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Matt Lorenz on Small Business

By February 25, 2014June 16th, 2016Advanced Planning

The United States is still the best bet when it comes to business. As a nation, we are also still the best thing going when it comes to offering a fair chance to willing people who want to get ahead. I am a critic of our society but I put on the uniform of my country and proudly stood to serve it (Air Force, 1964 – 1968). I criticize our culture, government, schools and broken homes only in the sincere hope to preserve what is good in us and to shine a light for improvement.

I have travelled extensively in my life. I have seen what many other countries have to offer their people and nothing compares to our notion that anyone who wants to get ahead is free to try. We take it for granted; most of the world does not.

Among all of our privileges, I think the ability to start a business is really remarkable. Sure, nine out of ten start-ups fail within the first five years but there are reasons for that. One reason is that anyone, regardless of their experience, intelligence, maturity or perseverance can just hang out a shingle and declare themselves “in business.” And all kinds of people do just that. They have some kind of an idea, foggy or focused, and, when the sun comes through the window just right, they charge ahead. Underneath the craziness of it all is the naturally understood idea that we are privileged and entitled to try. We just accept it. It is more difficult to get a job in America than it is to start a business of one’s own. In the old days, getting a job here was much like in the “old countries” where we came from – the jobs were easier gotten if you “knew someone” or “were somebody.” But one could always start their own business. Most people, of course, do not start their own businesses and I suppose there a thousand good reasons for that. Most who do try, fail. And that is a shame. It is a shame because succeeding business folks usually make good money. And that is the dirty little secret that too few would-be entrepreneurs fail to appreciate – if one has what it takes to ply their proposition in business, the winnings can be high for people who would otherwise be quite average as employees. It is a risk, this thing called business but if we would teach our people the basics, it would be a risk that many more average people could succeed at compared to the numbing failure statistics we witness now.

“I’ve spent a lifetime helping business folks succeed and been part of successes that went far beyond the initial dreams of the business owners.”

I have spent a lifetime helping business folks succeed against the odds. I have seen and been a part of business successes that went far beyond the initial dreams of the founding business owners. I have also witnessed abject failures in business. All in all though, I have always found it remarkable that people usually do not succeed or fail in business because they are unusually smart or stupid. They succeed because they have a workable idea, a market, lots of courage and persistence, a willingness to work long and hard, enough money to handle the down turns, enough maturity, a critically-kept focus and a certain kind of deafness to things that matter least. You will notice that I have not mentioned anything about borrowing money, having friendly supporters or a business degree. I started my businesses without going to a bank or borrowing money from others. I know lots of people get help from family members to start businesses; I am dead-set against that. Business success takes a lot of character and having to bootstrap your way along builds character. To this day, I use banks only in certain situations of major capital improvements. My bankers and I get along well because I don’t need them that much and we both know that. A business must stand on its own within its market and mechanics. That is the challenge of business management-making it all work in a systematic way.

“That is the essence of the American dream and identity. If you have what it takes to make your game go, do it and stay with it.”

The one thing that is not absolutely necessary to start a successful business and keep it going, is a qualified business coach. I did not have one; I could have used one from time to time. Business coaches are not family members who love you or (God forbid) have an interest in your game. Good business coaches are fairly rare. They are unapologetic experts who will tell you the truth about what is right and/or wrong about the thinking and mechanics of your business. The best coaches need not know anything about your particular game; the rules of business are universal and particular market knowledge has nothing to do with how success systems work. All success systems are made up of two elements: math and people. Those are the work and challenge of both the business coach and entrepreneur. The math is not difficult; the people are.

I always tell people that I was “molded by the military and made by business.” It is true. The military gave me a chance to grow up and business gave me a chance to reap what I sowed. College gave me courage and a new insight into my own potential but it didn’t make me successful in business. My business success came from the things I mentioned earlier and I wish more young Americans were given this knowledge so they could more fully enjoy the fruits of their talent in their own business venture. That is the essence of the American dream and identity. It is the most precious promise tucked within the furls of our flag. If you have what it takes to make your game go, do it and stay with it.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Matt Lorenz is the President of Lorenz & Associates of Dubuque, Iowa. His firm consults to businesses throughout the United States. He also has done extensive organizational development work for government and the educational sectors both in the United States and Europe. His undergraduate work was completed at the University of Dubuque and graduate studies at Iowa State. He served in the United States Air Force from 1964 to 1968. Personal Note: Carl Sensenig and Matt Lorenz served together in the U.S. Air Force in Eastern Turkey, maintaining a personal and business relationship to this day. Prior to starting his own consulting firm in 1990, he was the Executive Director of Human Rights for the city of Dubuque, Iowa. In that capacity he managed several landmark cases opening the way for greater protection for women’s rights, expanded coverage for the rights of developmentally challenged individuals and was known widely for his expertise in Civil Rights law. He is a well published columnist, having written for twenty years on a wide range of business and socio/political topics. He may be reached at (563) 599-0093.[/author_info] [/author]