A few weeks ago my car broke down as I was headed back from a weekend trip to Indiana. It was 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, and we were 200 miles from home. We managed to pull the car over to a gas station, and attempted to call a mechanic for help. After hearing us unsuccessfully call local tow trucks and the insurance company for help, the store owner politely asked if he wanted us to call his local mechanic. We immediately responded, “Yes!”
While it may have felt like a horrible situation, the rest of that night was a reminder of the entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this country – people like that mechanic and the gas station owner. The mechanic waited for us at an auto-parts store, drove across town to pick up a second ignition coil for us, and then installed it under the lighting of the auto-parts store parking lot. To supplement his work as a mechanic, he also plows driveways in the winter. He has made a living from his skills. While we may naturally tend to glorify the business that grows and sells for $300 million, we too soon forget our neighbors who have made their living from their crafts. They’re not as glorious, but they’re by far the most helpful when your car breaks down at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night and every corporate company is closed.
And onto the gas station owner. He will do very well in his life. At age 27, he owns five gas stations, including the land for three of them. He started off with one gas station while in school, and then went out to invest in four more. He works long hours, which is why he was at the gas station at 9 p.m. on a Saturday. He incentivizes his employees to sell additional products, since most of his profit comes from goods in the store, not the gas itself. The amount of revenue he is achieving annually exceeds the revenue of 90% of the startups I know. And, he’s profitable or he wouldn’t be able to do it. He said his work isn’t exciting, but I think it is. He’s also part of the core of American Entrepreneurs. He’s the one who has succeeded, and did it all on his own.
In my discussion with the gas station owner, he said that his dream was to move to California and work on more exciting tech ventures one day. He thought that was the big dream and sounded very exciting. I don’t think he realized that he is actually living the dream right now. Eighty percent of businesses fail in the first 18 months. He’s well past that point and already successful. How do I define success? He’s breaking even. He’s making money. I believe that you can have two different types of success – either making money every day through profitability or making money at the end of a venture by selling it. Exits through acquisition are very exciting, but stability through consistent profit is also great.
So who are the great American Entrepreneurs? They come in all shapes and sizes. They’re selling multi-million dollar ventures, and they’re fixing your car at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. They’re making a ton of money when they sell their venture, or they’re making small amounts of money every day. They’ve been through tough times, and they’ve had great times. They’re always looking at their next idea, and they’re making changes to their current business to make it better. They’re my mechanic, and they’re gas station owners just like the two I met a few weeks ago.
Cheers you to you, American Entrepreneur. Thank you for making this country run.
This article was written by Liz Tilatti from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.