Many people today think you need a “business plan“, financing, and connections with the right people to build a business. The truth is you need a Sense of Purpose, a Learning spirit, and a Servant’s Heart.

For example, years ago, I was living in southeast Denver and often, about six a.m. in the morning I would hear someone whistling. When I looked out the window I would see a young man about twenty years old walking down the sidewalk, carrying a big ladder on his shoulders and pulling a children’s red wagon full of buckets of paint. After several weeks my curiosity was so aroused that one morning when I saw him coming, I stepped outside to intercept him. As he came close, I asked him if he was going to work.

He replied, rather bashfully – but courteously, that he was, that he painted houses. I also found out that he lived just a few doors down the street. And then he asked me what I did for a living.  I told him I was a small business consultant; that I helped people start, build and sell businesses. Upon hearing this, he began to lament how he was really struggling with his painting business. He had been working for another painter for several years – but business had fallen off and so he was fired. Since then, for about six months Bill had been trying to paint houses in the neighborhood – within walking distance since he did not have a car. He went on to explain that he just was not making enough to support his family. He insisted that he did superior work and that he made a good profit, but he just could not get enough business to make it.

Well, I told Bill, that I might have some ideas for him – and I suggested that we get together for a couple of hours.  Our next meeting was at my house and before we got to talking about his business – he got to talking about the colors in my living room. In fact he spent about thirty minutes telling me about how colors affect the atmosphere in a room and which colors he thought best suited my living room. Well, this conversation became the key to building Bill’s business – in fact within a year, Bill’s business had grown beyond what he had ever dreamed was possible.

Here’s what happened. I first explained to Bill that faithful service is the foundation of every business and that faithful stewardship was essential if he were to be able to build his business.

I helped him prepare a FEAST/FAMINE PERSPECTIVE in order to help him see what was going on financially in his business – and to help him see what he should be doing with the funds he had to manage. With this, I was able to show him how he could show a true profit on even half his present income and we discussed in detail what he should do if his income were to increase.

Next, I asked Bill what was unique about his services. Bill said: “Nothing, I’m just a painter.” I told him that I had noticed something unique — his knowledge of colors.

I asked Bill how he marketed his services. He showed me a flyer that he was leaving at the doors of houses in the neighborhood – he would leave them at houses that looked like they needed painting.

I pointed out how many apartment buildings there were in our neighborhood. He had never approached any of these apartment buildings; first because he was too bashful, second because he could not figure out who to talk to, and third because he had no idea what to say to them.

I suggested to Bill that we develop a “message” that would help him communicate the unique value of his services. Then I helped him develop a simple brochure explaining to people how they should choose colors. Then we worked on a simple ten minute presentation to apartment managers on how they could help their owners improve the appearance of their apartments by painting them in the right colors.

Next Bill and I hit the street. We began cold calling the apartment managers – leaving them a brochure and – Bill giving his ten minute presentation on the impact of colors. We did this at over twenty apartment buildings within walking distance of Bill’s home. Then, after three weeks, the first payoff came. One of the apartment managers called to say that the owner of the apartment building which he managed would like to talk to him about how to choose colors. This resulted in a meeting and a contract to paint three apartments. The owner was so impressed that she then asked Bill if he could paint some of the other apartments she owned around town. She explained that she and her husband owned thirty-five apartment buildings around town and that they had been looking for ten years to find someone they could depend on to do a decent job. Well, she had enough work to keep Bill busy for the next six months – and the deposit on this work was enough for Bill to pay cash for a used Volvo Station wagon. This, by the way, was one of the things Bill and I had discussed when we did his FEAST/FAMINE PERSPECTIVE.

Bill’s problems then changed – as calls began coming in from other apartment managers who had been impressed with Bill’s knowledge of how colors could be used. He had three times the amount of work he could handle on his own. This led to finding employees. I told him the worst thing he could do would be to put an ad in the paper. I asked him who the best employees were where he had been working before – where he had been fired. I explained to him how he could hire these men away from his previous employer by offering them a better opportunity, a better environment, and a better future. Within six months, three of these men were working for Bill.

Then, I explained to Bill that it was time for him to stop doing the painting himself, that he needed to spend his time leading his employees by communicating direction and inspiring action. I gave him books to read and activities to become involved in that helped him develop leadership skills.

Then, I had some bad news for Bill. I showed him how much he was going to owe in taxes at the end of the coming year if his business continued to thrive as it was. At first Bill was depressed at this. He said; “what good is it to build a business if the tax-collectors are going to take all the profits.” I explained to Bill how he could reduce his taxes by maintaining financial records that would exceed the expectations of the tax collectors, by engineering his income and expenses in ways that would reduce his taxes, and by investing his profits in ways that would save him money paid in taxes.

Well, Bill continued to thrive. As he did, I asked Bill what his hopes and plans were for the future. He surprised me by telling me that his dream had always been to be a college history teacher. He had given up this dream because he thought he would never have the money to go to college. I told Bill that if he was serious, his business could easily pay his way through college.

I then helped Bill to understand how to build true value into his business – value that cannot be measured by an income statement or balance sheet. I showed him how to structure his business, especially the funds that went through his business, in such a way as to increase the value of the business – both as an asset that could be sold and as a source of future income.

Shortly after this, I helped Bill structure the sale of his business to his top employee. The proceeds of the sale were paid over a period of seven years – providing more than enough money for Bill and his family to live on, pay college tuition, and buy a nice house.

The last I heard from Bill, he was the happiest he had ever been – teaching history at a small college in the Midwest.

If you would like to know how we might help you build your business, please click “CONTACT US” at the top right of this page or call 503-927-2750.