Personal Experience

How Making A Move Opens New Possibilities

It was an extremely cold January with snow was so deep you couldn’t walk or drive. Business was at a standstill. No cars were being sold on Roby’s used car lot. Customers were not booking hair appointments at Cathy’s Coiffures. We decided to take a vacation in a warmer climate. We flew to Los Angeles, California.

At first Roby was hesitant to make the trip. “Those folks are crazy,” he said, referring to recent earthquake reports, “that place is going under.” Still, I convinced him it would be ok because God is in charge.

When the plane landed at LAX the temperature was sixty-five degrees. Just fifteen minutes later, driving down Century Blvd. with sunshine and palm trees, my husband declared, “This is God’s country! This is where we should be!”

After a week, we were convinced to make the move. When we got home from the trip, sold both our businesses and all our other property. My beauty shop sold quickly and I stayed on as an employee of the new owner for an uncomfortable few months. Roby made the transition by splitting his time between his Chicago car lot and establishing another auto sales business in LA. By September, we were settled in our new California home.

A Mind Expanding Experience

It took some getting used to the subtle differences between Midwest and Pacific Coast business practices. For one thing, while Chicago seemed buttoned-up formal, California appeared laid back and casual. But looks can be deceiving. Certainly there was corruption and under-the-table dealings in Chi-town. But in LA we discovered sharks with big teeth were a force to be reckoned with.

Running a used car lot in Chicago, Roby had his own finance company and could rely on his customers to pay their bills on time. They either lived in the community or went to the church in one of the buildings he owned. If they didn’t pay on time and the car came up missing, they knew Roby’s impound. In Los Angeles, the area is so wide-spread and people tend to move around a lot, making it very difficult to repo a vehicle. Also in Chicago, Roby had a good relationship with the suburban new car dealers to pick up their trade-ins for just a few dollars, which he resold on his lot for profit. In LA, he had to go out to the dealers’ auto auctions in heat and smog, and spend considerably more money for inventory.

Roby kept the car lot going in LA for a while, but soon discovered the car wash business was more lucrative and successful. He opened Roby’s Hand Car Wash at the top of a hill at the intersection of three much-traveled roadways: Stocker, LaBrea and Overhill. In its day, this car wash was a popular meeting ground for politicians, celebrities and sport stars. Deals were made through direct contact, sometimes out the trunk of a Bentley or Rolls Royce.

Meanwhile, my beauty shop days were over. I was ready to move on. I had become an avid reader of business magazines and classified ad papers, opening myself to new ideas and inquiring about business opportunities. I was learning about mail order and looking for products to sell. I tried several items that car lots might use, but the products required demonstration and I grew tired of traveling around in the big city traffic.

My passion was in being near the beach. At that time, roller skating was the rage and Roby felt I would do well in a skate rental on the boardwalk. That was great! I had a little hut right under Santa Monica Pier renting out skates and bikes. I met celebrities and tourists from all over the world and became part of a unique community of beach lovers like myself.

That went on for a couple of years, until one day I got a postcard for a new sun tanning parlor. I thought what a great idea! Here I was at the beach every day tucked away in a little cave, but never out in the sun. When Roby heard the idea, he invested in sun tanning equipment and we opened up shop in the business district in downtown LA. Surely those office folks would want to work on their tan; but sadly, no. We lost a lot of money and I went back to the beach.

By now, Roby’s imagination was so fertile he was coming up with new ideas all the time. The next adventure took us to build Marina Hot Springs, a ten-room motel converted to a hot tub spa. It was a luxurious place for relaxation, rejuvenation and romance. Theme rooms like the redwood terrace, mirrored room and Flintstone’s Cave rented by the hour. We handed out 2-for-1 passes everywhere we went and the place was filled 24 hours a day, every day.

To help promote the spa, we produced our own television, radio and print advertisements. I started a company called Commercial Network that allowed us discounts when purchasing ad space and time. I took a class in paste-up and layout to create promotional materials. Though still very young, our children participated in construction and spa maintenance. It was a beautiful place and drew crowds of attention, but ended sadly for us. (That’s a story for another day.)

On to the next idea

Roby became ill following Marina Hot Springs. Stress had taken a toll on him and he needed rest. During the next year, he sold a few cars but became interested in distressed real estate.  This led us to write our first talking book: BUYING FORECLOSURES BEFORE THE AUCTION. It was a big hit on three audio cassette tapes with workbook and user-friendly forms, produced in-house by Roby and Cathy. We sold thousands of copies through mail order, The Learning Annex and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Following the success of Buying Foreclosures, Entrepreneur Magazine asked us to produce additional start-up manuals on other businesses we were involved in. This partnership was very successful and continued for a few years. Like everything else, we eventually moved on to greener pastures.

Having successfully conducted business on both local and national basis, we were led to discover the international marketplace. And that takes us to present day, World Business Exchange Network.

Next time:

I’ll tell you how to turn your idea into a profitable business.


I’m sure many can relate to how it feels to lose a job; whether by choice or by chance, it hurts. There are overwhelming feelings of discomfort that cannot be described as anything but anguish. Put aside the loss of income (painful as that may be) and concentrate for endless moments on the loss of self-esteem, the derailment of your sense of personal value. All the good you once felt is just gone. You have nothing to wake up for next day… or the day after that… Life loses its glimmer. Everything goes dark.

That’s how it felt when I was fired from Jack’s Hair-em. I had devoted six and a half years of my young life to being the best hairdresser and shop manager that I could be. But one day, I lost it all.

How things evolved

Things had been building up to this day for a while. There were signs that I should leave and people were telling me that I was smart enough to run my own business. But still, I felt a sense of obligation to my employer who had given me a chance right out of beauty school, not even knowing whether I was qualified or mature enough to take on the responsibilities he had piled on my 18 year old self.

Jack had given me a unique opportunity to grow as a person and learn about business. In those few years I emerged from a shy aimless teen into a confident young woman. My dress code went from cut-offs and sweatshirts to fashion and style while honing my professional skills. It was during that time I fell madly in love with the man of my dreams. Meeting Roosevelt Roby further contributed to the changes that took place in me. He saw my potential for greater things. His love encouraged me to view life with wide open eyes.

Being in a committed relationship, I began to see the flaws in my employer and his workplace. For one thing, I realized some of Jack’s personal shortcomings and lost respect for him. For another, my relationship with coworkers took a downward turn. I became so uncomfortable in my once stable environment until Roby urged me to consider moving on. He insisted I get the phone numbers of all my clients, “just in case.”

What’s next?

My first reaction was utter fear of the unknown. What would I do? Where would I go? I decided the best course of action was to approach the competition. I was well known in the neighborhood and my clients would certainly follow me anywhere within reason. So I went to one of the beauty salons down the street and asked if I could rent a chair. To my surprise, the shop owner declined my offer. She felt I was being disloyal to Jack. Ours was a close knit community, after all.

Word traveled fast and Jack learned that I wanted to leave him. It was a busy Friday and I had three or four patrons settled under the dryers. I was taking a break in the back room when Jack burst in red-faced and fuming. He had taken my license off the wall and threw it at me. He told me to leave right then and there.

Shaking, I gathered up my personal tools and belongings. I went to each of my patrons, lifted the dryer hood and announced I was fired. I apologized for the inconvenience and thanked them for the opportunity to serve them. Then, I flew out the door.

Is losing a job ever a good thing?

Once on the street, I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I phoned Roby and started to cry. He calmly replied, “Oh baby, don’t you worry. He did us a favor.” In his eyes, this was my opportunity to grow.

But change never comes easy. During the next month, I was simply devastated. I went on job interviews to salons outside my neighborhood where I was not known. It was too far for my regular customers to travel and it takes time to build a new clientele.  Being the new girl made me feel incompetent and I started to question my own abilities. I wanted to purchase my own salon, but the bank wouldn’t loan money for what they called “chattel.” This brought my self-esteem to an all-time low.

Faith, focus, follow-through

But, God was watching and He opened a door. One of my former patrons offered to help me purchase a shop a few blocks in the opposite direction from Jack’s. By today’s standards, the price was ridiculously low and I was able to pay her back with interest within two years. When word got out that Cathy’s Coiffures was opening soon, my customers began to book appointments. In a short time, all my clients returned and even some of Jack’s regulars came to me. I was one of their own, after all, having lived in the neighborhood my entire life and growing up among them.

While my business thrived, Jack moved out to the suburbs and opened a shop near his home. I know I took a bite out of the competition and continued to be the best I could. I remained in that location for five years, until a bitter cold winter led us to vacation in California and a new chapter began on my life.

As Mr. Roby would say, it takes faith, focus and follow-through to be successful in any business.

Faith in God helped me through the tough times so that faith in myself was renewed. Focus and concentration helped me become a better stylist and ultimately better in business. Follow-through remains one of my best qualities. As my Mom would say, “You can’t give up; you have to finish what you start.”

Next time:

I’ll tell you how moving to California opened up a world of possibilities and many new business ventures.

Tony Wilson, Member Success

Tony Wilson 7M12040SDVOBMallcom_Opt1

WBE.NET Member since 2007

Thank you so much to WBE.NET and Mr. Roosevelt Roby. I purchased the program in 2007 and followed the steps. I am now providing goods to the US Government and federal agencies in international markets, exporting American goods thanks to Mr. Roby’s ingenious process and the WBE.NET.

Mr. Roby’s program has lifted me from homelessness and obscurity and into the world. I can never repay the gift of this program.

Just this week we have officially been certified as EXIM approved suppliers that can export any USA goods to anyplace in the world with up to 90 days deferred payment terms. How exciting!

Thanks so much for freeing me from the bondage of self and enlightening me to be able to participate in the world around me, which was a life-long dream.

Peace and Blessings,

Tony Wilson, COR, MBA, BsTM USAF Ret.

Read full story HERE.

10 Things I Learned From My First Business

My first career as a professional hairdresser lasted eleven and a half years. I worked at Jack’s Hair-em for six and a half years then ran my own salon – Cathy’s Coiffures – for five more years, still in my 20’s. It gave me a wonderful sense of pride to be my own boss and taught me many valuable lessons. Here are 10 things I learned from my first venture in business:

1) Technique
If you want to be successful in your chosen field, you have to be good at what you do.

During those 1500 hours required for a Cosmetology license, I practiced a lot. It wasn’t always easy for me to create a certain style. Dancing curls were all the rage, but hair piled high in loops and swirls just didn’t make music for me. Try as I might, it just fell flat. But I kept practicing until it became second nature. Now, hair cutting… I was good at that! I could razor cut a bob or shag into pure poetry in motion. Those 2 talents became my specialties.

2) Advertising
If you want people to know where you are and what you do, you have to advertise.

Being a stylist in my local neighborhood, I had a built-in clientele. My customers were girls I knew in school, their mothers, sisters, grandmothers, boyfriends and children. You can’t beat word of mouth advertising. My business thrived on it. I also did newspaper ads with coupon specials for light-duty days, like: Tuesday and Wednesday, Cut and Perm Specials.

My salon was on a busy street and the uncovered picture windows allowed passersby to see what was going on inside. I kept the window box filled with live foliage plants, and hanging baskets made by clients. It looked pretty and did not obstruct the view. Mr. Roby said I needed to attract the attention of night traffic as well, so he purchased an electric sign with flashing lights that advertised hours of operation, the phone number, and rotating specials.

Every business requires some type of advertising that will be determined by what you offer.

3) Customer Service
Be good to your customers and they will be good to you.

It goes without saying your customers deserve to be treated with respect. It’s also important they enjoy coming back. In my salon, clients appreciated the bottomless coffeepot. They would bring in homemade baked goods to share, and often compete with one another on whose cake was the fluffiest or best decorated. Their artistic efforts were displayed in macramé, potted plants, and an array of craft projects that decorated my walls and windows. It gave them a sense of pride to show off their work and allowed them to share ideas while awaiting their comb-out or blow-dry.

4) Competition
My boss at Jack’s Hair-em always said, “Never worry about the competition. They can’t hurt you, they can only bring more business into the area.”

There were 3 salons within a block from us in each direction, and many others throughout the neighborhood. We knew each other, and our customers frequented them from time-to-time – but they always came back to us. It’s good to know your competition and be aware of their business practices, techniques, similarities and differences. You can learn from them, copy them even teach them a thing or two – all in good spirit. But your style is unique and customers come to you because of who you are and what you do for them. You may not have the best product or even the best price; but you have something that they can’t get anywhere else. That something is the essence of you.

5) Inventory Control and Scheduling
Know what you have on hand, know what you might be missing, and know what you will need for the future.

When Jack went away for his 2-week military reserves training, I was left on my own – straight out of beauty school. I knew how to do my job, but I had to learn how to keep up with supplies. Towels had to be washed and folded every day and neatly stacked by the washbowls. Coffee cups, cream and sugar, and that endless coffeepot had to be filled. Tints and toners, perm solutions, cotton rolls and paper products had to be on hand. If you used one and had five in reserve, you were in good shape for tomorrow. But, if you used one each on Tues/Wed/Thur, you better have enough for the weekend crowd.

It wasn’t enough to keep supplies on hand. I had to check the schedule to see who might be coming in for what process. If I had several color touch-ups on the book, I had to check supplies for product on hand and pre-order what might be needed. It didn’t make sense to overstock items that were not in demand, but have plenty of the popular items in case of emergency. And, when we ran a perm special, we had to have enough in stock for the unexpected walk-in customers.

6) Employee to Customer Relations
Not every customer is a jewel. Sometimes you have to bite your tongue; sometimes you have to cut them loose.

For the most part, my clients were sweet, kind and very easy to work with. They gave me free reign with their hairstyles and trusted that I knew what would look good on them. On the other hand, some were demanding and exacting, and I was a people pleaser. I had to follow a magazine photo to the last detail or they would take the comb from my hand and show me how to do it right. One even jumped out of my chair in the middle of a haircut and started screaming that I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew she was wrong but I didn’t argue; and, when she tried to pay me, I respectfully declined.

One lady came in every busy Saturday smelling like gin. She would fall asleep under the dryer and wake up with renewed determination to make my life a living hell. I never satisfied her, never got “it” right. But she came back every busy Saturday. I had to post affirmations on my mirror to remind me, “nothing can disturb the calm peace of my soul.” Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. She made some biting remark; I threw my comb on the floor and dashed off to the bathroom to collect my thoughts. When I returned, I calmly told her to book an appointment someplace else. After all, I couldn’t satisfy her; why did she keep coming back? She replied, “Because you keep taking it.” Lesson learned. I don’t have to take that anymore.

7) Employee to Manager Relations
Sometimes you have to deal with employees that are lazy, sloppy, foul-mouthed or inept.

One of my coworkers at Jack’s was biting, sarcastic, and sometimes used words my virgin ears had never heard. She would be so sweet to her clients while they sat in her chair, but once under the dryer, she would gossip and tell all their business. To my everlasting shame, her manner rubbed off on me and I started to mimic her. Thankfully, I learned to distance myself by moving my station to the other side of the room where I was better able to concentrate and didn’t have to participate in constant chatter. Since she and Jack were old friends, and she was a good stylist with a following, he never attempted to rein her in. I don’t know how long she lasted because it wasn’t long after that I left Jack’s Hair-em and opened Cathy’s Coiffures a few blocks away.

At my shop, I employed a sweet young shampoo girl named Cindy who was practically perfect in every way: cooperative, good with patrons, liked to keep things tidy and clean. Until, one Saturday she was expected to come in, she didn’t show up. When I phoned her, she told me she just didn’t feel like it. I told her that wasn’t a good enough reason to leave me stranded on a busy weekend; so, either show up now, or don’t bother to come in next week. She realized her error and came running. Problem solved. Later, when I hired a second shampoo girl, Cindy trained her to be a model employee by assigning tasks and establishing rules.

I also hired a stylist who was very nice and customers really liked her. But, no one liked the way she did hair. I kept her on staff for the walk-ins, but she never developed a following of her own. After months of agonizing over it, I finally let her go. It’s hard to dismiss a likeable person.

8) Housekeeping
Keep your tools and workplace clean and sanitized.

Sanitation is a very important function in the beauty salon. State Board Representatives make unannounced site visits that can result in hefty fines for a salon that does not follow designated sanitary requirements. We had to keep our tools and workstations clean using Barbicide disinfectant, promptly sweep up hair clippings, and generally maintain sanitary conditions throughout the salon.

9) Bookkeeping
Keeping good records mean balancing the checkbook, matching purchase receipts with payment methods, and filing official documents and forms in a timely manner to maintain your business in good standing.

The best part of being in business for me was learning about tax write-offs. I love a legitimate business deduction and appreciate that businesses are allowed certain tax benefits. While I have always followed good bookkeeping practices, thanks to my Mom’s advice, and there are software packages like QuickBooks that organize income and expenses, I do believe in hiring a professional tax preparer/adviser who will find all the benefits my business can take advantage of.

10) Continuing Education
It is important to continue learning about your chosen field and watch for changes that can improve your performance or make the job easier, and even more fun.

While I considered hairdressing as more play than work, I was always motivated to learn about new products and trends. I subscribed to industry magazines and attended classes and seminars sponsored by my suppliers. The yearly beauty convention was a fun-filled field trip to a downtown hotel where my staff and I saw new techniques and products demonstrated. The suppliers gave out free samples and merchandise discounts, and we got to participate in hands-on activities that we brought back to the salon to benefit our clients.

As I said before, I gave really good razor cuts. But, when the fashion changed to scissor cuts and blow-dry styling, I wanted to see what the competition was doing. I made an appointment for one of my friends at The Crimpers on Oak Street – Chicago’s premier Gold Coast salon in the ’70s – so I could watch them scissor cut and style her hair. While the technique was new to me, the results were much like my original work. However, the experience helped me introduce the new concept to my more mature clients who were resistant to change. It revolutionized my business and attracted a younger “more hip” clientele. It was good for me professionally and financially great for business.

Next Time:
I’ll tell you how getting fired from my job was the best thing that could happen.

I hope you find my experience helpful, inspiring, or at least an easy read. Feel free to leave a comment or suggest topics that interest you.

When Mom Said, “Get A Job”


I grew up in the Great Lakes region where I loved summer and the beach. My parents were hard working people who taught me to be responsible and detail-oriented. Dad was a machinist in the manufacturing industry. Mom was a business bookkeeper. They seemed to be always tired and edgy from on-the-job stress. I called it ”the 9-to-5 grind.”

When I started high school, Mom insisted I learn accounting — she said I’d need it. I didn’t see the logic in that since I hated math. Still, among the necessary college prep courses, I did excel at office practice. What I thought was a curse, keeping the books became one of my greatest strengths.

When sophomore year ended, Mom insisted I get a job. She warned me I had to start somewhere, do something to earn money if I wanted the senior class trip a year from next spring. I was convinced that j-o-b spelled disaster. However, trolling the classifieds, I found an opening close to home for an office assistant.

You have to start somewhere, do something…

It was early June. I was 15 years old, longing for the lazy days of summer. Standing in the rain at a bus stop, drenched and dreading that interview, I saw myself growing old in a dark little office, longing for a sunny day at the beach.

Suddenly, thunder and lightening struck. I made up my mind then and there: I would never surrender to a 9-to-5 job. I blew off the interview, much to Mom’s dismay, but the Universe spoke, “Not yet.”

I settled for part-time employment at a grocery store where my best friend worked. I figured we could get the same days off and still make a weekly pilgrimage to the lakefront. What a surprise! That never worked out.

Doom and gloom hung over my head as months flew by and graduation approached. I earned enough for the class trip, but I didn’t have a plan for my future. I couldn’t see myself bagging groceries and weighing produce forever, so I enrolled in junior college hoping to find my purpose.

Then a friend suggested I try Cosmetology School. She made it sound like a lot of fun and playing with hair appealed to my sense of creativity. I count those 1500 required hours of education and practice to be among the most important of my young life.

You have to stick with it

Many times I cried, “It’s too hard, I can’t do this.” But Mom wouldn’t let me quit. “You have to stick with it. You paid good money for the lessons and you have to see it through.”

Once I became licensed, life took on new meaning. I was a Professional Hairdresser. Of course, it meant long hours being virtually chained to a salon chair, and I worked hard at my craft. But, it elevated my self-esteem and made me feel quite accomplished. I really enjoyed my work.

I was employed at a beauty shop owned by a young married man who served in the military reserves. Shortly after my hire, his wife had a baby and he had to go on a 2-week training leave. He saw my potential and was confident I could manage his clientele, another stylist, and inventory control. I remained his manager for six and a half years, until circumstances led me to open my own shop.

Do what you love and the money follows

I loved my career, working in the neighborhood where I grew up, and I was very successful. Still in my 20’s, I dreamed of a salon in Chicago’s trendy Old Town area. I probably would have achieved that goal, if not for the bitter cold winters.

One January, the snow was so deep and everywhere business was stopped. We took a trip to California and fell in love with the climate. Fifteen minutes off the plane, Mr. Roby announced, “This is God’s country. This is where we should be!”

After a week, we returned home, sold all our property and businesses, and moved to California — to the beach, where I was meant to be …

Next time:

I’ll tell you what I learned from my new career.