In my last post, I shared my story – starting out as a young guitarist who become entrepreneurial and then followed a dream that took me to the U.S.
Here, my 5 Day Weekend collaborator Garrett Gunderson shares his story:
“When I was five years old my dad told me that if I got good grades, he’d give me his ’75 Chevy pickup. Looking forward to that, I spent hours detailing that truck. My dad was impressed with my work. He worked at a coal mine, and when one of the bosses came into town, he had me detail one of the company vehicles.
“This gave me the idea to start my first business detailing cars. I leveraged my relationship capital with my dad to talk to his boss and get a contract to detail all the surface vehicles at the coal mine. I had almost no financial capital to start with. With what little I had, which I had earned by mowing lawns and babysitting, I bought an electronic buffer and a few other supplies.
“After getting the contract with the coal mine, next I went to the local credit union (where my mom worked), which needed detailing for cars they would repossess. I spoke with the president directly and got a contract with them. I also spread the word to everyone I knew, and I got really good at getting referrals. I reinvested my profits to print my logo on air fresheners and little garbage bags that I would leave in the vehicles after I cleaned them.
“As a teenager I honestly didn’t know how to price my services. All I knew was what the local car dealership was charging, and it seemed like a ton of money to me. So I started undercutting their prices and charging $30 per vehicle. Over time I raised my prices to between $50 and $75, depending on the vehicle. But I was still cheaper than anyone else, and I was happy because at that time it felt like a lot of money.
“I hired a couple of employees and paid them $10 an hour. One of them was the son of a well-connected dentist in town. He brought me tons of new clients and I gave him a commission for anyone he brought. I was easily making about $20 an hour, back when the minimum wage was about $5. Plus I was getting overrides on my employees and I could set my own hours. Not a bad gig for a teenager.
“I asked teachers and others to teach me how to run financials. Because of their mentoring I learned how to do basic income and balance sheets. There’s a lesson there: Most people don’t reach out and ask for help out of embarrassment or they think people won’t help. But people really are willing to help—especially if you learn to create value for them.
“I ran the business until I went to college. Shortly before going to college I won the SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Governor’s Entrepreneur of the awards for my state, which came with a $5,000 prize. I used that money to pay for financial licensing and software, which was the start of my career in financial services.
“In short, I started where I was with what I had. I built from one level to the next. At each level I made more money, and I was able to use that as seed capital for my next venture.”
In the next post, we talk about the importance of being resourceful with what you have.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear how your story brought you to where you are now. Thank you for sharing.
Secure your copy of the “5 Day Weekend” book. 5 Day Weekend: Freedom to Make Your Life and Work Rich with Purpose [Nik Halik & Garrett Gunderson]
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