We Want You to Move to San Diego Next Month

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.