I never really knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, but there were signs along the way that freedom and the control of my own destiny could never be achieved unless self-employment lingered in the future. Not really knowing what business type would be well suited for my skillset I plodded through life with no apparent purpose other than to adhere to the stereotype of our generation, which was go to college, get a job, get married and have kids. For many people that is a recipe for pure bliss, but for an entrepreneur mindset it is like nails on a chalkboard, which will constantly haunt you.
One day after doing what college students do, I meandered into a local pizzeria down the street. In the window I saw a help wanted sign, and asked for an application. I filled it immediately; the owner interviewed me and hired me on the spot. The only criteria that this business owner cared about was that I was alive, and had a vehicle that would be operational at least 75% of the time. From that point on I was now a reliable, hard working loyal team member that worked their way up the pizza shop hierarchy and became one of the managers. Shortly after my gradual elevation to manager the owner told us that he would be selling this business and move to California to create a pizza empire that he envisioned.
I proceeded to exhibit my nerd like behavior at the age of 21 and created several spreadsheets and calculations by hand, and in the end determined that if I could somehow figure out how to be a new business owner of this fine establishment, a good living could be made.
I came from a very hard working, middle class family that values hard work, loyalty and discipline above all others. My father was a state trooper and my mother created a thriving furniture upholstery business in our basement. The logical funding source for this entrepreneurial experience was, of course my parents. I did not know if my parents had the resources to assist me, but I had to ask. FYI you will never make a sale unless you ask! I mentioned to my mother that I thought this business was a great opportunity, but I was then instructed to ask my father. Scared beyond measure, I mustard up the courage for this potential life-changing event. My father was very calm when I popped the question and said “We do not have the money to help you with this venture, BUT we will second mortgage our house to help you”. Would you have the confidence in your children to second mortgage your house? When I look back on that moment I truly realize the sacrifice they made, based on the request of a nerdy 21-year-old, naïve future entrepreneur.
The rest is history! The business was purchased and a year later another one was opened in another college town 1.5 hours away. A year later I sold my interest in the businesses, paid the second mortgage off I owed my parents, left the state with some loot, moved to California, and did it again in an even grander and more treacherous manner. That is another story!