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Starting a business with very little....

Posted By: Linda Caroll
Date: Tuesday, 5 December 2000, at 12:45 a.m.

Hi Duane:

Here was the challenge by Michael Ross:

“Imagine this... you are out of work, have no money coming in whatsoever and cannot get any on credit cards or in any other way. You are too proud to go on welfare, have no products to sell, no customer list, refuse to get money selling your body for sex, refuse to get a job working for someone else for a wage and you refuse to sell any of your possessions. Knowing what you know now, who you know now and having the resources you currently have at your disposal, what would you do to get yourself back on your feet before you ran out of money?

You only have $1,000 left.”

Has anybody been able to solve this one?

There has been a bit of discussion about this, primarily in regard to the tv show ""The Money Game"

I don't know about you, or anyone else - but in my opinion, a television show in which the participants prove their money earning ability is vastly different than a person that has to do the same to put food on the table. A person in this situation is likely to feel a little more stressed. At least I did. *g*

Not to mention that if it's bread and butter the person has to earn, the repercussion of not succeeding is different than the tv contestant.

I am, by no means, a television personality. However, several years ago, I found myself in a very similiar situation. So, I'd like to answer your post from the perspective of a "real" person in that situation.

I had a little less than 1,000.00. Seven hundred and fifty two dollars and fifty three cents to be exact. That was all I had to my name when I discovered (after leaving an alcoholic and abusive ex) that the marital assets that I thought would be divided up so easily - weren't. (He'd put it all in his name - and then transferred everything to his dad's name.)

I had a mortgage payment due - in excess of eleven hundred dollars... utilities worth close to a thousand that were due for payment - and a child to feed and support.

A year before leaving my ex, I had closed down my little home business in a last ditch attempt to make the marriage work. So, I was left with little cash, no job, no contacts and I needed to make money fast or my daughter and I would be literally out on the streets.

None of my friends or relatives would help because my ex had already phoned and threatened anyone who intervened "would pay". Everyone I knew was petrified and would not get involved. I couldn't go to the police - he worked on their communications systems. (I tried - long story.)

I couldn't get a job outside the house because he was following me and went in afterwards to harass people everywhere I went. It was easier for people to just "not" hire me.

I then decided to sell the house. As it turned out, I couldn't even do that because my ex's name was also on the title and he would not agree to sell. According to Canadian laws, I could not sell without his agreement. (He was being a miserable sot and trying to make me suffer for leaving him. He figured I'd give up and come back)

It was, in a word - a nightmare. I cried myself to sleep a number of nights before I got very angry and even more determined. To make a long story a little shorter... I had no options left but to take what I had and make it work.
And I did... : )

The points that Dien mentioned (in a later post) have some very good merit. You don't have to be a celebrity or have a "known" name... but you DO need persistance, perseverance and determination.

I had over a decade of experience in graphics behind me. I'd worked as a "suit" for Canada's largest department store chain. I'd run my own little graphics company out of my home. I decided I needed to revive that and make it work for me... and fast.

I got on the phone one evening and called everyone that I knew that my ex did not know. *g* (No risk of him intervening that way.) Parents of kids my daughter went to school with..
people I'd gone to school with. Anyone I could think of. I asked them all to do me one favor.. to keep their ears open for someone looking for graphic arts or copywriting.

I found one person that "knew someone who.."

I remember walking into the board meeting to present my graphics proposal to a national board of directors looking to hire someone to do the graphics for an upcoming national event.

I knew about the board meeting because my daughter's friend's mom told me about it when I made those calls. She knew one of the directors..

I knew that there were three big companies competing for the contract. Before the meeting, I checked out the history of 'the competition.'

I knew that part of the event they were running included selling 'event t-shirts'. Prior to the meeting, I had a local printer print my work on a tshirt so I could I let the board members pass the t-shirt around and look at the detail. It was no longer ink on paper.. it was a tangible, touchable sample.

I convinced a small printing company to print the shirt (free) by promising the printer that the order was his if I could pull this off. Landing a national event would be a coup for him, too.

As I made my presentation, I also offered to

a) Do the graphics for all areas of the event, including the event souvenirwear as well as other printing projects (brochures, newspaper ads, etc)

b)handle the details of ordering the t-shirts, sweatsuits, brochures, cards, printed items, etc

c) Oversee the printing and proofing... and

d) To have it all delivered to their office.

By offering that, I reduced their work load immensely. (I also afforded myself the opportunity to buy the goods at wholesale and mark them up to make a profit. )

As is typical, they said they would discuss the presentations and "get back to me".

As I left, I gave them the t-shirt. I told them that having the shirt to look at would mean they didn't have to "remember" what it looked like when they were comparing proposals.

As I walked past the board members, I leaned slightly towards the one that was related to my daughter's friend's mom and whispered (Donna said to tell you hello). *smiling*

I got the contract.

I ordered the merchandise needed on a 30 day invoice, collected the cash for the order, banked it - and paid for the merchandise 30 days later.

So, instead of just making the profit of a new graphics order, I also made profit on marking up the merchandise and earned a commission for selling the printer's services, too.

Do you have ANY idea how much markup one can make on over 5 thousand t-shirts? Not to mention the sweatsuits, shorts, golf shirts, etc? *g*

I was glad I didn't just go in offering to do the graphics alone. At the time of the presentation, I really had NO idea of the vast size that the order would be.

It was one of my best... and one of my last offline events. I found the Internet shortly after. I've more than doubled my income online and have set up two successful internet businesses that employ multiple people. And - moved half way across the country. *g*

I do it by not only knowing my field of expertise inside out, but also by knowing my competition inside. You can't be "better" if you don't know what you're up against. : )

It is entirely possible to take little or nothing and turn it into a fantastic income... as long as you know your field and you have the persistance and belief in yourself to carry you through.

Important points for anyone looking to get ahead:

1) As Dien says - You don't have to have employees to have others working for you too -- outsourcing is another way to have others working for you, use their services! (like I did with the printer)

2) The power of being able to sell something before you have to pay for it. (as I did by asking Hanes to invoice me for the shirts and asking the printer to verify my credibility because I had no order history.)

3) Contacts. Not just who "you" know.. but who
your contacts know. The next door neighbor or the bank teller just might know the person, or wife of the person that is going to decide who gets that big contract in your field. (just as my daughter's friend's mom had a contact for me)

and above all..

Know your field. Prove your worth. Believe and you will achieve.

Just my two cents...

Linda Caroll

Your image is my business


Copyright 2000 Linda Caroll and Seeds of Wisdom Publishing, All Rights Reserved