I am in a reflective mood. Blame it on the grey skies, low barometric pressure or that fact that this past year was so busy, I barely had time to catch my breath. But once you get a moment to sit, and breathe, you want to look back and ponder. I’m big on the pondering.
One of the reasons that this past year was so busy was my involvement with ten wonderful women visiting Israel and Jordan. They were here to study entrepreneurship, business plan development and American business practices at UW-Green Bay as part of an international project. I was fortunate enough to be included in the project.
All ten of these women were in the start-up phase of their business development, either having just opened their doors or working towards it. One of my roles was to meet with them weekly, to answer questions, discuss business strategies, and overall keep them working on their plans. To say it was an amazing experience is putting it mildly.
These were passionate, committed and dare I say it, courageous women. They left family and home to spend an intense month in a different country, in the hopes that what they learned would benefit their businesses. Certainly, the program was an opportunity for them but the opportunity wasn’t easy. The schedule was challenging and full; this wasn’t just a month-long vacation in Wisconsin.
As I learned more and more about them, their ventures and their countries, it became quite clear that, like most entrepreneurs, there were some significant barriers to overcome. There were issues that needed to be resolved that wouldn’t even make it on the radar screen for most Americans. As the program came to a close, I realized that it takes more than passion, determination, and commitment. It indeed takes courage.
Which gets me back to my pondering. I think the same can be said about entrepreneurship as a whole. It can be an opportunity, but it isn’t going to be easy. As I reflected on the overall program, Robert Frost’s timeless poem “The Road Not Taken” kept coming to mind.
Entrepreneurship is indeed the road less traveled. Entrepreneurs who choose to walk it, as these women proved to me, must sometimes be fearless. These women, all bright and charming, would probably have an easier time just keeping their day jobs. There is safety in a paycheck. There is some security in being a cog in a wheel.
And yet, like so many of the other people we work with, they take the road less traveled. And indeed, it does make all the difference.