I've created a business out of cleaning other people's junk. In 2004, when I was 21 years old, a friend mentioned making $100 by removing an old fridge. I realized I could do the same, so I started handing out homemade fliers in my hometown in Connecticut.
At first I borrowed my mom's SUV until I was able to purchase Old Rusty – a somewhat reliable pickup truck that allowed me to expand from Fairfield County into New York. The business grew quickly, and soon I had to retire Old Rusty to purchase the bright green trucks we use today.
Stuck in a rut
Fast forward a few years: My wife, Peggy, and I were on vacation in Florida. I was 30 and now considered a "seasoned" business owner. What should have been a relaxing getaway from the daily hustle and bustle of the business was anything but. After reaching the ten-year mark, I was unhappy with where I was and where the business was going.
Instead of focusing on the vacation with my wife, I could only think of the business and how unhappy it made me. I was very frustrated because other companies were expanding faster than mine, and that I had reached such a stagnant place. I was on the verge of a breakdown.
Peggy humored me when I grumbled about my unhappiness, offered me advice I didn't take, and let me vent. It got to the point, however, where Peggy could no longer take the complaints. We were leaving a CVS, when I said for what had to be the hundredth time, "I can't do this anymore."
She looked me straight in the eye and said, "Then don't. Give up and find something else to do, or suck it up and fix whatever it is you're dealing with. But you have to do something that isn't complaining."
Clearing away my self-doubt
Hearing Peggy's advice to get over it or do something else was a bit of an eye-opener for me. For some reason, what she said resonated with me. I decided to shut up and make things happen, which is exactly what I've been doing since that very day.
The story about doubting the business you created is not something most business owners want to share, but it's a reality I faced. My self-doubt truly changed the company for the better because it made me challenge the status quo. If my wife's comment hadn't caused me to declutter my negative thoughts about my career path, I'm not sure where the business would be today. Junkluggers is something that is very important to me, and in order to keep growing, I have to lead by example by staying passionate about the business and keeping a positive energy.
People will always have junk that they need to get rid of. Sometimes, that "junk" is negative thoughts and self-doubt. But once that junk is gone, it's just a matter of keeping things clean.
About the author: Josh Cohen started Junkluggers out of his mother's Dodge Durango in Trumbull, CT, when he was 21, and has since grown the company into a multi-state franchised operation. Josh enjoys spending time with his family and friends, including his wife, Peggy, their twins Jackson and Fiona, and chief canine officer, Otis. Follow Junkluggers on Twitter and Facebook.
Edited for length and clarity by Shannon Gausepohl. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Contact Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our contributed content program.