I love entrepreneurs. I love the story of people who find a way to create the freedom they want in life through owning their own business. I believe that business owners are at the core of the American way and the American dream. Recently two good friends with whom I have done business with in the past are now striking out on their own. I share their stories in short here hoping to inspire.
Jon and I have known each other for about 6 years. He has been through a few different sales jobs looking for the right fit. A few years ago he started working for a local roofing company. As part of the sale team he worked hard to bring in business hoping to create a career with the company. In time he found that the company didn't offer a strong enough value to keep him around. He decided to start his own roofing business. With one other business partner he walked away from a good income and started from scratch. Because of the amount of time it takes to get paid for a roofing job he even had to take a job at a large well-known retailer in the interm to make ends meet. Over the last 6 months I've watched this new business grow out of his basement into a sustainable opportunity that is now paying the bills.
Riley and I have not know each other for 2 years yet. We do a little work together and I have always admired his determination and integrity. He had previously been a partner in a construction company that went under in the recent real estate downturn. He had to move his family and start back to work as a full time employee. Now, a few years later he is getting his construction business back up and running (this time without any partners). Things are going well and today is his last day of work with his employer. Starting tomorrow he is back to being fully self-employed.
What can we learn from these stories? First, note that both of my friends had to transition and not leap to self-employment. One isn't generally able to just wake up one morning and quit their job because they have an idea that is going to really be big. Be patient. Make the sacrifice of time required to keep your day job while you build your business. Take advantage of the double income while it builds to create yourself a safety blanket for the day you have to walk away from the job.
Don't stop dreaming. Even after losing everything, my friend Riley never lost sight of his goal and how to get there. Stumbling blocks and trials are opportunities to learn and become stronger.
God Bless American Small Business Owners