Business ideas come and go. Few of them ever come to fruition or last for the long haul, but while the typical person might shrug off such failures, the entrepreneur takes it to heart. It haunts him until he can either replace the goal with something better or give his original idea the best possible shot at success.
Every entrepreneur who tries to succeed will experience failure. But most of those failures can be lived with and learned from because the initial effort was there. It’s when the idea never gets a real tryout that it can hurt.
Let me tell you a little story about my “one that got away.”
My town has a rich history.
If you’re looking at a map of Arkansas, you’ll find Fort Smith in the western part of the state. It’s where the book and the film True Grit are set. It’s the place where the great African-American US Marshal Bass Reeves did his thing in the days of the “Wild West.” It’s also where some of the greatest baseball players of all time briefly hung their hats in an old, now-barren patch of land known as Andrews Field.
As of 2014, the town had removed most indications that Andrews Field ever existed. Historical documentation of the Fort Smith Giants minor league baseball team (who played there) as well as the countless stop-overs from the likes of Hank Aaron, Honus Wagner, and Bob Gibson, are still traceable but few serious efforts have ever been made to do anything with the information. I live here, I work here, and I’ve even written a published magazine article on the subject.
It got me thinking…
Why not locally crowd-fund the book? Set up incentives the way you would through Kickstarter, where certain donations get certain rewards — a Fort Smith Giants jersey, a pennant, a free copy of the book (digital and print), a coffee mug, a special thanks, a book dedication, multiple copies to sell in your retail store with you keeping the full revenue, etc.
Get the book completely funded to the tune of $25k — that’s what it would take for me to set aside enough of my other work so I could do the research, writing, compilation, and publishing — and if I make any more than that, find ways of giving back to the community, with the ultimate goal being a monument to mark where Andrews Field was before the rest of the town forgets?
All it would take: time, determination, and perhaps a box of business cards — 500 for $60. (That’s right, I priced it.) To this day, if you go to the website FortSmithGiants.com, you’ll see my rough, not-ready-for-launch website that I’ve been working on for about a year. Furthermore, I know enough people in town with deep pockets and a sense of local historical pride who would be willing to donate.
Why not? Frankly, I got wrapped up in other things, and it was hard giving my full attention to something that didn’t guarantee a single dollar of income, especially when I was busy doing things I enjoyed that were paying me upfront. However, I’ve been at that ugly place where I worked a horrible job that paid me while trying to attract clients on the side. It wasn’t fun, but I did it anyway, and now I’m grateful for the experience.
How do you know when to give up and when to fight on?
- If the “one that got away” compels you to push through the frustration of not getting paid upfront and to work after you come home from your 9-to-5, fight on.
- If the little victories you make while pursuing your dream keep you going, fight on.
- If you hate your job so much that the urge to leave overpowers the fear of going without income, fight on.
- But if you go to work, come home, eat, and crash in front of the TV or Internet until bedtime, rather than do one or two things each day that bring you closer to your goal, then either give up or wake up.
The “one that got away” is still something I would love to do one day. But as long as I’m doing something I love and getting paid for it, I’ll be able to live without it. That’s how I know the idea is probably dead in the water. (Unless someone wants to drop me a line and send a $25,000 check, of course. Then that bad boy will be priority numero uno.)
Do you guys have any business ideas that got away? If so, what are they?