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November 25, 2009

Why Did You Go Into Business?

Filed under: Entrepreneurship — Tags: , , , — Mike Van Horn @ 2:08 pm

from a LinkedIn question asked by my friend Christopher Richards. I think this is a good question for all of us to ask ourselves. In “Success in 2010,” our annual plan workshop, the first question is, “Why are you in business?” It completely stumps some people! But once you answer that, it really helps you to organize your business to give you what you want.

Here’s my answer:

I went into business by accident. I was at a party. I overheard these two engineers talking about a project they’d gotten to produce a big conference for Jet Propulsion Labs. They were puzzled how they were going to handle the group interaction, which wasn’t their strength.

I butted in and said, “I could do that for you.” I ended up as #3 guy on the project, which went really well, and we were offered follow-on conferences. The two engineers said, “This really isn’t our thing; we’re turning this over to you.” So there I was, sole owner of a technical conference production company, with up to ten employees.

Since that time, I’ve only had one “real job” (i.e., one with paid vacation), when I made the mistake of going to work for my best client. That lasted two years. Since then I’ve owned an export management company (which lasted till Japan’s economy went in the tank), and my current company, The Business Group.

I’m in business because I like to create and organize big things. Yes, I like the money, and yes, I like contributing to others, but those aren’t the main drivers.

At heart I’m a teacher and  communicator and organizer, and my businesses have all been designed as venues for me to exercise these strengths in various ways.

And to schedule time off when I want it.

Oh yes, then there’s the fact that I’m such a hard-headed, autonomous sumbeech that no employer could long put up with me!

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