Whatever it Takes

by Rob Stam

Human Connection

A few years ago I had a casual conversation over breakfast with a venture capitalist about various businesses we were each working on. He was telling me about a new product launch he was involved in as part of a start-up owned by a couple of young guys. He then proceeded to tell me stories about doing all-night product demo shifts in a big box store. That obviously caught my attention. This gentlemen was in his 50s and was already extremely successful. He had the house on the lake and the expensive cars, yet he was doing the “grunt” work of a first-time entrepreneur. I loved it. 

He had obviously learned a few lessons about entrepreneurship. First, you’re never too big or too good to do the hard work. Second, leaders set an example. And third, entrepreneurs do whatever it takes.

Until that conversation, I had thought there would be a day when I would outgrow the heavy lifting side of business; I would have a team of people to do it for me. But not only is that not realistic, it’s not wise. 

The picture to the right is of my car after a recent trade show for an apparel start-up company. This is not a one-time occurrence; I have done this countless times. Does it get tiring? Sure. But I still love it. I re-earn my own respect every time I do this. I show to myself, my family, and my colleagues that I will do whatever it takes to succeed. I don’t say that to boast; I say that to provide an accurate image of the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. The difference between the entrepreneurs and the dreamers. 

Most people choose to stay home on the weekend and won’t load up a car with t-shirts and drive three hours each way to a trade show. And that’s ok, not everyone is supposed to that. Not everyone (in fact, statistically hardly anyone) is wired to be an entrepreneur. But for those of you who are, this is what you do. Simply put, you do what others won’t do. As a result, you reap the benefits that others won’t reap. Not just the financial benefits, but the intangibles. The confidence that you believe in yourself and your idea. The respect of those watching. The respect of yourself. 

Ask yourself every day: Will I do the least amount possible to succeed, or will I do whatever it takes?