How I Grew My Small Business — the REAL StoryUpdated on July 15, 2021
I am a small business owner.
I started with nothing and grew my company to a $50 million/year company with 200 employees — without any investors or capital.
(Okay, I did max out a $5,000 credit card in the beginning… and a few others, too, if I’m totally honest!)
People ask me all the time: HOW THE HECK DID YOU DO THAT?
Of course, there are a lot of answers to that question, but one trumps them all.
However, small business owners DON’T LIKE the answer. They hear it and instantly dismiss it as something that doesn’t apply to them. It’s uncanny!
I did a little research — I wanted to see if other small businesses did the same thing as I did. Was it just me? Or is this something just not talked about a lot?
By now you probably want to know what it is, but if I just blurt it out, you’ll roll your eyes and not even believe me.
Read on and I’ll share it!
I have talked about “how I did it” and talked about it and talked about it — and I’m going to talk about it again in the hopes that some of you reading this will take heed!
It’s almost like I can see on a small business owners face what they’re thinking when I tell them this — “That doesn’t apply to me.” BUT IT DOES — I’m sure of it now.
Back to my research:
I interviewed one of my clients, Dr. Amit Khanna, who took a flat-lining dental practice and grew it to the point where now he has a few dentists working for him and he’s making millions.
And guess what?
He did it exactly the same way I did! There are tons of dentists near his practice but he keeps growing and growing like he’s the only game in town!
The owner of Dance Expressions moved back into her parents’ house so she could open up a small dance studio six years ago. She followed the same strategy, and now there’s a waiting list to join her classes and she’s looking to expand!
Lakewood College did it, too — they went from making $120,000 per year to $2.3 million per year.
I hope you’re paying attention, because I really, really love small business owners. You bust your butt like nobody else, and I want you to grow, win and be able to relax a little!
So here comes the boring truth:
When I was small, I marketed my business WAY MORE than any sane person thought I should. I spent more — a LOT more — on marketing than I paid myself. (I still do!)
I marketed much, much more than any other business I saw, except for the ones that were already huge — and they were doing it, too!
Like Bed, Bath & Beyond with their 20% off coupons that constantly came to my house…
Or those insurance companies with their constant barrage of TV commercials…
Or Pepsi and Coke and Nike and all of those GIANT companies that we’ve all heard of.
Now you might be asking:
How did you do that if you didn’t take any capital?
Well, in the beginning, sending out 2,500 postcards every single week cost me a little less than $1,000 per week. That’s a salary, folks! (Mine!)
I paid myself very little — enough to get by. I took a pay cut to increase marketing more than a few times!
Here’s a funny story:
After I’d been in business for about five years, I decided to buy myself a Mercedes convertible.
Before that, I’d been driving a Pathfinder. I loved it and, even better, it was PAID FOR!
Look… that’s a pretty nice car, right?
Pure luxury, am I right? (That’s not MY car in the photo, but it is the same car!)
So I get the new car (and keep the Pathfinder because I had two little kids then) and drive it to work.
One of my staff members comes up to me and says, “Thank goodness you got a new car.”
I ask, “Why?! My other car is awesome!” (Even though it was 6 years old.)
He says, “I thought you had bad credit or something!”
Because I drove an older car?! What the heck? I thought that was hilarious!
As my company did better and better, it became important that I “look the part,” but I waited until we were already pretty big and successful before doing that.
My point is…
It takes sacrifice to be a successful small business. Do you REALLY want to grow?
Then you have to spend on marketing — not on luxuries.
I bought a building for PostcardMania before I got myself a new car. I took the down payment out of my personal home.
Here’s what I’m saying:
You have the money. What you spend it on is up to you.
And if you don’t have it? Well, you take loans for other things I bet — things that don’t give you an amazing return!
What sacrifices have you made for YOUR small business? Tell me in the comments below, or email me at Joy.Gendusa@PostcardMania.com.
Call my marketing experts at 800-628-1804 to talk about how you can grow your business — the consultation is 100% cost- and obligation-free!
GREAT STORY AND SO TRUE.
GREAT story Thank you for sharing . It really hit me reading your story . I own a small body shop that I would love to grow to compete with the corporate owned BIG names in my area . I have done one postcard mailer with you in the past and did not get a any return on my investment so kinda left me not wanting to spend the very hard earned money on something that did not seem to work. But now after reading your story I realize that not just one simple post card will do what I want every time . Thank You,
I also to have a small business to but it’s a lot of competition i have a mobile Detail service just myself how can i grow my business thank you very much
IT WAS FANTASTIC!!! THOSE WHO DO WHAT OTHERS WON’T JUST SIT AND WAIT FOR THE PHONE TO RING.
AND IT DOESN’T. WE MAIL OUT 10 DAYS BEFORE WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TO REMIND THE HUSBAND AND I
STILL GET THEIR PHONE CALLS. IN FACT WE MAIL 9 DIFFERENT MONTHS CARDS, BIRTHDAYS,SICKNESS, ETC.
WHEN THERE IS A SERIOUS FIRE WE CALL OUR CLIENTS TO ASK IF THEY ARE O.K. AND THAT WE HAVE ALL
THE NEEDED PHONE NUMBERS FOR HELP ALSO EARTHQUAKES, ETC. WE SPEND ABOUT $10 PER YEAR NOT
COUNTING OUR TIME ETC. BUT PEOPLE LIKE THE FACT THAT WE ARE CONCERNED AND OUR RETENTION IS
STILL AT 92% AND REACHED 95% ONE TIME. WHEN WE GO TO A CONVENTION OR TRIP I MAIL OUT THE LOCAL POSTCARDS JUST TO SAY HI AND THAT WE ARE LEARNING NEW THINGS. RETENTION MAKES MONEY!
Thanks for sharing your story, Joy. Great reminder that true success requires sacrifice.
This is so true!
Shame it took me 9 years to figure it out. For the last 9 years I had just been in survival mode.
My Eureka moment came when I was on the verge of bankruptcy as my restaurant business had been declining since 2009!.
Instead of paying my rent to survive one more month I used everything to market and advertised my restaurant and did a 10k leaflet drop! My business saw instant improvement and have been growing ever since! Shame it took me 9 years to figure not sooner. As I have wasted my 9 years of my life!
Your true story is motivating particularly for the youngsters and start ups. Out line of the story of most of the first time entrepreneurs like you or me will be almost the same whether you are USA or India. The inner urge to do things in different way, skill and courage to take calculated risk etc drives us. My name is Achuthan, an Electrical Engineer with MS ( by research) from IIT M, who also started in a small way. I shall surely send the story in you feel it could be beneficial to the younger/start ups ( I am 66 years old now and our design and manufacturing firm with DSIR recognised R&D and two factories in India is 30 years old).
with great regards,
Thanks for sharing your experience and observations! I think that money should work on us but not vice versa. And if we want to buy something for us then we should earn this money before, but do not to take out of business.
Thanks for this!!! I am in the very beginning stages of opening a boutique and had thought much on how to get the word out. I did do a little research and also went to our local county college and sat in a few business classes. This not only confirms but also strengthens your knowledge for first year growth in small business.
Great article Joy!
AMAZING!!!! Joy, you are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your personal story; this makes the future so much brighter and makes our goals seem much more realistic. I’m sharing this article with my husband!
Joy, the content on your website is incredible. I have learned so much from you already. And one thing I have definitely learned is that you are the kind of person I want to do business with!
Holly is my sales rep, and I hope to have a project ready for her within the next few weeks. I am writing the copy (since I just started MY business, http://www.oceanbreezecopy.com — couldn’t resist the plug…I’m sure you understand) but I will be handing the design work, printing & mailing off to your folks, who I trust are going to make me look really good with my client!
Love your blog, love your book!
Great Article! Motivates me again
I love your article. It is very inspiring!
My company started as a small business not too long ago and there is a very limited finances yet, but I 100% agree on marketing and promotional ads. We are planning to print and distribute Human Relationships Magazine by January 2017 in Miami Metropolitan Area, Florida and all the marketing done through online sources and social media platforms. Hopefully soon will be able to invest into post cards and bring more business to your wonderfull company.
Also I would like to find out if we can use this article in our magazine as an inspirational story. We believe this will give a great support to many other people who are interested in starting their own business but don’t have enough confidence or support.
Thanks and hope to hear soon from you!