By: Justin Fimlaid
This is my story about how I get started as an entrepreneur. First off, if you wanted to read my story about why I chose to make a career change you can find my story here: https://www.nuharborsecurity.com/about-nuharbor (scroll to the bottom).
In January of 2014 I quit my job as a Chief Information Security Officer for a large organization. I did have another job lined up, but a week before I was supposed to start work I did some soul searching and realized my heart wasn’t in it so I send regrets the week before I supposed to start. If someone from that company every reads this, please know I still feel badly about it. So basically I found myself without work. I had some savings but not much, maybe 3-4 months of living expenses.
I started trying to free lance a bit until I could figure something out. Job stability was important, long term, but I needed a little recuperation time from having the life drained out of me. From that moment on my next few weeks were spent writing, marketing, and selling, all day every day for weeks. I would send emails, make cold calls, and try to publish something on the web that got the attention of a prospective client. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the word “no”. But I feel like every time I heard no I was statistically that much closer to a “yes”. About a month and a half and I was incredibly lucky and received my first lead.
That lead turned out to be a decent contract. The problem, the work was 500 miles from home. Being desperate for work I couldn’t be picky. Since there was a large geographical distance I thought sub-contracting the work would be ideal. While I was wrapping up the contract terms and completing final negotiations I was having to also work to recruit someone to work for me as a sub-contractor. My phone calls quickly went from selling all day to recruiting all day. I finally found someone, it was a friend of an acquaintance kind of situation. Now I had two contract efforts going on, one with my prospective customer and one with my prospective sub-contractor. Everything was going great! It was hard, but great! One week before my new contract is supposed to start, my “sub-contractor” stops returning my calls.
One week before my contract start, I’m back at the beginning. I’m now have two to three months into this, no work, my savings account is getting low on cash. I had to find a way out of no way, and I still live by this today. My wife convinced me that I should take the work and it only seemed right since it was the first contract. So I agreed.
Over the next week I secured an apartment, airfare, worked out logistics for travel and generally got ready to live to away from home for…an unknown period of time. After buying airfare for the next couple weeks so I could fly home on the weekends, and paying security deposit, first month, and last month rent for my apartment I was almost out of cash. I knew that if I could start work quickly, invoice quickly, I’d get paid quickly. I was super wrong.
One the way to airport to leave for the first time my wife tells me the awesome news that we’re having a baby, our first one. She was awesome in the process but also was pretty clear, you got 6 months to get your sh*t together and figure out a replacement resource on that contract so I can be home to help with our baby.
During the rush of contract negotiations I agreed to a term that I could only invoice on the first 3 days of the calendar month. Which was okay at the time, but I literally started working on the 5th so I had to work the whole month before I could issue an invoice for services. So I started working on patiently, and when the next calendar month came I think I had my first invoice in at 12:01am to make sure my invoice was processed first. My terms were net 30, so I waited. I was now out of cash.
At this point it was five months since I left my corporate job. I’m away from home, working in a city I kinda like but can’t enjoy because I have no cash, and now I can’t fly home because plane tickets are too expensive.
In order to save expenses, I had to cut the amount of money I spent on food. Each week I allocated $10 for food. I’d go to the Whole Foods around the corner every week on Monday and I’d buy a loaf of bread, a container of oatmeal, 5 cans of tuna fish, and package of soba noodles for good days, and as many apples as I could afford. If any of these were on sale, I’d save the extra money for a bus ticket so I didn’t have to walk to work. Over the 2-3 months I had lost roughly 40 pounds. To make matters worse, that summer felt super hot. I was walking to the office and I only had two suits so to avoid sweating during my walk I’d leave the apartment at 5am before the day got too hot and I wouldn’t leave until the sun went down, so usually after 8pm. One big problem I had, since I lost so much weight my clothes didn’t fit and my belt was cinched so tight my pants were bunching up like I was wearing a burlap sack for pants. Because of this I had to wear my suit coat 100% of the time in summer to hide my “burlap bag” pants.
The positive thing about this arrangement is since I was the office early and late I had tons of time to do marketing, selling, and recruiting. Getting home was still top of mind and I knew I really only had a few months left before my little was going to arrive.
I’m still low on cash and I’m waiting for my first check to come. Due within one week was my rent for my work apartment and rent for my home apartment where my wife was living. Also in the meanwhile, my dog at home was sick and needed surgery, my truck broke down which was kinda okay since I was living away from home but meant I couldn’t even get home from the airport if I could ever make it home again, my wife is 6 months pregnant and I’m worried about hear eating enough to sustain our baby, and to top it off the bank said “no” again to a loan. I mentally broke. I was six months in, no money, I hadn’t eaten in a couple days, I had fiscal obligations to folks I didn’t know how I was going to fulfill. I choose to go for a walk in the middle of the work day, I found a curb to sit on and broke down. I sat there for an hour but in hindsight felt like 5 minutes. It was at the moment I realized I had sacrificed everything for what I wanted to become. I realized that I could quit now and get nothing, or I could push forward and get a reward from it. This was a real turning point for me.
Another week went by, and my first check arrived.
Another week went by, all the marketing and prospecting from staying at the office late paid off. I was able to secure my second client, this one at home so I could work productively at home to help with our new baby.
Another week went by, I was able to secure a replacement resource on my first contract so I could go home.
NuHarbor Security was started!