History has given us no shortage of dreamers whose friends and foes were probably quick to say, “I told you so!” whenever one’s defiance of convention resulted in fizzles, flops and failures.
- The eighth time was the charm for R. H. Macy after his first seven businesses went belly-up.
- As a youth, F. W. Woolworth wasn’t allowed to wait on dry goods customers at his first job because his boss said he didn’t have any sense.
- Fledgling author Dr. Seuss was rejected by 27 publishers before someone finally decided to give his stories a chance. Jack London tops that rejection count with 600 “no’s” before he got his first “yes.”
- Henry Ford went broke five times before launching a car company that finally found success.
- Elvis Presley was fired after his debut performance and advised to go back to driving a truck.
- Long before he gave the world The Happiest Place on Earth, Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who told him he lacked imagination and good ideas.
- The Wright Brothers went through years of failed prototypes until they came up with a model that literally got off the ground.
- Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime and yet kept at it because – well, he really liked to paint.
The lesson here is that if any of the visionaries on this list had caved to the pressures of the bliss-blowers and shelved their dreams in deference to a well-lit, safe and predictable path of ordinariness, what a loss it would have been to the generations that followed.
So it is as well with aspiring sole proprietors. If you have the aptitude for your chosen field – coupled with the patience and ambition to learn how to make your ideas work in a commercial context – the world is truly an oyster of your own making.
Just make sure your shell has enough layers of insulation to drown out the noise of everyone pounding on it and saying you should be making something else.
Excerpted from Office for One: The Sole Proprietor’s Survival Guide (available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle)