I’ve actually spent my last penny

When I started my first real company — a web development company called Thunder Rd — I was broke.

I borrowed $5000 from a great friend and his dad to start the company, which was enough money to buy a computer and to print business cards. They were also my first customer and referred me to my second.

One of those customers contributed a significant amount to my well-being, financially and physically it would turn out.

I’ll never forget this act of complete faith.

I was working on a training module for a local company that was being produced for the web. It was a significant project at the time with a significant impact to my finances. I had done the naive thing as a young entrepreneur and agreed to bill upon completion (NEVER do this…ever). I submitted my final invoice and a quote for another project together, in one email, in the SAME document (NEVER do this…ever).

Then I got the email letting me know that I should receive payment in 45-60 days.

It was early December and my bank account was empty. Christmas was around the corner and no presents were purchased. Nothing.

I donned my only suit, grabbed the last of my pennies and took a bus to the office of my client to beg for a faster turnaround. They agreed and said they would issue a cheque that week and send it by mail.

It arrive the following week and…it was almost double the correct amount. They had combined the invoice and the quote and issued a cheque for that amount. I called in a panic and they asked me to return it to them so they could issue another one with the correct amount this time.

I once again donned my only suit, dug up enough cushion money for bus fare to get me there and made my way back to their office. This time they said it would take until after the Christmas break to fix because the person whose signature graced the cheque was gone for the holidays.

That broke me inside. She must have noticed because her tone changed, her demeanour was concern and she started calling around to see if there was petty cash she could give me to help me through the holidays. Or, most likely, just to help me get home.

Then she produced a miracle and said I should take that original cheque and cash it. She’ll call it a pre-payment for the work I would be doing for them in the new year. I know she saw the tears in welling in my eyes. This act of faith did more than she would ever know. At that moment she saved my business and gave me the ability to move forward.

Cheque in pocket, bounce in my step, I made my way into a snow storm with literally no money in my pocket and a 6km walk in my best suit.

Ahhh, my first taste of real entrepreneurship.

This is the unglamorous part of entrepreneurship where the start is being broke, the middle is struggling to reach broke and, in the end you are broke.