Startups Anonymous: What Selling Drugs Taught Me About Business -- Part II
[This is a weekly series that brings you raw, first-hand experiences from founders and investors in the trenches. Their story submissions are anonymous, allowing them to share openly without fear of retribution. Every Wednesday, we’ll run one new story chosen by Dana Severson, who operates StartupsAnonymous, a place for startups to share, ask questions, and answer them in story-length posts, all anonymously. You can share your own story here.]
So it was late, I had just smoked a joint and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to tell the world about my adventures in life and business.
I felt the need for a "Part 2" because I really did not discuss in detail what selling drugs taught me about business.
At age 18, I had an idea. How about I sign a contract for a piece of property and sell that piece of paper for $10,000-$20,000 more?
I had a friend, let’s call him Steve, that had been around since I was 15. Steve had a car, a good family, and a valid drivers license. He was the perfect driver/transporter. Steve had taken a job at a local real estate investor's home helping finish his basement. When I heard about his employer's profession, I wanted to meet him to discuss my idea.
When meeting Steve’s employer, I explained my plan and he informed me that what I wanted to do was flip property. Kind of like weed. Go to the bank (grower) to get the best price, in turn allowing me to undercut and control the market using OPM (other people’s money) to close the deal and get paid.
Within weeks, Mike approached me with a deal: 5 condos at $60,000 a piece. Each condo was valued at over $86,000 and had a renter.
I had to come up with $5,000 earnest money in order to sign the contract. The owner probably looked at me as a stupid kid who was about to loose $5,000. I had two months to sell all five condos or lose the money.
Within a month and a half the condos where sold: Two to a cash buyer, and three to a father and son. Because it was an assignment of contract and this was 2008 -- the start of the meltdown -- seasoning on title was required. So we forfeited the money and had my broker/partner do a net listing on the property. This would allow the bank to see the owner's name on the contract, and we would acquire the balance after the agreed $60,000.
My pitch to the father was to give his son an opportunity to build an investment. The two condos rented would cover his living expenses while he was in school and provide a decent profit when sold.
I was 21. It was October, and I was trying to think of what business venture I should start next. By this time, I was legitimate and running my first successful legal business.
Sitting back, I started to contemplate how much I could make selling trees -- no, not marijuana again, but real trees. Christmas trees. I Googled "tree farms" (the grower) and figured out pricing.
After speaking to one of the sweetest ladies I had ever met, I had a deal to buy 1,000 Christmas trees and have them shipped the day after Thanksgiving (30 days later).
My plan was to find the best location on the busiest road and sell the best quality Christmas trees for the cheapest price.
My starting price was $25 and this provided customers a #1 quality Fraser Fir Christmas tree -- a $60 value at any other lot.
Within 30 days I found the perfect lot and by the end of the season, 21 and never having sold a Christmas tree in my life, I was buying out all the competition because they could not sell their trees.
I will leave you with this: God is amazing. It was not until I cleaned up my life and allowed him to guide me that I truly experienced success. He kept me safe when I could have been put in jail for life or shot to death. Now he allows me to be a carrier of blessings.
Patience is faith in God that his plan is better then ours. Don’t be greedy. Don’t get mad when things don’t go your way, it was not meant to be. When it is you will know and be so thankful it did not happen any other way. Cheers and Godspeed!