First Step To Success

First step to success. Does that really exist? Failure always has a way of kicking our teeth in as entrepreneurs. We can all pretend that we don’t hate it, or that it’s just “part of the game”, but at the end of the day, failure is horrible! The one thing though that is great about failure is how much you can learn about yourself, and about business from a failure. I joke about my first business, which was a record store of all things. I joke that I bought it when I was 18, proceeded to run it into the ground rather quickly, and then have now spent the last 12 years of my life trying to figure out what the hell I did wrong! In reality, that was a tough pill to swallow at age 19 when I shut it down. I literally tried everything to keep it alive. I worked so hard, changed so many things, yet in the end it was just a bad business, period.The story is an interesting one, and I hope you find it to be as well….

The store that I bought was a niche store that focused on ska and punk music. I’m a musician myself, had played in bands all through high school, and loved punk and ska, so buying this store was somewhat of a dream to me. I remember my uncle, who invested money in it/me, telling me that the numbers did not look promising. He said “There’s really not a lot of money in this – It doesn’t look like if things stay how they are, there will be enough income generated for you to move out of your parents house.”… yet, for some reason, that did not deter me. Why? Because I felt I was unstoppable! At 18, nothing could stop me. I believed I was going to create the next “Best Buy” or huge chain of record stores. That was a great way to think, and confidence is huge in business. Unfortunately for me, my confidence didn’t meet up well with reality. The reality was, the store was barely surviving, and no amount of cash infusion was going to change that.

The entire reputation of the store had been built on this specific genre of music. So, as that genre became less popular, so did my store. The small amount of sales that I had got even smaller, and I was in a position where there was just not enough money coming in to pay the bills, and have even a small amount left over for me.

First step to success? So what do I do now?

This is the first time in my life though where I become a real entrepreneur. This was actually my first step to success. I had to become a problem solver. There was no way that I was going to give up. I still believed I could make the store a success. So, I called my Dad and I said “Can you come to the store… I have an idea…”

My Dad still laughs to this day about what occurred next, because it was so crazy. He walked in and said “Ok, what’s your idea?”… and I said “We are going to knock out the office in the back of the store, make it one big huge open room, and start having concerts in the store where live bands will play. Those bands will bring kids out to see them, and those kids will all buy CD’s and I won’t have to close my store! My Dad actually thought it could work, and so, we got right to business knocking out those walls. What a crazy day! Eventually everything was set up. I moved the counter, moved a bunch of the racks of CD’s and records (yes, I sold actual records!), and set everything up.

Next, I called bands and said “We are now a record store & music venue! Come play a show!” And slowly but surely word got out, and I started hosting 3-5 shows every single week. Some shows were better than others, but more often than not the place was packed. People paid to get in the door, and then paid to buy CD’s from my store. It was perfect! (or so I thought…)

It looked as though my store was going to succeed…. until I got a phone call from the city where my store was located. They had received complaints from neighbors, and had found out what I was doing. I wasn’t licensed to have entertainment. In order to get the license I had to put in a male and female bathroom. Once I put those in, it was determined that the capacity that the city would license me for would be far too low for me to make any money. So, after a brush with success, and after a lot of other thinking, it was determined that I just had to close. At least I put up a fight though! And it was a damn good fight!!

So when I’m starting a new project, and I know there are going to be some tough times, I try and put myself back in the mindset that I had when I was trying to make my first business work. Excitement, belief, confidence, and now reality all come in to play. It’s so hard though to not let failures get the best of you. One of the hardest things for people chasing success to deal with is the fact that many don’t feel that they DESERVE the success that they are chasing. You need the confidence to know that you not only deserve it, but it’s the only way to live! Success is your destiny.. you just need to plow through all the crap to get to your success. It’s different for everyone, but isn’t everything in life? That’s what makes life so awesome.

It is very easy to give up. It’s very easy to go get a job, and just live life the easy way. It’s very easy to just follow everyone else. BUT, remember, you are an entrepreneur. You aren’t like everyone else, and that’s OK! There’s a good chance that you probably aren’t going to ever be happy working for someone else. Someone like you won’t truly ever be happy unless you achieve the success that has been kicking you in the back of the head since you were young. Taking orders from someone else will never, ever lead to complete and total happiness for you. It may give you stability, but let’s be honest… how many of us entrepreneurs actually like stability, right? Don’t give up… ever. You can certainly take little breaks. Most of us have to since we have bills that need to get paid, and if we fail at something, we need to rebound. Rebounding is OK. Settling is not. You deserve to achieve the success you seek. Keep attempting to go after it, and you eventually will get it.

So every day, if you want to start a business, or have started a business, or are trying to save a business, start the day by telling yourself that you DESERVE success. That success is the ONLY way. That you are going to do whatever it takes to achieve that success! Confidence is everything. Make sure you have it. But remember, you always need to have that small (and I do mean small) sense of reality in the corner of your mind.

Otherwise you may invest in, or get involved in a business that won’t allow you to move out of your parents house!