LAN Masters’ 16th Anniversary: The Road to Get Here
Growing up, my father was always filled with advice that he would try to impart on me from time to time. It didn’t matter what type of situation we were in or what life happened to throw at him at the time – he always had some phrase or piece of guidance that he would use to turn anything and everything into a learning opportunity for my benefit.
One of his most famous sayings – and maybe the one that has stuck with me the longest – is that you always have to work extremely hard to get ahead in life, but sooner or later you’ll realize that all that hard work was worth it.
He wasn’t talking about being an entrepreneur, obviously – nor would I have understood what that meant at the time. But for him, it was important for me to know that you didn’t necessarily have to be the best at something, or the most talented, or even the “smartest.” But so long as you were prepared to out-work everyone else, nobody could ever take that away from you.
That was absolutely something I was thinking about on one hot summer day back in June of 2003, when I moved away from my native New Jersey with a funny little idea in my head – I wanted to start a computer service business.
At that point, all I had to do was figure out how.
The Journey Begins
The first time I set foot in the state of Florida, there wasn’t a soul I knew for hundreds of miles.
I also didn’t have anything in the way of a stable income either, for the record, but that problem seemed a bit less severe at the time. I had just lost my previous position at an IT company that closed after 30 years. The money that I was getting from my unemployment check is what got me down to the Sunshine State. My first night there, I realized that I really didn’t have much beyond that initial idea. All I had were the clothes on my back and the passion that led me to take that crazy leap in the first place.
Now, I figured, it was time to put dad’s old saying about “hard work” to the test.
From 8:30am to 6:00pm every night, I went door to door asking every business I could find if they needed any IT support assistance that I could tackle. For the remainder of June and on through July, I heard “no” after “no” after “NO.”
I kept knocking on those doors, however, because I believed in what I had to offer once I found the right person. For me, stopping was never an option.
Plus, I had a lot of free time on my hands so it’s not like I was busy with something else, anyway.
Finally, in August, someone graciously – mercifully – gave me the “yes” I’d been searching for. I almost couldn’t believe it at first, but there it was. My very first “client,” staring right back at me.
Then, there was one.
As luck would have it, the very next day a newscaster saw the car wrap (that I’d spent way too much of that employment money on) and asked if she could interview me about a computer virus that had just hit the Internet. If things went well, the piece would be featured that night on the 6:00pm news.
The morning after that piece aired, my phone started to ring – and thankfully, it didn’t stop for about six weeks. I booked an average of about four appointments per day for the entirety of that time.
Imagine my surprise when it turned out that dad was right all along.
The Road Goes Ever Onward
Flash forward to today, and I’ll be the first to admit that the way I view “success” is totally different than the point of view I had back in June of 2003. Back then, I almost saw it as a numbers game. “Unless I can bring in X number of clients by Y date on the calendar, this isn’t working the way I thought it would.
It’s funny how things change as you get older.
Now, I can see the forest for the trees – it’s all about the quality of the work that you’re doing. That feeling you get when you meet a new client and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you’re about to positively impact their life for the better – that’s the reward at the end of the journey that hard work undoubtedly requires. It’s not about finding all the clients, it’s about finding the right clients to make a deep, meaningful, long-lasting impact – certainly the best one that you possibly can.
16 years ago, I was working out of my apartment. Now, we’re operating from a 4,000 square foot office in Sanford. The logistics have changed, but the message at the heart of it all has not.
I have to thank my team here for helping me along the way, but I also have to thank my clients for allowing us to support them and trusting us with their IT needs.
I realize now that dad was spot on that he told me that you have to work extremely hard in this life, but all of the hard work will be more than worth it. That’s the lesson that I’ve learned again and again during these last 16 years as a business owner with LAN Masters.
I’m truly excited to think about what the next 16 might teach me, too.
Mike Della Pia is the President of LAN Masters, Inc., an Orlando IT support company that has been helping small businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business the past 15 years. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn.