This summer I read The 7-Day Startup by Dan Norris. I admit I was skeptical. It was a book recommended by the author of another book that I really enjoyed so it was worth my time to try it. What I found was that it made sense. I was completely surprised. You see, when I was in college in the stone ages I was taught that to start a business you needed research, a good business plan, and lots of prep to see if it even made sense to start the business you had in mind. If the market share wasn’t there, then it wouldn’t fly. Dan’s book was the opposite of this. It turned my degree in Small Business Management/Entrepreneurship on it’s head.
I shouldn’t have been surprised because I launched a business in one day. Back in 2001 my secure job as CAD Manager came to a sudden end when a new president took over the company I worked for the previous 10 years. It was his decision that he didn’t see a value in having a department to create drawings in AutoCAD for salesmen to present plans to their clients or full construction drawings to show the installation crews how to install the project and get permits or even as-built drawings to provide to clients. I was suddenly out of a job!
I was level-headed enough to not burn any bridges even though I was not in a good mood. I had just purchased a house a matter of weeks before and hadn’t even made my first mortgage payment. I did over to buy any of the equipment or software, but was denied. Still, I felt like something could change. It was a gut feeling and I listened to my gut in this instance.
The very next morning word got out to the rest of the company what happened. I received a phone call from the most successful salesman with the company. He asked if I would be willing to work on a contract basis. See, my gut was right! I agreed and set to work.
By the end of the day I had created a name for my business, CAD Fuel Design. I applied for a business license with the City. I obtained software from a colleague of mine through the software user group (networking pays off). By the end of the day I had a business and was ready to roll. Later I would add QuickBooks for invoicing (I typed invoices in Word initially), a laser printer, a large-scale plotter, and a better computer.
For the next 10 years I continued the drawings of fuel stations that I’d done for the previous 10 years and never skipped a beat. I followed the standards I’d created when I was tasked with starting their department from scratch. My clients grew to include other companies that were started by other employees that left the company and ventured out on their own.
I worked some other jobs over the years, but kept my business going on the side. I couldn’t leave it. It made for some very long hours often working 8+ hours at a day job and coming home to a quick dinner and then working until bedtime and/or weekends. I always turned work around quickly.
I didn’t realize at the time or even years later that this was anything special. Now when I look at the idea of just jumping in and starting a business it doesn’t seem so foreign.