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How I Started My Own Business (From Junk To Riches)

Updated on November 18, 2012

An "Uneducated" Start

It all started right here for me, I was graduating High School with a low GPA, and no talk of going off to College. Things really weren't looking so bright for me on the outside at age 17. I struggled all through school, mainly because of my lack of focus, and drive. I never strived to go to College, even since the beginning of high school, with no real solid reasoning. Maybe I didn't have enough outside influence, or someone pushing me to go to school after high school was finished, but for whatever reason, I never had planned for it. So in the end it made it that much harder for me just to graduate, because of my lack of drive.

Things might have not looked so good for me on the outside, mainly because I wasn't taking the path that a majority of my peers were, but on the inside I always believed in myself. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I would find a way to become successful at something. I knew myself, and I knew that was enough.

Right after High School, I jumped around from meaningless job to meaningless job, until something spectacular (in my case) happened. I was leaving a restaurant with a few friends, and I was the last in line when we were walking out the door. A man was sitting with his family in the booth closest to the door, he was eye-balling all of us as we left. When I got up right next to him, he reached out and grabbed my shirt to stop me. At first I thought it was going to turn into some kind of altercation, but instead he had a big smile on his face as he stood up. He went on to tell me that he just finished reading some book that changed his life, and he has been waiting to tell the first person that he believed would take his advice, to read the same book. Crazy right?

Well, this strange man in a Mexican Restaurant, proceeded to write down on his napkin, "Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill" in real sketchy hand writing. 99 times out of 100, if someone, anyone, tells me to read a book, I tell them to jump in a lake, but this was different. I was so put off by the way in which this man approached me, that I went out and bought the book early the next morning. It was the first book I ever bought for myself, but it did change my life like he said it would.

The Simple Plan

The same day that I bought the book, I went home, sat down, and started to read the book right away. I hadn't been able to think about anything else, but reading this book, after this crazed man approached me the day before.

To be completely honest, the book was extremely boring for the first few hundred pages, but I fought on through it anyway. Then something happened, the words on the page just jumped out at me. It read, "Anyone can take a simple idea, and turn it into millions, as long as they have the will, and the drive to succeed." After reading this sentence, I couldn't get this simple business idea that I came up with as a junior in high school out of my head, and it's still there today.

As a high school junior, in order to make some extra money for spring break that year, I worked with my dad. Who was a remodeling contractor. Most of the time I would just be his extra labor on the job, to be honest I never broke a sweat, it was some of the most mundane, boring work I ever did in my life. It just wasn't for me.

During that time though, he would have me hop in his truck, and drive his little trailer from job to job of his, and pick up the remaining trash, and bring it to the dump. As I was driving around picking up trash, I would always think to myself, "I could make some serious money doing this myself." But it was just a thought, and I never did anything about it, or even thought about it until now.

I mean, who thinks about junk and trash, and making money in the same thought? Crazy...

Before success comes in any man's life, he's sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That's exactly what the majority of men do."

-Napoleon Hill

The First Step

Now that I read this book, and couldn't get this simple little idea out of my head, I just did what I knew, and got to work. I now knew what it was I wanted to do. I wanted to work for myself, I wanted to own a business, I wanted to be the boss, and more than anything, I wanted to make some money on my own.

At the time I was valeting cars 3 nights a week for cash. After this "revelation" I had, I begged my boss to give me more shifts, but he declined. So I took more of what I learned from the book, which was persistence, drive, and never taking no for an answer, and asked my boss even more. Then even more. I would come to work every night one hour early, and sit there and try to convince my boss to give me more shifts. Eventually, either because he was tired of me in his face, or he believed I was worthy, he gave me 5 nights a week. This was definitely enough now, to help me get some money saved away, in order to bootstrap my own business.

It only took about 3 months of night shifts, and saving my money in the shoe box in my closet, along with selling my little crappy car, before I had enough to buy a small pick up truck from an old man a few miles from where I lived. I drove my "new" busted up 84' Chevy Silverado home that night, took my dads old trailer and painted "Stand Up Guys Junk Removal" across the side. My new business was born. I had big plans of making millions hauling junk..crazy right?

Learning Along The Way

At first it was hard to stay busy with my new found million dollar idea, so naturally I kept my valet job. My boss was so reluctant to give me my 5 night a week shifts, and I had begged him so much, that I couldn't ask for less nights now. So I was working full time at night, and trying to get a business, hauling junk off the ground. I was running myself thin, to say the least.

I started out by putting little signs, reading "cheap junk removal," and my phone number on street corners all over my community. Also, I was littering mailboxes all over the greater Metro Atlanta area, with my "Stand Up Guys Junk Removal Coupons," that I had printed up on the computer.

It was really hard at first to be honest, but I enjoyed working for myself, and trying to build something on my own so much, that quitting never even entered my mind. I kept the drive inside me, and would always revert back to the book that told me not to quit. There was a lot of days where I was up early hauling junk alone, and parking cars til 3 in morning. I did what I had to do, in order to keep my business, and hope, above water.

I kept the valet job for the first year, but eventually the little road signs, and my other creative ways of gorilla marketing started to work enough that I could quit, and focus on Stand Up Guys full time. That's when things really changed, and I never looked back since.

Now that my business was the only thing supporting me, and paying the rent, I went at it 120% full force at just my business. I read, and read, and read, all I could and learned about marketing, running a business, or whatever I could. At the same time I worked, and worked, and worked my tail off on the job site. I just went so hard all the time, that I was able to learn quite a lot in such a short period of time. More than I ever learned in any class room, or from anybody. Everything I learned about the business world, I learned along the way.

I learned a ton when I would do something and get it right, but I learned 10 times as much when I would do something and it would fall straight on it's face. That was one of the best attributes I ever learned, and still practice today, how to learn from my failures.

Turning It Into Something Special

I first ran into the crazy man, and read "Think And Grow Rich," what was now 5 years ago, and so much has changed, in me, and my life since that day. Stand Up Guys steadily grew over that 5 year span, and now we really have something good going.

Stand Up Guys now consists of 3 trucks, and 7 employees, and hundreds, upon hundreds of happy customers.

That simple idea that I had hasn't quite turned into millions yet, like the book said, but I am well on my way, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. No matter what has gotten in my way, or what obstacle I have had to overcome in business, I have triumphed over all of it to this point.

I did all of this against the grain. Against the grain that society sets for all of us, saying if you don't go on to college, exceeding in higher education, that succeeding in life is almost impossible. I never believed that to be true, and I still don't today. I learn more and more everyday through my experiences, and through the people in my life, and also through the people that I reach out to, in pursuit of knowledge. I truly have studied business, at the Business School of Hard Knox.

If I could give anyone out there that is trying to succeed, or flourish in anything advice. It would be to never give up, never quit, and always be trying to learn at every corner, and every stop of their lives. There truly is something out there great for all of us...mine just happened to be trash..

Solid Link List

Here so more info on some of what I talked about in the lens.

Stand Up Guys "Then"

Stand Up Guys "Then"
Stand Up Guys "Then"

Stand Up Guys "Now"

Stand Up Guys "Now"
Stand Up Guys "Now"

New Guestbook Comments

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    • monkeyofstick profile image


      2 years ago

      Great inspiration!

      I am actually in the process of starting a site now for a new company.

      Will keep an eye on you for inspirational thinking.

    • profile image

      Junk Cars 

      3 years ago

      Great story on dregs to riches.

    • Dannytaylor02 profile image

      Daniel Nathan Taylor 

      3 years ago from United Kingdom, Liverpool

      goog job mate, started my own business recently in liverpool. is my website and its going well thus far!

    • John Huf profile image

      John Huf 

      5 years ago

      Very interesting to read! Good luck! I write about web tools for small businesses so maybe you will find something useful for yourself there ;)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      beautiful lens thank you i wish that your bussines have a huge success

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great post. Very inspirational. Makes me want to go out and start my own business RIGHT NOW.. Haha, but no really. Very inspirational indeed.

    • BusinessSarah profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations on your success -- I'll have to check out a few of your resources for myself! Blessed :)

    • caseyw5555 lm profile imageAUTHOR

      caseyw5555 lm 

      7 years ago

      @bhavesh lm: Wow, thank you for the inspiring words..

    • bhavesh lm profile image

      bhavesh lm 

      7 years ago

      What an inspiring and exhilarating story of (almost) rags to riches. Congratulations on your success! But more importantly, congratulations of being an example of what could happen when you believe in your dream and go after it. Wishing you ever more success in the coming days and years.


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