I am Dimitar Stoev and I will tell you a little story.
Some six years ago, I was a little young man with a lot of struggles. I was poor, in a bad relationship and in a really bad and low paying job. Working six days a week, I couldn’t see anything but stress and anxiety. I knew that something had to change, but I really couldn’t find what to do to break the inertia.
But just to be clear: Not everything was bad - I still had a roof over my head, and almost most of the time - food on my table. Quite naturally I wanted this kind of “life” to stop and rocket myself to the Moon. I wanted a good family, good opportunities and a dynamic life. Every cell of my body tried to convince me to take risks. To start a journey. At some point… I did.. and my life has probably changed forever…
Six years ago, I was a milk driver and delivered bottles and buckets of milk and cheese to restaurants and shops in the city. Boring and monotonous job. I had to work six days from seven o’clock in the morning, till six or seven in the evening. I didn’t have time to relax and I always felt exhausted. After work I usually sat in front of the TV or argued with my current girlfriend. On rare occasions we weren’t fighting, we just watched movies together. From time to time she was going out with friends and I was waiting for her, worried… with no call back what is happening. That wouldn’t be a problem, until I mentioned that she was an alcoholic and couldn’t handle drinks at all. It was kind of a toxic environment, I may say..
At that time, I really hated my life and needed change to break from this. I was browsing idea after an idea and tried to make the perfect move. Of Course that doesn’t happen in life. You just have to jump into the unknown. And I did just that. At that time, one of my friends was complaining a lot about the lady, who was cleaning the stairs in their building. I was thinking about starting a cleaning company, but I was still waiting for the DAY. The perfect day.. After thinking for a while, I decided to do it, and did it.
I called my grandmother and asked her for money to do the legal requirements. I opened the legal entity and I was a proud business owner. Even though I was poor and didn’t really know what to do, I felt good! I remember how inspired I felt telling people that I am going to be my own boss, how I am going to succeed and be rich.
Driving and delivering the milk was a good way to promote myself. I actually used every course to put handwritten notes to peoples' post boxes around the city. I didn’t tell my boss that I was using the company’s car and fuel to do my own job, but I was willing to take the risk. After all.. in order to change your life, you have to make some sacrifices. I lived with myself and didn’t feel it was immoral! I managed to get four buildings and cleaned them after work.
Delivery guy at day, cleaner at night. But it was good! At some point it was worth it to leave my job and do the cleaning full time. I was doing less, but enough to live … sort of. so I jumped again and I became fully dependent on that business.
There were ups and downs.. maybe more downs, but it was real and I finally started to feel alive! I had the dynamic life I wanted. I was meeting with all kinds of people, I was working with freelancers, developing designs, websites and marketing. I experimented with so many different kinds of marketing..
At some point we decided to start a charity organization and make some donations. We did deliver some clothes to children without parents. One of the best decisions we made. I truly believed that if we want to grow, we have to share our growth with others. And that will stick to me to this day.
But every wheel has to turn around. And unfortunately dark days came to me.
Everything was going great, really great… until two years ago, when a dozen cleaning companies emerged in the city. For a small city that is too big of a deal. We couldn’t catch up to each other. For a population of around 300,000 people.. that is suicidal. I couldn’t lower the prices I had and couldn’t free employees..
I was doing great until then in the city, but I couldn’t survive for long like that. I still find it odd to this day, how for such a quick time, so many cleaning companies emerged.
So I tried to take risks and scale.
I spent some money and tried to expand in the capital of Bulgaria. Huge mistake, but couldn’t see it at the time. I got a car, got a team and rented a place to relocate them. We launched the ads campaigns and for a short time got a few clients. Maybe because we were new, maybe because my company had at the time, one of the few good looking websites.
But quickly I got to the bigger problem. I couldn’t find employees there. I changed so many people that I didn’t try to remember their names. Increasing the salary to almost two and half the average in the industry, didn’t make a difference. I remember very clearly how on a cold, but kind of sunny day…, I had to do twenty four interviews and only two people showed up. The other ones didn't even call.
Horrible days, truly horrible. I was constantly making trips of four hundred kilometers from one city to the other in order to do everything better. I was cleaning in both cities all the time, because of a lack of employees.
The stress and the declining business started to smash me. I started to feel exhausted again.
Soon after my relationship broke.
See you in part two..
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