As far as "real" direct business experiences go this would be #1.
As a freshman at University of Denver I was finding every possible way to occupy my time except attending the University of Denver. Then one day this email showed up titled Young Entrepreneurs of America. Hmmm well this sounds much better than business calculus let’s open it up. And there began the start of building a painting business.
What YEAA does is go around the country to college campuses recruiting young entrepreneurs to build their brand. It’s a great business model and looked at objectively gives students that want to do something entrepreneurial, with no risk of loss, a great opportunity. So after going through the application and interview process I got the call. I remember rocking my socks off it was so exciting. They said some statistics like only 2% of applicants get the position, we’ve interviewed thousands of kids, ect. ect.. Basically, I was feeling motivated and driven to build a painting empire. It was going to be sick!
From there was basic training. All the new branch managers, anyone accepted into the program as a level one person, showed up at a hotel for the weekend. The company trained us on how to use basic marketing techniques, basic painting techniques through videos, and some other helpful hints for success. Then after one final snack of cookies and juice in the hotel lobby, they gave us the boot and said go make us meeeeliiiooonnns. Just kidding hahahaha but from there I was pretty much on my own to go build a business.
This business in particular needed A LOT of three things: Door to door marketing, selling jobs, and the labor to produce the jobs. But organizing all these things from scratch and then managing them once they’re up and running is a whole other animal in itself.
Jump ahead to the end of the summer and the business wasn’t even close to where I had hoped. The goal was $100,000 in sales and after YEAA got their cut, $20,000 in profit. Instead of those numbers I had produced $45,000 and made maybe $5,000, and around ½ of that was business assets not cash.
This epic failure had a list of good lessons, but three stick out in my mind.
Consistency- It doesn’t matter if you have a killer week in sales if there’s only one time like that. You have to constantly be hustling for deals. If not you’ll just have mediocre weeks and then an exceptional week once and a while. But if you consistently have good weeks, well there you go.
Watching the $- I really don’t think I legitimately read my P&L statements once. MAYBE once at the beginning but throughout the summer…nope. And after having material costs built into the sales price, it was never checked after that. I’m 1000% sure the crews doing producing the jobs were consistent…consistent in going over budget and costing the business $.
Team- This is number one. Some of the people I ended up hiring were a joke, no seriously the job site was an actual circus. There were kids smoking pot up on ladders, not dressed in uniform, ripped jeans, and much more. I was even having to run a luxury carpool service to work sometimes. Are you kidding me? Finding great team members is hard, and especially when the pay rate isn’t there. So if you want to build a successful company make sure your roster is stacked.
Student Painters was a memorable experience to say the least and an epic failure to say the most. But at the end of the day it was a hands on business experience with a book of lessons attached to it. Sherwin Williams you’d better partner up or Student Painters round 2 is about to steal your bitch.