(Continued from last week’s article… if you have not yet read Part 1, please click here)

One month before I met my wife, I started to work and turn my troubled business around. So I did what I should’ve done a long time ago, I fired my non-producing General Manager and her cohort but kept one staff who was loyal to me.  That reduced my costs tremendously. I could now afford to pay that one staff to continue to chase after the deals that we were supposed to close and I could start to pay off the debt that had piled up.

But cutting costs wasn’t enough.  I needed to get more sales in so that I could get out of debt faster.  So I made a few phone calls and I was referred to a person who could probably help.  I called and arranged a meeting with the person and she mentioned that she would introduce me to her business partner so that we can discuss the matter thoroughly.  I did not know it at that time, but the business partner was destined to be my wife.

When I first met my wife Jhoanna, I was immediately attracted to her. She was radiant, elegant, beautiful, and little did I know then, a genius. After a minute or two of introductions, I explained what I thought would be the best deal ever and handed her a 2 page proposal.  After looking through it, she simply said: “Your deal doesn’t make any sense for us to get into it.” Bam! I thought I had the deal in the bag, where did that left hook come from?

Although the deal did not push through as planned, my wife made me realize one of the most important traits a successful entrepreneur should have. And that was to think about action and results, not fluff. You see the deal that I was proposing was to outsource 100% of the work of my company to them and I would take 70% while they got 30%. And how I went about pitching the deal to them was with nothing more than charm and fluffy words. My wife saw right through that and showed me with her matter of fact statement that handsome and charming I may be, that would get me nowhere. A lesser man would have just walked away, but not me.  I got even more attracted to her. She gave me another reason to turn the business around.

Well, back to the drawing board I told myself. The one staff I had kept was making little progress, there was still NO income, and the debt was still piling up. I had to do something more drastic.

Now at that time, Jhoanna and I were already dating and she became my sounding board, business advisor and more importantly, my source of strength.

One of the most crucial ideas that she gave me during those times was to get a “virtual office” to lessen my operating costs yet make my company still professional looking.  A virtual office is a business center service where you pay a minimal fee to rent the office address including the phone line and a receptionist without actually staying in that office.  With my wife’s help (she called up all the virtual offices in town and got me the best deal), I got one that charged only Php900 per month.

Armed with this solution, I decided to let go of my Makati office and phone lines to save more on costs. I made a deal with my staff to let her bring home the computer and printer and to use her home phone temporarily. I would pay for half of the phone bill and whatever excess electricity she would consume because she’d be working from home.  She agreed.

Interestingly, the Virtual Office was the key to getting our first client in. This was the next crucial lesson my wife had taught me about business:  You need to package yourself well. Perception is key. The Virtual Office allowed me to look extremely professional, yet lessen my overhead.

On our calling card was printed:

Office Address: …West Tower, Philippine Stock Exchange Center, Exchange Road Ortigas, Center Pasig City, 1605 Philippines.

Phone: (632) 6873416; Fax: (632)6874645

I instructed my staff to call all our prospects and inform them that we were moving to a better office. When my staff started calling our prospects telling them that exact line and of course our office address and phone numbers, guess what?  Most of the prospects’ reactions were very positive and that immediately increased their perception of us.  In fact, one of the comments that my staff relayed to me was “Wow you guys must be doing really well, because that address is expensive”.  Little did they know that it only cost me P900 / month!

And sure enough, after a couple of weeks, we closed our first major deal. It was for a Million Pesos Gross and that was the first sigh of relief I had in 10 months. Finally, the business was turning around.

The projects were now coming in, and in the next 6 months, we had recovered 90% of the losses which was truly remarkable. However, I was still not making any money at that time from the business, I was still in debt and for some reason, I could not pay it off. Now this is where my wife truly helped me out. The turn-around of the business was just a small victory for the real problem that had to be fixed was my unhealthy attitude about money which my wife, through tough love, patience and practicality taught me to turn around as well.  (To be concluded next Sunday, Nov 15, 2009)

Mark So is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy.  A sought-after Business Trainer & Consultant, he has taught thousands of people practical insights and strategies to win in business.  On November 14, he is scheduled to conduct his signature seminar on Capital Raising and Cashflow Management.  For more information, you may contact Tel Nos. 6874445, 6874645, 6873416 or visit www.businessmaker-academy.com or www.zerocapitalclub.com.
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Comments
  1. i was never fond of reading long articles, specially business topics. but i was feeling down and accidentally read the 2nd part of your article (as instruction said, i should check this site to see the first part) and now, i can’t wait til the last part and draw some inspiration from your story. i wish to have that strength, too.

    let me also recommend your site.

    -Cho

    • markso says:

      Many thanks Cho. I look forward to publishing the conclusion soon. I also hope that my other articles have helped you as well. Never give in, never give up because that is what winning is all about.
      -Mark

  2. geraldine says:

    reading what you have gone through reminded me of the struggle i had starting the business myself back in 1997. like what you said strong determination to succeed, managing the funds properply being involved in the business and be employee number 1 is some of the key requirements to make any business work.
    We are already 13 years old and would say much better now but everyday is a challenge and a learning experience and i think that’s what business more interesting and challenging.
    Thanks for the very inspiring story which certaily be able to help me improve my way of handling other areas in managing the business. Wishing you more success and God bless.

  3. Jeff says:

    “…pitching the deal to them was with nothing more than charm and fluffy words.”

    Reminded me of a Guy Kawasaki YouTube video about raising venture capital money.

  4. TyroneS says:

    What the heck,, I haven’t done anything but read…. this is really amazing…

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