Once upon a time in the town of Pleasantville there lived a young
man named Elmer. Elmer was a hard working guy who labored for years
working for the local manufacturer in Pleasantville. It was hard
work, long hours, little vacation time, and Elmer wasn't making
enough money to satisfy his needs to "get ahead”. His
wife complained that he wasn't earning enough money. She was
unhappy, too. Over the evening meal, Elmer would often complain to
his wife, “I did everything I was told to do. I listened to my
teachers who told me to get good grades, graduate, get a job, work
hard, save money, and you will 'get ahead' in the long run."
"But, you know what, Sarah", he would lament night
after night, "it isn't working out like I was told it would.
The only people getting ahead are the ones who own a business."
His wife and Elmer discussed this topic for some time, and
then one evening after a hard day in the factory in which he was
disciplined by his boss for not producing enough, Elmer told his
wife that he had had enough. He was going to "go for it"
before it was too late for him. He was going to go into business.
His wife was skeptical, but she certainly understood why Elmer
wanted to make this move.
So, Elmer shopped around for a
product to sell to the public. After talking to manufacturers for
several months, he identified a product he could sell to the public.
Let’s just call it Elmer’s Widgets. Elmer rented a small
store front for a cheap price along Main Street. He stocked his
store with Widgets, hung his sign in front of the store, and waited
for customers. He waited for several days before someone came into
the store to look around. Over the weeks, only a few customers
ventured into Elmer’s store. The sales were low, and he became
doubtful. Even more weeks went by, and Elmer’s frustration
grew. He vented his frustrations to his wife over the evening meal.
He just couldn’t understand why his business wasn’t
taking off as he had hoped. He was thinking of dropping the whole
thing and settling with notion that he might have to spend the rest
of his life working for someone else.
Now, just about the
same time, a fellow by the name of Hagar, who worked at the very
same manufacturing plant as Elmer, came up with the same idea as
Elmer had birthed just a few months previous. Hagar, too, was
frustrated with working long hours for someone else and getting
little pay for his hard work. So, he, too, after long discussions
with his wife and fellow businessmen, decided to go into business
But, Hagar had a different approach than his
co-worker, Elmer. Like Elmer, Hagar thoroughly researched products
to sell to the public -products that the public, and especially the
folks in Pleasantville, could use on a regular basis. He discovered
some products that he felt had a mass appeal. Let’s call them
Hagar’s Widgets. So, Hagar, too, rented a cheap store front
across the street from Elmer. And, like Elmer, Hagar hung his sign
out for everyone to see. But, then Hagar did something different
than Elmer. You see, Hagar had saved up a little money to create a
monthly budget to promote his business. You heard that right –
to promote his business. He contacted the local advertising agency
and contracted with them to run ads in local newspapers about his
business. He even contacted a news reporter to do a feature article
on ‘Hagar’s Widgets’. He contacted all the free
sources in his area to advertise his store in that medium. He bought
some radio ad time, and even purchased some air time on the local TV
cable network in Pleasantville. He had flyers made and posted them
all around Pleasantville. He contacted the local BBB, and arranged
to do a short presentation to the group about his business. He
joined the local business organization. He posted ads on the
Internet for local audiences about his store. He contacted the local
lodges to speak to them about his store. He even sponsored a local
bowling team and had bowling shirts made with his Store Inscribed on
the shirt. He talked to everyone about his business every chance he
How much did this cost Hagar? Well, let’s put it
this way. Hagar had researched building businesses, and he
understood one of the most vital forces in building any business –
momentum. You see, Hagar knew, that like a huge locomotive, it takes
tremendous effort to get the huge train moving from a standstill.
But, once it begins to roll, it becomes harder and harder to stop
because it builds momentum and inertia. Hagar understood that to
build a business, you need to invest energy in the form of personal
time and money to get the business rolling and to build momentum. He
understood, too, that you need to be disciplined to work within a
prescribed budget, just as the fireman on the locomotive needs to
maintain the right amount of fuel for the locomotive. Like fuel,
money invested in the business builds the momentum of the business
until it reaches a point that it runs pretty much on its own.
as the sun slowly sets over the town of Pleasantville, and as both
storekeepers close up for the day, how do you think each did when
they go to the cash register to get the daily readout? What do you