Rod Kackley

What is it with these entrepreneurs? They all think they have a better idea, or perhaps even the best idea.

Most of them aren’t going to make it. They know it. They are also sure, at least 80 percent sure, that it is the other guy who is going to fail.

Kevin McCurren, the executive director of the Grand Valley State University Family Business Institute’s Center for Entrepreneurship told me, while I was working on an article regarding the Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring program for Crain’s Detroit Business, there are plenty of early stage or startup companies that, “Are born and die every year.”

I have been talking to entrepreneurs in West Michigan for more than 20 years, and I know some in Grand Rapids who thought they had investors to back their dreams, only to have the money pulled back. Did they give up? No. These entrepreneurs spent a few nights sleeping in their cars and many more nights dining by dome light in those vehicles on a tasty plate of Ramen Noodles.

Yet, I have never met a more optimistic group of people then these early stage entrepreneurs. Always forward thinking. Always upbeat. Always ready with an elevator pitch. Their good cheer is almost too much to take.

However, I also know they wake up in the middle of the night. They are scared to death, wondering not how they will meet payroll like they would in second stage, but how they will put food on their own tables. Sometimes they might be wondering how they are going to explain to their life partner lying beside them they have to go to the bank again, or why their credit cards are maxed out again, or explain why they will be eating Ramen Noodles for one more month, again.

At some point in their journey, they decided to tell their life partner that the entrepreneurial life is the one they had chosen.

I did not write that they were going to talk to their partners at the beginning of their journey. They never do. They made the decision. Their plan is set, maybe not on paper, but it is set.

Their journey begins in their own minds, in their own hearts. They convince themselves that they can do it, that they will do it, and they will be glad — at some point — that they did it.

An entrepreneur stands at the abyss, looks, and leaps.

What about you?

Rod Kackley is a journalist who has written for Crain’s Michigan Business, MiBiz and The Detroit News. He is also a former news director of WOOD-AM/FM and has written the book, Last Chance Mile: The Reinvention of an American Community.

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