Ever since I can remember I’ve studied people and tried to figure out how they’ve gotten to where they are. Early on in my career I would often wish I could trade places, but then I’d get to know the person and realize that there were only some parts of their lives that were attractive to me and I didn’t really want their whole life 🙂 Over the past 30 years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interact with some amazing entrepreneurs, many of whom have built some very cool businesses. I’ve learned what hard work can produce and how much effort it takes to build something from scratch, yet the rewards can be pretty high. I’ve often spoken about calculated risk and not extending myself too far over the cliff.
Over that same period of time I’ve learned that building a life-style services business can be very nice and comfortable. It doesn’t take a lot of capital to get it going and it doesn’t take a lot of money to run it. The only challenge I’ve experienced is that if the business is going to grow it will require more work for me, always. Early on in my entrepreneurial journey a mentor told me that the best businesses are the ones that are scalable, reproducible and not dependent on people. I’ve had that as a mantra for the past 20 years or more. Yet, every business I’ve run and every business model I’ve started since I left GE have been a services businesses that relied on me and finding people that can do the work as well, and many times better, than me as the company grew. I thought that this would be a good thing to do again, but now I’m starting to question that mindset. If I’m going to work this hard to start a services business why not put in the same, or maybe even a bit more effort, into something that is scalable, reproducible and not dependent on me?
I’ve been thinking deeply about this lately and have come to the conclusion that building a company might be the right thing for me to do at this point. I’m not talking about another services company, I’m talking about a company that has a product. This product could be physical or it could be information based. The product could be sold B to B or B to C, although I’m most comfortable with the B to B sale. It can be sold on the internet or could be sold through a traditional sales model. I’ve spent a fair amount of time at the local universities inside their incubators and have met some wonderful young minds that are creating really cool technologies. It might be fun to help support one of them on their journey or take a technology from the Office of Innovation and Commercialization and start something from scratch. I could also build an online training program that I market, as long as my services every day are not the product. I can even see me joining an existing company as an owner or leader. I don’t think I need to rush into anything immediately, yet my mindset is shifting at this time.
I will still continue to support the purpose movement here in San Diego and see where Purpose San Diego goes. I will also continue to support the teen programs I’m very passionate about, yet I don’t see those as my business, I see them as my gift to the community. I will continue to coach selected companies and individuals that I have a passion for and build some peer groups and networking groups to keep me connected to the community. I have often said that life keeps providing us with lessons and we keep getting the lesson until we learn it. In my life one recurring lesson is to stop telling people what to do and to be an example of what I believe. Over the past few years I’ve been trying to tell people how to be purposeful, I’m beginning to believe I just need to live a purposeful life myself and that’s enough. I can make any business a purposeful business by creating a purposeful culture, hiring people that have a passion for the mission of the company and by investing back in the community when the business does well. It’s not a complicated game and one that it seems like I’m willing to play. I will continue to spend time contemplating what this next evolution looks like and I’m excited to see where this leads.
To new beginnings and a life well lived …..