Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Edison in overalls

Anyone who tells you it's easy to start and run your own enterprise is lying. If they say anything about fast money, run.

The reality is not like that. Start ups are hard. Birthing a new organization takes harder work and longer hours than you'd imagine. Sustainable cash flow is slow to build. The ability to capture and bank the profit can be even tougher.

For you and I, that's good. For the people who won't make the effort, that's bad.

My purpose in writing and talking about start ups and emerging enterprises is to give up my little piece of the story. Starting and growing sustainable enterprises has never been easier, but the tools and the rules need careful attention.

I've found small, smart, fast organizations to be a wonderful way to keep a bit of my heart and soul intact while making a living.

Sustainable work doesn't mean easy work. It means smart work. It means staying ahead of as many opportunities and problems as you can.

Thomas Edison earned almost 1,100 patents. He said that to invent you needed a good imagination and a pile of junk. I am genetically coded to this school of thought (anyone remember Kohler’s in Lombard, IL back in the day?)

However, what I think Edison really brought to the table was his determination and work ethic. He just kept showing up. He just kept making the campground better. Most of his patents were not original work. They were generally improvements in pre-existing stuff. Thomas Edison just kept making everything around himself better, easier to manufacture and easier to use.

Where did that get him and us? Thomas Edison was the co founder of a little outfit called General Electric, now among the most powerful and - if the PR is accurate - emergingly progressive organizations the world has ever seen.

Edison looked everywhere for opportunity and he found it almost every place he looked.

When asked about this subject, Edison is quoted as saying, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work".

So it goes with your own sustainable work, friend. It's dressed in overalls. It's work, trouble and effort.

However, with planning and good execution, you can change how that work fits into your life and what it contributes to you personally.

A job is something you’ve got to do.

Your own sustainable work is something you get to do.

Run toward the opportunity, not away from it, and remember to wear your overalls.

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