This is a series about getting your life back on track and achieving your goals.
I was sitting at my subdivision pool with two-month-old Nick in my arms. I received a call from Claudene Clark. Claudene and I worked together while I was president of the US operations of a London-based professional services firm. She was the Atlanta branch manager. After I left the company, she soon followed.
“I am starting a new professional services company. I want you to fund it and be the CEO. I’ll be the VP of Sales and co-owner,” she said.
“What kind of professional services company are you thinking about?” I asked.
“It will be an implementation firm for one of the leading ERP vendors in the market. I have some connections, and I think we can make a fast start of it,” she answered.
Mind you, I had nothing going on. Nothing.
I’d been networking and hadn’t come up with anything. I found the more I networked, the lower the quality of referral I was meeting with. This led me to deals which were in desperate need of cash and leadership, but the company founders wanted the cash with no leadership.
I was at a dead end.
“I swore I would never again be in professional services. I want to go back to software,” I said.
“Look. You have nothing going on. You know it, and I know it. This is a great opportunity for you. I am going to start this company in my kitchen tomorrow morning at 9 am. If you are there, I know we have a deal. If not, I’ll start it without you,” she said.
I showed up at 9 am, and we started the company. We put together a plan with projections and decided what needed to be done. We split up the tasks based on our skills and network. I wrote a check to fund it, and we went to work.
We were excited. I was excited. I was back working. I loved it. My initial goal was to get to cash flow positive as quickly as possible so I didn’t have to put too much money into the company.
We had weekly meetings reviewing customer prospects and vendor relationships. She did the customer selling, and I worked on creating a vendor partnership. She found a deal, and our recruiter found a consultant to fill the order. Now we needed another deal.
I pressed hard.
The harder I pressed, the more stress I created with Claudene. We would have these awful meetings. She said, “This was supposed to be fun. You are so stressed. The pressure to sell is ridiculous. In fact, working in this business is worse than working for someone else. This is supposed to be fun!”
After being in business for five month, neither of us was enjoying it. But I had written checks for $125k, and I was determined to make this business work. We found ourselves arguing more than agreeing on our direction and mode of operation. It became like a cat fight. We began to avoid each other.
One morning, Claudene walked into my office and, while standing, said, “You are impossible to work for. I quit.” She then turned and walked out of my office. She went to her office, packed her stuff, and left the building. I sat there in my windowless sublet office.
I was in a business I didn’t want to be in.
I was down $125k.
I had to make it work.
I didn’t have a clue.
My partner in the business, who hired everyone and was the passion behind the business, just walked out. It was up to me.
I was back to praying.
Not liking who I had become. Hating where I was. The weight of it all. And I had a family to support.
Then the phone rang!