“Disappointed the crowd may be”
I’m no Yoda, so that’s how I feel about giving a last lecture on entrepreneurship lacking much wisdom. No Jedi Master here filling the auditorium with nibble word play at light-saber speed. Randy Pausch had success to speak of when he shared his last. Steve Jobs had changed the word before asked to impart his knowledge to Stanford University graduates. I have business failures to speak of today. I have experiences to share. As Randy quoted: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
It sounded good. My girl friend’s father was a dreamer. He was trying to dream his way out of a meager living running a two pump corner gas station. He talked about making money as a worm farmer. He had no property for this space demanding venture. But I had rented a small house on a large lot, so I started reading the literature. He wanted to be partners, but when it was time to commit the money he backed out. I was in a forward trajectory, so I continued with the momentum on my own. The goal was to multiply the worms, package them, and mail-order them out to fishermen, circa 1975 style marketing in Field & Stream. The worms multiplied well, but customers did not order.
Moral of the story: Follow another’s dream, ye should not!
My ventures were always backed up with real jobs. I was fortunate early on to have a job in computer aided design (CAD) and wished to exploit that in a home design service using the best hardware and software available. I researched what I needed by reading PC Magazine and attending conventions. The top of the line IBM A286 with expansion cards for memory and graphics would run the AutoCAD software I wanted. All-in-all about a $10,000 investment that would allow me to work at home on drafting projects. But the publicized hype did not match the computing power.
Lesson learned: Understand purpose of words, ye should!
Yet, the next false step was bigger still. I worked in an industry that hired temporary employees. These ‘job shops’ provided payroll services and HR functions to the contracting company at a premium sufficient to finance a small office and a few overhead managers. What could be simpler; pass the cost over to the client. I understood the industry. I had done the work. I’ll just set up an office, procure the equipment, bid on the contract, and provide the labor. How difficult could that be?
Reality check: Technician, a star-fighter pilot makes not!
Three strikes … I’ll stop revealing my folly that continued to other ventures with success my goal. All good dreams, but directed in ignorance of what it really takes to build a business. I was smart enough to stay employed while accumulating this experience, short of the wanted.
I’ll admit in closing that all I ever sought in these attempts was self-aggrandizement. God did not grace my ventures. All I thought to do was to ask and expected I deserved it. Riches in my hand would have proved His folly. But our God is wise and fortune comes with obligations I had not yet made and a worthiness I had not yet promised. Since becoming Mormon I have had three business successes: copyrighting my testimony, consulting my skills, and serving a cousin in need.
As Yoda would say: Foolish a journey embarked, the Force without ye!
Choose the right, educate your mind, commit to others and seek the Spirit in all you do. Purpose is everything. Order is mandatory. Service is primary. Self is absent from the equation of true success.