The Best of Times… and the Worst of Times!
Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. I have been an entrepreneur all of my life and it has presented me with some of the best of times, and the worst of times… and a lifetime of great memories.
Entrepreneurs are glamorized across America and beyond. We’ve heard the rags to riches stories of those who had nothing but a good idea and a ton of grit, but achieved success beyond their wildest dreams. Magazines and TV shows are filled with entrepreneurs sharing stories of how they did it, and how you can too! We see inside their mansions, view the documentaries and marvel at these “successful entrepreneurs.” Those stories are inspiring and prove that dreams still do come true, but there is much more to the entrepreneurial journey than is portrayed in a TV production.
Most entrepreneurial success stories involve years of hard work, and tough challenges, but never make the papers or are featured on TV. Thousands of entrepreneurs have built successful businesses which provide nicely for their families, maybe employ a few workers, and contribute to their communities in countless ways. These entrepreneurs have risked everything as well, but they have no interest in becoming famous, or growing to be the next Amazon, Oprah, or Sam Walton. These small business owners are content with operating businesses they’ve built, and their satisfaction comes from making an impact on the lives they touch, the clients they serve, and the communities they call home.
There is great satisfaction in building a business when competition is fierce and the challenges are many. Society tends to define entrepreneurial success with money, fame, or the number of employees, however, the true definition of success will vary by entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are unique individuals, and everyone’s journey is different, so “success” can be measured in a variety of ways.
I know many successful entrepreneurs who work from home, have few employees, and are not making millions, however, they are extremely happy, personally fulfilled and make an impact with every client interaction. Most are passionate about the business they built, spend quality time with their family, and volunteer when they can. Our communities are filled with entrepreneurial success stories that have never been on TV, and rarely make the news, but they show up and deliver for us every day, and we would miss them terribly if they vanished. Entrepreneurs are the drivers of our economy and we rely on them to create a dynamic and engaging community. Remember, every big business, started as a small one!
The entrepreneurial journey is also a difficult one. It requires sacrifice, overcoming challenges, and sometimes encountering severe disappointment, so it is not for everyone! Many of my “great ideas” which turned into business ventures that did not go particularly well. They drained me of my passion and my money in no time at all! Every entrepreneur has stories about their painful setbacks, but most setbacks are packed with lessons to be learned, because there are many reasons that a new business might fail. Maybe it is a lack of adequate funding, no prior planning, or simply lacking the stamina to survive until success arrives, however sometimes you can do everything right and simply be a victim of bad timing or bad luck. Success is not guaranteed!
As an entrepreneur, I have served some of America’s most recognized corporate brands, and major events like the Super Bowl, and the Olympics; and it was thrilling! I’ve also closed businesses that were losing money and dismissed good employees because I couldn’t afford to pay them. Talk about humbling and emotional! As any good entrepreneur will tell you, it is not how many times you get knocked down that matters, it is how many times you get back up!
I wouldn’t trade my entrepreneurial journey for any amount of fame, or news coverage, because it was this lifetime of experiences (both good and bad) that prepared me to serve the thousands of entrepreneurs that visit the National Entrepreneur Center each year. I can recognize those clients who are experiencing the joys of the entrepreneurial journey, and those with the look of desperation that I recognize from my mirror at home. Entrepreneurship is tough, however, for those who possess the passion, and develop a viable plan, I guarantee that it will be one heck of a ride that you will never forget!
Until next time…