There are many things in life that shape us as we go along – some are lessons that will have a long-lasting impact on us and some will change us for always and others will give us insights into many aspects. But there are those who have been able to turn life’s lessons into a business, sharpening their skills and enabling them to engage themselves fully in an enterprise.
For some of us, the turning point is a light bulb moment – for others, it is a gradual process, one in which you realize increasingly that you must choose a path that will fit well into your current set of needs and aspirations.
There are many who always know what they want to do – someday. They want to start a business that fits in line with the needs they have identified. But that remains a dream because they have not thought of going over and above the dream. Until and unless you take the courageous step of making the move, you will always stay where you have always been.
Bill Corbett, a former corporate sector employee in Massachusetts, had his light bulb moment when he was laid off; he had been raised in a home with strong physical discipline and realized he wanted more than ever to share with other parents the need to pay attention to children in a more connecting way. Himself a father, he set out to start Cooperative Kids that would provide counselling and help with difficult children.
Bill also went on to offer parenting classes and instructor certification programmes that were perfect for organisations such as schools and hospitals. Today, his business has grown to a level that keeps him happy and well occupied and he is getting ready for the next phase of growth.
Laura Raposa on the other hand grew up in a business of baking and knew inside out of the bakery business. She however chose journalism and edited a column on gossip for 30 years with the Boston Herald. Yet, the love of baking was within her; upon realizing baking was her calling after all, she went back to baking and took classes. She was happiest when she together with her husband, opened a bakery and a take away lunch outlet.
Bill and Laura are not the only ones who have found life’s lessons useful in starting a business. There are many others. Often, some of the biggest companies and brands have been found in answer to a felt need, a need that someone found was not being adequately met.
But what is important is to be able to attach value to the concept. Will it sell – will there be a market for this – one needs to do one’s homework well before starting out. It’s good to be driven by a passion but that passion must be backed up with adequate data that tells you the business is workable.
Too many would-be entrepreneurs start out on a dream without doing proper marketing and evaluation of project – they end up failures, having exhausted their capital. It is also dangerous to get into a business that someone else has had success doing; even though it might be the perfect lesson that life taught you.
All aspiring entrepreneurs must be cautious in their business but that does not mean it must include the discouragement brigade. That in itself is worthy of a complete story another time but in keeping with what we are discussing today, everyone had the one friend who will have nothing constructive to say about a new venture. Encouragement is vital to get an idea off the ground and into a business with life and limb.
There are some businesses that you can start while you are still employed – such a venture gives you the space needed to get it all together, without having to take the risk of depending on the new business financially.
Entrepreneurship doesn’t always come easy – it has its ups and downs but above all, what it needs is a firm conviction of the potential of the business and a strong ability to be able to deliver it consistently without a pause. You would also benefit from knowing and understanding the pitfalls of the market and the need to hold it all together in a way that makes financial sense. There may be small gains at the beginning but small gains can grow into big ones with time and effort.
Most live with the someday –I- shall dream – not realizing that today’s technology has opened up new markets and is able to support a multitude of entrepreneurial efforts that can be sustained online. There are many opportunities out there waiting to be found – if your life lessons are right and you have learnt them well, then you should have adequate potential to figure out your life’s business venture.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya@