I enjoy traveling to new countries, experiencing the different cultures, food, language and norms.
It gives me a fresh outlook on my own life and helps me get out of my comfort zone and lose the routine of life for a while.
This weekend I flew to Rotterdam (The Netherlands) for my 30-year business school reunion.
Earlier in my life, I had to miss out on these reunions. I was (too) busy building a life and a career for my family and myself. I definitely did not want to miss this one.
This 10,000+ mile trip allowed me to reconnect with my international classmates and friends; many I had not seen in decades.
Catching up with them was fascinating: How they all had carved out a life for themselves and each had a unique business story to share.
One classmate (Nancy) shared how she left her corporate job at Proctor and Gamble and founded HomeStars (the Canadian version of Angie’s List.)
I could tell from her emotions that it was not an easy journey.
She ground it out for five years before she could pay herself a salary!
She supported her employees through lean times and probably thought about giving up at some point. But she stuck it out until they finally turned a corner.
Fortunately, her story ended well with a famous US firm buying her out, but only because she didn’t give up.
That’s The Entrepreneur’s Challenge:
Not giving up on one’s dream, even when times are tough. You care about your people, and you want to take care of them, but there are times when everyone on the team has to struggle along with you. That makes the challenge twice as hard.
Nancy’s story is similar to many landscape entrepreneurs. You work so very hard, taking low pay at first, doing what ever it takes to find traction and build up a solid team.
What About The Failures?
We don’t often read about business failures because they aren’t sexy. So it looks as if success comes easy to entrepreneurs (ahem, it does not!)
If you talk to anyone like Nancy, you come to understand that after the initial brainstorm, after that 1% of inspiration, it takes 99% perspiration (sweat) for your business to get legs.
I work with over 125 landscape entrepreneurs in my peer group community, and I see it every day. Each of them has a story of overcoming personal and professional challenges, in order to become the person they are today.
The Pilgrims Were The Original Stubborn Entrepreneurs
While in Rotterdam, I also visited DelfsHaven (a small harbor, see photo below) where the Pilgrims originally set sail.
The Pilgrims were extremely resilient and independent-minded; after trying to make a life in The Netherlands, this group of English people finally decided to leave for America.
From DelfsHaven, they sailed back to England, and from there, boarded the Mayflower and set off for Virginia, but landed in Cape Cod–just over 400 years ago.
Here’s a photo-gram showing who sailed on the Mayflower and the few who survived to celebrate the first Thanksgiving.
We owe a lot to their entrepreneurial spirit.
Your Challenge: Stay Resilient, But Speed Up Your Journey
Everyone struggles, but the smart one’s take advantage of those who have gone before them. To speed your journey, here are a few tips:
- Ask your peers to share their stories of how they implemented their latest big idea and how they overcame their challenges.
- Don’t obsess about those who make it “look easy,” rather engage those who work hard for their success. You will learn more from them.
- Find the support of a community and you will thrive.
For those of you curious about my trip to Holland, here are a couple of my photos and observations.
1. The Dutch respect their own history and culture, while making way for modernization. It’s the best of both worlds. Check out this structure built over the airspace of old Dutch apartments. Question: If I visited your company, would I see your traditions melded with your new innovations?
2. The Dutch understand their brand (for example, the windmill) and they protect their brand as a country. Question: How well do you know and protect your company’s image?
3. The Dutch love their bikes; for them it represents: Freedom, exercise and efficiency. Check out this huge bike storage at the train station. Every Dutch person is proud “to be efficient.” Question: Can you say the same for your company culture?
4. The Dutch love their free time. Sunday on the canals you can find people biking and sitting outside drinking, eating and enjoying each other’s company. They work hard as a people but also take full advantage to enjoy life. Question: Do you bring that same gusto to your firm?
Have a great week!
P.S. If you would like to become the best and rub shoulders with a group of your peers who are all aiming to become best-in-class, join our high-impact Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners. It will change your business and your life! Fill in an application here.