By: E. Brown
I remember as a kid walking up and down the street by our mid-west home pulling my wagon. I wanted a new toy and I needed cash. It was hot, tiring, and sweaty work but I knew it would pay off over the course of the afternoon. My cardboard sign was lovingly crafted by my mother (with me Art Directing, of course) and the contents of my wagon were sweet, cold, and refreshing. Who wouldn’t want to purchase a glass of ice cold lemonade from a budding entrepreneur like myself?
Currently, my daughter is interested in an iPod Shuffle — a pink iPod Shuffle. My wife and I were working out in the yard a couple weeks back and my daughter was looking for a chance to earn some money toward her desired mp3 player.
Flashback: Last year she sold lemonade and cookies to raise money for a beach-camp for children with cancer. She did very well, raising almost $100 in one afternoon.
Fast Forward: On this day she recognized another opportunity. She was going to raise money for her goal — the pink shuffle (not as altruistic a goal as last year but, you have to admire her entrepreneurial spirit).
For my wife and I, seeing our children take initiatives to earn money was nothing out of the ordinary. Our children are very good at looking for creative ways to make extra income on top of their bi-weekly allowances. However, a strange thing happened as the “lemonade sale” was underway. Numerous people stopped and the responses that came from buyers and those passing by were very interesting. Many seemed shocked and genuinely surprised to see something “so old fashion” occurring on their street. A kid selling lemonade. At one point a police cruiser stopped in front of the little drink stand and when I offered a cool glass to the officer, he declined but remarked how he had not seen anything like this since his childhood.
Entrepreneurial Work Ethic?
Why is it so shocking to see someone taking initiative to earn extra money or take an “old fashioned” approach toward starting a business? Is it because we have grown accustom to the Dot-com explosions in current business start-ups? Is there truly “overnight” success in business or is it the result of focused hard work over a period of time?
I recently heard radio talk-show host and author, Dave Ramsey, speak on this topic focused intensity over the course of time. He seemed surprised, as well, that many were calling him an overnight success. As Dave said, “I’ve been working on this for the last fifteen years. I can tell you it was not over night!”
I am also reminded of my conversation with a friend who used to be VP of Human Resources for a mid-size international company. She related to me numerous times she had interviewed recent college grads and asked them where they saw themselves in the next 5 years. To her astonishment, and mine, 9 times out of 10 the response was the same. The candidate saw themselves in C-level positions in the next 5 years!
Now, if you’ve read many of my articles you know I am pro-encouragement and I have a desire to see people reach their full potential, yet all of it is based in reality. Maybe it’s because I was not exposed to “self esteem” classes or maybe it’s because I was brought up to understand that if I wanted something I had to work for it. I remember mowing lawns for 3 years (5th-7th grade) to earn enough money for a stereo receiver, turntable, cassette player, and two massive rockin’ speakers — 3 years! This is the work-ethic I want to instill in my kids. As a friend said, “I want to prepare them for the path ahead, not prepare the path ahead for them.”
I love new and fresh business ideas. I love to rally people around ideas and help build them. That is why I love entrepreneurs. They are optimistic and full of ideas. They are also willing to put in the time it takes to see a dream realized. They may hope and pray for overnight success but they are grounded in reality.
It is a shame that people are surprised by “old fashioned” hard work. I hope coming generations of workers do not fall into a mentality of victim entitlement. I also hope upcoming entrepreneurs take their passions and goals and a shot of real world business-acumen and work hard to make their dreams a reality.
Toward this end, Andrea Poe offers insights on Entrepreneur.com into taking one’s expertise and experience coupled with some hard work to make a living doing the things you love.
1. Develop a portfolio to demonstrate the scope of your skills. If that means working for no pay or low pay initially, do it. Samples of your work will be your best calling card.
2. Tell everyone you know–colleagues, friends, family, neighbors–about your new gig. Referrals will make up the bulk of your business initially.
3. Join professional organizations–online or in the community–that serve your field. In addition to all the other benefits you’ll gain, you’ll also pick up insider tips of where to find work.
4. Join local organizations, like the chamber of commerce or Rotary club. “Creative people often overlook organizations like these, thinking they’ll be filled with stiff bankers and businesspeople,” notes James-Enger. “And they may be–but that’s who’ll be hiring you to do your creative work.”
5. Volunteer in the community doing something you love, and you’ll broaden your network of potential clients.
6. Cold call. Yes, everyone hates cold calling, but the reason start-ups need to do this is because it works.
Another important point to remember is that working doesn’t solely mean doing the thing you love. It also means knowing how to sell and market your services. When starting out, about 90 percent of your time will be spent on sales and marketing tasks. “Work won’t just stumble upon you,” says James-Enger. “You can be as talented as anything, but it won’t mean a thing if you can’t sell yourself.”
Here are some of the most frequent opportunities around:
- Computer programmer
- Data entry/processor
- Film animator
- Grant writer
- Graphic designer
- Interior designer
- Landscape architect
- Massage therapist
- Package design
- Private investigator
- Professional organizer
- Sales/marketing consultant
- Set designer
- Web designer
Work Hard — Have fun!