Words matter. Maybe this is why I majored in English in college. Even then, I knew the power of words. How these single and multi syllable tools can help build amazing enterprises. Words can help mold characters, heal wounds, and words can lend significance.
Below is a photo my nephew took of an old sign he recently unearthed from a dusty storage shed. It belonged to my father. Six words, intermingled with a few symbols and digits, that tell quite a story.
My father owned a construction business. Some years he made money; some years he struggled. But the constants I remember are the smells of his office and the purple ink on mimeographed invoices…his recliner in the kitchen corner, his boots placed beneath the little side table, a full ashtray on top…the jingle of the keys in his pocket. But mostly I remember his work ethic. And when I see the words Williams & Co. painted on a placard above his office door, or on a sign at the end of our driveway, I remember the pride he carried around of owning his own enterprise.
You can study economics, earn an MBA, and accrue a lifetime of corporate experience, but the one ingredient which sets a true entrepreneur apart from all other professionals is SOUL. I truly believe the drive to invent, create, and build in the face of disbelief is an innate quality. I inherited my father’s entrepreneurial spirit. I have one published book and drawers full of rejection letters to prove it. And the book deal didn’t come until those drawers were spilling over. When I was 44, I ran my first marathon, despite all the naysayers that didn’t believe I could. And now I’m running a business, like many of you. I’m inventing, I’m creating, I’m building a dream.
Webster’s dictionary offers a synonym for the word entrepreneur. Caveat emptor. “Without a warranty the buyer takes a risk.” Isn’t that what an entrepreneur does when she writes those first words onto a page, paints those first brush strokes onto a canvas, or designs a product she pulls from her imagination? Then she writes a company name on a little placard and hangs it over her door. There is no warranty. Sometimes no cheerleaders. Just a dream…that is big enough to fuel her enthusiasm to do what she really loves to do every day.