The Beginning of My Long Distance Services Business
When I first started this business in 1995 while living in Connecticut, I never thought in terms of its demise. I saw it as a great opportunity to help reduce the price of long distance services and make some good money to boot. No one ever thinks in terms of the business they are entering being a dinosaur, although it's probably a good idea to ask yourself that very question before opening your doors. However, I'm pretty sure that even if I had asked the question, I would have gone ahead and opened it anyway.
I had experimented with a number of possible businesses for over ten years up to that point. None of them had succeeded. In fact, only one had even gotten off the drawing board, and it plummeted into failure within months, never really having a chance. It was a singles magazine, and while there was a market for it, there was no market (at that time) for advertisers who would want to advertise in it and support it. As with most of my ideas, I anticipated global trends too far in advance. If I had waited 5-10 years, I probably would have done better, although I still doubt that it would have succeeded as a venture.
What attracted me to the long distance business was that I could use the web to promote it and sell the products. I had known for many years that while I was a passable salesman, I really hated sales. This is probably partly due to the fact that I had some very unpleasant sales experiences early on under tremendous financial pressure and that I was selling products I wasn't really crazy about in the first place.
The web changed all that. It enabled me to take my fledgling website hosting and design skills and create a web presence to do the selling for me. Now, all I had to do was create an easy place for people to find out more about the products and to place their order quickly and simply. I no longer had to do any face-to-face selling. This was a way to do business that I felt I could do!
The whole idea of selling long distance services came to me in the form of one of those post card packages you used to get in the mail in those days, inviting you to start all kinds of different business ideas. Perhaps most people have never gotten them. Perhaps whether you received them depended upon whether or not you had sought out ideas of that nature and had ended up on someone's mailing list. However it happened, I was receiving quite a few of them, and I usually flipped through them quickly before discarding them in the trash.
In December 1995, I received a cellophane pack of index cards that included an offer to sell long distance services on commission. The commission level wasn't very good. It was only 4% at the time, but it was an idea that intrigued me for the reasons I described. So I sent away for the starter kit.
I had always worked full-time since leaving college, but I hated it. My jobs had always been pretty low-pay, and I felt that I was going nowhere. This was the main motivation for starting the business. I didn't really feel passionate about long distance services, but I also wasn't against them, and I felt that it would be a good thing if I could save myself and others money on the monthly bill.
Tomorrow: the business opens.
October 28, 2007