The Entrepreneurial Spirit

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I was 8 years old, we moved into a new house in New Jersey. We owned one of the first houses built in a new development that would ultimately have hundreds of homes. So there were a lot of homes in the process of being built and it was a hot NJ summer. This was in the mid-1960s and there were no mobile canteen trucks serving the many construction workers that were  toiling under the hot sun. So I came up with the idea to buy soda from the local store, ice it up and take in my wagon from site to site. I bought the sodas for $.07 a can and resold them for $.15 a can. My mom would drive me to the store to to pick up the soda (free transportation and storage helped my margin).  I really enjoyed it and learned so many business lessons. For example, after doing this for about a month, a new neighbor (competitor) saw what I was doing and went out before me in the late morning and mid-afternoon to sell sodas to the construction workers. My neighbor stopped after a few days because most of my customers said no thanks, Gary is coming in 15 minutes. My first taste of competition, but also the value of being reliable and treating your customers right…building loyalty. Another business lesson started one day when I shocked to find that the generic brand soda was out at the local store. So I could buy the name brands at $.25 a can, increase my price, take a loss or just not sell soda that day. I decided to be upfront with the customers, bought the sodas for $.25 and resold them for the same price. I learned to be honest with customers, if you have a good relationship they will understand.  That said, a few wouldn’t buy and though I was ripping them off, but most paid and appreciated my candor and my making the rounds. At the end of the summer I actually bought a bike, bought a TV (don’t think the IRS can go back this far) and learned some great lessons. And while the money was nice, creating something from nothing was priceless. As it would turn out, the following summer canteen trucks were all over the neighborhood, with soda, burgers, ice-cream and so on. It was like Wal-Mart moving in next to the small retailer. It was a nice ride, but it was over. Another lesson learned, always look out for your competition and know when to take your ball and go home.

I love entrepreneurs. I love working with them, advising them and being an entrepreneur. So how do you know one when you see one? They come in all shape, all sizes, all ethnicities, and all social and income classes. They do have one thing in common–what I refer to as the entrepreneurial spirit. They want to build something from nothing…take an idea and turn it into a product, solve a problem, create a market. They are always thinking of ways to solve problems and better ways to do what is already being done. But the idea isn’t enough. You have to have the intestinal fortitude to put it all on the line and actually do it.  And the passion to really want to do it. It  isn’t just the high profile names like Facebook or Google, its anyone defying the odds and doing it on his/her own.

The entrepreneurial spirit is what I look for in advising a company or investing in a company. I want to see the passion, the fire, the fortitude to turn a concept into reality. These are the people I respect and want to work with. While it is hard to specifically define it,  you know it when you see it. For me it is like looking in the mirror at the 8 year old boy.



9 comments on “The Entrepreneurial Spirit

    • I’ll need a bit more data to answer that. I generally stick with IT/Internet, SW/HW, social media types of ventures. That said, I’m always interested in exciting companies, but I do get skeptical when I hear “never been done”, “game changer”…I’ll drop you an email and you can give me more details.

      • Hi Gary,
        After having some time on my hands and started following all these Network trails, I have found so often that the term entrepreneur is used very loosely. A successful business person in one and only one business is a successful business person, he is not necessarily, a successful entrepreneur. I feel an entrepreneur is one who repeats his successful business ideas. He loves the challenge to bring about change. I have just finished my web site explaining this better by the experiences I have had. It is still needs some work as only finished last week, some mistakes in it which I will soon fix. Hope you enjoy the read.


        Barry Osborne

  1. LOVE this edition 🙂 It describes me exactly – the entrepreneurial bug bit early (ie., created carnivals in my backyard when I was 10, sold mangos on the street corner, etc) and has not stopped since. In fact my latest venture – – was created to help other entrepreneurs get the funding they need to get to proof of concept or even launch so that more folks can experience the joy of building something from nothing (I think I get more excited when the entrepreneurs using our site reach their funding goal than they do!). Anyway keep up the great work you are doing supporting small business owners – I just followed you on twitter.

  2. Thank you for sharing. It is refreshing to hear your very nice, organic beginnings. Would like to hear more of your stories of adventures in the risk of business beginnings and turning points.

  3. Hey – I own and run a startup in Sweden and India.
    if you are open to examining our products and company, I would be v. happy to send you details.

    Capital Investment as well as maybe guidance ?

    We have tremendous expertise in Mobile (& some in social). and have two products that need acceleration.


  4. Thanks for sharing. Reminds me of when I was in Year 4 and took coconut cakes to school and sold it to my classmates. I let that entrepreneurial spirit slide for many years but I have got my bug back and gone out in full force. Now I help people explore, discover and define their passion (in relation to business) so they can also start doing what they love.

  5. After having a little time on my hands to follow a number of network trails, I have come to appreciate that the term entrepreneur is used very loosely. I have always thought that a person who has a successful business is a successful business person. Taking nothing away from their achievement. However, an entrepreneur is one who loves the challenge of bringing about change in a number of staid industries. He can’t help himself, he sees something that is not offering what it should, and then is very much into creating just that.

    I have just created my new website, please excuse some mistakes in it, just finished last week and needs some more work.

    Hope you enjoy the read.


    Barry Osborne

  6. Hi Gary,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your articles. You have a lot of valuable information. I am ready to seek funding for my business, could you please send me an email and I’ll send you the information. It may be something you are interested in or maybe you could point me in the right direction.
    Thank you,
    Jimi Bowers

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