On twitter today, a fellow aspiring entrepreneur twatted a link to a story about a man who went from being an addict to starting a company that is raking in revenue of $32 million.
Bob Williamson ran away from home at the age of 17 and lead a nomadic lifestyle until he settled in Atlanta at the age of 24. At this point he was addicted to heroin and crystal meth and cleaning bricks for $15 a week. Shortly after landing in Atlanta, Williamson got into a car accident and was in the hospital for months. During that time he became a Christian and decided to change his life.
After he recovered from the wreck he got a job working for Glidden, the paint company. Due to his hard work and determination he was promoted 8 times in 2 years. Using his expertise that he had acquired while working at paint companies he decided to develop his own paint for his airbrush art hobby. He successfully did so and began to sell his paint at trade shows and he was so successful that he was able to open his own paint company. He spun that business into a plethora of other businesses including a magazine and a mail-order business. He then developed organizational software out of a need to organize his businesses; he couldn’t find any software to buy so he developed his own.
In 1986, Williamson was preparing to take the company public but during an audit it was revealed that his accountant had been embezzling money. This meant financial ruin for the company and he was advised to claim bankruptcy. However, Williamson believed that he could turn the company around and he was able to convince his creditors to not file lawsuits against him. He successfully recovered and was able to sell his business.
In 1992, he founded Horizon, a software development company focusing on systems for school cafeterias. He also sold his software to nursing homes, colleges, military bases and hospitals.
Williamson is now 61 and in 2008 Horizon was raking in revenue of $32 million.
What can we learn from Bob Williamson?
- Everything happens for a reason
- You can overcome anything
- Use your experience as the foundation for your own venture
- When you see a need that needs to be filled, fill it