5 Reasons I Wanted to Start a Small Business

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By age 20, my mom was a single, working mom with 2 kids. In her family, and in the world at that time, that was a terribly difficult situation. She is a strong woman.

My dad is a general contractor who started his career as a bricklayer in the local mason’s union. He is a good man who took on a big commitment very early in life, adopted 2 little kids, and gave them his name. For that, I am eternally grateful.

1. I want to help people get great results more easily.

As an oldest child, many of my biggest achievements are firsts for me and my family.

It’s been difficult: Because no one else had done it before, I’ve often had to literally go it alone.

As the oldest child in my family, I’d been first among siblings my whole life. I usually made the mistake first, whatever it was. My younger brothers got to learn from my hard-won lessons.

  • I was first in my family to go away to college, complete graduate school and get a “good corporate professional job”.
  • Later on, I was first to lose 50 pounds, then be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder.

Because I was first in my family to do these things, I had no one who understood and could mentor me through these major life events and milestones.

I was on my own.

Now that I’ve learned the principles of successful innovation, I want to share them with others, so they can get results that will accelerate their progress, reduce false starts, and increase the probability of their success.

I’ll kill you if you go into construction. You’re smarter than that. You go to college and get a good corporate professional job. You don’t need to break your back and work hard your whole life, like I have.

My Dad, when he learned I wanted to go into business with him after graduation from college

2. I want to create a family legacy and start a small business that can be transferred to future generations.

Since childhood, I’ve heard stories of various businesses in my family, going back generations. So far, I haven’t heard a story of a successful business being transferred from one generation to the next. I want to create a successful business that can be sustainably transferred to future generations.

Difficulty in business

Through my childhood, I watched my Dad work hard, long days, with few days off, as owner of a small business with my name on the door: “Cornelius and Sons Construction”.  

At one point, he fired me and my younger brother (that’s another story), though he kept the name of the company.  

Once again, I was on my own.  

Big Aspirations

I entered college with an admissions letter describing how I intended to get a Civil Engineering degree at the top ranked program in the world, then enter the family business to expand the services to include Engineering.  

Together, I believed, my Dad and I would build a business that would rival the biggest engineering and construction companies on the planet.

Shunned

My Dad learned this and told me, “I’ll kill you if you go into construction. Don’t do what I did. You’re smarter than that. You go to college and get a good professional job. You don’t need to break your back and work hard your whole life, like I have.”  

While I understood his good intentions, I was crushed and directionless.  

At the time, it never occurred to me to start a small business.

I continued into college, still alone.  

With my professional aspirations dashed, and with math beyond the 3rd degree as an obvious weakness at the pace and difficulty level I had attempted, engineering looked increasingly like a direction I didn’t want to continue.

Now what?

I explored other avenues, with an eye toward the medical sector.  

In addition to the math, physics, and chemistry that had been required in Engineering, I took courses in life sciences, biology, anatomy, and physiology in preparation for medical school.  

The medical direction didn’t fit either: I was scared off by horror stories about 48 hour shifts and competition so great I might only get into a program that wouldn’t get me a job in North America.  

I became interested in social sciences, including anthropology and psychology.

I finally settled on a degree in Psychology, where I knew I had an interest, and where I knew I could complete a degree program.  

Another false start

An internship in a psychiatric hospital convinced me that counseling and psychiatry were not the careers for me either.  

Thankfully, by this time, I knew before I even entered the workforce that I wanted a career in business.

I eventually returned to school for a Masters Degree in Business Administration.  

On graduation, I proceeded to start a small business and found it impossible to sustain.

Even then, I resisted taking a full-time job as an employee. I’ve had a professional job since then, which I’ve now had for nearly 20 years. 

3. I want to give people the same advantages that are monopolized by huge companies and institutions.

I see huge companies reaping the rewards of successful product development to create entirely new industries and billions of dollars of profits every year.

At the same time, standard American education does little to prepare people to get what they want.

The fact is, the same product development principles can be used by people to get what they want as well.

I want to share the secrets of successful product development with a million people, so they can apply the same principles to get the great results they want.

What I didn’t know I didn’t know

Looking back, I knew too little about product development and marketing to sustain a business.

  • I had been in a sales role once, and I wasn’t successful.
  • I’d been in Consulting for several years, and wondered why my boss didn’t seem to like me. Only later did I realize it had at least a little to do with my failure to help her grow the business. I’d never even realized how important this was to a successful consulting company’s basic business model.
  • I had an MBA for decades, but I realized only recently how important Marketing is to a successful business. $75,000 had bought me a professional job, but not the ability to run a successful business.

What had my life been for?

Looking back, I realized that much of my life had been about fulfilling the expectations of others.

  • My grandparents and parents had raised me to be compliant and do what I’m told. They encouraged education, and this is likely what inspired me to become an above-average student.
  • I’d always tried to fit in and do what I was told at work.
  • My constant attempts at placation certainly helped to turn off my ex-wife and may have led her to despise me.

My choice

When I finally got in tune with how unhappy I was and then figured out what I wanted, it became clear much of my life didn’t serve me.  

I was out of place, trading my time for the resources I needed to survive.  

I faced the fact that I wanted more and I learned it was possible to get it.  

Then someone told me I deserve to have a life I love, as we all do.

I was thrilled by the prospect!

4. I want to retire myself from my professional job and have a career I want.

I am to do this by:

  1. following in the footsteps of Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week and increasing my income per hour invested in income-producing activities.
  2. taking the advice of Daniel Pink’s When book, getting all the sleep I need, and having a schedule that suits my natural tendencies.
  3. freeing myself from time and location constraints, so I can experience more of the world and have more time and resources to serve my values of fitness, adventure, service, and sustainability.

I have gone so far as to start a small business, and now I’m studying business once again.

Where my MBA program taught me some things that enabled me to be an effective employee in a large company, now I’m learning to build a business.

I’m studying to learn what it takes to build a business into a successful business.

5. I want to fully apply my decades of education and experience.

I am a specialist in accelerating great results.

I’m on a mission to create the sustainable lifestyle business that has called to me my whole life.

Through it, I am giving everyone the opportunity to get great results and change their lives.

I earned an MBA at Santa Clara University, in the heart of Silicon Valley. While there, I concentrated in Management of Technology and Innovation.

For 20 years, I have helped large companies manage change in their businesses.

Fact is, these changes are successful only when they are successfully adopted in the daily lives of the company’s employees and customers.  

One of the textbook reasons changes fail is the users don’t adopt them in practice.

The thing about innovation and change management is the same principles apply in any context.

  • These principles work the same way, whether they’re being applied at home or at work.
  • They work whether they’re being used for a company or for a person.  

At home and at work, I help people:

  1. Find purpose, so they can see with crystal clarity what they really want,
  2. Create a plan, so they can get what they want (personalized to their specific goals and circumstances),
  3. Stay focused, so they can make real progress over time and change their life.

More Information

  1. More about how I lost 50 pounds
  2. My Autoimmune Diagnosis: A Dark Comedy
  3. Tim Ferriss4 Hour Work Week.
  4. Daniel Pink‘s When.
  5. More about my values

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