My entrepreneurial trek began in late 1970 when I quit my job and began work on the development of a fast food restaurant with two partners/friends. We opened for business in February of 1971.
At that time, I thought success would be freedom from a boss, cash and fame.
Quitting my job to start my own business was the first step towards success, as I understood it at the time. Opening the door the first day of business was the second step. There have been many since. I have matured (grown older), the business climate has changed and so has my interpretation of success.
The following illustrates how my interpretation of success evolved: from the past to present.
- I am a business owner – my ego was fed
- Achieving profit – my pocket was filled
- Multiple locations – an ego driven recipe for disaster
- Diversifying by starting different types of businesses – first example of understanding market shifts
- Building a workplace culture – realizing the deep value of human capital
- Learning societal responsibility – understanding that needs of staff and community must be met
- Building a succession plan – ensuring the future of our businesses, staff and their families
- Investing in staff – facilitating the growth in trusted staff’s ideas
- Developing sustainability – creating a sustainable business model that is not dependent upon the leader, but instead the culture. A GPS for future leaders.
- Pride – knowing that my efforts helped many families by providing homes, automobiles, education and hope
- Happiness – a high performance organization consisting of great people, many families fed, many children educated and staff developing their own businesses
Time has taught me that happiness leads to success. Success does not guarantee happiness.
Entrepreneurs can create an environment of happiness which allows staff to be successful.
I have had the pleasure and pain of meeting many entrepreneurs during my career. Some are deeply focused on building wealth. Amassing wealth created fiscal success; it did not necessarily bring happiness. Some friends who started out with nothing and created great wealth did so at the expense of their spouses and children. That success didn’t seem to be worth the resulting pain.
Other entrepreneurs changed their core values to achieve “success”. They lied, cheated, committed fraud and worst of all, they changed the personalities of their employees. Pope Pius X said that changing a person’s personality was the most grievous sin of an employer. Some of my entrepreneur acquaintances had employees who developed substance abuse problems because of their leadership tactics and drive for self-serving ”success”.
I have also been fortunate to meet some very happy and successful entrepreneurs. Those folks are driven by values.
To me success is developing a high performance organization without compromising one’s moral and ethical values.