3 Real-World Reasons Why Entreprenuers Start Companies
Every company has a story of how they got started. That’s one of my main reasons for using Wikipedia. But to me, it’s all about the why you get started, because that will always be your reason to keep going, selling, or to eventually close up shop. I’ve started a couple of different ventures and I’ve had different reasons for all of them.
Tap tap… Tap…Tap, tap, tap… I look up to see the bottom of a pistol tapping the outside of the window at 2am.
“Hey man, I need $7 on pump five, and Newport shorts in a box.”
I sit there and ponder how I ended up going into the convenience store business in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Atlanta. Then, I realize that this was one of my last options and it would be working with someone that I’ve known for a while. I’d recently burned myself out selling cell phones for the past four years on 100% commission. The thing about 100% is that, if you don’t work you simply don’t get paid. At this point, I was living on savings alone and they were dwindling quickly. My friend reached out to me and told me that he wanted to buy a convenience store and asked if I wanted to join him.
The graveyard shift was the worst shift ever. Passing the time was like watching paint dry; it was a serious struggle to stay awake in the store. If my friend didn’t call me with this opportunity, I’m not sure what I was going to do. We made that convenience one of the most popular in east Atlanta. The people in the neighborhoods loved us and I felt like we brought something positive to the area. A lot of the time you have to do what you have to do, in order to do what you want to do. This was a humbling experience for me and it taught me a great deal of patience. That patience paid off when I got the phone call to be a speaker and sales trainer for some of the biggest speakers of my time.
Life lesson: Never think you’re too good, too educated, or too smart to be the janitor at your company. Learn every facet of your business so that you’ll be able hire, train, and retain the best people.
It was 2007, and I was just 24 years old, ranked number two in the country for a speaking and sales training company. We trained for the best of the best such as Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar, Les Brown, and Brian Tracy. I’m about to step on stage and I start hearing my introduction.
“I want to introduce Rich Winley, one of the top sales trainers in the country, and one of the youngest too.” I’m looking out over a crowd of hundreds of sales people and managers, who are waiting on me to give them a motivational talk that will help them have a great year in sales. My heart flutters and my palms begin to get warm. I say to myself, calm down Rich, you’ve heard all of the negative stuff you’ll ever hear. “You’re my kids’ age what can I learn from you?!?”… “I’ve been selling longer than you’ve been alive…” I got up there and rocked the house! In my mind, I was on my way to being the next Tony Robbins. I felt like I was at the peak of my young career and the sky was the limit. Then shortly after that, the company closed its doors, and everyone who worked there had to figure out new plans.
At the time, I was living in Pensacola Beach, FL overlooking the ocean. I couldn’t keep the place so I decided to move back to Atlanta, GA with my cousin and his friend. I came back to figure out what I wanted to do next. But I thought about it too long, money was running out, I was sleeping on an air mattress in my cousin’s sunroom, and I was mentally in a rough spot. After a long drawn out process, I finally decided to move back to my hometown Greenville, SC. I did some work with some friends dealing with government contracts and even jumped back into cellphones, but still had that desire to do something all on my own.
During my two years of working with friends, I started to get interested in the internet again. I’ve had interest in the internet since I was a preteen. My friend and I even created eBay accounts when they first came out and sold photoshopped dollar bills with celebrity faces on them. Ever since then, the possibilities of the internet have fascinated me.
So, I decided to start learning how to build webpages, as well as learn SEO and SEM. After learning from all of the chat rooms, forums, and meet-ups, I felt like I was ready to give this a spin. I tested it on my own website first and then in 2010, my desire overcame my fear. I took the leap and started Fix The Glue Marketing. I’ll get into how I gained my first clients in another post, but we worked with Michelin, BMW, Urban League, Junior Achievement, and other entrepreneurs.
Lesson learned: It’s easy to should (I should’ve did this or that) on yourself your entire life. Taking risks is part of becoming successful.
A better way
They said to me “We want to take you to Outback steakhouse.” “Outback steakhouse?!? There has to be more options than that here”. I said. I’m in Australia for the first time in my life and some of my hosts thought that it would be good to give us food that reminded us of home, back in the United States. In 2010, food apps weren’t as prevalent internationally as they are now. So, back then, you had to do it the old school way, and that was asking locals what they recommended. This led me to a food adventure in Australia that gave me the idea to start another company.
We ended up not going to Outback steakhouse that day, and I was very grateful to be honest. I ended up getting more than what I asked for as we traveled down a river to a restaurant in the true “outback” of Australia. We were greeted by a gentleman that was shoeless, with no shirt, but claimed he had the best food in town. The food was good and that’s when I had my moment of pure clarity.
What if there was an app that could always help you find the local things to do? After my 9 week trip was over, I came back to the U.S. ready to become the next big thing. I started researching and looking for ways to validate my idea. I started talking to mentors, colleagues, and friends. It just so happened that a tech accelerator was launching in my city and I was introduced to the person who would run it. I was accepted into the 12 week program.
“Hey Ma,” I pause, as I frantically try to gather the words to say to my mother. “Remember that blog I read all the time in the NY Times?!?”… “Yes,” she says. “Well, I’m going to be featured in it, as well as in TechCrunch and Entrepreneur for No Chains.” No Chains was my first tech startup. I’d graduated from a tech accelerator program and was now trying to raise money, get users and create a BIG company. By this point in my life, I was well into my third company. But No Chains had a special place in my heart because it was a real passion of mine. It’s now my side project and I still love it.
Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to move on, pivot, or fail in a startup.
My name is Rich Winley. I’m now a partner in a product incubation company called GUI Global. We currently have four products in four different industries. I essentially run four startups on a daily basis. We have all the same challenges as other startups that are trying to launch, grow, and make money. I was asked to tell my potential readers what I would be writing about. I can’t confine myself into a typical box because I’ve experienced a lot in such a short period of time. I can tell you that I’ll be writing about my experiences and lessons learned as I try to grow our company. I’ll write about everything from how to build and train your sales organizations to an overview of tech accelerators, startups, marketing, leadership, and more. I plan to bring other peoples’ experiences to my writings, those who have become successful in their own right. One of the first personal development books I read as a teen was, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. There are a lot of outstanding quotes contained in its pages, but the one that has always stuck out to me is…
“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” Napoleon Hill
I look forward to providing you experiences that can help you grow in every area of your business and career.