out the others. We delivered business process improvement software to corporations and in 1998 we delivered our first commercial website. We built a turn-key e-commerce site-building system, we're paying ourselves well and were up to about 20 employees and I had started doing management consulting work after training with Robert Fritz over the course of a year. GE Capital corporation wanted to buy our business, which should have been a good thing, but actually led us to the brink of bankruptcy. While my partner was in favour of declaring bankruptcy and leaving our creditors holding the bag, I did not want to go that route, so I bought my “partner’s” shares for a dollar, assumed all the debt and jumped on a train to Montreal, which actually took me to New York where I got hired by McKinsey & Company as a systems analyst/project manager.
After paying off all the corporate debt and my house mortgage and finally leaving McKinsey I kind of ‘retired’, went to the Bahamas as part of 9-month sailboat journey then started just being mostly ‘retired’ but trying to help owner-managed businesses through coaching and consulting. But This required being on-site and doing a lot of travel and one-to-one sessions with people who often did not have extra money to pay consulting fees. About when I decided to just kick back the contractor we hired to cut some trees on our property found out what my background was and convinced me to help him with his business. We have been working together for over 10 years now.