More than a decade ago I started my first business, an ad agency. This was long before we could even imagine building an online event management program or venue software tool like Planning Pod, but it definitely was the first step in our journey. Back then, I was very green – probably closer to hunter or jade – and had no idea what I was getting myself into (which was probably all for the best, as I may have fled back into a comfy job if I had known the challenges of starting a small business).
Knowing that our new business needed more clients, I started going to random networking events, hoping a company in need of a edgy ad campaign would run into me and be amazed with my mere presence. This, in fact, would have been the only way I would have landed a client back then – literally running into them – as I knew precious little about how to pitch my services.
I started hanging out with this guy who ran his own health insurance brokerage – who is still my health insurance broker and a good friend to this day – and he was always full of these cryptic pearls of wisdom. One day, as we were drinking a beer and trying to avoid being schmoozed by cell phone salesmen and aspiring financial planners, he asked me this.
“Jeff, as of next week I’ve been in business 10 years. Do you know what’s the secret to being in business 10 years?”
“No,” I said, eager to hear this precious chestnut.
“Being in business 9 years,” he replied, smiling like a Cheshire cat.
I remember shaking my head and dismissing it as a silly joke. But for some reason it stuck with me, and over the years I have discovered the wisdom of what he said.
Being in business 10 years, or 5, or even 1, is about persistence. It’s about finding a way to make things work when times are bad. It’s about planning ahead and saving when times are good. It’s about creating value in what you do. It’s about surviving. And it’s about enjoying the ride.