Entrepreneurship

If anyone thinks traveling alone is not a fun experience, they have yet to travel alone with me (sounds like a quote from Yogi Berra, doesn’t it?). Anyway, as a few of you may know from my personal Facebook page, I stepped away this weekend.  Yes, it’s true.  I made a journey out of town for three days – my first full weekend away since we opened our doors last July; in these short three days, I learned a bit about people, a bit more about myself, and of course, quite a bit about the entertainment industry.

I decided I would book a next-day flight.  Destination?  Phoenix.  Why?  No agenda really, but I figured I could use more spontaneity in my life, and well, as a baseball fan, Reds Spring Training seemed like as good of a reason as any to go somewhere.  So off I went.  I saw the Reds play at two different stadiums (sadly, two in the ‘L’ column…but Votto looks good), caught up with a few friends who happened to be in town, visited one of the coolest museums I have ever seen (Musical Instrument Museum), talked with the locals, bonded with other baseball fans, tried a few unique restaurants, sorted through thoughts that had been weighing on my mind, and of course, drove all over the place visiting just about every entertainment center I could locate within a 100 mile radius (need to review my notes on the plane to be certain of how many I visited, but I’d imagine 8 to 10…rental car company may not be happy with me!).

But my purpose in writing today is not to expose the fun I had on my trip but rather to share an interesting story for those readers looking to start businesses of their own.

At a coffee shop this morning, I overheard a business adviser talking to a potential client about starting an interior design business.  I am not one to listen to other people’s conversations, but the place was so small that it was challenging not to do so.  The adviser asked his client the following questions in regard to her desire to start her business:

1.)    How do you feel when others tell you “no way, that’s crazy talk, can’t happen” when they hear of your plan to start a business?

2.)    How passionate are you about this?  Are you willing to make it the center of your world?  And what are your goals in starting this business?

I didn’t try to listen to her answers, as to tell you the truth, I was too busy reflecting on my own thoughts and how I would have answered those questions standing in her shoes only a few years ago.  That being said, I think I would have answered the questions as follows had I been asked them then:

1.)  It’s terrifying, really.  There are those who just want to be nice and will say it will work without an understanding of the underlying business.  There are those who will test you, forcing you to reevaluate every piece of your thesis.  And then there are those who will just flat out say that it won’t work.  When others tell me I can’t do something, I generally try harder.  I push myself.  I get fired up inside, eager to prove them wrong.  But I do so with an understanding that I may indeed be crazy and that even the best intended plans sometimes go awry.  But I’d certainly prefer that some people tell me it won’t work than everyone tell me it will; that’s what pushes me to improve and reassess – to become further convinced of my own beliefs.

2.)  Extremely passionate.  20 hours of work per day just aren’t enough to contain the passion.  I’m willing to make it the center of my universe; not because I’m passionate about the industry, the desire to run my own business, or the potential for personal financial gain.  I think those options are all possible on my current career path.  But rather, I’m willing to make it my world because everything else at this point just seems trivial.  You see, in my current career, I don’t feel a commitment to a greater cause.  I don’t feel I have a chance to make the impact for others that I desire.  But with this vision, I see a path to achieve two very meaningful personal goals: to develop a strong connection with a community and to ease certain financial concerns of my family (by converting its investment group’s vacant building into something productive).  Once I start and put my present path aside, I’ll know of no other option; I’ll be at the point of no return.  I’m willing to take that risk at this point.  But I’d also be lying if I didn’t express that I’m terrified to death of risking it all.

As I mentioned in a prior post, entrepreneurship is challenging.  No matter the business or industry, it simply is not easy to start something from scratch; and it certainly is not easy to maintain a business either (and to get loved ones outside of the vision to understand is an equally trying undertaking as well).

In summary, I think the business adviser was right to ask these two specific questions.  While there may be some who are fortunate in that business acumen and success just come natural to them, for most of us it is a prolonged process that tests one’s character, one’s fortitude, and one’s deepest desires.  Maybe one day it will be a smooth path for me as it seems to be for those fortunate few.  Maybe.  But until then, I’ll continue to traverse the somewhat rocky terrain with my helmet on.  Thankfully, due to your incredible support of Scene75, I have yet to unbox my elbow pads.

As always, thanks for continuing to support the dream.

Jonah