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1. Get A Clown Car
Back in late 2015 our business was operating using a measly clown tricycle. It was red, had the fringe streamers hanging from the handlebars, and painted with a crazy red spiral on hub-capped rims. It was the epitome of textbook tricycles. We even had a bear that rode on the back pedals while Michael wore his bright red honking nose cruising aimlessly from one ring to another begging for circus peanuts. It was a tired and sad grind that we were hopelessly stuck with for the foreseeable future. If only we had some good advice or a drive to do more...
It was another long year in the showbiz and through tireless promotions, canvassing, and local shows and as our promoter I had grown weary of watching Michael and the Bear twirling around in circles for peanuts. Something had to give way. It was then, in that very moment that the three of us, very talented tricyclists, realized what we needed to do. It was a bold move and it would forever forge us in the fires of fraternal fortitude, but it had to be done. With great humility and sacrifice the bear and Michael and I as clowns approached The Great Boy, Runner of Errands, Manager of Leads, and Artist Now Formerly Known as Shareholder of whom wisdom and knowledge has no limits, with a question regarding what to do next in regards to expanding the Greatest Show in Northeast Arkansas into other realms of the land. He spoke and said unto us,
"I can just see it now. Y'all ridin' up there to REDACTED DISTRIBUTOR's place all piled in a clown car, making deals, and clowning like y'all do so well. Give me a f$%^ing break!"
It was in that moment that we knew we must immediately get a clown car, so we got three; well two that run and one in a garage, as well as a new clown to add to the show.
Unfortunately for The Errand Boy, this act of pure wisdom drew all of his power from him and he had to be put out to pasture to wait for another group of clowns to bring him along for the ride. In this single act of selflessness the Errand Boy became the Artist Formerly Known as Shareholder left to reflect on his choices and grow bitter while claiming that,
"Q-Sauce Taste Like Ass."
only to walk away with a dented 1980's refrigerator.
In the mean time we, the bear and two clowns, needed to move on and begin driving the clown car forward to the next act. Along the way, we claimed a sailor named Lynn, our newest clown, to our troupe and have been navigating a labyrinth of success.
I'd like to share some of the obstacles we've faced and how you can drive your clown car to success as a business, or at least avoid obvious pitfalls and barricades along the way.
2. Beware! Clown Cars Run On Fuel
Believe it or not, your clown car runs on the same gasoline, diesel, or electricity as other similar automobiles with exception to maybe the Batmobile and the Delorean from Back to the Future, but more often than not (about 99.99975%), your clown car will physically run on liquid fossil fuels or electricity. In this case, you must constantly fuel up the car to make deliveries and no fuel burns faster than your own. Unfortunately when you're operating a business and bootstrapping it from the ground up, there are sacrifices to be made for the betterment of the company and your clown car is no different.
Caption: Jeff drives the clowncar with a trophy in it just to feel special. It makes the shows much better when the trophies are there.
When you first start out, your clown car needs to fit the job it is handling. For instance, our clown cars are both early to mid nineties Ford trucks. One is an F-150 and the other is a Bronco. The F-150 is our main hauler and we use it to set up and tear down our demonstrations, haul tables and chairs, haul palettes of ingredients, and haul our clown in training to and from clown workshops. The Bronco is used for short distance deliveries and local hand to hand deliveries making appearances all over Northeast Arkansas. It is useful in the rain because the cargo space is contained and has a roof.
Doing all of these trips in the clown car(s) will burn an immense amount of fuel. If you remember, I stated that your own fuel burns faster than someone else's. While this is true, it is also more efficient because it is your sacrifice and you don't have to reimburse another clown or live in the pocket of another circus. This means that not only is the gasoline yours, but the profits of the business are yours as well. We prefer to use our own fuel to operate our clown car(s) because that means we keep a larger portion of revenue without worrying about paying anyone back.
3. Be Careful! Drive Slow When You Need To.
When we were on our tricycle, we were driving it as fast and hard as we possibly could to get from show to show. It was taking a toll on us and the trike. We even tried to pull a giant steel barbecue smoker with it and just barely got that smoker to its destination before we had to return the circus peanuts that we borrowed to pay the guys that built the smoker. We learned that going to fast and picking up too much weight along the way was bad for the clown trike mobile and we decided to take things down a notch for the new clown cars.
The thing is that no matter what happens, if you intend to grow your circus into a full three ring event, you're going to need a reliable clown car. That means you need to take it easy and cautiously and move in a single forward progression as you take the hills, curves, and bumps along the way. Driving the clowncar too fast will cause the giant 3D bobblehead on top to bounce off, or even worse, you're going to crash it. The road from here to showbiz is full of curves and hills, but there are staightaways too.
4. Be Swift! Take Straightaways At Full Speed.
If your tank is full and the highway is clear, move as fast as you can to build your business with the resources you have. The importance here is on the RESOURCES YOU HAVE. If you don't have the resources you need to set up your circus tent and stunt track, then review what you do have and make the best of it. It's difficult to run a race without tires, fuel, energy, and some tune-ups along the way, but when you have that stuff accounted for and the getting is good, then go get it. For a short while, throw caution to the wind and let the wind blow through your curly clown hair. It feels good to run a business that gets ahead once in a while. When the opportunity is there, take it.
5. Be Vigilant! Don't Take Jokes from Other Clowns.
Sometimes when you're on the straight and narrow path to the next show you'll run across some other clown that would rather see your clown-car crash and burn than be successful. When this happens, don't drink the Kool-aid. Just smile, honk your big red nose, flip em the bird, and keep rolling. People will often tell you that other people detract from your work or ideas because you have something the don't. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes people are just assholes. It doesn't pay you either way to find out. What does pay is the incentive to work and strive to put your best foot forward. Allowing an amateur clown to get under your skin shows vulnerability and weakness. Taking time to slow down and address these detractors wastes fuel and destroys your ability to recover from the mud slinging.
6. Always Set Waypoints.
Not knowing where you want to go in life is a sure fire way to not know where you're going. When you're in your clowncar, its no different. Before you depart for your next circus act, research a place and set goals for your next event. Learn as much about the new event or location as you can before heading that direction. Upon arrival, assess the situation and see if the event or place is as it seemed. If its not, don't commit any new resources to it. Unfortunately for us, we didn't know where we wanted to be with our adventure in building BBQ smokers for other clowns and we kept committing resources to a project that ended up producing a third of what was expected AND almost didn't pay back the loan taken out to build with. This is probably reason numero uno of why you should plan and debrief all the people in your clowncar before you make hasty decisions. Fortunately we've since been in better communication with all the people in our clowncar and have had fewer collisions and accidents along the way.
For a taste of what our clown car can deliver to you, have a look around in our shop. Be sure to use the word CLOWNCAR for a discount during checkout.