The 99 Red Balloons of Business Success

99 red balloons in the skyWhen I started in business I visited every reception of every office building I could find in Cambridge (where I lived) and talked to the receptionist and/or left some literature about my business.

That was 35 years ago. I can’t remember how many businesses I actually visited but I do know it was a lot and the number didn’t have any meaning to me at the time.

Getting business from anyone who would hire my service was all that mattered.

I hadn’t heard the US President, Calvin Coolidge’s quote ‘persistence is omnipotent’ or the 1% rule back then as my focus was purely on survival at all costs.

I had taken out a £500 loan and with that I bought the tools I needed for the job.

All that mattered was getting my first customer.

And that meant finding the simplest possible strategy.

Along the way certain things happened.

The first thing I realised was wearing my leather jacket was a bit of a ‘put-off’.

The second thing I realised was that long King Charles II style hair didn’t go down too well either.

You see, I was playing in a rock band in London at the time and used my motorcycle to get to gigs.

Whilst there I saw these guys flying around on them delivering stuff.

Well, I thought, if they can do it, so can I.

So I waltzed in to some corporate headquarters and offered my services.

But who wants to hire a greasy rocker!

The jacket and the hair were the first of the 99 red balloons I needed to burst.

And when I did, things started to change.

There is ying and yang to everything we do. We only recognise the lows because we also get the highs.

The number of ‘no’s’ you get is directly proportional to where you are on your journey.

They’re always high at the start.

However, you will know when you’ve arrived because everything is a ‘yes’ and the ‘no’s’ are now coming from you.

And that experience helps for the next journey.

Every yes costs 99 no’s at the start.

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Quentin Pain

My earliest ambition was to become a rockstar (my band once backed The Waves who went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest). Unfortunately I decided to start a business to support my rock star dream, and as luck would have it, the business took off big time and the rock star dream died. I was 23. By the time I reached 50, my total business count was 6. The last one was Accountz that went from zero to 36,000 customers in 6 years. I now run ProofMEDIA Ltd and my specialism is copy that wins trust, engagement and long term sales. I'm also a published author (including a Dummies title), have won many awards including the IAB Small Business Mentor of the Year, and am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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