What does it take to be a successful heart-centered business owner?
Spirit…Courage…Passion…Hard Work…Big Dreams…Creativity…and a whole lot of Commitment
My entrepreneurial story…
As a small business owner and a mentor to others who want to start their own businesses, people always ask me “how did you become an entrepreneur?” They probably expect to hear the nuts and bolts stuff about the five plus businesses I’ve had but somehow I feel compelled to tell the story of how I caught my insatiable entrepreneurial spirit when I was only ten years old--and it all started with a hot dog truck…
One day, my mother purchased a large 1957 Ford truck painted red, white, and blue bearing large black letters saying HOT DOGS, SODA, COFFEE. It was the ugliest and oldest truck you ever saw. The clutch made a grinding sound as my Aunt parked it in our driveway. As she turned off the ignition it rumbled and made a coughing sound like an old man that was ready for retirement. I looked up at my mother, as if it was Christmas morning and wide-eyed asked, “Is it ours?” and to my delight she nodded yes with a big smile. You see, my mother also had the entrepreneurial spirit. It may have been borne out of the necessity of having to find flexible, part-time, well-paying employment, but nevertheless she saw a dream come true in that old ugly truck...and so did I.
I got to help her prep, plan and price. We sat at the old redwood picnic table in the backyard peeling onions for her special gourmet onion sauce to go on the hot dogs. On very special days I got to work on the truck—and it was AMAZING! The local businessman men stood in a line that went all the way down the block. They came from near and far to see the two ladies with their special onion sauce. Back in the ‘70’s, it was a novel idea to have two women “manning” a hot dog truck in a male dominated industry in hardcore New York. My aunt and my mother were TRAILBLAZERS-- innovators before their time-breaking with tradition and offering gourmet food in a truck on the side of the road. Who knew 30 years later it would be so trendy that they would make a television show about it!
We worked hard and we were all proud of the quality of the food and the service we gave to the customers. The days I was on the truck, I couldn’t believe how my mother knew everyone by name, and their favorite toppings were on the hot dogs before they got the words out. There was lots of chit chat and the customers always walked away with a smile, as if it was the highlight of their day. It reminded me of when she was in our kitchen at home. She loved to cook and bring everyone together with a special meal. I now see how she took her talent of cooking and bringing people together, mixed with a recipe of creativity, tenacity and good old “chutzpah” to bring this dream of owning her own business to life. I also remember the sense of independence it gave her. She had been out of work raising kids for the last ten years and it gave her a sense of freedom to have extra money. And the time away from the household chores gave her a new self-worth glow about her—AND we finally had enough money to buy a second car!
So I guess entrepreneurship is in my DNA, and having a great CEO role model AND on the job training at ten years old—it doesn’t get any better than that!! Even though my mother is no longer with us, I can still hear her wonderful voice in my ear saying “You can do this”. She helped me to believe in myself, listen to my inner spark and reach high and fast for my business dreams. But now the best part is I get to be a guide and a mentor to others as she was for me.
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