Why did you start the business, what was the catalyzing event?
It seems like so long ago, because it has been a few decades now, but I truly just got to a point where I believed my future was best served in my hands and not someone else’s. I didn’t set out with the services in mind as much as an opportunity presented itself to me and I knew I could at least start something that had an opportunity to support me and my family.
How did you find your first customer?
I had a background in sales and knew that cold-calling was the key to jumpstarting my new venture. I would cold-call every law firm in my city just “winging” the sales pitch and pricing until I figured out through trial and error what worked and what got me booted out of the offices early. I kept good records of how many calls I needed to make in order to get an opportunity to quote a project and how many quotes I needed to land a job. That motivated me to stick to the activity of just calling and quoting and not focus just on the end results. My first job was a huge project that I totally under-bid and learned quickly that I needed to get my pricing right. That began my learning curve that continues today.
Describe your first office/location.
It was awesome, the basement room of a parking garage. Each morning and each evening we would hear the cars entering and exiting the garage, dust would fill the space, and we would guess what type of vehicle went overhead. There were no windows, no nice paint on the wall, just some old copiers and a big white board. We had two phones and we thought we made it big!
What’s the most creative thing you did to get your business started, or kept it going through a tough time?
It was tough sledding for sure in the early days/months. I am not sure we were as creative as we were just determined to make things work. We found ways early on to use our core competencies to fill in our capacity gaps and revenue shortfalls. We got creative in looking for parallel markets and ventured out from working with just legal documents to learning the record retention policies, archiving documents and developed relationships in the medical and educational fields. Our determination to succeed drove our activity, and I think the activity masked my inward panic.
What’s something quirky or superstitious you do as a CEO?
My favorite football team runs out of their locker room onto the field, at the entrance to the field they jump up and slap a sign that simply says, “I WILL GIVE MY ALL TO TENNESSEE”. I had a small sign mounted on the back of my door that I hit every morning as I entered my office…”I will give my ALL”…
Many days in the beginning were difficult, giving my all was all I could think of doing. Where was my revenue and cash going to come from? Did I make a mistake in starting this? Am I smart enough to figure this all out? Will others see my doubt? All questions I wrestled with often…but something about “I WILL GIVE MY ALL” settled me down and I knew that would be enough.
What was your last job working for someone else? What was your favorite day job?
My last job working for someone else was in sales. I sold equipment to banks and libraries etc. I enjoyed the sales but did not enjoy the company. My favorite day job was when I was young, I mowed yards. I enjoyed the work, I enjoyed seeing pleasure on the faces of my customers, I enjoyed going by and seeing a pretty yard and knowing I had a hand in it. I also thought the tan I got working outside all day would help me with meeting the girls…it didn’t.
Where did you come up with the name for your company?
My friend actually came up with the original name of our business, The Copy Stop. It changed over the years and our team came up with the new name as our business migrated to many services other than our original service.