the original kStyle blog.

Friday, January 19, 2007


OK, so I just drank a beer more quickly than intended, which could negatively affect my coherence.

I'm currently taking an online course about creating a business plan, and it's so fucking cool! The first 2 lessons were released this week. My classmates come from all over the country; the highest concentrations appear to be from the Northeast (rah rah rah!) and the Southeast.

The first lesson is about entrepreneurship in general: what is an entrepreneur? How does one define success? What qualities make for a good entrepreneur? Our first assignment was to research the career/life of an entrepreneur we admire.

The discussion boards are where it gets good! It's so much goddamn fun to read about my classmates' ideas for businesses; they run a whole gamut. I would say that 95% of my classmates are passionate about something, so passionate that they want to begin a business. The other 5% are interested in starting a business, but they're not sure what kind. To me, this is strange, but I recognize that it's also how the necessary things get made. Like envelopes or, I don't know, elastic bands...or, god I can't even think of dull but useful things. I'm in the 95%. I'm starting a freaking wellness center. Useful? Er...

Anyway, the real fun begins when we post our assignments to the discussion board. I've been checking in to read my fellow traveler's bios of various entrepreneurs. (I wrote mine about Gary Hirschberger; email me if you'd like a copy and you know me well enough to know my email address.)

It strikes me that a characteristic of many of the best entrepreneurs is: They see a problem and need to fix it. No healthful, environmentally sound fast food offerings? Mr. Hirschberger began his own chain! (O'Naturals) Mr. Warren Errol Brown went to law school because he wanted to change the way sex ed was done (or not done) in this country. When he realized he was fighting an even more uphill battle than he'd thought, he turned to his true passion: cakes. And he began a successful bakery. There are other examples I can't think if right now.

I most admire the entrepreneurs who, like Mr. Hirschberger, root their life work in their values. Stonyfield Farm yogurt and O'Naturals have grown from his dedication to sustainable agriculture and community-building. To which I say: Rock on.

To sum up: It's cool. I'm taking this class.


Blogger Eric said...

"Entrepreneur" is a poorly-defined term that we prefer not to use.

(Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

This does indeed sound cool; I'm glad you're getting to take it. What are some of your classmates' ideas for businesses?

6:29 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Ha! Indeed.

The classmates' ideas include:
-a man with 16 acres of land wants to start a general store, tavern, and conference center (awesome)
-Christian bookstore/coffeehouse
-a woman wants to turn her hobby of making spiritual gift baskets for friends into a business
-natural/organic line of cosmetics
-an ATV park, where people could rent ATVs and zoom around on trails
-several thrift stores
-several different flavors of boutique shops (high-end men's wear, Parisian-influenced goods, etc)
-antiques restoration (but it was cooler than that; I can't remember exactly what)

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish the ATV park person were going to use solar-powered ATVs . . .

I suspect that a lot of my ambivalence about starting my own business is that i see how much work it is, working for Bossman. When I was going to have a partner to cover my back, it seemed difficult but possible. Now, it just seems too daunting in more ways than I can list.

However, I also suspect I'd be more enthusiastic if I were 35 instead of 48.

Incidentally, I'm getting a massage tomorrow from someone who seems to have set up a smallish version of the kind of place you envision, and the zen shiatsu school in town is similar in that regard. Maybe you should come visit--it's a business trip!

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And may I add, despite the negativity of that comment of mine, I'm excited for YOU! I think it's going to be a wonderful, exciting business for you. And I'd be happy to go over your business plan if you need some feedback.

6:39 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Thanks, Narya! I'd love to visit...and what you say about a business trip is appealing...Hmmm...

A lot a lot of people start businesses upon retirement. It's not necessarily too late for you...

As for Jefe's tremendous workload: To me, delegation is key. I'm going to need to find--to seek out--the right managers for the different branches of the center. I hope to sort of be the gravity that holds the orbits together, rather than the Head Manger CEO Person. I need a life, too!

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd say your challenge is created by the fact that not everyone is good at all the parts of running a business. I'd suggest--depending on how you're going to associate all these people--that you think about rules/forms for accounting (if everyone's accounting will be linked in some way).

And I'm serious about the business trip; keep it in mind. Though I'd wait until it warms up a bit. East coast weather is definitely mildened by the ocean, whereas our weather is definitely harshened by the arctic air whipping off the lake.

10:49 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

That, and the fact that if I want my business to be the best it can be, I'd better bring in people who share the core values and have expertise in different areas. Plus, after the initial startup, and excluding growth periods, I do want to be able to go home at night and relax!

Absolutely, we'd standardize the accounting. Good point. There's also the question of whether or not to be a nonprofit.

I'll have to visit in summer or early fall; we already have a big March trip planned, and we owe a friend trip to DC which we'll combine with a trip to G's cousin in PA, as well. I plan tentatively to visit OH in September (longish story), but that's at least a little closer to you...tack on a flight to IL? Maybe...In any case, I'm sorely tempted to visit and I will someday.

11:39 PM  

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