Steve Gerritsen

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Finding Your Why

A critical factor in any successful entrepreneur is having your "why".  Why are you willing to spend hour after hour working without pay to get your company started?  Why are you willing to invest your own money into something that may or may not ever provide you a return?  Why do you keep going when you hit an unforeseen obstacle that seems insurmountable?

Whether as an entrepreneur or anything else in life, if your "why" is not strong enough to help you keep going through your trials, you will without a doubt, fail at what you are pursuing.  Finding your why needs to be at the top of your priority list before spending a large amount of time pursuing something like entrepreneurship.  It requires self reflection.  If your why is strong enough, you are one step closer to achieving whatever you want in life.

I was raised in a Northern Utah town by parents who had seven kids.  My dad worked for the Utah School for the Blind.  However, he also was always working at least one or two other jobs.  With seven kids, my parents didn't have a lot of money.  We weren't living in the high end of the income bracket. That said, there were far too many people a lot worse off than we were.  My point being is that my parents didn't have an overflow of money.  If I wanted something, I had to earn the money so that I could buy it myself.

When I was 10 years old, my older brother and I got a paper route. Seven days a week for over two years, we delivered the local newspaper to people in our community.  For most 10-12 year olds at the time, that was about all of the work outside the home they were doing.  We were different though.  My dad had a yard maintenance business on the side of his full time job.  Each Saturday from Spring to Fall, he took my brothers and I out mowing lawns and doing yard maintenance for all of the accounts.

A family neighbor had noticed our family and the work that we did each week.  This particular neighbor, Richard Myers was a successful businessman, owning four local mortuaries and a cemetery.   When I was about 12 years old, he hired me to help mow his lawn.  Eventually, I was doing all of his yard work and taking care of his horse coral.  By the time I was 13, I was doing yard maintenance work at one of his mortuary's.

Many people think that doing yard work and maintenance is beneath them, but I will forever be grateful for the lessons that I learned working for Richard Myers.  Being able to work for a successful businessman as a young teenager was invaluable.  Often times , Mr. Myers would come work alongside me at his home.  I was able to see first hand someone who was making a good living while being an entrepreneur.  In a sense, he was one of my first mentors.

Perhaps one of my biggest benefits from working for Richard Myers was finding my own "why" while working for him.  There were times that I absolutely hated the work I was doing.  I will never forget a particular hot summer Saturday afternoon working at his place.  He had asked me to clean out his horse coral.  To put it clearly, I was shoveling and moving horse shit.  It was hot and it stunk like none other.  I had done this for him many, many times before.  Something clicked that hot summer day though.  I was going to do what it took for me to be in his position.  Maybe not having someone shovel horse shit for me, as horses are not my thing.  Maybe my "why" had a bit of resentment that I was being asked to do some of the work I found myself doing at that particular moment.  However, my mind was made up and I became determined that I was going to find better ways from there on out to make money.

I have often looked back at that particular moment.  The memories and thoughts of that day carry with me today.  "What can I do to better myself so I don't find myself in this shit again?"  My "why" was found.

We live in a much different time.  The internet and social media provide so many more opportunities than what was had in the 1980s.  That work ethic that I learned as a kid has helped me throughout my time as an adult.  As an entrepreneur, I am so glad that my parents taught me to work when I was a kid.  I am grateful that I was able to work for Richard Myers.  Last week, Richard Myers passed away.  He was a good man.  A hard worker who was a successful entrepreneur in his own right.

I hope everyone can find their "why".  Whether it's for your pursuit as an entrepreneur, in your career decisions, in relationships, or whatever, I know that finding and knowing this will help lead to your success.

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Finding Your Why

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