Thursday, November 15, 2012

Successful businessman looks back on earlier failures

In 2010,'a Christine Brozyna wrote a piece about Bob's Red Mill, a seller of grain products, being sold to its employees via an ESOP program. In the article, company founder Bob Moore shared some lessons about business success, and failure:

Moore said there is no secret to building a successful business, just hard work and luck.

"You can sell your house, take your money, and test the waters by doing something you believe in," he said. "And maybe you'll be successful and maybe you won't, and that's what entrepreneuring has been for me, and I have failed."

Earlier in his life, Moore owned a gas station that he thought was a great success. It flourished for five years, but ultimately went under. And in 1988, his mill was burned down by an arsonist.

"I lost everything," he said. "I lost our entire investment. I know what it feels like in my stomach when you can't pay the bills."

But he learned from his mistakes and kept taking chances, eventually making his mark in American households.

Bob told a longer version of the gas station story to Inc. magazine:

To put a few extras on my family's table, I'd been working weekends at a Shell station. A sign went up on one corner saying a new Mobil station would be opening. I called, and pretty soon we had a deal. I sold our house and put the $4,500 down on the gas station. I quit my job and went into business.

In those days, you didn't just take care of cars; you took care of people. I would wipe windows, check the tires and underneath the hood. I cleared 4 and a half cents a gallon, 5 cents for high test. My bookkeeper would laugh at me. But I wore a freshly washed uniform every day, and the sun was always shining.

Then the smog started to get bad. Charlee, my wife, and I felt that getting out of L.A. would be good for the boys' health. I drove around the state looking at gas stations for sale and ended up buying one in Mammoth Lakes, California, in September 1959.

I had a pocketful of cash from selling our house and station in Los Angeles. We bought a big mobile home. We took trips with the boys. We bought a lot of things we didn't need. Mammoth Lakes was a ski town. But Thanksgiving and Christmas went by with no snow. Then we got 14 feet of snow in January! The roads were impassable. The snow was still deep in July, and that kept away the summer tourists. One year after leaving Los Angeles, I was broke.

No comments:

Post a Comment