On Venturing Into the Fray (Whereby “Fray” I actually mean “New Entrepreneurial Endeavor”)

Oct 20

’Tis the season to shut up and ship.
10/21/12

Last week Mandy and I got the keys to 1243 Pendleton Street, a ~1600sqft commercial building in the Greenville Arts District where we’ll be partnering with our friend Bill to make, manufacture, craft, and collect Bill’s jeans and our homegoods in a sort of hybrid retail shop/studio/sweatshop thing.

This is Mandy and Bill’s full-time gig. This is a startup side-business for me (I’m a big fan of not quitting your day job, as I’m a big fan of my day job). This is exciting and scary and awesome and full of ermahgerd. We’re crazy people.

I have no idea if we can run a retail/studio space. I definitely have no idea if we can run a successful retail/studio space. I think we can. I hope. And I know we’d regret it if we didn’t try it—something about nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And so we venture. And we hope we gain.

There are many things that three individuals with limited income and lots of ideas can’t do—we can’t go out and buy a bunch of inventory, we can’t hire a team of people, and we can’t buy* commercial property outright (yet). But we can control our hard work, effort, and willingness to risk. Risk is the key here. Big things are naturally risk averse because there’s more at stake (and typically more stakeholders); small things inherently must risk in order to begin. No risk, no growth. No growth, no business.

And so we risk. And we hope to grow.

It’s about ‘How much can we get away with?’
Aaron Draplin

Our flavor of risk is different than, say, an investment banker’s risk. Their risk is more akin to a financial calculation, balanced against potential return. ROI ’til the day they die. Our entrepreneurial risk certainly has a financial component to it, but it’s more about ideas and execution. Will this thing succeed? Is there room in the local marketplace for us? Will we be willing to recognize opportunities, follow that momentum and build our respective businesses to take advantage of them? What can we get away with and still pay the rent? Still grow the business? Because if we can’t get away with things, if we can’t shape these businesses into what we envision, why bother?

If you’re willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to being an artist.
Seth Godin

And so we try something that might not work, and we hope to get away with it. Onward and upward.


*On the topic of buying commercial space, it is a sad state of affairs that the people with the property tend to lack vision for it, and the people with the vision tend to lack the funds to buy it. I look forward to flipping that scenario on its head in the next few years.

4 Comments

  1. In the Spring of 1989 I finally came to terms with the fact that I was not a “Corporate Woman,” as my son liked to say at the time. He was not referring to that term with kindness. I was an RN who thought I should take the logical next step and become MANAGEMENT. I was horribly wrong. I quit—after an entire weekend of crying and believing for a solid 57 hours that I was a complete failure as a woman, wife, mother, nurse and, in fact, “Corporate Woman.” I was not, of course, but it took a long time to believe—to BELIEVE.

    In April of that year, I launched the second career dream of my life. I opened a gift shop. Small inventory, but I loved everything in it. My husband and I loved the twice a year buying trips (we could only do this because he kept HIS day job and was doing well!). I loved arranging vignettes, selling and meeting with (and sometimes doing counseling with!)my customers. And often, I sat all day long with no one coming in because I chose to do this in a town of less than 3,000 people—because I wanted to heal from that “Corporate Woman” thing.

    And by the third year, we just barely made a profit—but knew it was too expensive a ‘hobby’ to continue. But it had served its purpose. I had fulfilled a dream. I had done the impossible and made it work. I had opened the door, quite literally to a creative aspect of myself that I thought was only in my head—and seen it great real people, and ring up real sales. And I loved every minute of it. I had entrepreneural skills—people liked what I did in the shop and bought my stuff.

    If you have a dream, you suffer if you don’t act on it. Of course it might not work! But you will never know if you don’t go out and try it. I have no regrets. I met people I never would have. And I learned more about myself than I ever would have. Dream making is a glorious thing. But dream making come true—now that is a pursuit that the fainthhearted need not begin. For the rest of us? Well, we just get busy—and open the door—and invite you in!

  2. This sounds super exciting, and I wish you guys all the best in the new venture! I’m reminded of http://www.executebook.com and how it rarely makes sense to put things off that you’re passionate and/or curious about. Looking forward to updates…and I bet the branding is going to speak for itself!

  3. I just recently stumbled upon your blog.

    Your venture does sound exciting. I hope you’ll be successful with it.

  4. Hi

    came across your blog, love the story we are getting into a simular position, design company going very well, working from home. But we too looking to get some studio space as I am a bit of a photographer too.

    Good Luck

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