What is Kenneth’s story?
How did I discover my passion? Why did I choose my profession? Why did I decide to become an entrepreneur? It goes back to the late 1960s.
Well, here is my story. It was 1968 when I started my first business at age 12. I was a paper boy selling The Detroit News, a local newspaper.
I grew up in the Jeffries Projects in Detroit, Michigan from age 3 to 11 years old — right off the John C Lodge Freeway. We proudly called my hometown: the “Motor City” or “Motown”. We moved into the Jeffries Projects when I was 4 years old until I was I turned 11 years old. My beloved Jeffries Projects and my apartment building are no more. They no longer exist. Its been torn down for yet another one of Detroit’s Urban Renewal Projects.
My mother bought a house off of 12th Street on Tuxedo Avenue and we moved from the projects into the inner city. I felt that we went from the “frying pan into the fire”.
Unfortunately, within six months, my mother fell down the steps in our home. She could not work. We ran out of money. I remember that we had crackers and water — and the crackers ran out. We didn’t eat for 2 days. Something had to change.
On the third day, I stepped outside my house — trying to figure out — how I was going to survive another day without eating. Fortunately, I had good friends, Floyd, Tony and Terry who lived with their grandmother. They lived two doors down the street. To my surprise, they invited me over for breakfast. That was a life saver for me in many ways. We had my favorite, pancakes and sausage. It was so so good. I was in heaven and not hungry anymore.
Two of the boys had paper routes with the Detroit News. Tony was a paperboy on our street. He asked me if I would help him on the paper route. And, he offered to pay me! I gladly accepted his offer. ( I would have helped him for FREE! )
Once we were finished with his newspaper deliveries, he paid me. This changed my life forever and for the better. I was happy and had a big smile on my face. That’s when I became a producer – a contributor to society. I had joined the working class. Now, I can help my mother. I returned home with MONEY and proudly asked my mother, “Mom, what do you want from the store?” A little surprised, she asked me where I got the money. I proudly responded, “I helped Tony on his paper route.” My mother smiled and gave me a list of items to buy from the store. We were never hungry again. From that day, there was always food in the house.
I was “making money” now . Before my new business, I was a consumer waiting for my mother to buy food and feed me. Never again. I was a producer. Now, it was my responsibility to bring home ” the groceries”. I grew up fast. My mother was depending on me and I was not going to let her down. It was my job to make money and contribute to my family. I was not sure when my mother would recover from her injury, but, I couldn’t wait another day. We had to survive and it was up to me.
My mother didn’t want me to get a paper route because they rob paper boys in Detroit. I asked her for permission, but she always said no. Meanwhile, I continued to help Tony on his route for a couple of weeks. On the second week, he asked me, “Ken, why don’t you get your own paper route?” And, I replied that my mother didn’t want me to get a paper route because, she feared for my safety. Bluntly, he responded, “ You need to make that money.” He was right.
The next day, I went to my neighborhood newspaper distribution station. I asked the manager what was available. He unenthusiastically answered, “Well, we have a route on Webb. It’s one street, but, no single homes – just apartments. Six apartment buildings with three, four, five and six stories. It’s lots of work. Are you sure you can handle it?” “Yes!” I quickly responded. I was on my way!
I got my paper route and started working within a few days. It was tough at first. I had one street, but, delivering papers in a apartment building can be tough. Lots of walking — up and down flights of stairs. Each building had three to five floors. Every floor had at least 10 apartments. It was a great opportunity for an ambitious boy. No other boys wanted this paper route. I could understand this for the average young boy. What young boy wants to carry papers up and down flights of stairs? However, I discovered that I was not an average boy. This paper route did not have a lot of customers, but offered great potential. And, we needed the money.
Many boys before me quit. I guess it was too much work for them. But, not for me. Many people had stopped their subscriptions due to poor service. Enthusiastically, I embraced the opportunity – it beat the alternative of being at home, unproductive with no money.
It didn’t take long for my mother to discover that I had disobeyed her and got a paper route anyway. My story was that “I had to help Tony on his route”.
One day, she confronted me and asked, “You got a paper route. Didn’t you?” I quickly responded non-enchantingly, “Mom, we needed money.” She smiled proudly and went inside our house. She never mentioned it again. She let me keep my paper route. And, the money kept rolling in.
By the way, I did get robbed a few times. But, that was just part of the doing business. If I wanted to keep making money for the family, I couldn’t quit. Where else could I make money? There were very few part-time jobs for young people and I was too young to be hired anyway.
Conservatively, there were potentially over 300 customers on my first street and about 150 on a second street that I took over. I seized it! I built this route to over 200 daily and over 300 weekend Saturday and Sunday deliveries. Believe it or not, I hired a couple of assistants to help me. I could no longer use the standard red wagon for my paper route. I delivered my newspapers from a shopping cart! It was the only way to finish my deliveries!
I won many of contests and earned lots of prizes: televisions, bikes, radios and cash! I had the biggest route in my district! I never realized that I was in sales, but I was! I never really considered myself in sales. I was successful because, I was good at selling newspapers. Unconsciously, I created my own successful sales system!
That experience changed me.
If it were not for that paper route, I really don’t know what I would have done. If it were not for that business owner who opened our distribution center, I would not had the opportunity to provide for my mother and me. Since that day, my life has changed for the better. The lessons of capitalism and free enterprise turned a once idle twelve year old boy into an aspiring entrepreneur. That is where learned my first lessons in goal setting, good salesmanship, communication and leadership.
My neighborhood had a few local stores and businesses. But, not enough in my opinion. There were very few part-time jobs for young people and I was too young to be hired anyway. Most times, it was my experience that you had to be politically connected to get a government job with the city.
This is when I begin to realize the value of small business and entrepreneurship. For every local community, it is only as strong as its entrepreneur and small business base. Strong business equals a strong community. I believe that behind every business person is a family – a wife or husband, sons, daughters and perhaps grand parents too.
What would have happened if my mother had her own business? Would we run out of food then? Probably not. What would happen, if every boy or girl could learn those valuable lessons that I learned as a paperboy? If we don’t have vibrant businesses in our communities, what happens to them? Where do our young people learn the same lessons that I learned as a twelve year old? What will happen to their future, if they don’t receive the same opportunities?
That why I do what I do. We need successful companies, entrepreneurs and business owners in our neighborhoods. We are committed to building a solid entrepreneurial foundation. That is why I chose to become a coach, consultant and trainer. I want to support people who are not afraid embrace the free enterprise system and build their “American Dream”.
We believe that if you can’t sell yourself, ideas, company, product or service, then you don’t have a business. More importantly, if you can’t run your business at a profit, then you will not be in business for very long. In business, it is all about sales and profitability. Everything else is secondary.
That is why we do what we do. That is why we are committed to helping entrepreneurs and business owners become more successful. By sharing our sales-web principles, strategies, tactics, ideas and tools, we help our clients grow their business and prosper. That’s the “American Way”
Take Advantage of Our eWeb 2 Sales Solution
How has our eWeb 2 Sales System positively impacted our clients’ business? Check out our Testimonials!
Who is an ideal strategic partner for your company? Discover if we are a good fit for your company. Please review our FAQs
Don’t forget to ask about our Special Offers!
Join us on our next eWeb 2 Connect Online Networking Session!
Join us on our next FREE WEDNESDAY WEBINAR at 12 NOON
Join us on our next Sales-Web Education Webinar Class
Join us on our next Sales-Web Workshop
Got a question? Just drop us a note! Send us an email using our web form below.