Hats Off to Entrepreneurs

November 8, 2017|

By Mark Alison

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I could sure do that better.”? Or, “If I were running that business, I would do things differently.” Or, “Wow, that was my idea and now somebody else is doing it.” If so, you are not alone.

I drew an illustration for the shoe that became known as Air Jordans before Mike was playing basketball. I created Sonic’s No. 1 hamburger when I was just a teenager working at a local joint called Kelly’s Hamburgers. IKEA was also my idea. But I never got credit for any of it because I never took the first small step to make it happen.

Oh, I had plenty of excuses: too young, no money, no connections, no time. All excuses and no motivation.

But, the day came when my employer ticked me off enough to make me quit my job in the middle of a recession and start my own business. How ignorant is that? A family, two kids, mortgage, car payment, and I decided I’d had enough and besides, I could do it better.

My first run at it didn’t do so well. Six months in I found I couldn’t trust my business partner so I started again, this time by myself and with even more determination. They say necessity is the mother of invention. Paying our bills was the necessity.

There is a name for people like me and, perhaps, you. Several come to mind. I was told I was out of my mind. But the true name is Entrepreneur. It’s a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater-than-normal financial risks in order to do so.

“Risk” is a four-letter word that can scare you but it can also create the motivation you need. It was for me.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Throw your hat over the wall?” Irish writer Frank O’Connor, as a young boy, would walk through the countryside. When he and his friends came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and difficult to climb, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall. Now they had no choice but to climb over the wall because they risked getting a whipping if they came home without their hats.

Risk is making a commitment so strong that not doing it becomes the risk. John Kennedy used the “hat over the wall” illustration in 1961 when he committed America to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. He said, the United States had now “thrown its hat over the wall of space and had no choice but to follow it.”

What is your goal Mr./Ms. Entrepreneur? You can make excuses or take a small step, and then, take the next step. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Start doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, then suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

The hardest part is not running the business; it’s taking the first small step. Your passion and commitment will help you discover answers to the problems that initially held you back.

In 1519 Hernán Cortés, with some 600 Spaniards, 16 or so horses and 11 boats, landed on a vast inland plateau called Mexico. Treasure was the prize and it would require the conquest of an empire. He spent the first few weeks giving motivational speeches to the under-equipped sailors. He knew that many before him had attempted this challenge, but he was determined to succeed. His speeches aren’t recorded but three words were immortalized. As they marched inland to face the enemy he shouted, “Burn the boats.” Now there were only two choices – death or victory. Talk about turning risk into motivation!

On Jan. 13, 2018, I will be giving a lecture titled “The Power of Life on Now.” It will teach people an easy way to set goals and how to make them happen.

I will present this to a group of real estate entrepreneurs called AORE (Art of Real Estate.com), but this is also your invitation. It happens at 8:30 a.m. at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. It’s a Saturday, so there is no excuse for you not being there. They collect $20 at the door, but I do it for free. I never thought of myself as a speaker but one day I threw my hat over the wall and now I am doing what I never thought possible.

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