The Window Cleaner, Final Part

I had something funny happen to me recently, and it’s written about here by the very entertaining Azucar of The Jet Set.

….

Now, onto today’s post, the final one in my window cleaner series (Believe me, I’m just as relieved as you are. But once I began I had to finish, right?)

So I was mostly kidding at the end of my last post advising you to avoid becoming an entrepreneur isn’t worth it. It really isn’t worth it for most peeps. There are faster, surer paths to fame and fortune. But it was well worth it to me, and I suspect Bell Expert Window Cleaning won’t be the last business I start in my lifetime.

So I quitting my job, I birthed Bell Expert Window Cleaning (that’s not hyperbole. You really do feel like you’ve given birth to your business. They are fragile, demanding, simultaneously beautiful and maddening little things) and did what every business founder does if he wants any chance of success: I hustled. I knocked every fancy door in town, I took out ads, I put up yard signs at key intersections (was this technically legal? It doesn’t matter to you when you’re hustling), and I joined a business networking group. There are two kinds of people in the world; those who detest business networking groups and those who should be put to death or sent to Perv Island (Perv Island is an island—if I’m ever president or head of coast guard—were we will send all people society has no use for: including Goths, people with glass eyes, people who let their small children bear their testimonies in church every month, multiple cat owners, people who watch the show Numbers, and teenagers who opt out of the government program I’ll implement that removes their voice boxes and puts breathable bags over their heads. We’ll send major pervs there too but that’s not why it’s called Perv Island. It’s called that simply to cause awkward conversations for all its residents. “Hey Bob, great to see ya again. You still down there in Tulsa?” “Uh, no Phil, I’m, I’m actually on Perv Island now, out in the suburbs there on the north side.” “Oh [pause]. Ok. Sure. I, um, I hear the bugs aren’t too bad there, so that’s good, I guess”) but you do what you have to do.

I started to get a few clients. Again, getting a sale for your own business is like a taste of crack cocaine. I haven’t personally done crack but Davis has and he tells me it’s like putting on a new Jcrew lambs wool pea coat for the very first time. My clients gave me referrals and I grew. But not as quickly as I wanted. Many times I got to the point where I thought, “Ok, I’ve reached critical mass. I’ll be booked solid from here on out. I’m done worrying” Or “I can keep an employee or two busy all the time now.” Then things don’t go according to plan, as ‘things’ are prone to do. But we got by. Some months I was working 12-hour days and turning down work, then in the winter I would have Sundays when I would look at next week’s schedule and see only a few scribbles of ink on a mostly blank white space. So you go hustle some more. You put on your long johns and knock doors in January. You make calls. You pester people a bit, but you don’t care because you are working for survival. Winters were slower, but also nice in a way. I played with my kids a lot, read a lot, wrote 50 pages of a book I hope to finish one day (about a cabal of politically powerful sharks who put a sleeper in the White House. No, but it really is about a boy shipwrecked on an island with a group of intelligent apex predators. Laugh it up. We’ll see who’s laughing when I’m the next Danielle Steele.) and spent a lot of time chopping wood, which I bought from a man on the side of a road, which wood turned out to be too wet to burn unless I chopped it all down into tiny kindling-sized pieces and kept the fire as hot and those of Mordor.

One thing I loved about cleaning windows was that I was really good at it. I was fast, efficient and meticulous. I was called back to fix mistakes on about one of 250 jobs. This made for almost no day-to-day stress (unless business was slow, of course). I went out every day and did something I was great at for clients who always ended up extremely happy and complimentary. I will miss that.

So the business continued to do grow. I hired employees. People always tell you that personnel are the most challenging part of any business, and that is certainly my experience. But I eventually found a great one (the one who now runs the business), and was very grateful for it.

Unfortunately, as business increased, my shoulders’ and back’s ability to do the work decreased. And the business wasn’t yet to the point where I could do only admin and sales and survive off the labor of employees. I thought I could be careful, do physical therapy, and push through things. I did for couple years. But it got to the point where I was tired enough of feeling old and sore and broken down to make me look around for a career change. We also wanted to be closer to family. So I was very, very lucky to find the perfect job for me. I work for a unique private equity fund that invests is promising businesses that want to franchise. We help them franchise and do all the marketing and selling the franchises (so let me know if you know of anyone in the market to own a cool franchise business). I love it. I work for entrepreneurs, selling franchises developed by entrepreneurs to other entrepreneurs. And we’re back in Utah too.

The other night I was outside my childhood home in Farmington. It was 10 at night, the temperature was ideal and unnoticeable, the nightly breeze out of the canyon was coolly working its way around my exposed skin, carrying the flowery scent of my young summers, and I thought, “Man, this is where I’m supposed to be.”

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16 Responses to The Window Cleaner, Final Part

  1. Skepotomous says:

    “You still down there in Tulsa?” “Uh, no Phil, I’m, I’m actually on Perv Island now, out in the suburbs there on the north side.” “Oh [pause]. Ok. Sure. I, um, I hear the bugs aren’t too bad there, so that’s good, I guess”) but you do what you have to do.”

    LOL! And yes telling your friends that you’re on Perv Island would be the one of the worst parts. You’ll need to make sure the there is phone service there so the punishment can be complete.

    And come on fellow DDDT readers! Where are you!!?? I know its Summer and the Bachelor is back on, but come on, he’s your brother (for most of you he’s literally your brother). Show some love!

  2. Davis says:

    I actually live on the real Perv Island.

  3. Ryan says:

    Good series Kook. And good decision. Utah is the place for you. Davis and I have always worried that the rest of the world would just be too tough on you, so we’re glad you’re back in these comforting environs.

  4. Jeff says:

    I enjoyed the Window Cleaner series. It was very interesting to read. Getting confirmation to make a huge decision is great but then to do it and know you made the right choice is an incredible feeling. I saw you on Memorial day at the park and was going to talk to you but I thought I had a little time before you took off. Something about buying new clothes at JCrew and Banana Republic.

  5. Rebecca Bell says:

    how do you come up with this stuff? perv island? LOL.

    logan- the fact that the bachelorETTE is definitely a valid excuse.

  6. Megan says:

    “I haven’t personally done crack but Davis has and he tells me it’s like putting on a new Jcrew lambs wool pea coat for the very first time.”

    hahaha. freaking cracked me up.

  7. Ben Pratt says:

    Great series, Christian. Finding the right next step for you and your family feels fantastic (even if your next step is to work with internet personalities). I’m about to announce my next step, which also involves a big move.

  8. Nice series, Christian. I’m glad you’ve found a great new career and you guys are back close to family again. I am bummed though because we have good friends moving to Albuquerque and I was planning on forcing you to be friends with them.

  9. Davis says:

    Ben, what is it? What is it?

  10. Layne says:

    Davis, that J Crew coat comment deserves a body slam from you. So Good.

    So in a nutshell, your body aged 30 years in 4 years and you retired? Hopefully you don’t have to stoop, bend or lift items over 40 pounds at your new job!

  11. Christian says:

    Thanks Skew, I can always count on you getting my back. If people think they can take the summer off from commenting, they better not be surprised when we threaten to shut this whole thing down. Then they’ll have to live with that the rest of their lives.

    Davis, lol. You really do. The place even smells like pervs.

    Thanks, Ry and Jeff. I get the feeling it was boring to people, so I appreciate that. Jeffers, there’s always next Memorial Day. Be there. I’ll be there all day next time.

    Reba, thanks.

    Megan, we don’t have any glass-eyed people or cat owners in the extended family do we? My jokes get lamer as I have to screen everyone of them because I know at least one person the joke will offend. Come to think of it, I think Tanner might have a glass eye. Oh well. Too late.

    Do tell Ben. Personally I’ve always wanted you to become an evil scientist. Defect to Iran and help them build a nuke. Not sure why, I would just get a kick out of picturing you doing something like that.

    Danica, why are you friends going to ABQ? I hope they like it there. Best folks in the nation. I’m sorry to miss hanging with your friends. Let me know which part of town they move to.

    Wayne, yep that’s about it. Might not be that way if a certain business partner hadn’t abandoned the dream for the glitzy world of accounting all those years ago…

  12. Ben Pratt says:

    Ooh, Iran! I bet there are plenty of opportunities there for budding evil scientists!

    We’ve known for about three weeks that we need to move to AZ. Now I have a job there (as our friend put it last night, “You guys always do these things backwards from everyone else”). I’ll be teaching math at an outstanding charter middle and high school in Mesa, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

  13. That’s awesome. Congrats. Nothing like getting a job you feel good about these days.

    Why did you know you needed to move there? Your wife is from k-town right?

  14. Ben Pratt says:

    Thanks!

    Yeah, and when I married my sweet Davis alumna, she specifically told me to forget about ever living in AZ. Fast forward six years later to a winter visit there and she started to come around. I didn’t even have to say anything!

    Frankly, the push to move came from above. I don’t know all the reasons, but it sure is humbling to have God care where I live.

  15. Braden says:

    I made the mistake of reading this during a meeting when I shouldn’t have been reading it. That left me with a problem trying to disguise my laughing-out-loud during the Perv Island bit.

    “the nightly breeze out of the canyon was coolly working its way around my exposed skin, carrying the flowery scent of my young summers” That is a beautiful phrase, Kook. It made me choke up. But how much exposed skin are we talking about? That slightly mars the beauty of the phrase

  16. Elisa says:

    I love this blog.

    The End.

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