Entrepreneur America Begins at Home
Our passion and mission is ensuring that entrepreneur America is alive, well, and continually improving. Everyone should have a shot at entrepreneurial greatness. By setting a proper foundation and using the right tools, all can pursue their dreams and have a good chance in their pursuit of success.
I have felt particularly passionate lately about ensure my own children are well prepared for their own path down the yellow brick road of entrepreneurship. While there may indeed be a city of gold at the end of the road, there certainly is no wizard. The magic really happens in working hard, having the right mindset, and learning the proper tools and techniques that lead to success. Teaching our children these principles and skills early will assist them in their path.
There simply is no better way to ensure continued entrepreneurial leadership in America than teaching our children to think and behave like entrepreneurs. My mother, father, and other entrepreneurial influencers in my life encouraged me to build my foundation by engaging me in entrepreneurial activities.
From my earliest days, I recall getting up early on Saturday mornings and heading out with my dad and older sister onto the roadside highways. There, with our black plastic bags, we collected every tossed beer and soda can we could find. At $0.01 per can from the recycler, I made what I thought was a killing! It was my older sister’s and my responsibility to figure out how to get them to the recycler and get paid.
During my summers, I would frequently be found running the fields of my grandpa’s farm in central Idaho. Farmer’s are the original entrepreneurs and I maintain an immense respect for them. There, I found I could make a reasonable living for an 8 year old, by collecting and selling worms to fisherman on the weekends. But my eye’s grew wide when I learned that technology could improve my productivity by 5-10x. Though probably frowned on today, we’d water the lawn heavily, hook electrodes up to the tractor battery and jam them in the front lawn. The tingle I felt in my toes drove the earthworms to the surface in a hurry. Voila…no more hunting for worms.
DOOR TO DOOR SELLING
As a young boy scout I used to get a magazine called ‘Boy’s Life’. I loved the survival against all odds stories in each issue. But I devoured every page…including all the classifieds at the back. One holiday season I discovered an opportunity to sell Christmas cards door to door and my mother encouraged me to do it. This was the first time I began to understand the value of upselling clients. Once I had a sense I had a sale on the line, I did everything I could to convince them to select the deluxe option – more and higher quality cards. My margin on each sale more than doubled. I earned a fantastic little raft that first year which I used for years.
PERSONAL SERVICE PAYS
When I was 12, a neighbor who owned a paper route in our small town moved away. I recall the surprise and incredulity on the face of the paper executive when he was approached by a 12 year old about managing this vacated route. But he relented and I suddenly had 70 papers to deliver, rain, snow or shine. I even had to do it Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving morning. I was not only taught responsibility, but I learned the value of the personal touch. As I learned precisely where each neighbor wanted the paper thrown, and more importantly, learned to show up on their door to collect each month’s subscription rather than encourage them to do the easy task of dropping their check in the mail, my tips were much larger.
ENCOURAGE THOUGHT & MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS
Today with my own kids, rather than just dole out allowance without a purpose, we have reason behind it. For instance, when our children need money, we encourage them to look around for something to do for us in the yard or home. Then it is their responsibility to come back and negotiate price. They have to pitch me. A better pitch yields better results. I’m no pushover, but I will admit I might overpay on occasion. The day my son figured out that he could co-opt his friends into helping at the cabin and then get paid a manager’s wage was a very proud day for me.
It is all within reach. Anything is possible with a good idea. While many of us now think, “I can’t be an entrepreneur…I just don’t have good ideas,” we didn’t always think that way. I’ve been guilty of this thinking plenty of times. But rather than teaching our kids to simply find a job, let’s them to think and act like an entrepreneur and that they can accomplish anything. That is the basis of a strong American economy and a proud papa.
David Chase, Managing Partner at Advanced CFO Solutions, has experience in small to medium private companies and large public companies as a senior operational and financial leader. With 15 years in finance, a CFO of multiple entities and divisional EVP experience, Dave has a breadth of experience. Dave has led or been instrumental in raising multiple rounds of equity and debt in excess of $450 million.