It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish, right? 2020 is over. Praise. The. Lord. How did you finish 2020? No matter “how it started” or “how it’s going”, the goal is always to finish strong.

If you need some inspiration, watch this 2-minute video, “The Improbable Victory of Runner David Wottle.”

I’m no sprinter. Hell, I can barely run at all. No, this is about the process of beginning at the starting point, the struggle through the middle, and ultimately, the strong finish.

The start of 2020 seemed pretty good, like Dave Wottle in the starting blocks.

Then it started to suck (for me). And then the pandemic hit.

After 5+ years as a marketing consultant, I took a CMO position in January. Worst experience of my professional life, without question. Sorry, not sorry. It was horrible.

There’s a reason so many leaders focus on culture! Culture! CULTURE! They’re right. Life is far too short to spend 8, 10, or 12 hours a day in complete darkness, confusion, and lack of direction.

The worst part is that I saw it, knew it, and was almost sure of it just 2 weeks in. I am constantly searching for why I didn’t see it during the interview process.

Truth is, I don’t think I wanted to see it. I had convinced myself that this grass would be greener. We all want to believe the good things. But this thing wasn’t good.

I lasted 8 months, but I was actively looking for new opportunities after about 3 months. 

I left that position — with my wife’s blessing — smack in the middle of the pandemic.

In July, I had identified an opportunity that called for some commercial real estate expertise and investment. I called, emailed, and met with no fewer than 20 commercial real estate professionals in my personal network. 

All of them passed, for various reasons, but mostly because it just wasn’t in their sweet spot. I get it: this is definitely a “specialty real estate investment”.

On July 31, I made one more outreach to one more CRE pro. I told him about the opportunity. I gave him the same pitch I had given all the other CRE folks. Here are those exact words:

“Do you work with any CRE investors who are actively buying properties? I’m looking for a CRE investor for a “specialty” property here in Roswell. Long term NNN lease, potential additional dev on the property.”

A few hours later, the equity requirement was covered by a small group of investors. Then I got a text from one of those future investors: “He just told me about the deal. I am in! Excited for you!”

Just like that, there was a finish line. The 2020 finish line was in sight, and I had a chance to hit the ribbon.

That was July 31, 2020. Today is January 4, 2021. Now’s when you would be right to ask, “What took so long?”

A few weeks ago, Hiten Shah, co-founder of Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics, and usefyi, asked a question on Twitter: 

Founders and early team members: What’s the most useful advice you received about startups?

My answer: “It takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you thought it would.”

I was going to buy a small, local business a few miles from my house here in Roswell. I thought I’d be in and done by October 1.

Nope. Not. Even. Close.

Investors. Sellers. Letters of intent. Agreements. Bankers. LLCs. Financing. SBA 7A loan applications. Collateral. Business Valuation. Property appraisal. Title work. Inventory. Employees. Contracts. Signatures. Letters of Credit. eSignatures. Escheatment – yeah, look that one up if you dare! 

And, of course, lawyers, lawyers, and more lawyers.

The list went on and on…as did the days, weeks, and months with very little income from consulting gigs because I was focused 100% on getting this deal done.

God’s timing. God’s timing. God’s timing, I kept telling myself. And my wife. And my kids.

Just so much like 2020, right? Will it ever end? Will we ever close?

Yes. In God’s timing, it will. It has. It did. And God has done a wonderful work. God has surrounded me with a group of investors I never could have gathered on my own. Never!

These investors have befriended, advised, corrected, counseled, questioned, tested, encouraged, introduced, excited, calmed, and in all other ways helped me get this thing across the finish line.

As of today, I am a proud owner of SharpShooters USA, “a world-class indoor shooting range, training facility and retail store located in Roswell, GA.”

I just spent 3+ hours getting to know all the employees a little, and letting them “AMA” to learn a little about me.

I am giddy with excitement. I cannot wait until tomorrow morning! I’m humbled by the effort it takes to buy a small business. I’m incredibly grateful to the team who has been running the business – and CRUSHING IT!!! – throughout 2019 and 2020.

Doubling YoY revenue and profit through a pandemic is outrageous. Of course, we’re talking about guns & ammo here, but there’s so much more to the business! I can’t wait!

To all who have read this far, Happy New Year! May we all learn much from 2020.

And, to all of you who have struggled to make some kind of new start in 2020, don’t give up. Keep going. Keep your eye on the destination. Learn from the process. Focus, focus, focus on getting it done. It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish that matters.

Finally, please call, text, or email if I can ever help you in any way. I’ve started 8 businesses and sold 2 of them, but I could not have crossed this finish line by myself, not even close.

I learned a ton from this process, ALL of which I am happy to share with anyone else going into our through something similar.

What do you think about that?

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