Sudden Unemployment-Not Thinking About Being Millionaires
Both Rick Staly and his wife Debbie were laid off at the same time and found they were suddenly unemployed. This was quite a shock, but they started their own business and within 2 years they were millionaires.
Rick and Debbie were hit with that hopeless feeling we all get when we feel overwhelmed, even if it is just for a few minutes. Both had been very successful, Rick in law enforcement and Debbie in accounting. Their careers converged in 2005, when a real estate development firm wanted Rick as their Senior VP in charge of security which would cover five states and two countries. They wanted him bad enough to offer to relocate him and his wife and offer her a job. But a few years later, real estate took a tumble and the business was in a free fall. In mass layoffs both Rick and Debbie were laid off in 2009. Rick was 54. They had a daughter in college, two upside down mortgages on two separate houses because of their relocation, and they just lost both family incomes at the same time. They had $100,000 in savings, but no job prospects and with all their expenses, they would be out of money soon.
Deciding to Start a BusinessThe Stalys felt it was a bigger risk to be unemployed and look for a job, rather than to take their destiny into their own hands. They would use their savings to get a security business started as soon as they could. It started with the need to do a business plan. Although Rick had a lot of management experience, he had never owned his own business. Rick told me the SCORE business plan model saved them. It was very detailed and asked a lot of hard questions that took not only research but some soul searching. It took him about 2 months to complete his business plan. Their business, American Eagle Sentry, was founded in 2008. This was an “all in” move for them; there really was no backup plan. If they failed it would be devastating.
Be Very Frugal
Once the business plan was in place, it was time to buckle down. They were both very cost conscious, plus they were worried $100,000 might not be enough to keep their company growing. Since real estate was depressed they decided to buy a small building instead of leasing. It was actually cheaper than paying rent and gave them an asset. As far as equipment, they saved everywhere they could. Rick would go to the car auctions and buy used police cars, which was a gigantic savings over buying new cars. They also got contracts in place and offered a 2% discount if their clients paid one month in advance. So instead of having to perform the work and float the expenses to be paid after being performed at the end of the month, they actually let their clients fund their monthly expenses for them and of course got their profit upfront too. And before billing they made sure the 2% was added into the bill so it really cost them nothing. On top of that if the client agreed to the 2% discount and did not pay in advance; there was no requirement to perform services. This is really just smart business. They never had a problem with delinquent accounts; there was no way for it to even happen.
The Stalys hired an outside consultant from the start. Instead of taking any security job offered, they specialized in upscale clients, including upscale condos, resorts, gated communities and upscale businesses.
Most of the business came from Rick networking. Initially Rick was the sales force. He let people know he was in business; he called everyone he could, and asked for referrals. This was enough to let their business grow.
The website was very important to the Stalys. Their potential clients were most likely to go to the internet looking for a security firm. The consultant called all of the clients and any potential clients of American Eagle Sentry and asked a long list of many questions about what they wanted the kind of service they had received in the past from other security companies, what they liked and did not like. From all this information a very detailed website was designed that was specific to their target audience. This became a very strong tool in generating interest and helping to close new accounts.
An e-mail marketing plan was set up by the consultant, to help American Eagle Sentry to stay in touch with current clients and potential clients. It is easier and cheaper to keep an existing client that to find a new one, a monthly e-mail newsletter helped keep them in touch with current clients and encouraged feedback. It also was a monthly reminder to all potentially new clients, when they decided to make a change American Eagle Sentry would be on their mind. The e-mail marketing campaign was just one more piece of credibility offered to all their contacts.
Educational Sales/Marketing Package
A specific package was designed for American Eagle Sentry that explained all the services and benefits. This was done with educating the client in mind and became an integral part of the marketing efforts of the company.
The Stalys decided not to spend any time on social media, since their target market was very narrow. The decision makers were not part of a mass market, but were the resort managers, the property managers, and association boards of potential clients.
Read Part II
Next week in Part II, see the annual sales growth and net profits of their company and how they sold it for even more. Plus earn about all the help and assistance they received, free and paid, to help them become millionaires. You might also check out how to make a million dollars in beer, bread, gyms, and wristbands-all starting with little or nothing.