For Earstin Sanders, entrepreneurship is a game. He says that once you’re in it, you’re in it to win it. The competitiveness that has helped him grow a successful business, E-Sand Lawn and Service and Property Preservation, was seeded early in sports and in a surprising, but not unforeseen, loss.
“I was on a good basketball team, third in our conference, and we were used to winning,” Earstin says. “Our coach took us to a tournament that he knew we would lose. And we did. Our team got beat bad: 102 to 52. It felt awful to lose.”
But from that experience, Earstin learned he could not rest on easy victories.
“Failure teaches important lessons and helps to build your character,” he adds.
That first lesson in overcoming failure became even more important when Earstin had to close his first business, a pet shop. After that loss, he was no longer able to secure credit. Despite that experience, Earstin maintained his entrepreneurial drive, partly nurtured by sports and partly inherited from his mother and grandfather, both of whom were always taking on new projects to care for a family with 18 kids.
In 2008, Earstin started E-Sand Lawn Service and Property Preservation with a $65 investment. Earstin knew he had to be nimble and resourceful, just as he was on the basketball court, to drive this business to success.
When he started his business, he was working full-time as a youth counselor in the county’s youth detention center. His hours were at night, so during the days, he began this company by mowing lawns and cleaning residences that were in foreclosure. He started with one property and, within a year, he and his wife were taking care of 10 properties, while still working full-time jobs. He calculated that he would need 30 properties before he could leave his full-time job. He secured the 30 properties within two years and left his full-time job for full-time entrepreneurship in 2010. Meanwhile, he and his wife continued to take on even more properties.
Managing this business growth took some key coaching and strategic financial moves to secure his company’s future. Earstin needed help with cash flow to hire employees and buy new equipment.
The problem: due to his previous business failure, he didn’t have the credit score to get a loan. Earstin found the Justine PETERSEN Microloan Program, which helped him improve his credit score and grow his business with two microloans (in 2014 and 2015) totaling $15K. And now his grass—and his credit score—are greener.
Earstin embodies that classic second-chance story. Even though he ‘lost it all’ with his first business, his entrepreneurial drive and competitive spirit prevailed. Today, his company manages more than 70 properties. His initial investment of $65 has grown to annual revenues of more than $100,000. Not only has he stabilized his current business, the support of the microloan positioned his business to step up to the next level. He plans to buy and manage rental properties, which will generate even greater, ongoing revenue streams to grow a much bigger business.
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