But I'm not an Entrepreneur

During a recent visit home we stopped by mom's vintage shop, Tattered Style, as we always do when we're back.

It's a retreat.

You'll often hear customers say, "I wish I lived here!"

Once or twice someone has said, "Can I just move all of this into my living room?"

She's changing the way a Dallas suburb sees interior design by showing folks it's not necessary to have a huge budget, a pricy designer, or a brand new home to create a sense of place wherever you might live - and people love it.

In a community where most folks mow down trees to build copycat houses and fail to see the potential in older homes or items with a story, my mother is shifting the way people think about place, space, and beauty.

She sees something others don't and is sharing her perspective.

As a little girl she would rearrange furniture in her room weekly. When I was a kid I remember crying all the time because I hate(d) change and our house was a living canvas for her ideas. Something new and different every week.

An entrepreneur in plain sight, my mother is. She's done the only thing an entrepreneur really is supposed to do: Fill a real need in a unique way.

And it's not just my mother. Her father and mother owned car lots and rental houses. On my father's side there is a line of pastors and community builders; all people who have created something from nothing to add value and fill real needs - seen or unseen - every person has.

Ask me a couple years ago and I would have said I'm a creative - I'm not an entrepreneur. I can't speak business. I would have also said I don't come from a family of entrepreneurs. A handful of pastors, car salesman and an interior decorator? You gotta be kidding me.

This was a story I told myself over and over.

The story only got louder when I moved to Austin where every other person has some idea they're trying to launch and it seems the point of having a startup is to confuse everyone enough so they can ignore the fact nothing is ever created; instead we all just talk about doing business instead of running businesses. I didn't get it. And I had no idea how to participate. For years I felt so uncomfortable and afraid I was missing some important piece of information or business education.

What I really missed was the simple message that to be an entrepreneur all you need to do is create something people need and and are willing to pay for.

Who would have thought it was so simple?

But simple doesn’t mean easy. As with most worthwhile endeavors, the road to creating a real business is littered with the bodies of those who overcomplicate the work to find short term pleasure and affirmation in conversations about business instead of reaching a long term goal of adding real value.

We must find a need others have, identify how we would fill that need with our unique skills and perspective, and run all sorts of experiments to see if the idea actually serves others. If it does, we commit to finding every way possible to deliver and improve.

Perhaps, like me, you don't like the term entrepreneur because you don't dig the way it sounds when coupled with your service offering. No problem- ditch the word. But don't abandon the work.

I’m sharing this because I spent years avoiding the responsibility of sharing my work because I didn't think I fit into the world of Austin startups, entrepreneurs, and flashy accelerators and incubators and refrigerators or whatever.

Forget all that.

There's nothing magic about starting up a business. The commitment to the work and the people you serve is the magic. Don't give into the fear that there's some secret club you need to join to begin - the answers come along the way. As with any hero's journey, the teacher appears when the student is ready, the companions arrive after the safety of normalcy is left, and we must venture into the cave we fear to enter to find the treasure we seek.

If you think you want to be an entrepreneur, identify something that changed your life and figure out how to provide that thing or experience for others in a unique and exciting way.

And visit Tattered Style next time you're in the Dallas area - I promise you'll love it.