This is a tough time for all of us. We’re all trying to adjust to this crisis, stay healthy and simply stay afloat – something that is challenging on a personal basis and definitely so for businesses. But please take heart. I know from my own experience that adversity gives meaning to new beginnings and as the famous saying goes “This too shall pass.”
Back when I, Anthony Clervi, was still a contractor and Una, still in its infancy was known by a different business name publicly, we were struggling to figure everything out. That is just part of business and how it works sometimes. It takes time to find winning strategies and prove out success.
In fact, back in 2012, I had not yet personally signed on a new customer, or really even understood what it meant to sign a new customer in this GPO marketplace. But, as it happened, we had a restaurant relationship out of Florida that, although wasn’t really paying the bills at that time, led me to pursue a number of food opportunities nationally.
I remember this so vividly. I had just moved from my 600 square foot apartment into a two-bedroom apartment thanks to some earlier successes with other businesses. But it seemed like just as I began to get comfortable with the way things were going with our strategies and direction, suddenly every company I approached was turning me away.
Creative solutions are born out of desperation
Things started getting really tight. I was running out of money and I was stressed. I had used up all my savings; everything was basically gone. I even reached out to a family member for a bridge loan. But creative solutions are born out of desperation. It was at this point that I made some “Hail Mary” passes and caught a break with some sizable customers and supplier relationships. I thought to myself all it takes is one, and if I can get one, I can get a thousand.
This company was one I had originally cold called, and we’d already gone back and forth for a couple of months. Interestingly, they had been with a well-known food service distributor for 18 years and had never heard of a GPO (Group Purchasing Organization), so it was a great time to educate them and build trust.
They needed some customization that was very unique to our supplier at the time. So, we sent them the required information that showed them we could accommodate and provide real value. Yet we still hadn’t gotten the response we were hoping for.
As a last-ditch effort, I found a small token that represented their brand and put it in an envelope with a little green army man. I included a note which said: “Hey, let Una go fight for you.”
The owner of the company called me the following week and said: “We’re in. We’re going to do this. We believe in you. We loved your letter.”
Hope and gratitude will get us through
I’ll never forget where I was, standing in my apartment I couldn’t quite afford. When he gave me the news and the signed agreement…I literally fell to my knees and wept for probably ten minutes thanking the good Lord for some breakthrough. To this day I treasure the powerful feelings of hope and gratitude that overcame me in those moments and may I never forget them.
All of this to say, we’re in a time of adversity right now, but it shouldn’t stop any of us from providing value and helping each other as we lift one another up until we can pull out of this. And, it could do us all well to revisit past moments when hardship has given real meaning to a fresh start. Hope, love and gratitude will get us through this tough time together, and we’ll come out on the other side with an even greater appreciation for everything we’re blessed with in this life. Onward!