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Hell, I’m an Entrepreneur

John W. Pinkerton


I imagine I'm not the only fellow who has done a little daydreaming about being an entrepreneur…owning ones own business.

Of course, I spent most of a lifetime teaching and being a librarian, two jobs I thoroughly enjoyed---well, for the most part.  However, this didn't keep me from thinking about being my own independent business owner.

I think my first choice for a business was a bar.  I've always liked bars especially when I was a young fellow.  You have to remember that I was reared in Louisiana where the standard was that if you could see over the bar, you would be served.  It was the law.  I had a lot of fun in bars.  Hell, how hard could it be to run a joint.  It took a long time for this bar dream to disappear, but it did.  I got to thinking about having to deal with drunks and lugging all that beer around---just didn't appeal to me.

In recent years, owning and running an art gallery had a lot of appeal for me.  However, I've dealt with enough of these businesses to recognize what is required.  I've seen gallery owners make a lot of mistakes: hanging pictures poorly, ignoring potential customers when they look poor, not keeping records well,  giving folks the impression that only their opinion counts, and the biggest sin of all, a lack of adequate lighting.  Yeah, I feel as though I could start tomorrow.  However, the downside is that the owners/managers if they are artists don't have time to paint or sculpt or whatever they do.  Today the only way I'd own and manage a gallery is if I could have the gallery within five minutes of my easy chair at home with an intercom which tells me that a customer wants to visit the gallery.  That's just me I guess.  I think I'll let this dream go.  After all, galleries are the canary in the coal mine: they're one of the first businesses to go under in a poor economy.

Another business a lot of folks thought I might go into was the antique business.  Linda and I were big collectors for a few years.  We thoroughly enjoyed collecting, mostly art glass.  That was my friends' thought, not mine.  I've gone into too many antique shops and have had to wake up some old guy sleeping to find the business appealing.  Not for me.

I think another business I was interested in at one time was buying, remodeling, and selling old houses.  I think this is called “flipping.”  When we remodeled our old home, I strengthened my carpentry skills and improved my electrical and home plumbing skills.  I definitely have the skills, but I'm one of the slowest human beings who ever attempted a remodel job.  I would surely starve to death if I attempted this endeavor.

Looking at most businesses from the outside makes them all look simple.  I have the wisdom to know that all businesses require a lot of unseen work, unseen hours, unseen skills.  One reason a lot of small businesses fail is that the owners overestimate the need for their business.  I think that they confuse their interest in useless gadgets with the general public's interest.

You know, about 80% of small businesses go out of business within eighteen months.  Wow!

I encourage anyone who has a desire to be an entrepreneur to go for it.  Just remember that no matter how easy it may look from your easy chair…well, it ain’t.

Although I think owning any of the businesses I've mentioned would have been fun for me, I doubt that they would have been successful.

I stuck to teaching and being a librarian for thirty-five years.  Not exactly entrepreneurial, but I always felt independent.  As long as I didn't slap the principal or the superintendent (which I did pretty regularly), they pretty much left me alone to do what I felt needed to be done.  It worked out for both of us.

Now that I'm old and have saved my money and have retirement benefits and invested well…well, I have no regrets not being an entrepreneur, but I'm sure it would have been interesting.

I guess the art thing is the closest I've come to having my own business.  I had to laugh out loud when I realized our tax people treated my art as a business.  I paint for two reasons: to see how well I can develop my skills and, of course, money.  I don't need the money, but I don't like the art stacking up in everyone's way at home.  Well, I guess it is a business…sort of.  Hell, I'm an entrepreneur.