[A version of this article first appeared in the April issue of Corporate Report Wisconsin.]
Who has the entrepreneurial spirit? Not everyone, that’s for sure. While many people dream about the romance of being self-employed (I know, romance?), most folks aren’t cut out for the life. So, here’s a tale of two guys and a gal.
Tom decided to give entrepreneurship a shot. He loved the freedom of setting up camp at different coffee shops in town and plunking away on his laptop.
But he lacked even the most basic discipline. When people gave him a shot, he missed appointments, told prospects what they needed rather than listening to what they wanted, criticized the competition, and operated on a sunny-afternoon schedule that ignored pressing deadlines. Tom is once again an employee, still complaining about how others did him in.
Then there are Jim Truckey and his wife, Lynn. The two of them make an incredible team. Jim is the dreamer, the big thinker. Lynn is the practical one, who keeps Jim from floating off into ventures that are too wild. Both of them have a drive and determination that makes lesser souls want to go home and take a nap. They’re brash, tough, inexhaustible, politically incorrect.
Most of all, they make no excuses. They are focused, determined entrepreneurs. In less than a decade, starting out with a corner building in downtown Algoma, Wisconsin (just south of Door County on the shores of Lake Michigan) they started Good Tidings, a nautical-accessory gift shop; bought and rejuvenated Steele Street Floral next door; and run a direct mail business from the back rooms and in Green Bay, along with several other tightly-focused businesses.
What I love about Jim and Lynn is that they’re ambitious, reasonable risk takers. They bought a building several years ago, being the highest bidder on one and getting it for a song … but then getting in over their heads on a second property that they did finally manage to unload for only a marginal loss.
They don’t count their losses or gripe about bad luck. They plan, they think … and they work and work hard. One snapshot image galvanizes my respect for them: One Sunday late afternoon last winter I was driving through downtown Algoma. It was perhaps 4:00 PM, overcast and dreary. Every other shop was closed. But in front of Good Tidings and Steele Street Floral, the OPEN banner waved in the chilly fall wind. And upstairs, in Jim’s office, the lights were on.
Lynn and Jim have the souls of entrepreneurs. No Washington bailout for them, but also no whining, no complaining, no public sulking.
When I say, “Work hard! Make Money! Have fun!” Jim and Lynn Truckey know exactly what I’m talking about. – John R. Ingrisano, The FreestyleEntrepreneur