I thought it was odd. Here I was in Spartan Chemical, waiting to meet with Vinny, the hoarse-voiced manager, to meet with me. On the phone, he sounded like a shady New Yorker, a mob hitman that had smoked one too many cigarettes. I was nervous about meeting him. And while I paced back in forth in Spartan’s lobby I noticed that everything was covered in a fine coat of dust. The irony is that Spartan’s big movers are cleaning supplies, yet here I was looking at toilet paper holders, floor polishers, soaps, and Swiffers caked in the leavings of human flesh (for that is what dust mostly is) that a drill sergeant wouldn’t even bother breaking out one of those white gloves before throwing his charges into a holding cell.
Scott, the man behind the counter, eased my apprehensions about Vinny. He’s in his late 40s and wearing glasses and a sweater vest. He could be Mr. Rogers’ replacement on a sick day. He’s kind and jokes with me while I wait for Vinny. Worked here a while, he informs me.
When he shows up, Vinny’s voice matches his looks. Early 50′s, perhaps. A little short, dark skin, pudgy. He could be in a mob movie. He goes on and on about how hard this business is. How many types of trash bags there are, how many different types of soaps. How some soaps won’t fit into other soap dispensers. Sounds like a pain in the ass to me. I have to know this stuff, though, so I bear Vinny’s complaints and frustrations about his business for nearly an hour, the whole time trying to keep myself in good spirits. Shit, I’m a salesperson, not a shrink. My job demands me to remain in high spirits.
When it’s all said and done, I take some literature on supplies I can now sell, via a sub-distributorship, out of the hundreds he has. I never do get around to reading them.
James, from the power-washing company I want to sub work out to, says he’ll meet me after I get out of Spartan, just call him. But there’s no answer. I head off to Best Buy for a couple minutes of Guitar Hero and staring at things I cannot afford right now. Best Buy is like porn, I suspect, to me. I think I notice some drool coming out of the side of my mouth….mmm….big screen….
James does call, and we meet up at a Starbucks a couple miles north of Baltimore. He’s youngish, early 30s probably, and owns his own business. I respect him. I try to make some idle chit-chat but he wants none of it. He’s nice, but gets down to business. The D.I.S.C. Personality training I’ve received pegs him as a “D”, a personable guy who takes charge and wants it done now. He wants me to sell his service. The meeting is over in less time than I waited in Spartan’s lobby. I like James. Straight-forward, down to business, no time for nothin’ but making money; he’s got a business to run.
All this went down last Monday, the tenth of November. I had a meeting with a sub for pest control on Thursday as well.
I meet Rick down in Arundal Mills Mall. He too, like me, was a Terminix guy. He just got out on his own in January and he’s eager to do some business. Specializes in commercial stuff, perfect. Duclaw is a good spot with some happenin’ beer but neither of us orders any. Over the course of 90 minutes we talk. Rick is an “S”, he values safety and hard work and wants to treat everyone kindly. S’s are the labrador retrievers of the D.I.S.C. world. All in all, Rick seems apprehensive about me subbing out for his business and I leave feeling like I never sold him. “Let me ask my partner” and “I don’t know if I am comfortable with you pricing out my work.” All this tells me that I could follow-up and maybe things will pan out, but guys who are uncomfortable tend to stay that way.
I hit the phones looking for someone else to sub pest control through, then my brain catches fire and I remember BNI. BNI that has helped me grow, whatever business I am in. BNI gave me the contacts to get a better job when Terminix had cut my pay so drastically. BNI has put me in contact with people to help start this new venture. So I hit up the Maryland BNI Trade Directory and after a brief search find Carnell. We set up to meet Tuesday the 18th.
Carnell is 40ish and owns his own pest control company. We meet up at the Coffee Junction in Catonsville, a quaint little place with good coffee and nice home baked pastries. I have a cinnamon bun with chocolate…mmm. Carnell is leery of restaurant work, but wants to give it a go. I respect that. He’s willing to pay me too, so that’s a plus. We talk for nearly two hours trying to figure it all out. In the end we make a pact to try this thing for a month or two and see if it flies. I can handle that.
It’s interesting to meet all these people who own their own businesses. It’s not easy to start, run, and make a profit. Some people in this world make it seem like business owners are cheap bastards just trying to take of advantage of whoever they can. From what I can tell, business owners are cheap and finicky. Yet, what most people see as CEOs and business owners trying to take advantage, I see as them trying to make a buck. The difference between a business owner’s view of money and the common man’s I suspect to be great. Your everyday guy going to work sees money as a way to pay bills, buy things, and survive. But those that drive business look at money as something else altogether. We hold the purse strings and see how much there truly is. We don’t view our companies as bottomless pits of wealth. We look at money as a way to get more money and don’t part easily with it. If we cannot turn 1 dollar into 2 we probably won’t spend it. Most people want to take their cash and go to movie, maybe buy that new big screen at Best Buy. But here I am justifying buying Carnell a coffee as a legitimate business expense.
I’m cheap. And that’s why I have a shot in hell at succeeding. If you want to spend money, get a job; if you want to make it, start a business.