The case for entrepreneurship

gilbertsen fry nation photo
Ramsey Gilbertsen, ’09 and his Jamie Gilbertsen, ’09 own two businesses, Fry Nation and Champion Events. The first is a french fry restaurant in RiverTown mall, the second is a mobile retailing business. We’ll be selling the official gear down at Art Prize, for example. These businesses give us the freedom to live life our own way, and we couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

Congratulations! You picked the right major, got good grades, networked, graduated, and settled right into your dream job. Right?

No? That’s not you?

It wasn’t me either. Six months after graduation I was working a low paying job using none of my hard-earned skills, and I know many fellow alums from the class of 2009 that were doing the same. How could this be? The economy was terrible, and jobs were nowhere to be found.

I had to move across the country just for a shot at an internship. After a couple of months, our entire department was herded into the conference room and let go. “Corporate restructuring” they called it. Some people had been there 15-20 years.

I wanted to succeed or fail based on my own efforts, not by the economy or some VP’s budget decision. It was time to stop giving control of my future to other people. It was time to go into business for myself. It’s an option for everyone, maybe even you!

Why could it be right for you?

Freedom.

Everyone will work 40-plus hours a week. Might as well spend those hours doing something you love. Your imagination is the limit to what kind of business you can start.

Beyond controlling what you do, you have full control over how you do it. Structuring your work week, picking your hours, planning your life. These are all things you are able to manage for yourself.

Opportunity.

If it’s money you’re after, being an entrepreneur is the best way to make it big. In 2013, 68% of the 400 American billionaires were self-made entrepreneurs. Most of the others inherited their wealth from previous generations of self-made entrepreneurs.

If you’re looking to make an impact on your community, business is an excellent tool. Check out Homeboy Industries for example. They help former gang members transition back into society. How do they accomplish this? By employing them in their various social enterprises.

Accessibility.

The beauty of business is that anyone can do it. You don’t need a certain GPA or degree to qualify. All you need is an idea and the determination to pull it off.

One thing you don’t need is a lot of money. One of the biggest misconceptions about owning a business is that you need a lot of money to get started. According to US Census data, 40% of small businesses were started with less than $5,000.

If you asked your family and friends for help and are still a little short on funds, look around online. The internet is loaded with options. Business-lending, peer-to-peer lending, and crowdfunding sites have been booming for the past few years. It’s never been easier to raise money for a startup online.

How do I get started?

In a word: Read. The best way to learn the basics of business ownership is to pick up a book about business ownership. And I do mean a book. Internet articles are great, but they will not cover everything. Think of these books as required reading for Entrepreneurship 101.

Start Your Own Business by Entrepreneur Magazine. This book takes you through the basics of marketing, hiring, accounting, etc. It holds your hand while thoroughly covering all the baby steps from idea conception to opening your doors.

The E-myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. Knowing how to build a product or provide a service is one thing. Running a business that builds products/provides services is a very different thing. This book teaches you the differences and prepares you to make the jump to business ownership.

After you’ve read these two books, keep reading! There’s always more to know. Hopefully, you’ve just learned that business ownership is an option for everyone, including you! Just remember, you can either work on your dreams, or get paid to work on someone else’s. The choice is yours.

– Ramsey Gilbertsen, ’09