This column is dedicated to all the parents who let their kids be who they are.
Last week I boarded a plane from New York City back to Maine. I sat next to a nice young man and we began to chat. I soon learned that he was returning home to Maine from a business trip to South Carolina. I asked him what kind of work he did, to which he replied, “I’m a traveling pastry chef.” I was intrigued.
When the Maine Grind in Ellsworth decided they wanted to add pizza to their menu, they turned to their customers for help raising the money they needed to make it happen. Using a site called Kickstarter, they launched a campaign to raise $20,000 - and they were successful! Kickstarter is a “crowd funding” site, meaning individuals pledge money to projects they want to support. Kickstarter started to help fund creative projects - musicians, artists, etc. But more businesses are finding the site a great way to fund their creative projects. There are other crowd funding sites out there, but Kickstarter is among the most popular (do be sure any site you choose is legit!).
Jay Goltz recently wrote a very interesting piece for the New York Times about becoming an entrepreneur, covering its pros and cons. To quote Goltz, “entrepreneurs are definitely not normal people, and entrepreneurship is definitely not for everyone.” So, what exactly drives people into entrepreneurship?
Many factors, including a romanticized idea of freedom and success, lack of available jobs (my own reason for becoming one), creativity and talent that cannot be contained in a cube space, a need for flexible work hours, the over-rated desire to do things “their way” (even though owning your own business rarely works that way) as well as many other factors. But why do so many of us jump into it, even when we know that the chances of failure are far greater than those of success? Well, Goltz already classified himself and fellow entrepreneurs as “not normal” – and I’ve known that about myself for a long time!
I recently interviewed two women who made the decision to leave their day jobs to go into business for themselves. One is launching her wedding and family photography business full time and the other is a veterinarian who is launching a house call vet service. Although their business differ greatly, their path to getting to the point of submitting their resignation letters have many similarities.
Before you decide to do the same, there are a few lessons they shared with me that might be helpful to you.
A friend of mine has a dilemma. She has a job with great pay and awesome co-workers, and she enjoys her work. Yet she’s miserable. I know her well enough to diagnose the problem. She’s an entrepreneur. As much as she likes her job, living by someone else’s rules and schedule is making her nuts. Not to mention working to advance someone else’s business rather than her own. I suggested to her that coming to terms with her entrepreneurial nature is the first step to finding the right career path.
It is possible for those of us with these traits to work for other people – providing the environment and culture allows our inner-entrepreneur room to breathe. But being in the wrong work environment can cause the entrepreneur to feel caged in. Of course, one option for my friend is to start her own business, and that is likely the direction she will take.
In case you haven’t heard – manufacturing is alive and well in Maine! This was abundantly clear when I had the privilege to introduce nine Maine companies as part of a Business Showcase at the 2012 Manufacturing Summit held in Rockland by the Manufacturers Association of Maine. The companies included Howe & Howe Technologies, Sappi Fine Paper, Biovation, Pepin Associates, Revision, Wentworth Technology and more. The companies ranged from those that have been doing business in Maine for a long time and employ hundreds of people – to start-ups with one or two people.
What was particularly interesting and exciting was the range of products being developed by these companies right here in Maine - everything from paper being used in Nike sneakers and Gucci jackets to medical dressings that are made to not stick to skin, robots being used to fight fires, headsets for the fast food industry, airplane parts being made by new lightweight composite materials, and highly-absorbent fiber products being used in packaging to preserve fresh food.
I love business. I love owning my own, hearing the stories of other business owners and encouraging folks to begin a new business.
So helping kids develop the skills and passion of business owners and giving them practical experience in running a business seems brilliant to me. It’s no surprise that I love the concept of Lemonade Day.
Lemonade Day is both a national organization and a specific day.
The organization promotes entrepreneurship and financial literacy. It does this by choosing one day for each community - this year in Maine the date is Sunday, June 3 - for kids to run a stand.
Frequently a kid’s first business is opening a lemonade stand. What the organization Lemonade Day has done is use this entrepreneurial instinct in children to teach substantive lessons in a fun way. They have created a 14-lesson package walking an inexperienced kid-preneur through all the cool concepts one needs to consider when starting a business, subjects such as customer service, marketing and debt, credit and net income.
Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine