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

Quentin Pain started his first business, a courier company aged 23. He sold it 4 years later and used the profits to start a recording studio. A couple of albums later, he started two software companies, the last one being Accountz, which he grew from zero to 36,000 customers and which is still going strong today. His current company is ProofMEDIA, a specialist digital consulting business focusing on online growth. He's also a published author (including a Dummies title), and has won many awards including the IAB Small Business Mentor of the Year in 2013. Quentin is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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