An entrepreneur’s life sounds appealing and exciting. Be your own boss, make your own rules, be the envy of all your friends all the while building the dream business and creating everlasting wealth to pass on for generations… Most people don’t realize what goes on “Behind the Scenes” of an entrepreneur’s life. The following are some real life examples I’ve experienced that help make me an ultimate entrepreneur.
Example 1: When I was 19 years old, my partner and I signed a $9.5 million licensing deal for our clothing line with STARTER Apparel in Europe. That sentence sounds amazing. However, people don’t think about the years of long hours needed to close deals when they read the headlines in the business news. We spent over 100 hours in attorney offices closing the deal. When you’re paying $450 an hour for an attorney, that’s approximately a $45,000 gamble if the deal doesn’t close. On top of that is the opportunity cost, the deals and meetings we missed while logging long hours locked in the attorney’s office. Once complete, we had to design and approve 120 pieces per season (1 year in advance) while still trying to design, sell, and market our apparel to 6 department store chains in the U.S. This is not meant to sound like a complaint, instead, more of a realization of what goes on in an entrepreneur’s life in order to experience “the dream.”
Example 2: When I was 23 years old, we took our company public in order to raise 3.75 million dollars to launch an energy drink. We had no experience in the beverage market and there were over 900 competitors, but we were confident we had created the best tasting energy drink and could build the “coolest brand” of them all. After an insane amount of legal and corporate work we found a canning company to take a chance on us and started beating down the doors of Budweiser, Coors, and Miller to find the right distributor. This is where we ran into our chicken and the egg situation. Before you can go to retailers and ask them to carry your product you must have a delivery mechanism in order to guarantee that their order will be fulfilled by an approved supplier. However, in order to convince major distributors to carry your product you have to show them purchase orders from retail stores willing to pay for your product. We ended up traveling to 43 cities (some multiple times) in order to convince major beverage distributors to make us their official energy drink. At the same time, we met with small and large chain stores in order to make sure both the chicken and the egg were happy. We ended up selling our energy drinks into 55,000 stores around the country, however, this was no easy feat.
In order to make 43 beer distributors pay any attention to delivering our energy drinks we had to create a custom tailored bonus system for their sales representatives and managers. We personally trained every group of sales reps in all 43 cities. We gave out iPods and gift certificates, drove with them 9hrs a day as they delivered to 25 different stores in the freezing cold country or melting hot city. We met with management teams and created staggered bonus tiers. We even gave out jet skis and televisions to store executives willing to replace Red Bull or Monster with our products.
Imagine dealing with dozens of employees, hundreds of shipments, attorneys, accountants, buyers, trucking companies, the media, investors, naysayers, fans, complaints, designers, sales calls, presentations, all while trying to live your entrepreneurial dream of being the coolest energy drink in the world.
This isn’t meant to scare anyone out of being an entrepreneur or stop you from diving head first into a project. It’s meant to make you think about all the underlying factors that go into building a business so you can prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. We’re in a new age, it takes a fraction of the funds and resources to launch a company now as it did 10 years ago. The power of social media, and communication advances make the world a more efficient place, less obstructed place for new businesses.
So go out there and be an entrepreneur or support one that you believe in. Just bear in mind that for each success, there’s a proportionate amount of hard work to carry out the entrepreneurial dream.
Dan Fleyshman is the Founder/ CEO of VictoryPoker, www.victorypoker.net, Founder of the charity Model Citizen Fund http://www.modelcitizenfund.com/ and is currently building the MEZZANINE 24 hour food court & grocery store in Las Vegas Nevada.