Why I Started My Own Business…

My parents divorced when I was 5 and we lived with my dad. My father worked very hard for us. He worked for a company named Fluor Daniel as a Machinist. He came home filthy every night and didn’t get paid much money. We weren’t poor but we were barely making it. And I know he felt enormous pressure. He was very good at his job. As a matter of fact, he was the best. That’s just the kind of man he is…

He also never missed a day of work (that I can remember) in all those years. We are both blessed with good genes and don’t get sick much. I was in 9th grade when my dad got laid off from his job.

It didn’t make sense to me… He was the best one there. His boss said that he would be protected if there were layoffs – that my dad would be the “last one to go” because they needed him. I knew his boss – I had played golf with him and he treated me like he loved my dad.

But when the day came… He chose his brother in law over my dad. His brother in law was a good guy and a decent machinist – but he always worked at about 75% capacity because he KNEW he wouldn’t get fired. So my dad got the screw train. Laid off.

It made a big impression on me.

I haven’t had a traditional job in a long time. I worked at Bear Stearns in the early 90′s during and after college. That was a real job. Big office buildings. Suit and tie. The whole deal. It was ok and I learned a lot there that helped me later in life.

Like the difference between hard work and faking hard work. I saw probably 100 kids like me get hired and fired in the 5 years I was there. Only me and one other guy made it – Joe Enders. He was a work horse. So was I… I was doing good there – but I felt out of place.

Then my fiancee and I were asked to do some ministry work for our church – which we did for a while. It was like most things – good and bad.

Helping people (good).
Meetings (bad).

Lots of meetings. Time wasting. Lots of politics… back biting and people arguing all the time. Lots of people faking hard work.

In the end it wasn’t for me. I think that many people are turned off from altruistic pursuits because of all the crap they have to go through… to do good.

That whole ministry experience reminded me of the situation my dad was in – his living was completely dependent upon the decision of a boss – or a bosses boss. And it cost him his job. I was not interested in being in that situation so I told my wife I wanted to quit.

After my dad was laid off, he worked at the golf course that our friends owned for a bit to put food on the table while he was figuring out his next move. That was a fun time for me – since I was at the golf course every day – but I can only imagine the stress he was under. Single dad with 3 young kids with no job. Scary.

He decided to start his own machine shop.

The place started super small in a 10 x 20 rented storage space way out in the country. He was working hard. It started very slow. But he started getting jobs. And he was able to pay the bills.

I saw him work incredibly hard. He was a one man show. It was difficult because he had to be the salesman, the collector, the machinist and the janitor. He also had to be super tight on money to make sure that there was enough cash for the family and for the business… It is like walking a tight rope. Running your own business is hard. But it is yours. There is a self strength that you develop.

He never made it rich but that business is still around today over 20 years later. There have been good times and bad… but he(we) made it.

My dad taught me that the toughest boss is yourself. But that you won’t ever regret working for him. Because you are taking your fate into your own hands and making the decision to Choose Yourself.

I saw the challenges but I also saw the freedom. When we took a trip to Disney in 2003 with my then 5 year old daughter – my dad was able to be there. When he wanted to take me fishing as a kid – he was able to be there. He might have worked double time to be able to do it. But he didn’t have to beg someone for permission.

I decided to choose myself over a dozen years ago. There have been hard times. There have been great times. I have learned life lessons that I never could have learned working for someone else.

I never needed to be rich. When I think “rich” I think Donald Trump, limos and fancy dinners… I had no interest in that. If you want that lifestyle then there is nothing wrong with it – go for it. It is just not what motivated me or makes me happy. What I always wanted was freedom.

So, the reason I started my business is to be free enough to be there for my kids. Free enough to play golf when I want to. Free enough to take multiple vacations a year. And thankfully I have had that freedom from my business. I hope you do too. And if you don’t have that now – then I hope you have it someday.

There are lots of other reasons that I enjoy having a business. Being creative. Helping people. Having masterminds with other people like me. But those aren’t the reasons I started it. Those are just side benefits.

I started my business because a long time ago my dad showed me that Choosing Myself was the best choice I could ever make.

Have you ever thought about starting your own business? If so, leave a comment and let me know about it!

ps… I just started a facebook group for the self funded life group and everybody who wants to start their own business. You can join it for free of course. Here is the Link:

Self Funded Life Facebook Group

Look forward to seeing you in there!

 

Bridget September 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Hello I’m a single mother of a now 18 year old daughter who started college a week ago. We have lived paycheck to paycheck all our lives but have been thankful that at least I always had a stable job. I have dreamed about my own coffee shop/bakery forever! I’m a hard worker and have great passion but the money aspect of getting things started scares me. Needless to say I have the idea but don’t know how to get the ball rolling. Any starter tips you could give me would be appreciated.

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Kevin September 4, 2013 at 5:47 am

Hey Bridget… Couple of questions. Have you ever worked at a coffee shop or bakery in the past? It might be a great idea to try and work at one for a bit and get some real world experience there. Especially managing the place etc… And that will help you understand a lot about the business first. Working at a starbucks would be ideal. They have it down to a science.

I do have a friend that started a coffee shop in Atlanta and she ran into a brick wall trying to get financing from banks – they didn’t want to lend on coffee shops as they frequently fail because of all sorts of reasons. That being said, what my friend did is partner up with her 2 sisters and all three of them put up some of the money and they run the shop together.

So, maybe finding a partner who could help put up the money would be a place to start.

Last thing, if you do decide to move forward with the coffee business – then you need to really think hard about your location. The location will make or break a business like this. You need to be able to serve lots of morning coffee as that is the time when most people want it. So being in a place where lots of people go by your business on the way to work is ideal. And if you can get a location that supports a drive through window, that is even better.

Good luck and I know there are some challenges in front of you, but you can do it if you keep at it and don’t take “no” for an answer!

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Dusty September 3, 2013 at 8:16 am

Great post. I wanted to comment. I have been trying to get started with an online business for about 6 months now but it seems overwhelming. Excited to be part of this. I think this will get me where I need to go. I am gonna go join the facebook group right now. Thanks.

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Kevin September 4, 2013 at 5:50 am

Thanks Dusty! Look forward to meeting you over on Facebook :)

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Rhonda December 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

okay, I read all the comments and decided to comment myself. My husband is 54 and I am 52. We have kicked ourselves in the behind soooo many times for not starting a business. My husband works on any equipment that has a engine or a motor. He has wanted to start his own business for quit awhile. I honestly think he would have done it if I would have taken the time to find out what steps to take and just bit the bullet and did it. As one of the other comments have said, we are not getting any younger but I know he has what it takes to accomplish this. Fear is an awful thing.

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Kevin September 4, 2013 at 5:50 am

Hey Rhonda,
Sorry for the late reply here. Just saw this… You know what they say these days… 50 is the new 30 :)

I say you should absolutely do it if that is your dream… Go for it. There is no better feeling than waking up in the morning knowing that you are working for yourself.

Kevin

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Deb December 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Hi Kevin, family is so important and I applaud you for your sincerity in all that you are accomplishing. I was taken in by your story and I too was laid off after close to 20 years of service in a law library, but during my time off of work I’ve definitely learned to be more humble. I’ve not had a lot of interviews but this last one I am feeling pretty good about so I am going to just wait and see what happens.
On the other hand, my husband is a self-employed landscaper located in the mid west, who has a strong client base company and small reliable Hispanic crew. I’ve considered helping him build his business in a different direction, but I’m afraid that we might not be the best at working together because we both have strong ideas. This is a very physical job and I do worry about how much longer he can do this kind of work. Lately he seams to be loosing his zest for life and it make me wander about our life together. I would rather keep my marriage than risk it in working in a business together. Do have some good suggestions for me?

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Kevin December 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Hey Deb… First off, thank you for the compliment. In my experience being in business for yourself can feel like you are all alone. My wife actually helps me with my business and it really means a lot to me. She keeps the books and helps with a lot of the stuff that I don’t like to do anyways – and it takes my mind off of it all… so it is a real blessing to me. Do you think there is anything like that in your husband’s business?

Another thing that is often challenging for small business owners is finding the balance between doing the work for your current customers vs going out and getting new customers. Maybe he could benefit by having you help market the business – you would be the best person to go out and sell your husbands service as you really believe in the business.

I will say on the flip side, that it might make sense for you to take a part time job with benefits(like starbucks) so that you can get great insurance but then work in the business part time with him doing things that make life easier for him.

Working together with my wife seems to bring us closer… so while I know that it can be a challenge for many – it has been very good to me!

Hope that helps… :)

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Casey Van de Pol December 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Thanks Kevin! I have worked for corporate America most of my life then transitioned into public school teaching. Each and every time I had a feeling of NOT BEING IN CONTROL! I am currently helping some friends with a new restaurant in northern Gainesville, Georgia but I have signed up for Kate Buck’s program to become a Social Media Manager. I am feeling so out of my element trying to get this started, but the ultimate payoff is going to be running my own business. Wish me luck and please feel free to share any other insights you might have about starting a business on your own.

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Kevin December 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Hey Casey… Kate is good. You will be in good hands with her. How long have you been working on it? BTW, I used to live up your way at Chateau Elan :)

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Kevin December 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

Hey Eleanor,

What did they mean by a Guaranteed Analysis of the finished dog treats? That sounds official but it seems vague… do you know anything about it? I do have some ideas about dog treat businesses for sure…

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Eleanor December 6, 2012 at 8:12 am

I had previously tried to start a dog treat busines but ran into a “snafu” when it came to labeling legally. I noticed that other companies listed not only the ingredients, but an accurate listing of the “Guaranteed Analyses of finished dog treats”. I have no way of finding out this information and I feel I could get in trouble legally without listing the info on my packaging. Any hekp???

E Reichel

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Kevin December 6, 2012 at 6:36 am

You are welcome Calmo! Thanks for the comment :)

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Calmo bebe December 6, 2012 at 5:34 am

Thnkyou verry verry much kevin

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Kevin December 6, 2012 at 5:14 am

Hey Art thanks for the comment… Sorry that the recession has killed your daughter’s business. I hear a lot of that these days unfortunately. Do you have any special skills, knowledge or a competitive advantage of any sort? In other words, is there anything that you would have a “leg up” due to your past experience?

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Art Hernandez December 6, 2012 at 2:15 am

You sound sincere,so here goes. My daughter started a Management Consulting business and did very will, 22 employees all with MBA’s. My other daughter opened a Restaurant and she also did very well then the recession came and killed it. I am retired. Both businesses employed the entire family. Then an Art Galley with my oldest daughter and myself. It too did well again recession killed us. Now I would like to start a business again to employ an unemployed married daughter and get right offs. However only have a limited amount to invest in the start up. What is step one besides the legal stuff and a marketing plan?

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Kevin December 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Thanks Darrell… I agree that one of the toughest things about having your own business is missing time with family. It can be such a paradox – you work hard to take care of your family but often sacrifice time with them to do it. Thanks again for your comment. What are you doing now?

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Darrell December 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm

This is very good. My best friend and I started our own business by combineing our talents in computers. When it got to the point I had a 4 year son and I had not seen him grow up, I chose to return to the life of the corporation. I was successful until I was in my late 50′s. I got laid off but I was taught to work hard by my dad and I did listen “if a job is worth doing it is worth doing right the first time”. Any the way the computer field was changing so fast in that time period I was not up to date with the technology, but I just switch career fields to one I learned was I didn’t like or care to work in.
That writeup was very well write

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