You share a heritage with the outliers and independent thinkers, innovators and contrarians stretching far back into our national history. Our country was built on the principles of entrepreneurism and the spirit of discovery. The bedrock of capitalism is the spirit of independence, self-reliance and self-advancement through risk, innovation and value creation. Those who came before us built an oasis of freedom: a free market where better will almost always out-flank bigger.
The first documented American entrepreneur was John Rolfe, a British colonist to New England. In 1610, Rolfe landed at the Jamestown colony. He found it mostly deserted after the “Starving Time” had decimated the colonists and left only 60 alive, but he was able to build a home and settle in. Rolfe brought with him contraband he had smuggled out of the Spanish colonies: tobacco seeds. He quickly set about planting and harvesting them in the rich Virginia soil and consequently launched the first successful business venture in the New World. Rolfe is credited with saving the colony, building Jamestown into a boomtown and yes, marrying Pocahontas.
As an entrepreneur, you’re a part of that heritage.
Ben Franklin wasn’t merely a statesman and Founding Father as you may know. He was also one of the wealthiest men in the colonies, having gotten quite rich as a printer. Now consider the genius: He created his Poor Richard’s Almanac, full of his wisdom, human insight, and political satire. He then mass-produced it through “affiliate” printers that ran his franchise print shops up and down the Eastern seaboard. Finally, he delivered it direct to households in the colonies through the nation’s first national postal system, which he developed.
You’re a part of that heritage.
Richard Warren Sears was a railroad station agent in North Redwood, Minn. He received a shipment of watches from a jeweler out of Chicago, Ill., which the local merchant refused to accept. Sears purchased the watches himself, sold them for a profit and ordered more to resell along the rail line. Leveraging his capital and the newly developed railway system, he started a business selling watches through mail order catalogues. The next year, he moved to Chicago, met Alvah C. Roebuck, and by 1895, the company was producing a 532-page catalog with sales exceeding $750,000 dollars. Sears and Roebuck became the world’s largest mail order catalog company and fueled westward expansion into the interior. It took him all of two years to make it happen.
You’re a part of that heritage, too.
These three revolutionizing entrepreneurs perfectly profile the type of person that forged our national identity, but we’re just scratching the surface. The list of famous names in our country’s history is a verifiable who’s who of entrepreneurism and the promise of the American dream. What about P.T Barnum? Louis B. Mayer? How about Charles Schwab, J.P Morgan, Walt Disney, Ray Croc, Mary Kay Ash, Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Ralph Lauren or Oprah Winfrey? The list is endless if we also consider the entrepreneurs who struck out alone, left the plow in the field or crossed oceans to come to this country and build small businesses that never became household names. They too built the nation and they too are your heritage.
As an entrepreneur, you are a unique type of person and when armed with the right tools; can move mountains, shape the world and put a dent in the universe. You’re a part of the lineage of wild-men, pioneers and daredevils that forged new paths into our American landscape. You’re an entrepreneur and no one is quite like you. The wisdom you possess, the insights that you’ve acquired and the unique filter of your personal life experiences, background, worldview and passions create a particular set of insights unlike anyone else’s on the planet.
Like a thumbprint, your wisdom is yours alone. Aligned with your purpose, capital, daring and capabilities, you can be the most formidable force on the planet and the most compelling energy in the universe: pure potential.