Passion. Perseverance. Follow Your Heart.
I don’t want my entrepreneurial journey to seem like starting a business is easy so I’m going to tell you about a few major mistakes and struggles I faced along the way…because everyone has a story, right?
Well, here’s my story…
My first 20 years in life can be summarized into one general theme: I wasn’t a standout.
…I didn’t shine in school, most of my teachers either said directly or indirectly that I wouldn’t amount to much in life (wow…funny looking back at that now!), and I did a lot of wrong things.
Regarding my vision of success, I felt that successful people were just lucky and that timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success. I had no idea what I wanted to be in life, which partly resulted in making a lot of poor choices followed by more poor choices. To top if off, I had NO mentors in my life.
But somehow, eventually, I started to figure a few things out. Thankfully I made it alive through age 20 and started taking life a bit more seriously.
My story began at age 20 when I started selling items on ebay. I ran into a guy who said, “Hey, come take a look at my basement and tell me if my stuff can sell on ebay.” Well, he had 3 pickup trucks full of golf equipment and just like that …. an entrepreneur’s dream! My very first homerun 🙂 And when I say homerun, let’s just say he had $100,000 worth of equipment and said, “Just give me 50% of what you sell.” I will never, ever forget this man and his generosity.
Fast forwarding 20 years I still try to pass it down to other fellow entrepreneurs. This man showed me that it’s possible. He gave me the break I hoped and prayed for, and so it all started…
One enormous failure came during my college days. It was 1999 and Cisco Systems was a terror! At the same time I felt it was important to miss class so I can study the stock market. I had no idea what was coming.
I turned some of my ebay money into a LOT more money and then a lot more on top of that.
Three splits in a row and then it all came tumbling down. I lost it ALL. Well, technically not ALL because I had .48 cents left. My greediness kicked in and I began leveraging margin trading. I “bet the house” on a drug stock called Viro Pharma, as they were coming to market with a cure for the common cold.
Wow! The stock jumped big time and so did my earnings, but then it fell faster than I could sell it and in 48 hours I received a call from my broker. “Jeff, you have .48 cents left in your account. Would you like to keep the account open or where should I mail your check to?”
To this day, I can show you the exact stretch of highway I was on. I remember everything about that day, but unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons. However, this lesson proved invaluable to the rest of my career investing in stocks.
The process of “try, fail, try, fail, try, fail” continued. I then graduated from college with no idea what I wanted to become. What does one do without a clear vision?
Well, I eventually figured that it’s completely normal to apply for the U.S. Secret Service…right?
Best part is after a 2-year hiring process, I made it! Stationed at the White House, traveling the world and loving life. But the entrepreneurial flame that was lit six years prior never fully extinguished. I wanted more “hunt and kill” and the only way I would ever become fulfilled was to start my own business (arguably, THE biggest risk a person can ever take!). But I was up for the kill.
And so another major struggle ensued…in early 2006 I made the tough decision to turn in my gun and badge (I cried like a baby that day because the most powerful badge and security blanket I could have ever imagined was gone). But it was the right move because it gave me the opportunity to pursue my heart’s passion for true satisfaction (earthly satisfaction).
But a few major striking blows took place as some of my closest friends started telling people I was fired. Well, anyone who knows me can tell you that I tell things how they are. I am writing this sentence after becoming a self-made multi-millionaire and can assure you that I would be the first one to say “I was fired” if that were the case. Needless to say, the naysayers became enemies and the perfect fuel for igniting my unending passion for building a business!
In 2006 I started manufacturing kettle bells overseas, importing them to the US and selling them to gyms, fitness clubs, and personal home gyms. I finally got the chance to put my marketing degree to the test. I built up a really nice personal training business with gym trainers selling my products and trainers visiting homes to do in-home training. What a blast we were having.
I proceeded to write and self-publish 2 books: Stop Killing Yourself and Grow Inside.Shrink Outside.
Looking back, I was 100% clueless as to what was about to happen… and WOW did it hit hard:
In 2007 I met Katie. We were partners in crime and had so much in common. Young, hungry, dedicated to building the business, worked nonstop, and just truly enjoyed spending every single day together. Getting the business off the ground required very long hours and for just about every one of those hours, we spent it in the same room! That was proof we would survive when the time came to get married 🙂 And soon we did. And then little Jeff was born.
Here are a few pictures:
As we started family planning it was critical to decide what I want Killer Shark to “feel” like as a business.
And now Killer Shark operates as a true lifestyle business. In my eyes here is what’s most important:
- Family and quality of life are #1.
- Work from home.
- Travel as little as possible (and if travel is needed, then the whole family goes!)
- Man was not created to work his whole life. Don’t work more than 40-50 hours per week (or you’re creating significant imbalance in one of the other eleven areas of life).
2017 became another huge milestone year for Killer Shark.
I set out to do my first acquisition and that “kid in a candy store” feeling hit me like never before! When I bought my first business and rolled it up under Killer Shark it was probably the greatest entrepreneurial high I ever experienced. It felt like being part of a startup all over again…70+ new clients at one time, a whole world of benefits for every single one of them (since Killer Shark has a much broader service offering than the business I acquired). I wanted to sit down with all 70 clients on the first day!
What I ask of you…please, depending on your growth strategy (it can change year to year or month to month), if you ever had/have an interest in doing an acquisition I hope you go for it. It’s so much fun and brings a whole new perspective to business.
To close, I’d like to share a few more mistakes I made along the way in hopes someone can benefit from them:
In the early days, I would have brought in a GM to run all the books, training, and kettle bells. Instead, I just let it unravel on its own.
I kept moving on to the next thing before having a steady revenue stream. Entrepreneurs death trap!
Do the ONE THING only. I didn’t know this tidbit (or even what my ONE THING is) in my first 5 years of business. If I only knew back then what I know now…wow!