I think it is in my blood. I hear about a business idea and I have a burning desire to find out all the details, to evaluate the idea and try to think of ways to make it successful.
I spent over an hour today talking with a man who has designed both the hardware and software to send messages through Bluetooth to every cell phone that is within reach of his hardware. People waiting in line for a concert could get a sneak peek backstage to see how the set up is going, or they could receive a free video of the band. The technology is advancing fast, and this could be on the cutting edge, but he can’t get the cell phone companies to buy into it. Bluetooth is a free service, so the fees the wireless companies make from text messaging and downloading might lose value as cell phone users learn how to use Bluetooth technology and the software designed for it.
I remember when my husband and I were asked to appear on the CBC show Dragon’s Den. We drooled over the publicity it would give us… and hoped it might appear in time for the launch of our new web portal in mid November.
Dragon’s Den is a CBC series involving 5 accomplished business people who evaluate businesses and choose to invest in them, or not. My husband, our CFO, didn’t think we needed investors, but we agreed that the opportunity to discuss Women’s Post on national television was too tempting, and the “dragons” – comprised of four men and only one woman – would never understand how a newspaper designed specifically for women could make money.
As CFO my husband has evaluated the market, studied past sales and created projections that Women’s Post has met and at times surpassed. He knows our potential and has watched the newspaper grow and flourish. After watching a few reruns of Dragon’s Den he realized that even if the “dragons” did make an offer to invest, he would have the final say.
We had to wait a few hours for other business owners to have their time in front of the Dragons. During our wait I spoke to some of the entrepreneurs who hoped to get their lucky break in the Dragon’s Den. They paced the room, some prayed quietly to themselves, while others practiced their presentation. They all seemed very serious about the entire procedure. I found myself wondering who would make a good show – who might break down in tears, and who might blow up in anger – giving the passion and intensity needed to connect with a television audience. I wondered if I could muster up enough passion. I started to question my own intentions. Was it right for me to be pitching to the Dragons when so many others needed their investment dollars more than we did? I didn’t feel like the success of our business rested on the results in the Den ― but so many of the other entrepreneurs saw the money as the only hurdle to their success. I wanted to help each one of them – the woman with the skin cream products, the couple with the new game they hoped to bring to market.
The taping went surprisingly quickly, but we signed a waiver that does not allow me to write about anything that ensued.
The great thing about owning your own business is the constant challenges that arise daily. With this newspaper we struggle to keep the racks and boxes full, and as demand grows it becomes more and more challenging. Then there is the constant need to keep growing and developing in a very competitive market. This week we bought into an online radio station, giving us the ability to offer more to our readers and extend our reach even further. Now we must figure out how to take the intimate, passionate and informative moments we’ve created on paper and put them into a format that will work on radio. We launch the radio station in mid November with our new web site.
My husband thinks I jump without first looking to see where I’ll land. But I don’t think that is necessarily true. I know the lay of the land. I’ve worked all angles of the business. I know what our customers want, and if new ways for delivering ideas come about, it is easy to know if they will work or not. Success is a combination of passion, experience and intuition.
Sarah Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org