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Old January 5, 2001, 10:26 AM
Bob Beckman
 
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Default Interesting business success story!

Here's a story of business success that incorporates much of what we discuss here on SOWPUB.

While standing at the coffee machine yesterday, I engaged an attractive young lady in conversation about her job in HR. It turns out Bonnie's an outside consultant and works for the fun of helping people get jobs in this mega hi tech corporate environment!

I was intrigued, so asked about her background. Her family were refugees from Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge genocide of the mid-seventies. They arrived here with the clothes on their backs and lucky to be alive. She was about 10 years old.

Somehow, the father got work and Bonnie studied marketing at a local small college. While in school, she and her uncle started an unskilled labor temp agency, providing crews to do manual labor jobs at construction sites, etc. Bonnie was the sales person who cold-called construction businesses for work. (There's the face-to-face sales experience advocated by Gordon and Dien!).

The company grew and they sold it for a nice profit after a few years. This enabled Bonnie to finish college at age 26. She then met a boyfriend who apparently swindled her out of her share of sale profits. He left for SE Asia and left her with a lot of bills, broke, and demoralized. (Karma caught up with him, as he got swindled in Asia a few months later and lost it all!).

Bonnie was living with her parents, and her father(seeing how demoralized she was) suggested she take a hot bath using an herbal mixture that had been in the family for generations. Apparently it's a mix of healing herbs and soothing oils, all natural and environmentally safe. The result was amazingly effective and stress reducing. Bonnie liked it so well, she gave it to friends as presents (like the trail mix of JDB).

She kept getting more requests for the herb mix, so she borrowed a couple of hundred bucks from her father, bought some dehydrators and started making the stuff in quantity in her parents' basement. She was able to parlay this into a $5000 small business loan and increased her output to over a hundred dehydrators, manned by her family and friends!

This led to more sales, through Mary Kay reps, party plans, etc., until she met a backer through a satisfied client. This guy was retired, rich and looking for a business to grow. It grew to a current volume of 1.6 million packets of the mixture per year, all whole-saled and private labeled (a la Harvey Brody) in stores like K-mart, Walmart, Macy's and others.

They bought an old factory in Philadelphia and have a fulltime staff of about 100 people. Bonnie writes marketing letters and collects a share of the profits monthly while living in Northern VA. Her partner runs the business. They continually turn down offers to buy it for a seven figure price.

She's 34 now and is a wonderful person to work with. She enjoys her freedom and HR consulting work. Her hubby is a computer guy and is happily ssupportive of her success.

This story, to me, embraces the philosophies of Thoreau and Emerson noted here below, and highlights the old Acres of Diamonds principle that riches can be found right under your nose (in this case, literally:-)).

It underscores both Taylor and Gordon's posts about TAKING ACTION, and is a companion piece to Duane's and others' posts below. There's a world of opportunity out there - all we gotta do is pick out a niche and make it happen. And there are no excuses - if a former refugee child can do this, so can we in our own area of choice.

Food for thought for me, anyway!

Bob
 


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