Entrepreneurship: It’s About Getting What YOU Want
I’m writing to share with you two great examples of entrepreneurship from a chapter of my book, The Best Damn Sales Book Ever. I also highly recommend a great new book, The One Minute Entrepreneur, by Ken Blanchard and Don Hutson. It is an exciting story about the trials and tribulations of business. You can take part in their special offer by clicking here.
…This is an excerpt from Chapter 15 of The Best Damn Sales Book Ever:
When I ask,“Why did you get into sales,” or “Why did you go into this kind of business,” I’ve had way too many people say, “…Because I heard you can make a lot of money in sales,” or, “I heard you can make a lot of money in this kind of business.” I know people who have made a lot of money doing things where others would turn up their noses.
You’ve probably never heard of a man named Randy Repass. He was like so many other people in that he had a job he was disappointed with at a Silicon Valley technology firm, so he turned to his love of boating for relief from the cold, impersonal nature of the high-tech industry. In 1968, working out of his garage in Sunnyvale, California, he began selling nylon rope by mail order under the name West Coast Ropes. Occasionally, adventuresome customers would even drop by to pick up their orders in person.
“I decided from the beginning that I wanted to take care of people,” says Repass.“The high-tech industry didn’t provide me with an effective way to do that. But the boating industry gave me the opportunity to really enjoy my work and interact with customers who shared my interests. I was having a blast and building a business at the same time.”
Repass also saw an opportunity to improve the way people shopped for boating supplies. According to Repass, he was frustrated by the experience of shopping in local chandleries for the parts he needed to outfit his modest day-sailer. “Boat supply stores in those days were usually dark, disorganized places staffed by a couple of salty but indifferent clerks who preferred swapping sea stories with one another to helping customers find what they came in to buy.”
Repass’s dissatisfaction led him to open the first West Coast Ropes store in Palo Alto, California, in 1975. From that one store, a love of boating and a commitment to helping rather than selling enabled Randy Repass to build West Coast Ropes into West Marine, the world’s largest boating supply retailer.
I’m sure that selling tires for a living doesn’t seem like the road to riches or the coolest way to make a living, but don’t tell that to Paul Zurcher.
Mr. Zurcher (I don’t think I’ve ever called him Paul, and even though he’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met, I don’t really think I could) left the Armed Forces right after serving in World War II. Having grown up on a farm in rural Indiana, the only thing he knew was that he didn’t want to be a farmer. With the help of a $2,500 loan from a local businessman who took a liking to him and believed in him, Mr. Zurcher bought a one bay service station. As his business grew, he branched out into selling tires. Treating every customer as special (as every customer is), his tire business grew and today Zurcher Tires, more commonly known as “Best One,” is one of the largest retailers and wholesalers of tires in the United States, with stores all over Indiana and the Midwest.
Mr. Zurcher, now in his 80s, is as active in the business as ever. While he certainly doesn’t have to be—his sons, along with other family members and executives, do a great job of running the company— he loves being there as much today as he did 60 years ago.
You know what? You can make a lot of money doing anything, if you really love it and put everything you’ve got into it. Loving what you do is what is going to get you through the hard times when there is no money coming in. It is also the one quality that can help make you great at anything you do.