Using entrepreneurship to replace a multiple six-figure salary with Brian Creager
In the early nineties, Brian had an epiphany. As a “typical engineer,” (his words) working for a corporation in the plumbing space, he suddenly realized that few companies are run by engineers. so Brian took an MBA in his spare-time and moved departments from engineering to sales and marketing.
In the year 2000, he moved to another corporation, DiversiTech, a components manufacturer in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration space.
He worked his way up from international sales manager to Vice President of European sales to Vice President of Marketing. Brian was a high-flyer. He was responsible for creating new product lines and new brands, and specialized in overseas business and development. He even started two subsidiary companies in Europe. However, these companies were deemed unnecessary in one board meeting and, before Christmas 2012, Brian found himself firing three colleagues.
Telling someone you’ve worked closely with that they no longer had a job just before Christmas was a sobering experience.
“I’d just built two multi-million dollar companies for someone else. I stopped wanting to start products and businesses for other people,” confessed Brian.
However, he was on a multi six-figure salary and had a wife and two kids (a tween and a teen). How was he going to replace that salary while supporting his family? “Nobody goes into this knowing all the answers,” he said. Meaning: you just have to start.
Because of his experience of getting American companies established in europe, he dabbled in international business consulting. this proved to be a red herring.
While helping a friend set up a barber’s shop, Brian had a “light bulb moment.” His friend mentioned that barbers sell a lot of products in their shops. this gave him the idea for a men’s hair care product.
Brian was strict with his time. He worked on his business from 3am to 7am and worked his corporate job from 8am to 5pm and put in hours on the weekends.
In February 2014, Brian had his brand (krieger + söhne®), a product, some inventory, and a website. A chance conversation with an associate at a conference prompted him to put the products on Amazon. He purchased a course to make sure he presented the product correctly in the marketplace.
Two months later, Brian had sold 30 bottles of his shampoo – $600 revenue before costs.
However, Brian’s quick mastery of the Amazon marketplace meant that, by the end of that year, his monthly gross profit exceeded his corporate income (remember he was on multiple six-figures).
But Brian still didn’t leave his job. instead, he invested the money in staff to grow his business further.
I spoke to him in August 2015 after he’d finally quit his 23 year corporate career. He was in Belgium setting up a European subsidiary. Who was helping him with that? one of the former colleagues his corporation had told him to fire before Christmas 2012.
Now he plans to build more product lines and more brands and take them to market through the Amazon platform where he has seen most success. He’s confident that the business will do more than $1 million in revenue in 2015.
He’s also launching his own community of entrepreneurs selling online physical products, called ZonSquad: “You never know what you’re doing that will lead to something else.” You’ve got to try a few things. it’s very unlikely that you’ll see success with your first idea.
Brian is now doing what he wants to do. He’s taking a sabbatical and spending time with his family on extended holidays. He’s enjoying what his work – creating products, brands, and making things happen. And, nobody else is telling him to fire people.
Brian left me with a great piece of advice: “Make sure you’re running toward something, but also make sure not you’re running away from something.” In other words: don’t let your sole motivation be negative.
Don’t become an entrepreneur just because you hate your job. Make sure there’s positivity in your motivation; become an entrepreneur because you love creating things, whatever they are. otherwise, it won’t work.
Excerpt from Free Yourself, Leave Your Job and Be Your Own Boss by Rob Cubbon
ⓒ 2015 Rob Cubbon