I don't know what drives me to start up and run new businesses. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, having tried so many things and failed more than I have succeeded. The part I like most is the dream and bringing the dream into reality.
I believe most everyone has at one time or another dreamed about an idea they thought would change the world or make them rich or build a better mousetrap. The great majority will go to their graves with these dreams unrealized. Many times they think of an idea and then weeks or months later see it on TV or in someone's home. How many times have you thought, That was my idea?
Some of us just can't sit on an idea. Without much thought we jump in with both feet and give it a go. I doubt we'd have the wheel today if not for someone having a dream back in the stone age and acting on it. What would a royalty for the wheel be worth today if there was such a thing?
I'm getting a little old to tackle ideas these days. My dreams are big at my age and unless it is an idea that will make a difference in the world it doesn't get my attention any more. I admit I am still baffled when I see the simplest of inventions appear on TV after believing that all the good ideas have been created. I find myself thinking, Why didn't I think of that? Such an obvious solution right in front of my eyes. Here I am the idea guru and I couldn't see that? What's wrong with me?
The fact is every one of us have asked the same question. So, I know it's in us all. I can only imagine how many ideas and solutions are sitting in the back of millions of ordinary people's minds and on paper somewhere in the world, unfulfilled.
The challenge of bringing a dream into reality is one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced. That's what I love about entrepreneuring. Now the flip side.
I hate the ups and downs. I wish I could say my skin has thickened over the years but it hasn't. In fact, quite the contrary. I'm basically an emotional being and get really excited when things go well and really down when they go badly. These traits require someone nearby to temper the ups and downs that are inevitable when launching dreams. I've never been able to manage my emotions as well as they should be. Thankfully, Christine has been nearby to help keep my emotions in check. She has been put through an unbelievable amount of trial and error over the last 40 years. I admit that I would've bailed on me a long time ago. She hasn't......yet.
There is no greater satisfaction than to experience a dream come true. In my case as an entrepreneur, there is no greater stress than the tumultuous start up roller coaster. I suppose if it were that easy everyone would be doing it. I have paid a heavy price for my successes and am happy to be able to look back on them. There is a huge part of me that regrets never providing my family with a nice, steady, predictable income and normal work hours.
But, when a dream is on the cusp of greatness such as the Living Legacy Project, I can't help myself when I get up every day pushing the ball uphill just over the top and then........................weeeeeeeeee! Nothing compares with the feeling that is about to come our way!! After 5 years of pushing uphill I need a rest....a big rest. Then I want to visit every one of the friends that have helped along the way. It will be so rewarding to celebrate with them all. This is the reason I do what I do! It's not about the money....ever!
I tried a business of my own for five years and just about starved. Not because I didn't have enogh customers. But because i didn't have enough capitol to invest in it.You put a lot of money in to a business; you get a lot of money out of a business and hopefully enough left over for a loaf of bread. But it is fun being your own boss.Of course your customer's are your boss.
Tom, thank you for putting it all into words. I felt as I read your story that you were giving a voice to each and every entrepreneur who has walked the path. I too have wished at times that I could have been a steady worker with a secure position and a predictable retirement. But then there would not have been the joy in creating and the thrill of accomplishment.
I am so very glad that Annie and John made possible my meeting you and Dennis and giving me the privilege of participating in this wonderful venture that is going to enrich so many lives.
My husband (who could be your twin in some things) always says that Thomas Eddison failed 999 times before he succeeded. God must gift you "idea guys" with the determination to keep on going. To find a wife who isn't undone by each failure is a real blessing (and a good lesson to those of us who aren't so understanding...)
My husband opened my eyes to so many things I could not have seen if we had not tried all the many businesses he has started. His father George was in his own business and passed on this confidence in oneself to try a new idea. I am still fascinated in the thinking but find safety in being the "wind beneath his wings"! I was not raised this way but I do see both sides as very necessary pieces to the puzzle of ones life.
One of the most rewarding parts of our life together is being able to give back to those around us.
Thank you to all those who create jobs for others, you are some of the real hero's!
Thank you to all who go to a job every day as nothing would get done without you!
Tom, I know this comes several months after you wrote this story, and it is REALLY exciting to see where we are at this point--you still pushing the ball uphill but with inertia about to turn the corner from "at rest" to "motion." I share your dream and have started to have one of my own. Never having been an entrepeneur, it's really all new to me. But I can appreciate a BIG dream and am glad that I'm a small part of it!