The Story of Our American Dream, Part 18: The Double-Edged Sword

double-edged-swordI’ve mentioned before that my Handyman Matters business started in the basement of the home my wife and I owned.  This was, to say the least, an inauspicious beginning, but we made it work.

Our “high tech” office furniture was a pool table and desks we created from sawhorses with old doors laid across them.  And within those confines, we were able to post over a million dollars in gross sales.  It was a nice start, requiring very little overhead.

I had come from a job in a high-pressure industry—the food and beverage service business—a career that is not conducive to a family life—or any kind of a personal life for that matter.  That experience was still very fresh in my mind, and I was in search of something that wasn’t quite so likely to consume my every waking moment.

So as I entered this new phase of my life, one of my goals was to learn to balance work and family, making a success of each without negatively impacting the other.

Success can quickly turn this into a double-edged sword.  We outgrew the basement office space.  The phone constantly ringing just a short distance from where we would be having dinner, or trying to spend time playing with our kids, was more and more a reminder that it was time to take the business to a different location.

We needed the sort of legitimacy that comes with a retail space, with real office furniture, and with employees who need to upgrade their workspace to something beyond a little red school chair and a desk that also doubles as a billiard table.

The trick, in establishing the move, was to make a shift that could take me physically, but not mentally or emotionally, away from my family and a personal life.  One of the fundamental philosophies of Handyman Matters was—and is—to create business opportunities for people dedicated to both business and personal success, and I needed to keep that uppermost in my mind if I—and those who would work with me—intended to achieve all of this.

I was looking to engage employees—and later, owners of Handyman Matters franchises who could manage, market and build their businesses while still retaining the opportunity and freedom to have a lifestyle at the end of the day where they can be good parents to their children and good representatives of their community.

To settle for anything less would have meant compromising My American Dream.