“I am thankful for all of those who said NO to me. It is because of them I’m doing it myself.” – Albert Einstein
I have had a passion for entrepreneurs since I was young. My first exposure to entrepreneurship was as a teenager working for a neighbor (Teddy) who, believe it or not, actually recycled cardboard in the 1960s. The concept was simple. Large stores and factories had to pay to have garbage removed including cardboard packaging. Teddy took away the cardboard for a cost below what the garbage haulers were charging and took it to certain paper mills. Virgin paperboard was at a premium so certain mills took used cardboard and used it to make non virgin paperboard. Teddy also got paid for the cardboard he collected. Ingenious and, trust me, Teddy was not attending MENSA meetings. Everybody else I knew in the neighborhood had a job; Teddy had a business and that is where it started.
As time went on, I got to know more business owners. I worked in delicatessens, as a painter, in factories and on Wall Street and always enjoyed understanding how businesses started and how owners were handling the issues they faced. I remember talking to Teddy as we drove from stop to stop and finding out about all the things that were on his mind – – including asking me to talk to his son about joining the business. (I think that was my first succession planning assignment – and it was a success).
So, for 35+ years, I have been consulting with owners of companies at every stage of growth – – from startup to high growth to mature. I realized early on at times owners just needed someone to talk to about what was on their minds. (I will cover overcoming the loneliness of an entrepreneur in the future.) I learned something from every one of them and started to organize my observations and use them in my practice while maintaining confidentiality. People techniques, funding advice and most important of all, studying how owners dealt with their own unique world. Very often isolated and misunderstood, I had the privilege of consulting, comforting and guiding them throughout my career. It allowed me to develop tools, processes, tidbits, etc. to help them along the journey. There were a lot of successes and some failures; more than a few life lessons and some “Dutch uncle” advice but my goal was always the same; to help the entrepreneur to succeed.
My instinct was to collaborate with others to convey some of what I had learned, but I could not seem to get any takers. So, true to Mr. Einstein, I decided to strike out on my own to share my thoughts; thus the idea of this blog was born. I call it “Ownership Writes” – a name developed by my sister who is the pun master extraordinaire. The name uniquely captures the purpose of this blog as only she could do.
I hope that over time I will be able to share some ideas, stories, lists or other insights that might help just one entrepreneur to move forward in some way. As the Chinese proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” My hope is for many successful journeys.