Houston Forward Times

21 May 2014 Written by  Jeffrey L. Boney


I have always been inspired and motivated by the tenacity of dedicated business people. I speak to business owners all over the world and whenever anyone asks me what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, I tell them every successful entrepreneur must possess three things: (1) some level of knowledge or experience, (2) some Investment capital or money; and most important of all (3) a whole lot of guts.

Honestly, you could find yourself having limited knowledge or experience and you could even find yourself having very little money or Investment capital; but as a determined entrepreneur, in spite of the things that you may be lacking, you had better not jump into the deep end of the pool of business ownership, without having some guts.

When you have guts and operate a business, it doesn’t matter if times get tough or when the going gets rough. A focused and determined entrepreneur, who has guts, will endure every difficult circumstance and weather every storm by telling themselves everything will be okay. The bills could be due and collection letters could be piling up, but a determined entrepreneur will do everything in their power to ensure their business is successful; a dedicated entrepreneur will scratch and claw to succeed and make their business grow.

Sadly, there are so many "so-called" entrepreneurs who constantly complain about their inability to get a contract or some new business, while failing to put forth the necessary effort to go after new business on their own and seeking to blame others for their lack of success.

What happened to the tenacious, go-getter who chose to start their business and was prepared to do anything within their power to see their dream become a reality?

Many of you reading this may not swallow this pill to well, but to tell the truth, a begging panhandler on the street has more entrepreneurial spirit and operates by more principles of entrepreneurship than many of these "so-called" entrepreneurs that are pretending out here.

I remember rolling through my old neighborhood, where I grew up as a child, when I happen to see the same female panhandler asking me for money, while I was stopped at the red light. I was blown away because this very same woman had been on this same corner, doing the same thing for nearly twenty-five years. I made a decision not to provide her any money, because in my mind I had rationalized that there was no way she should have been on this same corner for nearly twenty-five years, asking people for money and not looking for a job.

As those thoughts continued to race through my mind concerning the lady, the light turned green and I made an immediate left turn under the freeway. I was almost at the entrance of the freeway, but found myself having to stop at another red light that was positioned slightly before the freeway entrance. It was at that red light, and during that stop, that I encountered yet another panhandler; this time though, the experience was far different.

This person wasn’t just asking for money, he had tools in his possession to work for what he wanted. As the guy approached my car (without my permission of course), he had a spray bottle in one hand and a squeegee in the other.

Now, I don’t know whether the guy purchased the squeegee from Wal-Mart or "borrowed it" from the nearby convenience store, but what I do know is that he had all the necessary tools he needed in order to handle business. This guy became more than just a begging panhandler; he was operating as an entrepreneur, using business principles.

After the gentleman sprayed my windows and cleaned it off with the squeegee, he then proceeded to ask for money for the services that he rendered. Of course, I had the ability to refuse providing him any money, but I decided to fork over some change to the guy before I drove off. Because of his business model and approach, this guy was successful at soliciting me for money and possibly others before and after me as well. In my mind, this guy had the perfect set-up. Checkmate!

As I reflect on that experience, you can see how I view this creative panhandler as more of an entrepreneur than most of these "so-called" entrepreneurs out here, who have nothing more than a legal document defining them as a business owner. You can easily identify many of these "so called" entrepreneurs, because they have no target market, no business plan and no marketing strategy. They could have tons of knowledge, lots of experience or a boatload of money, but when it comes to running a real business, they don’t have a clue.

I chose to conduct an experiment, where I asked that same panhandler if they could tell me who their target market was. Of course, I explained what I meant and broke my terminology into laymen’s terms, and he proceeded to tell me that he looked at the overall thing as a numbers game and viewed every person driving a vehicle by his location as a potential contributor.

When I asked him about how much money it took to function, he told me that he had very little overhead because all he needed was the basic necessities; clothes, food, bottled water, a pair of shoes, some cardboard, a black marker, a container to collect the money, a spray bottle and a squeegee.

I then proceeded to ask him if he had a business plan. Once again, I broke it down in simplest terms, and he told me that he chose his site location because it had the most traffic and there was no other person soliciting at that spot. When addressing his marketing plan, he told me that so many vehicles passed by him throughout the day and that there were select times he considered to be the best times, which determined what time he needed to arrive and what time he needed to leave to have an overall successful day.

Seems so simple when talking about a begging panhandler, but when it comes to your business, what’s your problem?

The primary issue is fear! When you have nothing to lose, you don’t allow fear to grip you and limit you. If you want to be overly successful, you have to become a fearless entrepreneur that takes risks, has guts and never gives up.

I hope that what I shared inspires you to look at your approach to business differently, and more importantly, the next time you pass by a panhandler begging on the corner, don’t knock their hustle; figure out how you can apply their same hustle to your business, so you can succeed in everything you do.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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