Three Weeks In

This is amazing. Truly, sparklers-to-a-4-year-old, amazing. I’m 3 weeks into the new business and I have had nothing but success and growth. It has happened fast; I put up signs at various intersections, I’ve been bidding on jobs through Thumbtack, and I actually have let my Craigslist ads lapse because I’ve been so busy. I’ve even neglected you, gentle reader, as I haven’t posted an update since I started this endeavor.

Part of that is because I went on a 10-day vacation to kick things off. You might not think that’s the wisest plan of action, but I can tell you it was a much-needed time to reset and come back with new energy and focus. I was able to fully leave the old job behind and launch into the new business with vigor.

I have one employee right now who works with me, and he does a great job. He’s in his early 20s and is doing college when he can. He worked with me briefly when I did Christmas lights last year, so I knew his work ethic before committing to hiring him. Good choice- he’s helped keep me company, he’s sped up my work time, and that’s helped make sure I can work a 3-day work week while earning enough to stay afloat/stay ahead of repayments.

An interesting thing happened right before my last day at my old company: my family/work van was T-boned and the insurance company totaled it. Due to my oversight, we didn’t have gap insurance. This meant that we still owed $9000 on the now dead vehicle (it was a 2014) and had to find/purchase a new one with no capital, no verifiable income from my business, and no time. Fun!

Our church, friends, and family came through in a big way and set up a GoFundMe account where $3000 was raised toward the purchase of a vehicle. Another friend of ours was about to sell her Acura MDX (SUV) and offered it to us for just $2000. The remaining money raised went toward travel expenses to get the new vehicle, paying off the old vehicle (still about a year and a half of payments to go), various transfer fees, etc. In the end, we own a great work-worthy family vehicle free and clear and have about $20,000 less debt than we did a month ago!

This week I have 4 jobs scheduled: 2 window jobs and 2 gutter jobs. I will clear more than twice as much as I did at my previous job, and I expect to work about 18 hours instead of 45 or so. Previous weeks have seen me with 7-10 jobs, and I already have some in the works for the week after this. Things are going well- better than expected- and I hope to be updating this once or twice a week as I am able. If you’re interested in talking with me more about what has gone into making the jump into business ownership, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to get back to you!

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Mission Accomplished!

It's funny because it's wrong!

I’m a big fan of Arrested Development, and I know the banner in the show is a riff on the Bush/Iraq War banner, so I’m… referencing a reference of a pretty incorrect statement? Yeah, I’ll go with that. Anyway, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I gave my notice, and now- the hard stuff is all done… right?

No, of course not. I gave my notice, and now the work begins. I have taken the irreversible step of cutting my safety line, so I have to find jobs or fail spectacularly. I haven’t entered this blindly, and I like my odds. I have 100 road signs printed and ready to post at high-traffic slow-moving intersections, I am on Angie’s List and Thumbtack and I’ve been getting great reviews on Nextdoor, I have 1000 business cards and 3 websites and I’m learning html to make them even better… I can do this!

I still NEED to incorporate, get accounting software, establish a quality customer database, and really work on my main website and do some good SEO. I need more visibility, although I feel I’ve been doing a good job of building that organically. Referrals and word-of-mouth have brought me some good customers, and my Christmas light business crossover marketing has brought me even more.

The wife and kids are amazing, and I think we’re all looking forward to spending more time in the same building- even if Daddy will have to work during a good portion of the day. One important update: Kristin is now an independent consultant for Rodan + Fields- go check out her (much better looking) webpage here!

Thanks for following along, and I’m very excited to be blazing this trail!

Today is the day

No more wasting time. No more sitting at a desk pretending to work. No more following inefficient policies that I am powerless to change. Today is the day.

I am giving my notice at my old job today, and my last day will be June 12. Technically less than 2 weeks, but what are they going to do- fire me?

I have decided to not ask about part time work here. I think it would tie me down and limit the amount of work I can do with my businesses. Add to that the stress of doing a week’s worth of work in 2 days, having to follow procedures that make little sense to me, and still being “on the hook” for things beyond my control… I think a clean break will be best. The only exception I’ll make is if they ask me to stay on PT while they find a replacement. I can do that for them. It’s been a good company.

Well, I’ve got a letter to write. Wish me luck!

Developments

Things have been happening very quickly around here, which has left me less time to blog. I have been working nonstop on my own company website and launched it in a basic form while continuing to work on better and more pages that I will add as I get their content looking sharp. I also roughed out a Facebook page for my window cleaning company. You might notice I have a logo now- I actually have two versions of it:

Squeegee-Steve-Logo-1-repaired-300x157 and Squeegee Steve Logo 2 repaired

I have business cards on order and will be buying road/yard signs today or tomorrow. I’ve already sent out an email blast and letters to my Christmas light customers, and I will be sending postcards this week. I changed my number to a local one in order to encourage more business. I got an estimate book, set up email accounts, and am learning basic html.

And there is still so much to do.

Add to that the fact that I have 4 kids and a wife that I’d like to hang out with on occasion, weekend/evening volunteer responsibilities, and am still at my “day job” for another 3 weeks, and I am running ragged. Hopefully my time frees up to a more manageable amount after I leave my day job. I’m ready to focus on my family and my future.

Temple job- pictures

We had a crazy time putting up all these lights, and the temple’s size and height made it so that we could have put up 3 or 4 times as many and still not get “full coverage”! My favorite picture here is Hanuman’s temple- that’s the one with the flowing orange cloth on the dome. It gives you some idea of how active things were, and how festive the atmosphere was. I’m looking forward to doing this job next year with the knowledge I gained doing it this year.

temple entryway temple from the ladder temple front right

temple hanuman and left entry temple longview temple naked dome

Fear

I’m worried. I really am. I’ve gotten a few calls for window quotes this week, but no jobs. I’m 2 weeks away from giving my 2 weeks notice, and I don’t have enough customer recognition for me to be confident in this step. I have almost no marketing out there, and everything looks to cost more than I can afford right now. I thought I had a good plan in place; take my initial income from the first jobs worked and establish a base. Build from there.

That money is gone, paying off employees and bills and startup costs. That’s fine- I am fully aware that it costs money to make money. I’m just afraid that I’ve fallen into the valley between investment and return- I fear that I have fatally lost momentum.

This is where the hustle has to step up, the hurdle needs to be vaulted, and the dragon needs to be slain. I will not fall to fear. I will not succumb to failure by inaction. Now is the time for me to self-promote, to redouble my efforts. Now is the time to make something from nothing.

I fear, but I don’t stop at fear. I push on with hope, I move forward with effort, and I will succeed with perseverance.

The Temple Job

^That’s a good name for a movie. It also is all that my crew will need to say to identify this job in our collective memories.

42 manhours, 10,000+ lights, over 120 feet of ladders, 330 million deities, 7 domes, 10 pillars, 5 doorways, 3 workers, and absolutely no shoes. This was the stat line of a tough, ambitious lighting project I accepted for the dedication week of a Hindu temple. We worked at a deep discount (offseason lighting is usually 1/2 to 1/3 of the price of Christmas lighting) and in a shortened time frame (we had a day and a half before the dedication week began), adding to the difficulty. I think the project went well during installation, but final analysis remains to be done after the takedown.

I have a friend who should be coming out this week to take pictures, and once I get some good ones I’ll post them.