After 11 years working in the private sector, the last 4 for a major manufacturer of office products, I decided that the best thing for my family and I would be to start my own business. At that time I had a 2 year old daughter. The day I told my wife that I was going to take the plunge, she informed me that she was pregnant with daughter number 2. Undeterred, for the next year I worked diligently to develop a comprehensive marketing plan to make sure that on day 1, not only were we open for business, but we would hit the ground running.
We were up and running 30 days after I left my marketing position. In the year prior to opening, I visited many office furniture dealers along the East Coast to see how they operated and also met with many manufacturer representatives and office furniture wholesalers to determine what would be the best product mix. I also re-mortgaged my house to get a line of credit and opened as many no annual fee credit cards just in case we needed financing. Banks in general do not like to lend to start ups. Fortunately, my wife had a good job in the pharmaceutical industry, so we were able to at least pay the mortgage and basic bills and not go deeper into debt. After determining the market I wanted to serve, an affordable central location was found (at that time, prior to the internet, customers were believed that they would travel up to 30 minutes to see your offering) and the showroom was set up.
At the age of 33, I had the education, experience and fortitude to work long hours and tried to minimize expenses by being the salesman, delivery person and operations manager. I did hire an inside person as well as one delivery person to help with the process. I acquired a marketing mailing list of local companies and sent out a series of mailings to get the word out. I also joined the local Chamber of Commerce, sent out newspaper press releases and had an Open House for the Grand Opening. The business received orders from day one. I also joined numerous professional groups and made business card exchanges a weekly event. The efforts paid off quickly. We made many mistakes in the beginning, but learned quickly and kept moving forward. As my first real business enterprise, I learned to be open to other ideas and never resist change and do whatever it takes to satisfy your customer, no job is beneath you. Plus, the more things you learn to do in a company, the better prepared you are to deal with problems and adversity.