BJ Gray's Story
An Entrepreneur's Journey: Turning Adversity Into Opportunity
BG&G Enterprises is a conglomeration of several small "business ventures" that I have developed throughout the years. I followed a traditional career path in office administration, bookkeeping, and inside sales for 25+ years, but I was always drawn to entrepreneurship. Although I worked for both large and small firms, I preferred working for small business owners. I loved setting the pace and running the show. Admittedly, the pay and benefits were not as good as with the larger firms, but there were other perks. For instance, I worked directly with my employer's lawyers, accountants, and marketing agents. From their mistakes, I learned first hand what to do, or not to do, to run a successful business.
The entrepreneur "bug" bit me early in life. I negotiated my first freelance job - cleaning houses and ironing for people in my neighborhood - when I was 11 years old. But my first "real" business venture was started in the early 1980's. Part-time, I sold general merchandise via catalogs. Eventually, I opened my own flea market store where I learned to manage inventory and set prices. I also gained valuable insight into what my customers and other vendors were looking for. They wanted quality, but free or low cost products, services, and resources. Since helping people has always been second nature for me, I had no problem doing the research to help them find what they wanted.
In fact, I have always been the "go-to" person when family, friends, and neighbors needed help. They would call me to edit their resume, find a scholarship for their son or daughter, fix their computer, teach them how to use a spreadsheet, or set up their company books. I have even acted as medical or legal advocate for some within my inner circle. When these requests for help began to intrude on my personal time, instead of viewing it as a nuisance, I saw it as an business opportunity, and started charging a small fee.
I had become bored with the routine and frustrated with the pay scale at my regular job, so in December of 1996, I went back to school after 20 years. By working part-time, I obtained degrees in Industrial Electronics, Occupational Safety and Health, and Industrial Management in four and a half years. In May 2001, I was enthusiastically looking forward to starting my second career. However, just one week after graduation, I shattered my right leg. The damage was so severe, my doctor placed me on blood thinners and restricted me to the bed for three months because of the threat of blood clots.
Since working a regular job or operating my catalog / flea market business would not be an option for a while, and with no source of income except savings, I was hard-pressed to find a way to pay my bills. After a couple of months of bed restriction, the idea for creating an online presence was conceived. Not only did I see it as a revenue source, but also as a way to continue to help people.
Hobbling to my computer everyday, I learned what it took to build a website and began to teach myself the basics of HTML coding. Originally, I sold general merchandise as Aquarius Novelty Merchandise online, but I soon began operating my online and offline freelance projects as BG&G Enterprises (BGGE). In the beginning, BGGE.com was a one-stop shopping site, featuring general gift shop items, discounted telecommunication products, and a cash-back mall. After a few months, I added the education and career self-help centers. Before I knew it, BGGE.com became a mega site (or monster site) with over 800 pages indexed weekly.
I have revamped the site in recent years to streamline its focus and size. Today, BGGE offers freelance administrative services, free and low cost resources, and a business gift shop. There are now less than 200 pages on the main site. However, as I have begun to officially blog on the site, I suspect that the number of pages to increase rapidly. I can live with that because BGGE is better organized.
Entrepreneurship is my passion, but it has not been an easy road. I am not a millionaire yet. The road to my success continues to be paved with trial and error and adapting to adversities in my personal and business life. But I find overcoming challenges, rewarding ... and I love it.
Recognizing opportunities and incorporating changes when needed is how BGG Enterprises and BGGE.com continues to evolve. So keep checking back as I update my story.
BJ Gray, Virtual Administrative Assistant