This concept of a Free Thinking Entrepreneur, is a label. It’s a label for someone like me who has never really found a description for who I saw myself as. I’ve always felt different, and wanted to have my business portray who I am and what I stand for. So that when a customer would hire my company, they would be buying that service because of who I am. However, over the years, I always had that frustration of never getting my business to look and feel like I wanted it to. And like most times in my life, it wasn’t until that frustration was met with the emotional pain that I would finally find a way. It took me 15 years to figure it out, and once I did figure out what I needed to do, my life and business changed. My business became that representation of me, it gave me for the first time the fulfillment of the three things that I look for in the life of an entrepreneur, fun, freedom, and profit. Here is my story of becoming and developing the free thinking entrepreneurship.
It started when I was 15 in my first self employment position, I was trained by other people, my bosses. I would learn how they did things. I would learn the skill or the trade. I would learn what they wanted me to do, and how to do it. I would also look at the interactions on how they would handle customer service, complaint issues, how they would find customers, and just analyze and study their business model. I knew if it was me, I would do it differently. They all were the same, except for one.
This one boss was different. As he would teach me what we needed to do to get from point A to point B, he would explain how we would do it. He would explain it with a big picture and then break it out into bits and pieces. Phil Pelkey was this boss (the logger I wrote the book on) explained to me the entire operation, building the roads, to cutting the trees down, getting them to the landing to be loaded on a truck and then once to they arrived at the sawmill, that’s when it was complete and you make the money. He would always say the money isn’t made until the logs arrive at the sawmill. To explain how to get to the last point, he would break it down to each part of the process and how to make that more effective. And what made him special, was he taught me to think, to think about what I’m doing now and how that affects the end process. He would also encourage me to find a way to make it happen, it didn’t have to be his way (even though he thought that was the best way) but to think for myself because he wanted results. He taught me to think about what I was doing, to think about the business, and to think for myself, just not to do my job and that was it.
Fast forward to 1999 when I started up my largest business, I was a technician acting as an owner. It wasn’t until I became overworked, making little money, and frustrated in my late 20’s grossing over 1.7 million in revenue that I had to change. It was then that I hired my first business coach. Jim Stephens charged me $5,000 a day, knowing that I couldn’t pay for it, but he believed he could turn results for me that I could afford his fee. This was the start of the transition of technician owner into the business owner mindset, just like Michael Gerber states in the book Emyth. From that time, I added almost another million dollars in revenue with 10 less employees than I had before. Why? Because I started hiring the right people, putting systems into place, and I had built a name for myself in my market. But then 2008 it came to a halt. In that September I had maxed out all my accounts, lines of credit maxed, credit cards maxed, and I was negative in my checking account. I needed to come up with a plan or call it quits. Quitting isn’t in my blood, so I made a plan, downsized, worked 20 hour days every day of the week, and after 5 years, I paid all my debts off. I was debt free and owed no one. At this time, I was only around $800,000 in revenue and I was profitable. I can say that I’ve successfully grown a business, downsized, and turnaround a business. It’s quite an accomplishment, as those of you who have done that, you know you can’t explain the mental hardship it takes to come out of that type of situation.
After going thru what I went through for 5 long years, I then coasted along for a couple years. Making money, enjoy time off, vacations to nice tropical places, I was living a life that many people would be envious of. But as great as my life was, inside of me was something that felt unfulfilled. I finally had my business doing what I wanted, I wasn’t financially burdened anymore, and yet I still wasn’t happy. That is when I knew despite the success of my company, the company didn’t represent what I wanted it to be, it didn’t have the reputation or the brand of what I felt it should, and most of all, I knew it wasn’t working for me and I needed something else.
That’s when I hired a new business coach. Our team member here on the Wright Stuff Media team John Guanci. I explained to him what I was feeling, what I thought I needed to do, and from there we started working together. Like many times before, what I thought I needed and what I really needed, were two different things. John and I started working on my personal vision of what my business and my life looked like, we developed core values for myself that were deep rooted from my beliefs, and from those two things we created a business vision and mission.
What was special about the mission, vision and values, is that they weren’t just words. The words we came up with had feeling in them, and as a strong tough guy that I’ve been my whole life, I found that you can only have a business give you fulfillment if you can find the emotional drivers that move you, you being the owner, the entrepreneur. Those emotional drivers are feelings, and feelings are what give you motivation, depression, happiness, fear, and everything that drives you is by feelings. Over the next 18 months John and I rebuilt my company to be driven by feelings. And what was unexpected (maybe by me and not John) was that this process once completed was then given to my employees. My employees knew my core values which are the company’s core values, they knew my business vision, they knew our mission, and that’s when they became emotionally engaged to our company and it’s purpose. Our level of customer service experience became the best in our marketplace. Their loyalty and commitment became stronger, we became a desired place to work, with people waiting for us to have an open position. Most of all, our customers and the community knew us as a company dedicated to serving them. I personally at this time was experiencing my three factors fun, freedom, and profit.
For me, this company was now at a time in my life that I was excited to come to work, I enjoyed who I worked with, and we were making an impact upon the people we employed and those we served. I finally felt fulfilled in my heart, in my soul. This is what I wanted to achieve.
Now it was the time for me to start looking at my personal vision, for me that was to develop an exit strategy. I had a 7 year plan to sell the company, I had a price for the company that I would sell it for and in December of 2016 I found someone who met my criteria for what I would want to carry on what I had built, and he was looking for something that I had so he could have his own business. On the 8th of that month, I sold that service based business for 7 figures to someone that I have total trust in taking that business to another level.
Throughout the first 17 years of owning that business, I could have never sold it. It wasn’t till I reached a certain level in my business, that I would have someone even consider buying my business. The Free Thinking Entrepreneur is what I grew into, it’s what changed my life and my business. You could see it in my marketing, my culture, my brand, our service, and most of all my business was a representation of me. I am unique, just like each one of you. It’s when I stopped listening to others on how they did it, or how they thought I should run my business, and listened to my gut. That’s what made my business stand out from all the others in the country. For me, it didn’t matter if I sold it or continued to manage that business, I was having fun and making money.
After taking a few months off from selling the company, fulfilling the transition to the new owner of my now former company, I went through a process with a friend and team member here on Wright Stuff Media Justin Foster. I didn’t want to buy another business, as I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t out of the ordinary, something that I could get excited about. So Justin and I sat down to discover what is deep inside Brandon that would get him emotionally engaged to find a place in the marketplace that only he can fill. And from that, we are now presenting you with the Free Thinking Entrepreneur powered by Wright Stuff Media.
The Free Thinking Entrepreneur is that person like me, who is in their life right now looking for something more, their business and their life feels like it should be different. They’ve tried other peoples systems, they’ve tried to do what others have done, but it never gave them the feeling that “this is what I wanted.” It’s knowing that their business should have the feeling of fulfillment that get’s them out of bed each day knowing that what they are doing today is with clarity, and purpose. The Free Thinking Entrepreneur is the person building a business that their business is clearly built around who they are, what they stand for, and a representation of themselves.
As you join our community, we will take you through this process that I went through. I listened and learned from others, but I thought for myself. Despite what others advised, I did what others didn’t think possible or told me not to do. I built a business based off of what I thought it should be. I went against the industry status quo. I built a business around the way I wanted to even though my peers thought it would harm the business. While everyone else in the country were all doing the same things, building their business to be like everyone else’s, I thought for myself. I made mine different. And now while I have successfully sold it doing what I love to do, those same people are now wanting out to do what I’ve done.
Welcome to the Free Thinking Entrepreneur, myself and our team will be providing you with content, through podcast, video’s, articles. As we share with you, you just need to listen, read and watch. Then think for yourself, and do what is already inside of you. Welcome to our community of Free Thinkers.