Friday, December 13, 2013
What makes an entrepreneur? Even more importantly, what makes a young entrepreneur?
Take a look at this amazing story and then read my experiences below.
Thinking back on my childhood, I think I must have been born with an entrepreneurial mindset. Don't mistake that for a gift in sales or in selling. I was never good at sales and never felt I had a gift for it. Plus I was an extreme introvert and still prefer being alone to being with a group of people.
But when I was a kid, my mother made a deal with me and my siblings that if we would sell things for her, she would share the profits with us. I don't remember any of my other siblings being terribly excited about this opportunity, but if you (you know who you are) are reading this and you were excited about it, please correct me.
So even though I was painfully shy, I was willing to get up enough guts to knock on doors in the neighborhood and try to sell things. For awhile I sold greeting cards and other trinkets from a certain company. I managed to generate a few sales but nothing that would make a real difference in our budget.
During strawberry, raspberry and blackberry seasons, we kids would help pick and then sell the excess berries to our neighbors in exchange for half of the profits. We managed to sell all of the berries we wanted to and still had plenty to feed our very large family. (My mother's garden was huge!)
I'll never forget the neighbor who insisted that my blackberries weren't really blackberries. Since I was not in the habit of lying, her insistence that they were mulberries, not blackberries, really rubbed me the wrong way. I was profoundly offended by her insinuation that I was lying or trying to trick her. But as I recall, she bought some anyway - however, I wasn't too excited about returning to sell to her again.
Later when I was in high school, my mother really wanted to purchase a piece of property big enough to start a truck farm. A truck farmer in those days simply grew enough to have produce to sell to others. It wasn't a real farm with animals, just a farm for a big, big garden. However, it was my mother who had the entrepreneurial spirit, not my father and in the end the purchase wasn't made and we never became truck farmers. My brother and I had been very excited about the opportunity to help her with a huge garden, especially since it involved an opportunity for us to earn our own money. But it wasn't to be. Instead, my mother continued to work in a factory.
Later while in high school, I became a member of Junior Achievement. In conjunction with a local business, our Junior Achievement chapter designed, built and marketed a product that we were able to build with a minimum of materials, actually assemble by hand and then take out to sell to friends and neighbors. We made a "trouble light" that plugged into your car. It was a very sturdy and helpful product and we enjoyed quite a bit of success with it. However, I was astounded by the lack of attention to detail and the sloppy construction executed by some of the other members of our chapter. I think it was then I decided I never wanted to be either an employer or employee. I could already see that!
But in spite of that, I did have a few "traditional jobs" along the way, worked my way through college with scholarships and part time jobs and even took a "job" at a non-profit after I graduated. But jobs were boring to me. Maybe that's the way it is with entrepreneurs!
My husband and I later became missionaries in Brazil, eventually formed our own mission organization, helped found a church, wrote one book and published it and have trained many others to run family seminars.
Currently we have several more books in progress, run an online business, I have my own gardening business (truck farm!) where I grow pesticide-free and GMO-free produce that is highly sought after at the Farmers Markets and we now grow herb plants to sell.
I have also taught my children and my grandson how to be entrepreneurs. Or maybe they were born that way...but that's another story.
I'd be delighted to have your opinion. Do you think entrepreneurs are born or are they created/developed through training? Let me know what you've observed.
P.S. If you are an entrepreneur, we need to talk. Contact me to see if you qualify to work with me. I'm looking for highly motivated team players who aren't afraid to earn money and who aren't afraid to help others.