I should have paid more attention to the fact that my parents and their friends were rather tipsy from the wine they were drinking when they proposed an idea for a new product.
However, being 21-years-old, having just finished my business program at college, full of energy and looking for a world of excitement in business, I thought the idea for this novel product to keep wine cool on a warm summer night might be just the thing to set the world on fire.
Over the next few months, I worked on fleshing out the concept. My brother Rob suggested we use a new material that the astronauts used to keep warm in space. I had a seamstress create samples. I drew up a budget, made a prospectus and pitched some investors to the tune of $10,000.
After raising the money, I got in my car and drove 800 km to find a factory to manufacturer the product and packaging.
In the subsequent months, I hit the road to sell the product to retailers and consumers.
Entrepreneurship is hard work. Over the next couple years, I spent hundreds of days from morning to night trying to flog my Winetux. I had meetings with my investors to keep them up to date, and bought and boxed my product. I worked trade shows and consumer shows, made cold calls to prospective buyers and ordered product based on my projections.
The work was exhausting but exhilarating. Because of the amount of work necessary to build the business, I seemed to have little time for family or friends. I believed that if I could push harder, I would achieve a breakthrough that would make me a hero to my investors and build something that generated income.
However, no matter how hard I worked, I never seemed to be able to achieve that colossal success I had pitched to my investors.
While my friends and family thought I was on my road to becoming a millionaire, I knew a different reality. After a few months of struggling to grow sales, I realized that because the cash flow was tight, I would have to get a part-time job to supplement the income so I could pay my rent and put gas in my car. Luckily, I didn’t have a family to support at the time.
The reality of entrepreneurship is often different than what we dream about. We think that if we start a business, we’ll enjoy easy money without the scrutiny of a boss, working the hours we want and spending plenty of holidays on the beach.
The truth is that owning a business is usually very hard work. We don’t have one boss – we have many. We need to report to investors, customers and suppliers, who all want to know how things are coming along and, more importantly, when they’re getting paid. As owners of the business, we’re usually the last to get paid – if there’s any money left over.
Fortunately, the rewards of entrepreneurship do exist. In this country, if we can figure out the maze of business ownership, we can live handsomely on its bounty. As entrepreneurs, we can follow our dreams and do what we’re passionate about.
There is risk but there can also be nice reward.
Unfortunately for many, the reward isn’t quite what they dreamed of. However, if your business can survive for three to five years, you may be on the cusp of success with only a few changes to the business model.
Business ideas can come after a bottle of wine or after a brainstorming session with your team.
Businesses and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. We need entrepreneurs to have the vision to start a business. And we need entrepreneurial attitudes within the business to ensure long-term success in changing marketplaces.