One of the reasons why someone chooses to become an entrepreneur, besides a deep desire to bring something new into the world, is the idea that you are your own boss. That is a very freeing thing. I knew that going into my line of work--Rock 'n Roll.
No suit or shirt and tie for me! Nope. Jeans, T-shirts, or in my case in my earlier days, women's clothing.
The problem however is that while no boss is telling you what to do, you have to make your own luck. You are not sitting behind a desk performing some kind of task for a guaranteed paycheck. Oh no, you have to create that paycheck--create business opportunities whenever and wherever possible.
I recently landed a high-paying speaking engagement when I was talking to an old friend in a bar. He was sitting to my left, and on my right was a woman with her husband. My friend asked me a Twisted Sister-related question and the woman, who overheard, turned and asked me why I would know the answer.
I told her I was the founding member of the band, and also a writer for several publications, Inc.com being one of them, as well as a corporate motivational speaker. She looked at me with the kind of look that's usually reserved for people who have a stereotypical idea of what a musician should be like. After listening to me speak about what my role is in a corporate business environment, it was clear it was the last thing she expected.
She promptly introduced me to her husband, Steven Buckley, the owner of Long Island-based Apex Dynamic, USA, a huge worldwide gear manufacturing company.
Steve asked me what topics I talk about because he had never had a speaker come to any of his sales conferences. It just so happened that he had one coming up on a cruise ship in four-day's time.
I explained I could give an effective business presentation because no one expects someone with my background to have such a strong grasp on business. Plus, I know how to make it entertaining.
We exchanged cards and parted ways.
The next day Steve emailed me to thank me for explaining what I did and to remind me to send my reel. Not five minutes after I did, he called to say how much he loved it and asked me how much I charge.
He told me that one of his business partners couldn't make the cruise and that he had a suite on the upper deck available. He wanted to hire me to speak on this cruise!
I was a little stunned at the speed of his offer, but we got it done, ironing out the details which included bringing my wife with me and having all the expenses paid. I also told him that I sell signed photos after I speak anywhere and that that money goes to a charity. We worked out how many I'd bring, how much they sell for, and he agreed to buy them outright for $5,000. He'd give the $5,000 directly to the charity, and hand out all the photos to his sales staff.
It all happened so fast, but I had faith that this guy would do what he said he would do.
So I emailed him the contract and it was signed and emailed back to me within an hour. A check for 50 percent of the fee was delivered as promised by the end of the day, and the round-trip airline tickets to Fort Lauderdale were delivered the next day.
As we were boarding the cruise ship the next day, I got a call from the charity telling me that a donation for $5,000 was just made on my behalf!
I gave my presentation at 10 a.m. the following morning and spent the rest of the four days hanging out with Steve and his sales guys, which was amazing as I got to see how Steve interacts with his staff.
I was impressed at the respect shown to him and the respect he showed to the people who work in his company. Waiting for me when I returned home to NYC was the check for the balance of my fee.
Everything Steve said he would do was done as promised. He took a chance on me and I delivered with a great presentation, which justified his risk of going with the unknown.
We have since become great friends.
To an entrepreneur, when opportunity knocks you need to recognize it for what it is and seize it. Great things can only follow.
All of this happened for me because I happened to walk into a bar one night.