I remember the day very clearly. It was Wednesday, December 4, 2002, but it seems like it was yesterday. My company’s Vice-President, Jordan, was in town. He came to Phoenix once a quarter to visit our customers and our office staff. To me, this was just another visit Jordan was making. I would soon learn it wasn’t just an ordinary trip. On this particular morning, I remember hearing the front door open. We had a small office with only 4 employees. Everyone was accounted for – so, I knew Jordan arrived.
Jordan met with our GM, Steve, for a few hours and then he can into my office. Jordan pulled up a chair and said, “We want you to move to San Diego next month”. I couldn’t believe it. My emotions were racing. I was excited to start the next chapter in my life and career, but I was scared at the same time. I’ve been working hard for this moment. I just couldn’t believe it was here.
I moved to Phoenix from Denver 1 ½ year’s prior. I was promoted and tasked to help grow the Phoenix market-share while learning the operations of the company. I accepted the promotion back then because I knew it would lead to this moment: promoted to launch a new business unit. I just wasn’t expecting to be that particular day. To move to a new city and launch a business in a month is not an easy task. So, I got to work right away.
On January 17, 2003, I moved to San Diego and officially launched the business a few days later on the 23rd out of my apartment. I was the underdog in the market. San Diego was saturated with established competitors, and here I am – working out of a two-bedroom apartment and about to go to war. To win in this market was going to be hard and not an easy feat. I was motivated and driven to succeed. I put in the sweat equity those first few years. I worked 14-hour days with a “will not be denied” attitude. I got a lucky break early on in this venture when I uncovered a sizeable opportunity that would soon be my first customer. A large financial company, which was based in San Diego with a dozen offices throughout California, was looking for a solution, and I was able to put together the right plan that would address their pain points and ultimately, I was able to beat out the competition. They signed a contract in February and placed their first order. With this order, my branch office was operating in the black within my first month. A few months later, I grew monthly revenues to $40,000 with a 55% gross margin and made the decision it was time to open an office and hire my first employee.
From my experience of launching a business in a saturated market, I learned many lessons that I’ll eventually share on my blog, but one I learned very early was that my attitude and “will to succeed” is one of the most competitive advantages I had over my opponents. Moreover, this attitude allowed me to persevere with all the challenges of starting a new business when it appears the odds are stacked up against me. One thing is for certain. There will always be setbacks and challenges in business. Perseverance is a required trait to be successful and attitude is the key ingredient to perseverance.