At the age of 13, I purchased my first automobile. A navy blue 1972 Camaro.
It took three summers working at my dad’s gas station, sweeping the pavement, cleaning tools and pumping gas, to save the $1,200.00 required to make the deal.
The ’72 was part of a well developed plan to earn enough to acquire my dream ride. Every autumn dad would pack up the Suburban, load a trailer with car parts for sale and head west with our entire family of five to Carlise, Pennsylvania. Carlise hosts one of the largest classic car flea markets on the east coast and with acres of fair grounds, there are hundreds of cars to choose from. In the fall of 1983, after days of trekking through mud, searching for just the right car for just the right price, the ’72 was mine.
We brought the ’72 back to NJ and I spent the next few weeks scrubbing every inch of it. I meticulously detailed each bolt with polish or new paint. With a fresh coat of wax, it looked better than it did the day it rolled off the assembly line. I popped a “For Sale” sign on the windshield and parked it in front of the gas station. One week later the ’72 had a new owner and I had doubled my money.
Throughout the next three years, I had purchased and sold about a dozen more vehicles, each time earning a significant profit. I was 16 years old and a few months from obtaining my drivers license; at that point in my life, “the most important day of my life”. It was time to find my “keeper”.
I learned so may lessons working with my dad. He owned his own business, collected classic Corvettes and earned enough for amazing memory-filled family vacations surrounded with boats, snowmobiles and other things that go fast. Even today, loving retirement, he is still an entrepreneur wheeling and dealing his vacation rental properties on a daily basis.
The most valuable business lesson Dad taught me was how small victories will add up to major rewards. I must admit that as I swept the dusty parking lot under the hot sun, I was unaware of the lesson he was teaching. Saving my meager “paycheck” each week quickly added up to some serious cash and “flipping” cheap reliable classics, one small victory at a time, soon earned me enough to buy the black 1969 Camaro Rally Sport I still enjoy driving today.
When Annmarie and I launched Fivecat Studio in 1999, we started from scratch with no money and no clients. One small project led to another, each building a business and earning a reputation. We enjoy the success we do today as a result of many small victories.
Every day we are presented with choices. Some are major and others are so small that they appear to be insignificant. Our future though, is the result of every choice we make today. Small victories lead to major reward.
I never sold that 1969 Camaro, though there has been so many times of struggle when we could have used the cash. I think that reward, which I earned almost 30 years ago, has over time become a symbol, a reminder to the power of small victories.
Have you enjoyed the power of small victories? Please share your own story in the comments below.