Bumps in the Road

I am a big fan of entrepreneurs.  You all know that already.  I love the energy, the risk taking and the determination to make the vision into a viable moneymaking enterprise. As an entrepreneur, you always have to be ready for the bumps in the road.  Sometimes the bumps are internal.  Sometimes external.  But they all hurt as you try to navigate around them.  The best of us find the ways to get to the end, wherever the end is, by working our determination.

For some reason, today found me awash in examples…

A friend owns a restaurant.  He has the opportunity to expand the restaurant.  Can you believe it?  In this economy, he is seriously looking at expanding a restaurant. Oh, but expansion will cause the size of his restaurant to move to the next class under the city’s ordinance.  No problem, what could that mean?  2 new bathrooms.  He got the estimate this week and the cost to develop 2 new bathrooms is $50,000! $50K seriously?  You could buy a 3 bedroom house in parts of this country for $50K.  How many meals does he have to serve to recoup $50K?  Is this an incentive to being an entrepreneur? No, but it is a part of the journey down the road with many bumps.

Another friend sold his company years ago.  He decided to start a Montessori preschool in his town as a non-profit venture.  Over the years the school has grown due to the progressive and excellent education provided.  He now serves 70 kids in his suburb and is outgrowing the rented space he has had for 7 years.  Great job in building a company that the community has found helpful, right? He found a former church building, bought it and made plans to refurbish and move in last year. Only one thing.  There were 17 families who lived near the church, who were worried about noise and traffic.  They went to the city and zoning board and protested.  They planted signs in their yards.  They waged a negative PR campaign. My friend spent a year and significant dollars in legal and planning fees, developed a remediation plan and went through the process with City Hall.  Finally, after a year and significant scrutiny, City Hall ruled that the school would get the necessary permits.  Now the neighbors have sued the city and my friend because they felt they didn’t have enough time to prepare their defense.  When these folk’s taxes increase because businesses are scared of the hassles of locating in their suburb, they would do well to remember this.  However, for my friend, he is continuing on the path that was allowed by the City Hall approval.  And I give him a lot of credit to continue the dream after being beat up by the bumps in his particular road.

As an entrepreneur, it is critical for us to remember that in order to survive, we need the determination to see things through, even if we haven’t planned for the side trips.  It is all part of the journey and the journey really is the reward.

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