Here’s the story of how I built a resilient business.
In the fall of 2009, I’d been working in the film industry for a few years. It completely shut down as the economy went through the biggest recession in my lifetime.
A friend and I were in the middle of raising money for a feature film. We were even making some progress, but it all stopped overnight.
I had to take a job selling cars – I couldn’t find anything else. I got married a few months earlier and needed to provide for my new family. It was the only job I could find that would pay me enough for the life we had started together.
So, I did what I always do – I got to work. I figured out what would lead to making more money and more sales. I did months’ worth of training on the cars that I was selling in a matter of weeks. I got Porsche, Audi, and VW certified by Christmas, and became one of the top sellers that month.
I still have the Audi watch that they gave me for selling the most Audis of any salesman in December.
The quick success, it seems, was too much for some of the other salesmen. Rather than working harder, they decided to lie about a sale that I made – they claimed that I stole the customer from another salesman.
I was working at my desk, putting in the info from the sale, when all of a sudden the computer locked me out. Confused, I tried logging back in when the phone at my desk rang. My boss, the general manager upstairs asked me to come up and talk…
He told me that I was being fired for lying and theft of company property.
And just like that, my job was over. Income, gone. It was the only time I’d ever been fired in my entire working life, and still is to this day.
What I learned from that experience is that I never wanted to have a boss again. That way, I could never be fired ever again.
That single point of failure was just too risky for me and my family.
Working For Myself
Fast forward to 2017. I technically have a business, but it’s not great. My business partner and I are making maybe $150k total in a good year – which, after expenses and taxes and overhead, means we’re barely taking home $50k each.
The business isn’t working. The partnership is strained. The clients we have aren’t happy with the work we’re doing and we’re struggling to find new projects.
I end up going over $15k in debt to keep the business afloat and to try and save it, but it doesn’t work.
While I had removed the possibility of getting fired, I found new points of failure in my business. There was no way to save it.
So I need a business where I can work for myself. I need to remove all the constraints and the single points of failure. And, it needs to be a business that pays me enough to have the lifestyle that I want.
It’s not a big ask – low six figures would do it.
No boss that could fire me, no single points of failure…
a resilient business.
Into The Unknown
But I had no idea how to build it.
Who was gonna teach me? Who was gonna help me?
I bought courses. I signed up for seminars. I followed people on Twitter and bought their books and signed up for their email lists.
It was a tough lesson, but I finally realized that more information wasn’t the answer.
I had to build it myself.
So I did what I always do. I got to work.
I started by making sure I had enough money – the first point of failure. I now needed to have enough money to provide for my family of five, our house, everything. Cash flow in a business is like oxygen, it can’t survive without having enough of it.
The first thing I did was find a big client that was going to keep me busy – and paid – while I worked on the other areas of my business. Now I could breathe.
I started adding more clients. This time, however, only clients that I wanted to work with. I removed the single point of failure of only having one client.
If one client represents a huge percentage of your cash flow, it’s no different than the risk of having a boss that could fire you.
Get more clients.
I built systems for the other constraints in the business – sales, marketing, finances, and growth.
I found new partnerships – ones that were beneficial to both of us, rather than dependent on each other. Partnerships where working together wasn’t just 1+1 = 2, but had an exponential possibility, where 1 + 1 could equal 3, or 5, or 20.
I started creating and leveraging assets that I created rather than only trading time for dollars, which diversified the ways that I made money so that the business became even more resilient.
I built a resilient business over the last 3 years, and now I’m building two more this year. Craftsman Creative will be a resilient business in about 12 months from when it started. Benchmark App within a year as well.
Building A Resilient Business For Yourself
It’s a framework that’s built using a process that works.
Now that I’ve figured it out, the only thing I want to do is to help others to do the same: To build their own resilient creative businesses.
The process is straightforward. You start by building a solid foundation and systematically build on top of it, one brick at a time.
If you do the work, it works.
The process inevitably leads to a resilient business that supports your work and the lifestyle you want for yourself and your family
I’m devoting a huge part of my time, focus, and effort to helping other artists, creatives, and freelancers build resilient businesses in 2021.
I’ve created a 12-month, interactive coaching program. It involves monthly training, accountability, a community of peers on the same journey, and one-on-one coaching to give you everything you need to build your own resilient business.
If you’re ready to get to work, I’m excited to join you on the journey ahead.