Sunday, February 19, 2017

2nd year as a first time business owner

If you haven't read the first post on my first year as a business owner, go check it out first:
Went to the Philippines during the off season where I volunteered at a youth rehab centre and surprisingly the kids wanted to learn to paint, so thats what we did for a large portion of the day, in between basketball, chess and baking. 

So second year running a painting business as Ciaran Olsen Boss Painting. Its still exciting because your not sure if your 1st year was a fluke with its success (not really but sort of). So I showed up back from New Orleans where I got some awards from my first year as a franchisee owner, ready to get started knocking on more doors.

Whatever I write in here keep in mind it was very hard, I had to spend a lot of my own money into any success I had, and I wasn't guaranteed of anything, and you always forget to write the bad times in your own blog.
grateful to earn a award, mainly because it meant a free trip down to Austin Texas at the end of 2016

At first I didn't have a marketing team set up in January (People to knock on doors with me to get customers), so I convinced a friend to come out in the rain with me to go recruiting, of course she isn't that good of a friend because I had to pay her...

To my pleasant surprise, I ended up going on a tear in my first few months of selling and booked a lot of work, for a while being first in the whole company of about 150 in sales. I posted an add to recruit marketers that worked quite well as it got me exactly who I wanted, and even got me an interview on the JACK FM morning show in Vancouver:

Dreadful door to door sales job (Dunbar/ Kerisdale) hide this posting

© craigslist - Map data © OpenStreetMap
compensation: $12/hr+ Comission: $17-40/hr
employment type: part-time
Marketing position still available due to lack of interest and people quitting immediately
(real job, not a joke)
Description: Walking door to door with a team of 2, your partner has a horseface, is tall and skinny, and has more acne then he should for his age. You knock on strangers doors most of the time after dark, and desperately try to convince them they need to paint their house and get their contact information to set up a long and tiring appointment with a business owner, who is way to enthusiastic and excited about paint. Often you will go through hours, days, even weeks with nothing but no's, doors slammed in your face, people pretending not to speak English and dogs barking and snapping at your heels. Please don't slip on staircases, we can't afford a law suit!


- You have to be willing and able to walk
- Have unobstructed breathing
- Own, wear and afford clothes that have no stains, are not black, have no tears, rips or cleavage. Any Turtle necks will be asked to leave immediately, as well as onesies.
- Be able to present your hairstyle in a way that is non offensive yet stylish
- Give up two evenings of your life a week
- Be okay with constant rejection
- Show up ready to work before your shift starts and sometimes stay late to make sure you have completed your job.
- Be able to stay enthusiastic even when it seems there is no hope!

If you are interested in this job please write me a email or call me telling me why you would be perfect for this job and why you like being rejected, giving up your evenings to work in terrible conditions.

The one benefit of this position is if you can deal with the negatives and meet the above requirements you will make a lot of money and gain a ton of skills and make some new friends! 
(End of Ad)

So that was one of my ads. I posted this because I was tired of hiring people trying to make the job sound awesome, and then people running away after the first door (this actually happened, and I feel like a chump as I drove for about an hour to go pick this kids up to bring him with me for training). I hired about 4 people off this add, one who was responsible for helping me book a ton of work. This was his response to the add: 

Dear Ciaran,

I am writing to you because I believe I am the perfect candidate for this position, which I will demonstrate by showing you how I meet each of the requirements.

1. You have to be willing to walk.

I have twenty-two years of walking experience under my belt; I am anatomically built so that I have the capability to walk long distances, I own and operate my own set of legs and can use them with efficiency and expertise. I often go on walks for my own enjoyment and exercise, and I am happy to do so as a requisite for the job.

2. Have unobstructed breathing.

As a skilled saxophone player of nearly ten years, I have developed the ability to control my breathing to the most precise degrees. I have never had any respiratory related illnesses or diseases so you don’t have to worry about me falling behind or fainting on the job.

3. Own, wear and afford clothes that have no stains, are not black, have no tears, rips or cleavage. Any turtlenecks will be asked to leave immediately, as well as onesies.

I am happy to inform you that I do not own any turtlenecks or onesies, although I do have a couple of overalls (that was a joke). I am able to dress professionally while comfortably enough to walk long distances.

4. Be able to present your hairstyle in a way that is non-offensive yet stylish.
I have had random strangers compliment me on my hair, and have been referred to as “that guy with great hair” on multiple occasions. Having previously worked in office settings, I understand the importance of looking presentable and personable.

5. Give up two evenings of your life a week.

This will not be an issue at all but a welcome change of pace as my evenings are mostly spent between watching Netflix and playing video games.

6. Be okay with constant rejection.

Just ask every girl I have ever talked to when I was in high school.

This post could go on forever, but everyone except my dad and mom have stopped reading this, so I will just talk about some of the highlights and funny moments of the year:
Definitely took this picture when the homeowner wasn't looking, but one thing that makes your job better is when you hire really happy people who love life!

Got a call in lead meaning someone called me looking for a quote on painting. They spoke Mandrin, so I brought my trust translator, who also has stylish hair and plays saxophone. We show up at the house and the family is waiting outside on the front lawn for us. We walk around the house, the kids who are about my age talking in English to me, telling me what there father wants who was present but didn't speak English. After we are done the walk around, they tell us to follow them, and they jump in their very luxurious vehicles and drive off. We run and jump in are car to follow them, me hoping we don't run out of gas, as I didn't fill up and the empty light was on. Zig zaging in and out of small streets for about 5 minutes, they pull up in front of a very nice house, and open the gates. At this time I am very excited as this will be a great job if we can get it. Again same process as last estimate. They then request that we bring pictures of the house in the desired colour they want to change it to. We say "why of course, didn't even have to mention it" meanwhile I have no idea how to do that. They ask when I will bring my photographer to take the pictures, fast on my feet I tell them the translator is also a photographer and we will be back tomorrow for the pictures. We grabbed one of my roommates old collector cameras that doesn't work, and went and took pics with are Iphones, behind the collector camera as a decoy.
The following day we go to meet the family to go over the proposal. The dad stares at the pictures of what the new Colours would look like, and is stone cold. He then goes on to speaking a language I don't understand, and I can tell he is angry. He throws the papers aside, says they are crap, and we apologize profusely and eventually he gives us a second chance, and then come back the next day with better pictures. Then long talks in the contract begin and after a few days are awarded the houses. It took us a very long time to paint them all, and I got yelled at a lot, but we pulled it off and are proud of it. There would be days where the homeowners were yelling at me then we would be laughing later together on the same day. Moral of the story is it was worth thinking on are feet and faking it until we made it, as it was a lot of stress, but we got better because of it.
Aint she purdy?

One of our staff events, a bbq. A big lesson in getting buy in from your team is to treat them well and get them having fun with each other so they are less likely to quit when times get tough, and yes people will just quit, you learn a lot about the work ethic of our generation when you hire them. Some are great and extremely hard working, and some not so much, and often times for good reason, but not always 
There were a lot more headaches in 2016 compared with 2015, as the business grew by almost half, and at one time we had 22 people working in the business including painters, marketers, sales persons, translator, secretary, and telemarketer. Big learning was to hire people based on character as well as ability, as there were a few workers who were smart people, and not right for the job, and it ended up causing more work and problems then actual production. 2017 is already underway and I am way behind where I was last year. Working on getting out of a rut, and will update in a bit. 
removing wall paper and then painting over. The customers wanted it done quickly so we stayed over til 2am one night working, and then we got in trouble for making noise.... As a business owner you take all the responsibility of anything that happens in your work, and rightfully so.
Sales is something before getting into business I never thought about doing. I really attest any success I have with it to my experience as a social worker, as well as through backpacking, hitch hiking, and couchsurfing. As when you couchsurf you are basically selling yourself to your host to convince them to host you, as well as with hitch hiking. Further when you are in someones personal car you don't know, you find things to talk about quickly as to not make the ride awkward. This also helps in sales as your trying to sell a paint job to someone you don't previously know. 

As you can imagine if you have been following this blog over the years that painting houses doesn't really suit me. It is starting to become mundane, and I am constantly looking for ways to keep things interesting, as I am sure you know if you have read this far. One lesson I have learned is that most things in life are not that exciting, and you need to do normal everyday things and put your own twist on them, and do your best to surround yourself with good people. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Motor biking to Machu Pichu/ exploring the Amazon alone without Spanish

Did a 50 day trip to South America. I visited Peru, Argentina and Brazil. I decided to go to South America about 10 days before I boarded a plane. The original plan was to go to India, but I decided after 10 intense months of running a painting company I needed a place a bit more relaxed as India is one hell of an adventure and up close and personal, and I knew the weather would be nice in South America and a bit more relaxed.

I flew into Peru, and the next day I was off on a five day journey by motorcycle to Machu Pichu and back. I decided not to hike the Inca Trail because I know everyone does it, and I have learned from traveling that if everyone is doing something it is usually overpriced and not so adventurous. I have heard mixed reviews about the trail, some saying it is amazing and beautiful, others says it was to easy, restaurants everywhere and your always passing other tour groups. I would say that it is all in your mind set and if your going to do the five day hike just take it in and it will be amazing!
Ran into two friends also College Pro Franchisee owners Kaleb and Kyle on the plane ride down to South America, so shocked I lost my credit card as I was buying something when I saw them and forgot to take it out the machine

A small town on the way to Machu Pichu

Bug bites from I don't know what after motor biking all day. No one spoke English in these places, and there was no internet, so not much to do except read and observe life.

Because it was off season not as many foreigners and a lot of school groups at Machu Pichu. I probably stopped for about 30 minutes for pictures. One thing that I wish we had more in Canada is that children from around the world in developing nations are so interested in people from the west, but here at home children and adults have little interaction except in formal settings, and I truly believe we are all missing out because of it

The road was literally flooded in spots and you had to drive through up to 2 feet of water, which was actually really fun. Probably different situation if your not an adventure junky with a dirt bike looking for this and you say had to travel to the next town in a school bus in the dark, then it might scare the Sh#@ out of you

What I later found out through translation is Peru's version of oatmeal. you drink it in a cup, actually pretty good

Cusco from the air

The Inca boys helping me set up my new cell phone which I rarely used

The Inca boys who helped me set up my rental for the dirt bike

Leaving Cusco

The sacred Valley

This was at the top about 5000 meter's high. I didn't realize it got so high and so cold, I didn't have proper clothes and was freezing. Again not knowing Spanish didn't help!

The dog who lived at 5000 meters, looks like he's got a lot of meat on him

I arrived at this place at about 10pm at night after coming down the mountain from 5000 meters and being warm again in the Amazon, this was a view from my hotel room window.

The hike up to Machu Pichu

The one boy was 10. They were are guides for riding around the area outside of Cusco.

shoe cleaning

Caves to go explore, there were tons of them and no one around, it was really fun

Ash's little brother.

Roger, who I met at the hostel in Purteo Maldono (gateway to the Amazon), we ended up exploring the place together for 5 days. Roger was on the beginning of his around the world trip. He grew up in New York City and has lived there for most of his life. He was an engineer with a good job. He recently quit his job to go explore the world for a year, I think he is going to 5 continents, I tried convincing him to go to Africa as well. I hope he comes to visit me in Canada one day, so many good outdoor adventures together.

Walking through the Amazon

This boy and his Grandma and Mom put on traditional cultural tours. Interesting, not super tribal or anything as like everywhere else in the world they have access to technology, but still cool to meet them and see a bit of what life used to be like in the area.

Swiming in the Amazon Basin beside the boat

Our host in the Amazon, great guy, really knowledgeable

Ash, who I met at the smoothie stand in Cusco came to the Amazon with his family as well so we met here. Ash is a very interesting and unique British guy. All 3 of us are 26. Ash moved to the Amazon when he was 18 fresh out of school and never left. He learned about traditional medicine and his a Shawman, he has and is currently involved in the hair extension business and runs a pizza shop in the jungle. I really give him credit for sticking it out so long in Peru. Also thank you for the tour of his part of Peru. I think he was a bit down and negative, and I helped him with selling in his business for a bit and gave him motivation to keep pushing forward! NEver stop Ash!

The food in Lima is actually some of the best in the world.

Slack line is big in South America

Graffiti everywhere, I loved it!

I taught Ash how to make a Carrot cake to sell, due to different ingredients in Peru it didn't turn out so good

Nasty Guinee pig, way to greasy!

Traditional Peruvian dress

Random old bridge on the way to Machu Pichu, got a third of the way and came back

how they build houses in Cusco, just wandering through random areas

Local soccer league in the Amazon, was a lot of fun, teams not much better than rec leagues here but so many fans! Love how social it is there!
Overall Peru was not my favorite place to visit. Mainly to do with me: I don't speak Spanish so couldn't get to know the locals. It was very busy with tourists, so you were seen in a lot of areas as someone to get money off of. I heard Columbia is awesome, so I would suggest going there instead, but of course if you end up in Peru, you can have fun, and its all about who you meet, and I suggest to learn Spanish at the beginning and go get lost somewhere new!